By Rick Riozza

Life continues to move at a fast pace. Although we desert dwellers are ensconced in a beautiful resort valley community, there still seems little time to just sit, sip, and watch the cactus grow.

We’ve had fun this quick season to bring attention to a bunch of different wines available at our markets currently. So why stop now when the need is near to pick up a nice bottle or two or three for the upcoming holiday tables. Whether you’re gifting wine or buying for the home, if you don’t have enough time to dwell about the wine aisles? Keep reading.

And now—For Your Consideration:

Bonterra 2016 Equinox Red Blend: This is the tastiest red blend I’ve had in the last couple of months for a wine priced under $13. It’s a full-bodied wine that reminds one of harvest-time fruits and holiday spices. We get earthy black & red fruit flavors which includes blackberry & cranberry and then moves on to dark chocolate notes, baking spices, and a nice touch of oak.

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This is a very pleasing red blend that would work well with the holiday meals. It has a cleansing balance and does not get in the way of your meats, carbs, or veggies. For you Merlot and Petite Sirah lovers, you’ll love this wine as these varietals are the two main components in the blend. And remember—Bonterra always grows organic.

2018 VieVité Domaine Sainte Marie (around $20) Rosés will continue to reign throughout the year no matter which season we’re in. I’ve recently tasted the VieVité Rosé and I’m pleased to write that in a category where everyone in town is producing a rosé, there are some standouts, such as VieVité from the Provençal south of France.

As mentioned, rosés are from all over, but I’ll tell you almost half of our customers still request a Provençal pink blush. On the nose, an expression of ripe tropical fruit is balanced with a pleasant bouquet of white flowers, cherries, and strawberries with a nice little touch of spice. On the palate, well-structured fruit and balanced acidity creates a crisp and delicate quaff.

 It’s a versatile wine that will go with almost every plate on the table. It’s a blend that the French do so well: 30% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan. I just especially ordered this for our shelves—swing by and check it out!

2017 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley ($24) & 2017 Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir Carneros ($28). There’s no way we can offer a quick wine list without recommending some Robert Mondavi wine for the holidays. For so many years, the Mondavi winemakers continue to produce wonderful wines; and, the quality of their wines at those price points are one of the deals for California wine lovers.

The Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay shows the aromas of the same fruits and complexities that are found in the plate. With a very velvety texture, this Napa Valley Chardonnay emanates flavors of juicy peach, toasted pear, rich guava, roasted pineapple, lemon peel, and hazelnut that flow into a long, mouthwatering finish; its fruity-toasty complexity lingers after each sip. We’re always told to pair a full-bodied Chard with the Thanksgiving table; this one surely works!

The Mondavi Pinot Noir Carneros owns aromas of wild dark cherry and red plum with hints of dried herbs and dusty cocoa; there are also some pink peppercorn notes. It’s a Pinot Noir that’s both crisp, with cleansing acidity and quite silky. And I have to agree with the winemakers that this pinot is one of the most expressive wines Robert Mondavi Winery makes. It’s a classic to pair with the Thanksgiving turkey.

One can’t write a wine recommendation in California without pointing to a stellar Cabernet Sauvignon for the holiday season. And as we mentioned last column, many of us vino lovers are willing to treat ourselves this season to a delicious wonderful wine.

Produced & bottled by Schrader Cellars, Oakville, California, we recently enjoyed the new 2017 Double Diamond Oakvillle Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This character-driven cabernet is crafted by Thomas Rivers Brown, the winemaker behind the cult-status winery. Since its debut in 2001, Double Diamond has solidified its status as a high-quality Napa Valley Cabernet, accessible to wine lovers across the globe.

So all right folks—for those of us mere mortals who can only watch from afar our more fortunate wine bibbers enjoying their lots of the esteemed Cabernet Sauvignon produced from the best vineyards in Napa from the esteemed Schrader Cellars, we in fact do have the comforting opportunity to experience a Cab from the same winery team!

2017 Double Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon ($69.99) is a full-bodied red with a bold fruit flavor and fine-grained tannins. I agree whole heartily with the winemaker’s comments, “The 2017 vintage opens with black and blue fruits balanced by a light oak spice that is mirrored on the nose. This bottle’s captivating fruit flavors and aromas of black currants, dark cherries, cherry compote, and toast.”

No question that it’s still young, but this modern production is ready to drink with only an hour or so aeration. This Cabernet may well be the best deal of the season for a wine whose pedigree is historically stellar and world class. It’s the Cab of your dreams—Merry Christmas baby!!

Hey! We did a little French, so—as this column is always wont to do, let’s find a nice Italian red for the holiday tables. (And for the record, we indeed spent some time in Radda Chianti this past summer, and this wine is near & dear to our hearts.)

2014 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva (around $28) “Classico” designates the historical heart of a wine production area in Italy. Don’t know if you want to designate this as a “gateway” Reserve Chianti, but his wine has what people love best about the noble Sangiovese grape: a deep concentration of fruit, a robust and firmly tannic mouthfeel, and notes of toasty wood spice, leather, and earth. Cheers!

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