Wines for the Holidays

We wanted to put together a “Wines for the Holidays” guide for our readers for a couple of reasons:

  • We like sharing with the wines we drink and the commentary that ensues
  • It provides us an opportunity to try wines that we may have otherwise kept in storage

Before we go any further, there is a story behind the featured picture which we will get into later.

We have been married for just over 14 months and this was our first opportunity to host a major holiday as “newlyweds”.  Not to play the ego card, but we are quite good at hosting parties – we’ve hosted several, from our annual Rose Bash to previous Christmas parties.  This holiday would be unique.  A rite of passage almost – to be able to successfully host family for a major holiday was the next stepping stone in our marriage.

Thankfully, our love of wine seemed to turn a potential major stressor into something to look forward to as we eagerly got to choose our “Wines for the Holidays”.  We do not have a formalized cellar, it is more an area in the closet that has been designated for wines which range from special or memorable wines to high-priced wines to unique wines to wines that need a home until our kitchen wine fridge is depleted.  We felt that this monumental occasion was a great time to embark on a wines for the holidays adventure.

Charlcie’s parents arrived on December 23rd but the real fun didn’t start until Christmas Eve.  While we recently saw them at Thanksgiving, it was the first time they had seen the house full with furniture.  The house was fully decorated and prepared for their arrival.  We enjoyed simple cocktails on December 23rd and enjoyed stories while catching up on the trip or various events that had transpired both recently and in the distant past.

My family has always been big into making Christmas candies and having family over for a Christmas Eve Party.  Since this was our first time hosting we had the luxury of deciding what we did, ate, drank etc.  Our Christmas Eve plan started off relatively mundane with Christmas candies, snacks, cheese and charcuterrie and TV – also, this is where our Wines for the Holidays Adventure Began!

Wine #1 of our Wines of the Holidays Adventure

  • Jack London Vineyard Syrah – 2012
    Jack London Vineyard Syrah – 2012
    • Kenwood wines have always been appealing to us. For starters we’ve not experienced a wine that we didn’t enjoy – this was no exception.  While we hadn’t tried their Syrah we eagerly awaited what it would produce.
    • Primed with fruity notes including plum and cherries, there were undertones of vanilla present as well. The wine was well balanced and produced a long finish.  Easily enjoyed with or without food.

Producer – Kenwood vineyards

Region/appellation – Sonoma Mountain

Grape Varieties – Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage – 2012

Alcohol – 14.5%

As customary for many on Christmas Eve, we decided to go view Christmas lights.  We decided to check out the Southern Lights Holiday Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Going early turned out to be a great idea as the park was essentially empty.  It was a fun experience with many unique light displays that were perfectly fighting for Kentucky (including several horse themed-displays).  The entire tour took about 30 minutes but we were blessed with a small amount of snow during the tour to create a very appropriate Christmas Eve experience.  We proceeded back to the house to continue on with the Christmas Festivities!

Wine #2 of our Wines for the Holidays Adventure

  • Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012
    Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon - 2012
    Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012
    • Continuing with our Sonoma Mountain Kenwood adventure, we next opened a beautifully balanced Cabernet Sauvignon with a good flavor profile – it was surprisingly better than expected. It was the perfect accompaniment for the Christmas goodies that we were being spoiled with – especially with the multiple variations of fudge.
    • Fruit forward without being unbalanced. Noticeable fruits include dark berries – blackberries, black cherries.  Hints of vanilla suggesting an oaky nature.  Medium bodied Cabernet which was blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot

Producer – Kenwood vineyards

Region/appellation – Sonoma County

Grape Varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot

Vintage – 2012

Alcohol – 14.7%

University of Houston was playing in their bowl game on Christmas Eve and previously living in Houston we felt it was appropriate to watch the game.  While the end score suggested a tightly contested game – it never really felt this way.  Despite scoring the first touchdown of the game, the Cougs didn’t appear as if they were going to win the game.  With the poor play of the game, I decided to go ahead and begin making preparations for the Christmas Day feast.  We were going to make a form of “cheesy” potatoes which starts with peeling the potatoes, boiling them whole, and removing them just prior to them being soft as they need to be shredded prior to being baked.  I’ve made this dish several times – but never had I had such a bad experience.  I mistakenly put the potato peels down the drain and upon initiating the garbage disposal was greeted by something I never want to hear – a disposal that does not dispose of waste.  Water was not draining from our sink.  To make a long story short, after trips to Rite-Aid, a Shell gas station and finally Walgreens we found a plunger.  To add the cherry on top – as we proceeded to the checkout counter 3 police officers greeted us with a chuckle.  Understanding their humor I promptly responded by indicating that the toilets were fine – the problem was the sink!!! Which, given our garden style sink was actually worse because it means there is no way to use the kitchen faucet.  Thankfully, we escaped home, unplugged the sink and decided that we had seen enough and thus halting our wines for the holidays adventure until Christmas Day (which it actually was when we went to bed).

Christmas Day!!

Christmas Day came and so did Christmas breakfast and of course Santa with lots of presents.  Wife and I got several fun wine-related gifts which we are excited to enjoy, use and report back.  The next thing was our big Christmas Day Meal which included tenderloin with creamy garlic sauce, cheesy potatoes, asparagus, and fruit salad.  We started off the preparations with a lighter wine that we’ve been saving for a long time – in need of just such an occasion.

Wine #3 of our Wines for the Holiday Adventure

  • Diora – La Petite Grace Pinot Noir – 2014
    Diora - La Petite Grace Pinot Noir - 2014
    Diora – La Petite Grace Pinot Noir – 2014
    • We’ve had this wine for almost 2 years and despite wanting to open on several occasions resisted the temptations because it appeared too fancy. Knowing that a full-bodied bold Cabernet was on the horizon, a lighter Pinot Noir seemed the perfect wine.  After one sip we regretted having waited so long to try this beautiful wine.  It was delightful – well worth the wait.
    • Deeper in color compared to most Pinot Noirs, this was beautifully balanced with black cherries and mocha. The wine was soft and round on the palate with a medium to full bodied texture.

Producer – Diora

Region/appellation – Monterey

Grape Varieties – Pinot Noir

Vintage – 2014

Alcohol – 14.7%

Other than having to make our own sour cream, there were no misadventures with preparation of the Christmas meal – even Samson Oliver thought he was to be included for dinner!  The wine we chose for dinner was one that we have had before, but it has been several years – we remember it was good but had forgotten how good it truly was:

 Wine #4 of our Wines for the Holiday Adventure

  • Jack Nicklaus Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010
    Jack Nicklaus Cabernet Sauvignon - 2010
    Jack Nicklaus Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010
    • Saved for about 2 years, our previous taste of this wine was pure bliss. An exceptional Cabernet from 2010, we were delighted that this was saved for this special occasion.  Thankfully, we still have a couple reserved in our cellar to be enjoyed on future special occasions!
    • This full bodied Cabernet was packed with aromas from fruits, to spice, to oaky vanilla notes. Each sip enticed you to have more!  Black fruits, black cherry, baking spices with round tannins and a medium finish helped produce a beautifully balanced wine.

Producer – Jack Nicklaus

Region/appellation – Napa Valley

Grape Varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage – 2010

Alcohol – 14.7%

The food was purely amazing – Charlcie did an amazing job picking out the main course and with a decent preparation on my part, we all left the table satisfied and eager for our afternoon nap.

A Very Merry Christmas Indeed!

But it was still to early in the day to not try at least one more wine!

 Wine #5 of our Wines for the Holiday Adventure

  • Jack London Vineyards Merlot – 2012
    Jack London Vineyard Merlot - 2012
    Jack London Vineyard Merlot – 2012
    • This was a full bodied wine with high tannins – slightly unbalanced at first but definitely improved as the night progressed.  There were strong fruit notes, including plum, dark cherries, and raspberries.  The secondary aromas consisted of allspice and vanilla suggesting a strong oak presence.

Producer – Kenwood

Region/appellation – Sonoma Mountain

Grape Varieties – Merlot

Vintage – 2012

Alcohol – 14.5%

We chose several Wines for the Holidays based on the food that we had planned on preparing as well as the anticipated palates of our family.  All of the wines were perfect for the occasion with the only problem noted in how quickly they seemed to disappear.

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Good wines are what taste best to you.  We hope that you had some very wonderful wines for the holidays and would love to hear if any of them stood out to you and your loved ones!

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