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The Weekly Dozen

Among this week’s selection of 12 recent releases now on the American market are some great holiday wines – fabulous reds that make great gifts that will never be re-gifted, guest wines to  bring as your contribution to dinner, and wines to drink while you’re decorating the tree, munching cookies or preparing a holiday feast. Up next week: Sparkle plenty!

2017 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc ($14). Ripe gooseberry flavors with a hint of mint and a light chalkiness in the finish – drink while you munch holiday cookies.

2016 Frank Family Carneros Chardonay ($33). If you’ve been asked to bring a dinner wine to the Christmas turkey fest, take two of this white that is big and rich, just like the Nashville duo, with ripe apple and tropical fruit flavors with a little holiday caramel in the finish.

2014 Ponzi Willamette Valley Reserve Chardonnay ($39).  If you are still looking for American chards that remind you of white Burgundy, try this one – vibrant, green fruitiness with lots of minerality and the patina of age.

2017 Grounded “Space Age” Paso Robles Grenache Rosé ($20). Minerally, dried-fruit flavors with a hint of sweetness – perfect for your decorate-the-tree party, watching the lights sparkle on the salmon hues of the wine.

2015 Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico ($20). A flavorful but not complex wine – bright fruit, lean, a little gamey – that makes a good chef’s wine to sip as you do morning prep for the afternoon feast.

2017 Ventisquero “Grey” Maipo Valley Carménère ($20). Quite nice, a good, lean blend of fruitiness and the variety’s typical herbaceousness in the finish. Carménère from Chile seems to be getting quite trendy in the U.S.

2016 P.S. Garcia “Bravado” Itata Valley Red Blend ($21). A dense (in the good sense) and murky red with dark raspberry flavors and both texture and taste of a brownie – a good match for a venison roast.

2015 Mulderbosch “Faithful Hound” Stellenbosch Red Blend ($22). Very lean with a few green, briery flavors, remindful of an old-style Bordeaux petit château.

2016 The Calling Russian River Pinot Noir ($35). I very much enjoyed interviewing co-owner and sports announcer Jim Nantz, along with co-owner Peter Deutsch, outside of Foxboro Stadium a few years ago when the brand was launched. It’s a celebrity wine that lives up to its pre-game hype – assertive but not aggressive, smooth and long on the palate, with cola, rooty, raspberry, cedar flavors.

2010 Vinas del Vero “Secastilla” Somontano Garnacha ($40). If you are planning to have lamb chops, here is your wine – dark berry flavors, some savory notes, mellow-aged with some carbon or sooty notes that often come with older wines, particularly those not filtered before bottling.

2014 Chateau Montelena “Montelena Estate” Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon ($160).  A lovely, mature, smooth, elegant wine that reminds me of a great St. Julien from the Medoc – rounded dark cherry and raspberry flavors and aromas that blend well into the mature oak notes. Ready now but will continue to develop. A great gift for a great father-in-law.

2015 Robert Mondavi “The Reserve” To Kalon Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($174). A great gift for your great mother-in-law to tuck away in her wine cellar. If she decides to share it now, decant for a couple of hours first and then just sip it as you would an aged spirit to best enjoy its lovely complexity – spicy, dark fruit that is dense yet clean.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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