Food & Drink » Anthony Gismondi on Wine

Last minute holidaze wine shopping

From Champagne to port — the best picks in the corridor

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If you've put off your wine shopping until the last minute, you're in luck. Well, maybe. Although we can't guarantee that you'll find all of today's wine picks this late into the holiday-buying season, we've put together a list of "big value" wines that, for the most part, are available in the Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton corridor.

We begin with the all-purpose holiday wine — champagne — and, in this case, we look to my favourite style: the blanc de blancs, or white from whites. Chardonnay is the grape of choice here and it produces an exquisite, elegant, sparkler you can serve anytime to anyone.

We love the value you'll find in Champagne Le Mesnil N/V ($50.99), a classy little bubble that brings purity and complexity to the mix. A rare Grand Cru offering at this price that easily over delivers in the champagne category. Gougeres anyone? For a slightly bigger statement look to the Henriot Blanc de Blancs Brut N/V ($76.99) and its flinty, toasted popcorn, lemon curd and brûlée aromas and chalky, lemon curd core. Perfect with rich goose paté.

If Christmas dinner wines are your challenge this week, consider selecting both red and white wines for the big day. Remember, whether it's turkey, ham, beef or salmon, the wines must be able to stand up to all the flavours found in the trimmings, not to mention the general ruckus that besets the festive dinner table.

When it comes to white wine, the stars would be dry or just off-dry as in riesling, viognier, gew├╝rztraminer and chardonnays. May we suggest a local pick — Quails' Gate Dry Riesling 2016 ($15.99). Expect a fresh, green, lime-apple affair lined with orange flecks and a dry, mineral bite in the back to slice through your turkey. Viognier takes us to the south of France for the Paul Mas Viognier 2015 ($12.99). This wine is a go-to white for a variety of West Coast seafood dishes but will work with turkey and ham as well.

"A ripe and fragrant garden in a glass" is our descriptor of the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Interloper Gewurztraminer 2015 ($16.99), perfect for the bird or a favourite Indian curry. Chardonnay fans have a lot of choice but locally we suggest reaching out for one of the best: Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay Osoyoos Vineyard Estate 2015 ($49.99). The latest version has 25-per-cent mid-valley juice from the spectacular Naramata Ranch Vineyard adding another layer to its cool, chiseled, floral, mineral style.

Red wines need to be ready to drink and have low tannins, so think pinot noir, or the south of France this Christmas. A rare, affordable pinot in the market is the Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir 2014 ($19.99), a juicy, easy-drinking pinot with earthy, cherry, beetroot flavours and a twist of oak. Still with California, the reliable La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 ($30.99) brings wild strawberry and baking spices to the table with soft, silky textures.

The Côtes du Rhône category can still over-deliver like no other for the price. Two reds for the dinner or entertaining category are the reliable M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône ($15.49) and its attractive savoury, black cherry, orange peel, peppery fruit with a touch of chocolate, and the equally well-made Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2014 ($14.49), a dry, fresh, elegant red with floral, black raspberry, licorice flavours. In a year when the government stores have unabashedly jumped liquor prices, these two wines remind us of the strength and size of the south of France.

Finally, may we suggest a bottle or two of port to while away the cold, rainy or snowy afternoons of winter. If you're the type who keeps a bottle of port on the sideboard, our choice for 2017 is the Taylor's 325th Anniversary Limited Edition Reserve Tawny Port ($48.99). The "325th Anniversary" is a blend of 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-year-old aged tawny ports. There is no need to wait to drink this bottle nor is there any rush to drink it once it's open. It's the story of all tawny port in a single bottle.

Our vintage port pick is a real treat at 32 years of age — Dow 1985 Vintage Port ($144.99). This will need decanting and about 45 to 60 minutes in the decanter. Expect a fully mature port replete with figgy, raisiny fruit with bits of clove and spirit in the back end. A lovely refined drink to contemplate the year that was.

Have a wonderful holiday break and a Happy New Year and, please, drink responsibly.

Anthony Gismondi is a globetrotting wine writer who makes his home at the southern end of the Sea to Sky Highway in West Vancouver, British Columbia. For more of his thoughts on wine, log onto www.gismondionwine.com.

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