Often, when selecting a wine, there is a tendency to select something that is commonly known. Certain wine styles, such as California Chardonnay, Australian Shiraz, or Pinot Noir from Burgandy are common choices. Others might spend a small fortune on wines that are given numbers by famous wine \reviewers. But wine is not something that should be drunk based on someone else’s palate, or because it is popular, but because it reflects well on the time, place, and situation for which it is being consumed.
This is why there are so many different wines and hundreds of different wine styles. For the upcoming holiday season, many people are looking for good wines to select for gifts. Such wines don’t have to be expensive. Rather, the wine that one selects as a gift should be both unique and reflective of the particular event.
Interesting and Inexpensive Sparkling Wines:
Advicesisters.com recently had the chance to review some interesting, inexpensive wines that can be enjoyed for numerous different occasions. Sparkling wines are almost always a great choice to bring as a house gift. Most commonly produced sparkling wines are pairable with a lot of different foods. The process of opening a sparkling wine always feels celebratory. There are hundreds of different sparkling wines, of which champagne is the most famous. What makes champagne special is not the grapes, not the winemaking, and not the price. Rather champagne producers must follow specific rules, the grapes must come from a particular region and must be of a limited number of varietals. But there are hundreds of other sparkling wines, including wines from France that are available at a much lower price point than champagne.
Crémant is a Sparkling Wine:
French wine that is not champagne is generally labeled Crémant. These wines can come from seven regions in France: Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Loire, and Crémant de Bourgogne. We recently sampled two of these wines from Faire La Fete (or in English, Have a Party).
Faire La Fête Cremant de Limoux Brut (NV: $20)
This is a sparkling wine made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc. French rules require that a wine labeled as a Cremant de Limoux contain at least 20 percent Chenin Blanc. It’s one of the main white wine varieties produced in the region. Faire La Fete Cremant is a light straw gold in color, with a light nose featuring vanilla and lemon notes. It has an effervescent, though not long-lived mousse, and is very clean across the palate. Up front it is yeasty like a good champagne, leading to citrus and apple notes. The finish has a slight black pepper note.
Faire La Fête Cremant de Limoux Brut Rose (NV: $20)
Like its partner, the rose version of Faire La Fête Cremant de Limoux is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc; however, this wine sits on the skins of the Pinot Noir for a longer period of time. This gives it a lovely light coral color and a light nose that is less yeasty with more berry notes. On the palate notes of raspberry and strawberry are up front, with a mid-palate with notes of brioche. As with the Brut, there are peppery notes on the finish which tends to linger much longer than the Brut.
Both of these wines are elegantly packaged and low in sugar. Their alcohol content of just 12.5 percent makes them both great choices for dinner parties.
Liquid Light Sauvignon Blanc (2021: $19)
This is a low-sugar Sauvignon Blanc varietal wine. The grape, which originated in the Bordeaux region of France is now widely grown all around the world. Today, some of the best fruit-forward Bordeaux varietals come from Washington State, where the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery is the dominant player. Liquid Light is one of CSM’s winery brands. Liquid Light wines are produced with no added sugar and are just 95 calories per serving.
This Sauvignon Blanc is pale lemon yellow in color with a nose of white flowers and grapefruit, with some mineral notes. On the palate, the wine has expected Sauvignon Blanc notes of tropical fruits, lime, and grapefruit with the florals from the nose coming through on the finish. This is an interesting new wine, and its low-sugar, low-calorie characteristics make it a great gift for anyone on a diet. Sauvignon Blanc is very approachable and easy to pair with a wide variety of dishes including seafood, chicken, or turkey. It’s also an excellent, refreshing wine to pair with vegetarian dishes and cheeses.
Three Different Types of Rioja:
When I usually think about Rioja what comes to mind is a fruity, flavorful red wine. This makes sense as about 91 percent of the grapes used in Rioja wines are red varietals, and the bulk of these are Tempranillo. But Rioja is not a wine type. La Rioja is actually a region located in the southern foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.
We recently tasted three inexpensive Rioja wines, a red, a white, and a rose. These wines were produced by El Coto de Rioja (in English, the Reserve), a winery founded
in 1975 that is now the largest producer in the region.
El Coto Crianza (2021: $15)
This wine is produced using only Tempranillo grapes and is aged in oak for at least 12 months with an additional six months resting in a bottle, prior to release. The wine has a lovely garnet red color, with a nose of raspberry, strawberry, and cocoa notes. It’s balanced with light tannins and good acidity. It is super fruit-forward, with raspberry, cherry, strawberry, and plum notes. There are some spicy notes on the finish.
El Coto Rioja Blanco (2021: $14)
This white Rioja is made from a blend of Viura, Verdejo, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes which are all estate grown on one of the most elevated vineyards in the region. It has a light yellow color with a nose featuring tropical fruit and melon. On the palate, the wine is very fresh with notes of honeysuckle, apple, pear, and citrus on the palate. The wine is easy to drink and will pair well with grilled chicken, seafood, and fish.
El Coto Rosado (2021: $14)
This is a rose wine from Rioja, something quite unusual. It’s a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, made by blending the free-run juice of the grapes and juice from a special maceration and later pressing. The wine must then be clarified before fermentation. The color is salmon pink with a nose of strawberry, red currant, and cherry. There’s a lot of berry and cherry flavors across the palate. Like its white brethren, the wine will pair well with light meats such as chicken and seafood.
These six wines are all reasonably priced, and generally available. They are all quite unique. Each of them would make a great house gift during the holidays, and in tandem with each other can cover nearly any dinner party. One of the great things about wine is that there is always something new to try. These six wines will provide a range of new and different profiles without breaking the bank.