It’s crunch time for holiday menu planning, and you’re undoubtedly considering sustainable options for the table from appetizer to dessert. Often overlooked, the wine you serve with your special meal is just as important as the entrée. It’s what gets your party toasty and enhances those warm, spiced flavors of the meal. Etty Lewensztain, certified wine professional and owner of Plonk Wine Merchants, spoke to us about hot sustainable wines that will complement traditional Christmas fare. Here are her top picks for sustainable wines during the holidays.
Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Rosso 2010 (ITALY) $25.00
Arianna Occhipinti is undoubtedly one of Italy's emerging young wine rockstars and her talents are displayed wonderfully in this fantastic blend of Frappato and Nero d'Avola. She's the niece of Giusto Occhipinti of the renowned Sicilian winery, Cos, so it's no surprise that a genius for winemaking runs in the family. Full of elegance and finesse, this is a real hidden gem that rides an uplifting wave of acidity and shows loads of savory plum, raspberry and sour cherry fruit. Grown organically and biodynamically.
Broc Cellars Carbonic Carignan 2010 (CALIFORNIA) $22.00
Vivid and incredibly fresh, this fabulous Euro-inspired Carignan comes from an ancient 120-year-old vineyard in the Alexander Valley that is farmed dry (without irrigation). This contributes beautiful depth and concentration to the wine, which shows indulgent red berry fruit and is lifted by a bright core of acidity. It's produced using carbonic maceration (hence the name), a technique often used in Beaujolais, and fermented naturally with native yeasts. Super tiny production—only 425 cases were made!
Grifalco Damaschito Aglianico del Vulture 2007 (ITALY) $30.00
This dazzling organic and biodynamically grown Aglianico hails from the volcanic soils of Mount Vulture in Basilicata and is made in tiny quantities by a woman winemaker. Grippy, smoky, taut and beautifully concentrated, this is everything you want in an Aglianico and more. Super elegant and velvety, while showing a bit of a masculine side in terms of its tannic structure and overall impression of power. Bitter cherry and chocolate deliciousness that is worth every penny.
Bodega del Abad, Abad Dom Bueno Mencia Roble 2007 (SPAIN) $20.00
Made with organically grown Mencia grapes and bottled without the use of sulfites (a preservative typically used in commercial winemaking), this brooding wine from the region of Bierzo is sexy, linear and precise. Starting out meaty on the nose, this excellent Spanish bottling is densely packed with succulent blackberry fruit, led pencil notes and silky, well-integrated tannins.
Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vezelay Blanc La Chatelaine (FRANCE) $23.00
This clean and vibrant Chardonnay from the appellation of Vézelay in Burgundy is grown organically and perfectly exemplifies the true nature of the Chardonnay grape. Beautifully unadorned with crisp notes of meyer lemon and mouth-watering acidity. Wonderfully complex and sophisticated for a white Burgundy at this price point.
Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut Non-Dose 2008 (FRANCE) $23.00
Francois Pinon is one of the most acclaimed names in Vouvray and this bone dry, non-dosé sparkler (which means there was no dosage, or sweet wine added to the bottle after disgorgement) made from organic Chenin Blanc grapes is utterly intriguing and complex. Aromas of lemon zest and honey emanate from the glass, and the palate is full of racy acidity, chalky minerals and ripe pear flavors.
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