Christie Kiley on December 7, 2015 0 Comments Yes, it’s that time of year again. Every year we repeat the same mantra, again and again: “Oh my, where did this year go?” It’s the time of the year when we all seem to drain our banking accounts, scavenge around malls in search of the perfect gifts for family and friends, and plan fantastic and decadent dinners and parties. Chances are that you’ve already been hearing the sounds of the holiday tunes at your local coffee shop since well before Halloween. When did this time of year become more stressful than it is joyful? I say it is time we get more practical with our gift-giving to our loved ones (and ourselves). What could be better than the gift of wine to warm our bodies and give a little buzz to our frazzled minds? Forget about going to multiple shops for your gifts this year. Instead, just head over to your favorite wine merchant. This is no popular list you’ll find in another wine site or magazine’s montage of the top wines of 2015. These are my personal top wines of 2015; ones I enjoyed in a moment, on an average afternoon, or out at a lovely dinner. I go into detail about my favorite eight, but look out for my honorable mentions at the end of this list. All of these wines all reasonably priced and won’t be an enormous strain on your wallet. After all, gift-giving is not about the price, it’s about giving something of good taste, something that matches the person you are giving it to. In this case, “good taste” works in a couple of ways. In no particular order: Top Recommendations 1. Chateau Fargueirol Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 (Rhone, France) For many wine lovers, Chateaneuf du Pape is a household name. The tricky part is, when you’re out shopping for one, it’s hard to know which to choose. This is a great Rhone wine and one with gusto. While it shows all the delicate nuances of classic French wine, there is some serious attitude that comes with this wine in the form of mature red fruits, some dried figs, tobacco and chocolate. Great for the holidays and an affordable gift for any wine enthusiast on your list. 2. Joseph Drouhin Cote de Nuits-Villages 2012 (Burgundy, France) For around $30 you can get this lovely Pinot Noir. I had the opportunity of trying this wine this past summer with some homemade osso buco empanadas. For the price, you can’t get many a Pinot like this. Though it could still use some time in the bottle, it had just the right amount of freshness and lovely, light red fruits of raspberry and earthy, tart cherries. A great wine for cellaring as a gift to yourself or for any social gathering for charcuterie spreads, aged cheeses, tapenade and more. 3. Casarena Jamilla’s Vineyard Malbec 2011 (Mendoza, Argentina) After spending almost four years in Argentina, I feel the need to tell you about this special wine from this lovely country. If you are unsure of what big red wine to serve at a dinner party, this Malbec is perfect. While it is a bit more complex than many other classic Malbec wines, it is a crowd pleaser. The weight of the wine is of jam, plum pie, a good cigar and much more. Actually, it’s not a bad wine to have with a good cigar either. Pair this with any cured meats, smoked meats, salami, aged cheeses or slow-roasted red meats. 4. Maxime Graillot Domaine des Lises Equis Crozes-Hermitage Equinoxe 2013 (Rhone, France) This is one of my most memorable wines of the year! I actually had a moment pondering whether to let the secret out about this wine for personal reasons. But hey, it’s the holidays and sharing is caring. This wine is a small project of a couple guys testing out a pretty tough environment in the Rhone region. 5. Colome Torrontes 2013 (Salta, Argentina) As I have a couple classic red wines on the list from Argentina, I had to give credit to one of their most iconic white wines. The grape is Torrontes and this is one of the easiest Argentinian white wines you can access from outside of this country. If you’ve never had a Torrontes, this one–which I like to refer to as the “introductory Torrontes”–might be the perfect starting point for you. It is everything that you would expect of a classic Torrontes, including the aromas and flavor profiles such as orange blossom, citrus and those little mandarin oranges we see on sale at the start of autumn each year. Even red wine drinkers can enjoy this wine. Just give it a slight chill before you serve it. Replace your turkey dinner Chardonnay with this one. 6. Dr. Siemens Herreneberg Riesling Spatlese Trocken 2009 (Mosel, Germany) I love German Riesling! They are often not considered enough when it comes to holiday libations. While this is a classic German late harvest wine, the perfect balance of acidity and slight sweetness keeps it light. Though it is a white wine, don’t be fooled completely and wait to bring this to the table for dessert. It can just as easily be served with your favorite holiday foods, such as turkey, duck, or any game meats. It even pairs nicely with all the fixins’. 7. Cave de Lugny-Lugny Les Charmes 2013 (Burgundy, France) Another summer favorite from this year, but in saying that, do not shy away from it because it’s almost winter. Another beautiful find from Burgundy, this wine is the ideal treat as an aperitif to get your guests hungry. Serve it with fresh cheeses and rich, creamy Brie. The lemony tartness and gooseberry will cut right through these cheeses and make for a real holiday treat. 8. Catena Alta Chardonnay 2011 (Mendoza, Argentina) For Chardonnay lovers who want some complexity, this wine has it all: from the nose and aromatics of rich ginger flowers, dogwood and vanilla sugar to the palate of slightly buttery, baked apples with cinnamon and soft and juicy ripe pears. This is another lovely white wine from some local royalty when it comes to winemaking in Argentina. Honorable Mentions The following wines should not be discounted. This holiday, see if you can track down any of the following… Shatter Grenache 2012 (Maury, France) Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc 2012 (Alsace, France) Alvaro Castro Tinto, Dao 2012 (Dao, Portugal) Vina Pomal Rioja Reserva 2013 (Rioja, Spain) Domaine Les Lys, La Petit Syrah 2013 (Rhone, France) Vina Cobos Bramare, Marchiori Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina) Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel 2012 (Alexander Valley, California) Miguel Torres Santa Digna Reserve Carmenere 2012 (Curico, Chile) Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Paso Robles, California) Matetic EQ Pinot Noir 2013 (Casa Blanca, Chile) Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2011 (Mendoza, Argentina) Happy holidays, everyone!