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Make it a red and white Christmas



With little more than a week to go until Christmas, it’s time to get serious about picking up some wines for the holidays.

This year I’m taking you off the beaten path so you can show up at the big party with something different. Notice I did not use the word "interesting" because that’s wine writer code for wine that is, shall we say, less than impressive.

Today’s picks should attract a bit more attention from drinkers if only because the people who made them were thinking out of the box, trying to produce a wine just a little bit different. It may sound easy to do but in today’s era of copycats with emphasis on the cat, dog or alligator labels, wines that tell a story are rare.

Be sure to take advantage of any in-store consultants, private or monopoly, to help you find the wine you need. Even if they can’t find what you’re looking for, just asking for a certain bottle will help them suggest a suitable replacement.

Have a white holiday season

We begin with white wine that, by the way, is the new red. Fresh, clean, fruity and crisp, the new whites led by sauvignon blanc, riesling, viognier and cool climate chardonnays are perfect party sippers.

The tale of the tail continues with a new white release from the Australian success story (Yellow Tail), and it hits all the right buttons. The Yellow Tail 2004 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($13) is a delicious blend of fresh, lemon-lime fruit and melon all served up in an easy opening screwcap bottle. Made to party.

Other off-beat blends include Du Peloux 2004 Ugni Viognier ($13) from France . The style is fresh (the screwcap is an excellent touch) mixing citrus and apricot notes with mineral ginger and baked apple caramel flavours. At private wine shops only.

See Ya Later Ranch 2004 Jimmy My Pal ($15) mixes B.C. chardonnay and pinot grigio to make a vanilla, creamy, baked apple, mineral, grapefruit rind flavours white. Look for this in VQA and private wine shops. Also in VQA wine stores is the Golden Mile 2004 Road 13 White ($15) a flavourful mix of ehrenfelser, pinot gris, schönburger and viognier. Both would pair well with spicy sushi-like appetizers.

Another party animal: the Flagstone 2005 Noon Gun ($13) , a riesling, chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc, sémillon and Morio muscat melange from South Africa. Crisp, fresh mineral, grapefruit rind, green apple flavours with a pronounced citrus rind finish.

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