I’m all for decadent holiday feasting. I love all of it, and the more old-school, the better. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, and gravy, gravy, gravy!
This, of course, is the latter course of a day that will likely start with a greasy fry-up for breakfast, followed by nonstop noshing on cheese, charcuterie, nuts, Toffifees, After Eights, and anything else within arm’s reach.
Due to the nature of the day, I’m generally inclined to opt for refreshing, lively wines to counter all of that richness and culinary debauchery. A little elegance and freshness can go a long way.
Also, since these holidays are indeed a special occasion, I’m going a bit deeper into the ol’ wallet (and will balance things out with killer bargain wines in the new year).
Sparkling wine should always be on hand this time of year, no? Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé NV (Champagne, France; $95.99 for 750 millilitres, on sale for $91.99 through December 29, or $229.99 for the 1.5-litre format) is a consistently tasty pink fizz made from 100 percent Grand Cru Pinot Noir. A bit of a rarity when it comes to rosé Champagne, its colour and style come from 48 to 72 hours of skin contact during the winemaking process—as opposed to most other pink Champagnes, simply made by splashing in a little still red wine into the already-sparkling white.
It's aged on the lees for five years (six years if you’re springin’ for the magnum), and there’s a lovely creaminess to it, with rose petals and brioche mingling in the aromatics, then a palate basking in huckleberries, Rainier cherries, and raspberries, with a pinch of nutmeg and a kiss of basil. Any salty or fried hors d’oeuvres will hit the spot, or it can even be thought of as the virtual cranberry sauce with the turkey.
While we’re thinking pink, a recent entry to the local rosé market is Culmina Family Estate Winery Bobbie Burgers Rosé 2017 (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $35). Okay, real talk: this is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it opportunity. To celebrate Culmina’s five-year anniversary, the Triggs family proprietors collaborated with famed British Columbian artist Bobbie Burgers to create a label featuring her hallmark lively floral bursts. The bottle is gorgeous, and so is what’s inside: 100 percent single-vineyard Cabernet Franc provides plenty of red fruit, which is rounded out by ripe peaches, blood orange, and a smudge of lime leaf.
What ups the game here is nine months spent in French oak, which rounds things out with a light toasty note and a kiss of vanilla. My wife commented that this is a rosé that fans of white Burgundy would be attracted to: well-built, stunning fruit, and perfectly integrated oak. As any good husband should, I tend to agree with my wife.
This is as limited-edition as it gets: only one barrel was made, and it’s been selling like hotcakes. It’s only available at the winery, so if you want a bottle or two sitting pretty on your holiday table, it’s recommended you give them a call the moment you finish reading this column.
Another exclusive, much closer to home, is Ochota Barrels “Texture Like Sun” 2018 (Adelaide Hills, Australia; $49.99 for 750 millilitres or $124.99 for the 1.5-litre format), which is only available at Kitsilano Wine Cellar. This charismatic blend of Pinot Noir, Grenache, Gamay, Mourvèdre, Pinot Meunier, Gewürztraminer, Fragola, Riesling, and Chardonnay somehow harnesses the best attributes of each variety, culminating in an electric-pink wine bursting with Gala apple, pomelo, red currants, lingonberry, Italian plums, and a hint of fresh thyme. Shimmering in the glass, with cracking minerality and juicy acidity, this is certainly a wine to keep things merry and bright. While we’re here: Kits Wine Cellar has the exclusive for the whole Ochota Barrels lineup available in B.C. Whether we’re talking Gamay, Pinot Meunier, or any other of the colourful labels in winemaker Taras Ochota’s lineup, I recommend the whole slate.
Finally, we’ll go full-on red, but with plenty of grace. Mathieu & Camille Lapierre’s Morgon 2017 (Beaujolais, France; $44.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is a brilliant Gamay. Coming from 60-year-old organically farmed vines their father, Marcel, tended so artfully, there has been global renown for the family’s wines and their minimal-intervention style of winemaking since the 1980s, way before the big natural-wine movement that came decades later.
Siblings Mathieu and Camille have continued their father’s traditions, making terroir-driven, worthy wines that are sound and delicious. Mineral-laden plums, violets, blackberries, and Bing cherries are joined by the umami character of sun-dried tomatoes and fresh-carved roast beef. Best served with a hint of a chill in the biggest glasses you’ve got—from turkey to ham, from duck to lamb, this wine will decorate most holiday dishes perfectly.