The music of Christmas has really spoken to me this year, more so than any year in past memory. Perhaps it’s the inherent joy that comes through, not only in the old favorites, but in carols of recent discovery.
I decided upon Wine Indulgences as my theme, allowing myself the indulgence not to have to pair these wines with food! Because wallowing in hedonistic pleasure over the Holidays seems a necessary part of the season, and great wine on its own is certainly one of Life’s great Pleasures!
But why not “pair” the music of the season with a Vinuous Delight that each song evokes?
Blue) the haunting lyrics include: “I would teach my feet to fly, I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” And what better to skate away with than an Ice Wine. I highly recommend 2009 Adelsheim Deglace from one of Oregon’s founding wineries- -gorgeous with just the right amount of gratuitous sweetness.
For something a bit more reserved and serious, let’s listen to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen beautifully sung
Great wine on its own is certainly one of Life’s great Pleasures!
Let’s start at the top then by choosing one of the truly inspirational and cherished hymns Amazing Grace. The lyrics, “How sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.” Sung by Sarah Brightman on A Winter Symphony, one can only be reminded of their own rite of passage into wine, which inevitably came from their first taste of French Burgundy. Many a wine professional has been transformed by such (Joe Davis of Arcadian Winery comes to mind). So to save you years of searching, allow me to recommend a stellar example: 2006 Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru. It’s said that great Burgundy makes you want to weep for its ethereal quality, or if nothing else, it gives you pause, allowing you to drink in its subtlety and indescribable nuances.
On a lighter note, I am cheered by Happy Christmas, sung by either of the great Sarahs: Sarah Brightman, or Sarah McLachlan on her Wintersong album. “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”. It’s such a carefree, merry little tune that inspires you to go skipping over the river and through the woods. The wine that comes to mind is 2009 Argiolas “Costamolino” Vermentino. Anything but pricey, yet it’s always the definition of crystalline balance and minerality.
And speaking of rivers, on River by Sarah McLachlan (or Joni Mitchell on by Jen Slocumb of Martha’s Trouble on their Christmas Lights CD. “Oh tidings of comfort and joy.” And what could more comforting than a perfectly made Napa Cabernet Sauvignon? I was absolutely wowed, yet silenced by the 2007 Grgich Hills Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. More Bordeaux-like with finesse and elegance.
How can one celebrate the holidays without great Champagne? And the music in the background? Do You Hear What I Hear, crooned by the incomparable Carole King. “Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy…Do you hear what I hear?” What we hear is the clinking of Champagne flutes, so I recommend one old favorite and one new discovery. Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame,” when tasted recently, it was just as rich, toasty and satisfying as ever (and available BTG at Ocean through the Holidays). Or for the lesser known option, a Grower’s Champagne: N.V. Jean Milan Brut “Special”. Henry Milan, who is considered one of the true visionary growers in the small village of Ogers, creates cuvees that are penetrating and powerful.
One of the most revered voices of our time is that of Andrea Bocelli, who warms us with his rendition of White Christmas, “May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white.” And may all your favorite whites be White Burgundy! If you can find it, don’t pass up the 2008 Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet “Vieilles Vignes” . It gives a new meaning to Chardonnay.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” begins The Christmas Song sung by Andrea Bocelli (with Natalie Cole) on his My Christmas CD. So what does one drink with said chestnuts? Why not a 2001 Felsina Vin Santo? This dessert wine as described by Robert Parker: “Dried figs, plums, prune, cinnamon, licorice and dried flowers are woven together in a fabric of unmistakable class.”
Harry Connick Jr. does a beautiful rendition of Song For The Hopeful on his What A Night CD, and I had to include it as a hopeful prayer for the New Year that is nigh upon us. A snippet of the lyrics: “nothing can shade a seasoned soul; it’s all the loss that makes it whole; this is a song for the hopeful; this is a song for the faithful.” So what to pair with these lovely words? A lesser-known bottling worth the search: 1991 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja. The quintessential beauty of this wine is inherent in their philosophy: “For us, tradition and conviction are life-long attitudes. By ‘tradition’, we do not mean immobility and opposition to change; rather a dynamic and aesthetic concept in maintaining eternal principles and criteria.” They walk their talk and the wine is pure and divine.
In wrapping things up I’ll quote Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas is You (and a Great Bottle Of Wine)!!!