If you’re like me, the joy of getting together over food and good wine throughout the holiday season is something to look forward to all year long. The “most wonderful time of the year”, however, will certainly look and feel differently this December. Celebrations will be small, or at a safe social distance, or even virtual. Whatever form your gatherings take this year, I hope that delicious wine will be part of them, making your spirits bright. And to give you a head start, this month you’ll find a curated selection of holiday favorites, sure to enhance any seasonal occasion.
As longtime Grand Tour members will attest, for me, selecting wine - no matter the occasion - usually comes back to one simple question: What’s on the table? Holiday fare and the festivities around it can be incredibly diverse - from cheese boards to roast beef to extravagant multi-course seafood affairs. Because of this, the team and I wanted to ensure that each wine selected could find a home on any holiday table. More importantly, and as usual, we wanted each of these wines to be tasty in their own right.
A natural starting point for a holiday wine box - or a holiday party, for that matter - is snagging something sparkling. Whether you’re raising a glass for a toast or navigating a raw bar set up, a glass of bubbly wine is never a bad idea. The Col di Luna Prosecco you’ll find in your box this month is a go-to of ours here for exactly these occasions - and more.
Next up, Orso Pinot Grigio. We stayed in Italy for our second selection, looking for a wine that would satisfy everything from simple salads to richer seafood courses. While Pinot Grigio has garnered a bad reputation in wine circles as a “swill” grape - meaning its often produced in very large quantities with very low quality - but in the hands of the right producers, it can be as delicious as it is versatile. The “Orso” bottling found in your box this month - made exclusively for us by our friends at Venica & Venica in Friuli - is no exception. Feast of the Seven Fishes, anyone?
As we turn over to the reds, we make our way to the Loire Valley in France through a bottle of Cabernet Franc made by Catherine & Pierre Breton. Versatility on the table (picking up a theme here?) is what led us to this choice. It’s important, especially around the holidays, to have a red wine in your line up that appeals to both a broad spectrum of palate preferences as well diverse food preparations. This wine does just the trick.
Last but not least – the king of the Northern Rhone, Jean-Louis Chave. My passion for Syrah-based wines from France’s Northern Rhone Valley is no secret and Jean-Louis represents, to me, the cream of the crop. While not as versatile as the other selections in this month’s box, drinking Syrah from Chave can be a holiday unto itself. By the way, if your holiday plans don’t involve crackling fires and snow covered log cabins and warm bowls of cassoulet, well, they should. And you’ll have just the bottle of wine to complete the experience.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy this month’s selection and that your holiday season is filled with as much good cheer as good wine. And, here’s to a happy and healthy new year!
Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier
Col di Luna ‘Flora’ Prosecco NV
The Prosecco DOC extends across nine different provinces from Veneto to Friuli in Northern Italy. You’ll find Col di Luna right in the heart of it all, practicing organic winemaking, and carrying on a family tradition that extends to the 1780s. Their organic Brut Nature ‘Flora’ Prosecco shows flavors of honeysuckle, tart stone fruit, green apple, and white mountain flowers. Fresh, fizzy, and super easy to open.
PAIRING IDEAS: A gentle touch of residual sugar makes this wine an easy accompaniment to everything from poached shrimp cocktail to your grandma’s cookies.
Orso Pinot Grigio Friuli
Giampaolo Venica and his family have been making standout Pinot Grigio in Collio for years and this bottle was made exclusively for Verve Wine. An insanely refreshing bottle from Italy’s Friuli region, it’s thirst-quenching and delicious, marked by floral-driven flavors of honeysuckle, white peach, green apple, and almond skin. Warning, this ain’t your Grandma’s Pinot Grigio!
PAIRING IDEAS: Incredibly versatile, this wine will do well with lightly dressed greens, crudités (miniature corn eaten by Tom Hanks in Big?), or even more substantial fish preparations.
C&P Breton Bourgueil 'Trinch!' 2017
Deemed by Kermit Lynch as ‘real life bon vivants,’ Catherine and Pierre Breton bring passion, and life into every bottle produced from their 11 hectares of Loire based vines. ‘Trinch’ is a juicy varietal Cab Franc, produced from 30-year-old organic/biodynamic vines. ‘Trinch’ comes from a German expression meaning ‘Cheers,’ made famous by poet/philosopher Rabelais. Accessible, refreshing, and delicious-- drink up! A true glou-glou wine.
PAIRING IDEAS: Throw a slight chill on this - pop in the fridge around twenty minutes before you’re planning on opening. It will work well with any number of traditional holiday stews and roasts - or just your very own cheese pizza.
JL Chave Selection Crozes-Hermitage 'Silene'
This pungent and dark-hued Syrah from Jean Louis’ négociant line is seriously delicious. Juicy notes of blackberries, boysenberries, briny olives, and crushed violets lead to a peppery and mineral-laden finish. Fruit for this cuvée comes from granitic hillside vineyards in Larnage and Gervans and is vinified with native yeasts in tonneaux/steel tanks, followed by 15-18 months of aging in barriques.
PAIRING IDEAS: Savory syrah screams for classic holiday roasts. If you’ve got the time and ambition, pairing this with traditional cassoulet will blow your mind.