Well, it was very much a red wine Holiday Season for me.  I hope you had plenty of whatever you fancied as well.  Bubbles played a big part of the holiday celebrations and since I stocked up on  Gérard Bertrand Thomas Jefferson Brut Rosé Crémant de Limoux – Rose – $22.95, France 2017 that was featured last month, it lead off  a number of seasonal festivities. 

I also noticed that one of my other old favorites in bubbles was back on the shelves…maybe it never left.

Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne – $21.95, Burgundy France

What the Experts say: Founded in 1877, Bouillot was one of the first to experiment with the crafting of sparkling Burgundy wine. This blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay is ever delightful, fruity and dry with pretty strawberry, citrus and a touch of spice. Sip or pair with smoked salmon.

What do I think:  A lip smacker, pleasant and refreshing, red berry flavors with a citrus tang to finish.

Gnarly Head Chardonnay – $16.80, California

What the Experts say: Gnarly Head’s vineyards are some of the oldest, most respected vineyards in California’s Lodi region. Their chardonnay has aromas of citrus, ripe apple and butterscotch. It is very dry, with flavours of ripe apple, citrus and the toasty and vanilla notes contributed by oak.

What do I think:  Fresh and vibrant, delivering some pineapple, pear and melon tastes, some body to it – smooth and tasty.

Maybe the find of the month, might need to be looking in more than just Vintages for more of these gems.

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon – $15.95, Napa California

What the Experts say: Ruby red colour; bright aromas of blueberries, blackberries, cherries, spice and oak; the palate is dry, full-bodied and shows more ripe berry flavours, including black currant, cherry, vanilla, with a touch of smoke on the finish.

What do I think:  Overwhelmed and surprised at just how good this is.  Smooth, full bodied and flavourful as stated above.

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.95, Horse Heaven Hills 2016, Washington, USA

What the Experts say:  Columbia Crest has risen from strength to strength since emerging in 1983, and Vintages customers have fallen in love with this focused and appealing Cab. Smooth, generous and fruity with chocolate and coffee notes. Try with coffee-and-porter-braised brisket.

What do I think:  Just love going to Christmas dinners when there are other wino’s in the room!  Another that caught me off guard, don’t generally look to Washington for wine – better start.   Smooth, full bodied with a silky finish.

Right up there with Smoking Loon as a wine find!  Meet…

Alceño 12 Meses Monastrell 2014 – $15.95, Monastrell (Mourvèdre)

What the Experts say: An ultra-ripe blackberry nose with grilled nuts and mocha. The palate has muscular tannins and a long blackberry core that holds impressively.  Score – 92. (James Suckling, jamessuckling.com, July 24, 2017)

What do I think:  I don’t know why I don’t always start in the Spanish wine section?   Amazing 2014 at $16 bucks, muscular it is, smooth and full bodied.  From pre-dinner through dinner you won’t tire of this one.  Had never heard of Monastrell.  A steal!

Alceño Premium 50 Barricas 2016 – $16.95, Syrah Blend

What the Experts say: 85% Shiraz, 15% Monastrell. Intense and complex, this characterful wine has a fine tension and is chock-full of notes of tobacco, cocoa, herbs, cedar, sweet plums and roasted coffee. Score – 90. (Decanter World Wine Awards, 2018)

What do I think:  Syrah is not one of my go to wines, however having recently tried the TW 12 above from the same Alceno family, I discovered Monastrell.  Could not see how I could go wrong.  Prefer TW12 but still great for the price.

A couple of my favorite’s, a steak eaters delight! AMARONE!!!!

Cesari Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC – $39.90, Italy

What the Experts say: Deep ruby colour; dried cherries, plums, herb and tobacco aromas; dry, medium to full bodied; rich flavours plums, dried red berries and spice; long finish.

What do I think:  If I only had one wine to drink for the rest of my life…it would be Amarone!

Masi Costasera Amarone Classico DOC – $45.00, Italy

What the Experts say: Deep purple ruby colour; rich, ripe, plummy cherry aromas and flavours with hints of chocolate, spice and earth; full- bodied with a firm, long finish.

What do I think:  I repeat… If I only had one wine to drink for the rest of my life…it would be Amarone!