By Rick Riozza

As we welcome the 2021 holiday season, it’s time for us wine columnists to assist our readers to think about and even get a move on with some recommended wines. Oftentimes we’ll just grab a few comfort red wines that’ll last through Thanksgiving and Christmas—and no one is complaining about that!

But as we’ve previewed these past weeks, it may be a mistake to think that only robust reds can provide the sense of comfort we seek on cold days (let’s pray for some cold cuddly days out here!) and with hearty meals. Bubblies are always welcomed; and a generous white wine is perfect for those who find red wines a bit too heavy but wish an ideal pairing to the season’s game and root vegetable dishes.

We’ve recently covered Orange wines that show a richness of flavor and textual appeal. And there are reds from all over the world that enhance the meals without dominating the dishes on the table. A dessert wine anyone?


Here are some ideas to consider for cheers and meal accompaniments:

The Valdo Cuvée 1926 Valdobbiadene Prosecco ($22) comes in such a beautiful bottle that this could be the gift that keeps on giving to your family and friends. A little historic note Valdo is the oldest winery of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene, founded in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori and purchased by the Bolla Family in 1938. The Cuvée 1926 is a Superiore DOCG, from Veneto, Italy, made from Glera (90%) and Chardonnay (10%). For the lovers of Prosecco, this is the holiday treat from the best of the Veneto area!

Winemaker Gianfranco Zanon’s tasting notes state: “Ripe apple, pear, peach along with tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple are accented by floral notes. A well-balanced, pleasant, and harmonious palate with a medium-body and a long, persistent finish. Perfect pairing with risotto, white meat and after the meal with fresh peaches.” And don’t be nervous, Valdobbiadene is easily pronounced as VAL-doe-bee-AHH-Deen-nay. Saluti!

A bubbly we really enjoy is the non-vintage Domaine Chandon Blanc de Blancs Carneros by the Bay Cuvée P15 Carneros Vineyard Reserve. For sure that’s a long name but at only around $30, its one of the best buys for a nice crisp bubbly from California. Wine Spectator writes: “Fresh and vibrant, with lively apple and lemon verbena flavors that take on fresh ginger and spice accents and finish on a refreshing note.

For those going all out this season, you’ll probably be ogling the 2008 Krug Brut Champagne ($300). Okay—here’s the skinny: There’s a supernova of sensation with each sip of this powerful version, starting with the vivid streak of mouthwatering acidity that drives a rich panoply of ripe black currant, mandarin orange peel and grilled nut flavors, accented by hints of candied ginger, briny oyster shell, verbena and ground cardamon…” Wine Spectator 11/15/21. Merry Christmas Baby!!

We spoke of a generous white for the holiday meals. That brings to mind a Viognier for certain. At a recent trade tasting, we were treated to the 2018 Shokrian Viognier Estate ($35). Organically farmed and naturally fermented in neutral French oak, it’s aged 8 months in stainless steel before bottling. This wine is one of the most refreshing Viognier I’ve ever tasted. Classic bright white flowers with ripe apricot and orange pith on the entry. The winery notes aptly state: “Just enough weight to know it’s a Viognier, but enough acid to make your mouth water for more.”

The Shokrian Viognier is only one wine in an impressive portfolio. ( And what wine enthusiast doesn’t love Santa Barbara wine country. Located at the heart of the Los Alamos Valley, 2.5 hours north of Los Angeles and 2 miles from downtown Los Alamos, their tasting room is now on site which will give a unique experience as it provides a rare insight into the engine room of Shokrian Vineyards from a winemaking perspective.

A classic California Chardonnay for the holiday table is the one and only 2019 La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30). Here you’ll find aromas of fresh nectarine, green pineapple and magnolia blossoms, The palate contains flavors of Anjour pear, Meyer lemon, and everyone’s favorite crème brûlée. The 2019 vintage presents balanced acidity and a supple finish. All the wine writers give this wine 91/92 points. It’s hard to find a better premium world class Chard at that price!

It’s time again to give a shout-out to the 2018 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) Produced from 1,000 to 1,600-foot elevation vineyards on Napa’s Mount Veeder. Winemaker notes indicate: “this shows a deep ruby robe with aromas of deep cherry, black plum, and caramel with hints of dried sage and cedar. Flavors of ripe blackberry and cherry preserves framed by mocha and baking spices. Layers of abundant fruit, dried herbs, and sweet oak. Seamless, integrated tannins create a rich structure and reflect a mountain personality.” Definitely a steak wine. This would make an impressive gift when invited to a holiday meal.

As we wrote last week, the sexy dessert pour for the holidays is Madeira. It’s great as an apéritif or a digestif. Sweet Madeira wine tastes excellent with blue cheeses, dried fruit, and your favorite dark chocolate desserts.

Barbeito Malvasia 10 years Madeira ($35) Bright gold color. Floral aromas, ripe citrus, honey and almonds. Lots of depth and well balanced, full and persistent spicy. Excellent as digestif, and great with Christmas pudding, foie-gras, chocolate, crystallized fruits and cheese. Cheers!