High on the Vine: 7 essential wines for Christmas dinner

Picks by Jordan Smelt of Cakes & Ale

1217MorgonWineIt’s been less than a month since Thanksgiving, but with relatives on the way, it’s again time to consider the most important of questions: What do I drink now? Satisfying a broad spectrum of tastes on a limited budget can be challenging, but for Jordan Smelt, the sommelier at Cakes & Ale, it’s a matter of offering light and heavy, oak and unoaked, and spicy and fruity versions of red and whites.

All of the wines he mentions below are available at Cakes & Ale’s recently-opened wine shop next door in the bakery. Can’t swing all seven of these bottles? Grab that Beaujolais Blanc and the Morgon ‘Les Charmes’. Both are under $25 and offer stunning value. 

NV Tarlant Champagne Brut Nature, $57.95
“I absolutely love Champagne, and this is my new favorite. Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, this bone-dry beauty is bright, tart, and the ideal aperitif before Christmas dinner.”

NV Overnoy-Crinquand Cremant du Jura Rose, $36.95
“If you’ve ever wondered what a sparkling red wine would taste like, this is about as close as you can get. Made from the unfamiliar Ploussard grape, this bubbly is almost purple in color and bone dry, with abundant strawberry and raspberry flavors.”

2013 Terres Dorees Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc, $21.95
“Only about 1% of Beaujolais wine is white, so don’t blame yourself if you’ve never tried one. This crisp, fruity, un-oaked Chardonnay from 80+ year old vines is a phenomenal value for your dollar, but definitely not the right wine for your aunt who only drinks the oaky/buttery stuff.”

2011 Le Cigare Blanc, Bonny Doon Vineyard, $28.95
“Randall Grahm is a mad scientist who makes California wines in his very unique, uncompromising style.  Savory without being too rich or heavy, this blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne from Monterey is tasty enough on its own, but really shines with seafood and roasted bird.”

2012 Nicolas Chemarin Morgon ‘Les Charmes’, $24.95
“This is damn near perfect Beaujolais.  Powerful and sturdy yet extremely elegant, with the perfect amount of sour cherry funk. For best results, drink often.”

2012 Nicolas Badel Saint Joseph, $34.95
“Tis’ the season for Syrah, and this gem from Nicolas Badel—who only started bottling his own wines in 2010—will be a crowd-pleaser at your dinner table. Meaty, spicy, and fruity.”

2012 La Torre Rosso di Montalcino, $37.95
“Rosso di Montalcino is like a box of chocolates, but put your trust in this Sangiovese from La Torre. It’s broad-shouldered and long, with complex red fruit and earthy flavors.”