Wine is an affordable luxury. You can enjoy it even during a pandemic year with much economic uncertainty. Especially welcome as an occasion for celebration, it makes a perfect match with holiday meals like steak, prime rib, ham, blue-veined cheeses, and decadent chocolate desserts. From the dazzling superabundance of Northwest wines, here are five appealing wine ideas for your holiday season.
King Estate Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
A great introduction to the excellence of Oregon Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Located near Eugene, Oregon, this magnificent estate is a cool site, making it ideal for producing a textbook 2018 King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris ($29), redolent of pears and quince with crisp acidity, and the 2018 King Estate Pinot Noir ($29), tasting of tart cranberries and raspberries with nicely integrated oak. www.kingestate.com.
Long Shadows Blends – This winery boasts an all-star team of international vintners, crafting blends with imagination and creativity. The Chester-Kidder (2017, Columbia Valley, $60) is a luscious New World mix of Cabernet and Syrah brimming with blackberries and crushed herbs. Pirouette (2017, Columbia Valley, Bordeaux Blend, $65) reveals a dense, powerful core of dark fruits with impeccable balance and a smooth, seamless finish. www.longshadows.com.
Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, Chardonnay – Treat yourself to superb Oregon wines with a Burgundian pedigree. For over 30 years, the Drouhin family has brought French winemaking skills to the Willamette Valley, crafting an elegant 2017 Roserock Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay with a palate of apple and pear, and a spicy 2017 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir with hints of tart cherries, herbs and a satisfying minerality in the finish. $70 for the pair. www.domainedrouhin.com.
Abacela Port 2015 – Bring out the figgy pudding to pair with this rich, sultry, port-style wine from Abacela, an innovative producer in southern Oregon specializing in Spanish-style varieties, including this vintage ruby-style nectar made with five traditional Douro wine grapes grown on the estate. Pair with Rogue River Blue Cheese for a match made in culinary heaven. $25 (half bottle). www.abacela.com.
Quilceda Creek Cabernet 2017 – Taste the elevated essence of Washington fruit in this world-class Cabernet from one of the most highly rated wineries in the state. This Cabernet is the total package, a seamless blend of oak, dark fruits, olives, spices and a lingering finish of crushed herbs. It makes a stellar pairing for a Christmas dinner of prime rib, steak, or juicy herb-encrusted rack of lamb. $200. www.quilcedacreek.com.
Bio – Nicholas O’Connell is the author of the forthcoming book, Crush: Adventures in the Wine Trade and the founder of www.thewritersworkshop.net