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Wine Picks of the Week - continued

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December 11, 2014

The Santa Claus parade spread good cheer throughout downtown last weekend, which means the holiday season is now fully upon us-and so, perhaps, is your worry about being prepared. You need to finish your shopping and find easy party ideas-and fast! Fortunately, wine is always a welcome gift, and you don't have to spend a lot to make a splash. Same with entertaining: a little fizz, a cheese-and-charcuterie board or one of Bosa Foods' oven-ready lasagnas (I love these!) and a crisp salad, and the revelry will take care of itself. Complete the picture with this week's trio of picks: a dressed-to-impress Champagne, a local budget bubble, and a hearty $10 red that's perfect for a party or a workplace gift exchange.

 

 

Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut

$54.99

France. +546390

Run, don't walk, to snag a few bottles of this smashing value. (Grand cru champagne for $55-seriously?) Le Mesnil was the runaway Best of Show winner in last year's Wine Awards, and it dazzled yet again in the just-released results from the 2015 edition. Blanc de blancs (which means 100 percent chardonnay) bubbly is revered for its elegance, intensity, and ageability. With two years in the bottle to develop complex layers of toasty, nutty flavours and creamy mousse, this champagne is made for celebrations. It's an effortless match with brunch Eggs Benny, but try it, too, with an easy gourmet dinner of individual salmon en croute: de-skin salmon filets (try topping them with sautéed leeks, or spinach and pine nuts) and wrap them in defrosted puff pastry that you've rolled thin; brush with egg wash and bake until gorgeously golden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summerhill Cipes Brut NV

$26.95

B.C. +314419

Cipes has a masterful touch with sparkling wines (I'm a big fan of their super-mature Ariel, as well as the complex 2008 Blanc de Noirs) and this nicely dry sparkler will appeal to a broad audience. It weaves three of the Okanagan's best white grapes-typically, 65 percent riesling, 25 per cent chardonnay, and the balance is pinot planc-and is aged for well over a year to encourage a delicate toastiness that adds weight and interest to its fresh, citrus-driven flavours. Frisky bubbles are perfect for the holiday season, and this brut's crisp acidity will slice through the richness of a charcuterie platter or cheese straws. Or just give it a good chill and sip it solo in a slim flute.

 

 

 

 

 

Castano La Casona Old Vines Monastrell 2013

$9.99

Spain. +40002

An atypically cooler vintage saw rain replace recent drought in Spain's wine lands, giving extra freshness and vitality to this knockout deal. A nose perfumed with tobacco flower starts the charge of dark plummy fruit, pungent herbs, and subtle spice. There's a smoky, meaty note as well, and a slightly bitter, feral finish that will link nicely to food. There aren't a lot of wine regions like Yecla that can conjure up a $10 wine made with 40- to 60-year-old vines, and that's so savoury, juicy, and appealingly rustic. Our Wine Awards judges were wowed by the value here, and there could not be a more perfect red for a party crowd, a gift exchange, a present for the teacher or dog walker, etc.

 

 

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