By Eleni P. Austin

So I have a bunch of steaks in the freezer that I’ve forgotten about and I just throw them on the grill and begin to gormandize—along with friends & family, of course. The wine for the evening is the 2020 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Did I maintain hero status or what! Both the Rib-eye and the New York paired perfectly with the Beringer Cab Sauv!!

The Beringer Knights Valley has always been an appealing Cabernet Sauvignon. This deep plum colored 2020 vintage showcases a gorgeous Bordeaux-varietal blend, with sandy, fine-grained tannins, and a velvety-rich, plush mouthfeel. Built to age and develop further complexity overtime, while in its youth, it pairs so well with grilled steak–really any beef dish such as brisket and flat iron steaks for the holidays.

The wine is ripe and juicy with aromas and flavors of vibrant boysenberry, strawberry preserves, and cassis, alongside earthier notes of crushed stone, flecks of iron, Bay Laurel, and cedar. The baking spiced elements from the well-integrated oak work well with the more traditional Knights Valley tones of wild lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Poised and lively with a structured, juicy, mouthwatering acidity, finishing with an elegant, long, savory, mouth-pleasing finish.


For you involved enthusiasts and wine nerds, the 2020 vintage was a combination of a warm, dry winter, late March rains, and incidental circumstance beyond the typical season. Further challenges were manifested by wildfires across California that would prove an even greater challenge to the latter half of the vintage. All the estate fruit at Beringer Knights Valley was continuously evaluated and only those sites unaffected were harvested. Thus the supply is limited—so word to the wise!

And while we’re on Beringer band wagon, we have no reservations at recommending the 2021 Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Chardonnay ($50) is a rich and creamy, classically Californian Chardonnay, with notes of citrus blossom and jasmine. This incredible vino’s well integrated oak shows aromas of brioche, vanilla, and ginger spice, so it stands up well with heartier holiday table flavors. This Chardonnay pairs well with seasoned poultry, a green bean casserole or, everyone’s favorite side, a creamy mashed potato.

No holiday wine recommendation would be complete without a delicious Pinot Noir to fit the table. For an absolute treat, the Etude 2020 Carneros Heirloom Pinot Noir ($90) is the prime example of how Etude has perfected the art of the Pinot Noir. This Pinot Noir is fresh and expressive, with nuanced layers of sweet baking spice, cinnamon, and clove. A holiday treat!

For all the Pinot Noir lovers out there, surely you adore the great tasting fruit that comes from the area of Carneros, north of the San Pablo Bay, that uniquely embodies both the Napa and Sonoma wine regions.The soils at Grace Benoist Ranch are variations of soils influenced by volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean make this site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties.

“This bold and full-bodied wine is very deep in color, deep in black fruit flavors and dressed with ample oak spices from cinnamon to vanilla and nutmeg. A ripe and concentrated fruit core is well supported by moderate tannins, giving it a creamy, mouthfilling texture.” Wine critic Jim Gordon at 93 points.

Dipping back to some more Italian red wine recommendations, that we began last week, we’d also like to include some very famous wine regions that most of you enthusiasts desire to hear about and are willing to spend the bucks for the up-coming holiday occasion.

A Supertuscan that we all know and love is the 2019 Poggio al Tesoro Sondraia ($90)

is an amazing addition to any luxury wine collection, but will be enjoyed by all this holiday season. This is a new kind of Supertuscan, expressing the richness of an extraordinary territory, combining tension, complexity and great finesse. Aromas of black fruit balanced with cocoa provide a complexity of flavors for your readers palate.

Another region the wine world has fallen in love with is the “King of the Italian red”: Barolo from Piedmonte. 2019 Ratti Marcenasco ($85). The winemaker notes: Noble and generous, a glory of Old Piedmont, it is a wine suited to very long aging. Barolo is the absolute master of the dining room. It conquers the palate with strength, harmony and fullness and maintains its power at length. A great wine for important dishes, red meats roasted on a spit or grilled, game, dishes of gourmet white and red meats and ripe cheeses.”

The 2019 Ratti Marcenasco has garnered lots of tasty comments: “A full, elegant wine with notes of licorice and tobacco. Aromas and flavors of macerated cherry, raspberry, spice, earth and burnished wood.” “Elegantly structured and boasting youthful tension, the vibrant palate delivers juicy Morello cherry, crushed raspberry, cinnamon and star anise framed in taut, refined tannins.” “A firm, elegant red marked by haunting aromas of rose, cherry and spices. Supple and beautifully balanced, with strawberry and cherry flavors shaded by underbrush and white pepper. Shows fine length, with a hint of licorice.

For those who’ve never enjoyed an Amarone wine, a bit of heaven does indeed await you. Or, if you’ve not delighted in a bottle lately, hopefully treats are on the way. The full name of this Italian wine is: Amarone della Valpolicella; an Italian red wine that is dry, but enchantingly provides illusions of sweetness. The irony goes on by the fact that “amarone” [ah-mah-ROH-nay] translates to “(the) grand bitter”. So what is it? Sweet? Bitter? Fruity?

The 2019 Allegrini Amarone ($100): While still vigorous like most Amarone, this wine stands apart for its expertly balanced power. It’s slightly lighter, clean, and fresh feel make it a bit more universal, so it’s a great luxury gifting option. It displays notes of cherry, dark chocolate, and tobacco. Can handle a hefty holiday table, or, can be served as a dessert wine thereafter. Saluti!