In the spirit of “Wine Wednesday,” here are recommendations for some fine bubbly and two delicious red wines to help celebrate the holidays. These were published December 10 in The Washington Post, with lists of stores in the DMV that carry them, but without this little intro. It seems “drinking stars” was unintelligible to non-wine fiends, especially given the recent unfortunate news coverage of fraternity parties on a certain local university campus. I trust readers here will catch the reference to Champagne lore, however apocryphal it may be.
’Tis the season for drinking stars, so here are some more sparkling wines for your holiday celebrations, plus two delicious reds.
Piper Heidsieck Brut
Champagne, France, $50
A classic Champagne, with tree fruit flavors and crisp minerality and a satisfying, palate-invigorating finish. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.
Stolpman Vineyards Estate Grown Syrah 2011/2012
Santa Ynez Valley, Calif. $32
This excellent syrah from Santa Barbara County is a bit gangly at first, but it opens nicely to reveal blueberry and cherry fruit with an earthy edge. I tasted the 2011 most recently, while the distributor has recently begun selling the 2012 — no worries, as this winery is consistently good. ABV: 14.1 percent.
Mont Marcal Cava Brut 2011
2 Stars GREAT VALUE
Penedes, Spain, $15
Cava is a great bargain bubbly, made in the Champagne style. Inexpensive ones (and I mean $10 and under) tend to be good, while top end producers such as Mont Marcal make wines with depth and complexity. If you close your eyes and think real hard, they’re even Champagne-like. I recommend any Cava by this producer. The importer is Seattle-based Classical Wines, which has been importing terrific Spanish wines for 30 years. ABV: 12 percent.
Purple Hands Pinot Noir 2013
Willamette Valley, Ore. $24
Can we ever have too much Oregon pinot noir? Not in my book. While most Oregon wineries are currently selling the fantastic 2012 vintage, Purple Hands alerts us that 2013 will offer lots of pleasure too. This is simple, youthful and straightforward, but also rich and delicious. ABV: 12.5 percent.
La Jara Sprizz’ter
1 Star GREAT VALUE
Veneto, Italy, $8
La Jara produces some excellent organic Prosecco. The Sprizz’ter is the winery’s stab at a wine cocktail, a mix of sparkling wine, water and fruit flavoring. There’s raspberry scented Rosso and a citrusy Bianco that tastes like Sprite on steroids. These are juicy, slightly sweet and fun, ideal for cocktails, punch or sangria, or just for sipping over ice with a twist of orange. My mother-in-law loved them. Maybe Bartles & Jaymes were on to something after all. ABV: 5 percent.