Weekend Wine

A random walk down the best values in holiday wines!

Sparkling Wines

A good sparkling wine goes with everything from apps to desserts, from a pre-dinner shellfish to an after dinner cheese tray. Champagne is the gold standard, but there's no way we’ll ever find a $15 Champagne. Luckily, there are plenty of other wonderful options.

Want Old World? Look to Spain’s Cava, especially Segura Viudas Brut Reserva ($10).
Want New World? Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noir ($15) or, the standard, Gruet Blanc de Noir ($14).
Want Texan? Texas winemakers are pretty darned proud of their wines.
Want to spend more? Buy Champagne. My favorites are Bollinger ($60), Ruinart Blanc de Blanc ($70), or Taittinger Comtes de Champagne ($200).

Photo Courtesy of the Winery

White Wines

More people buy Chardonnay than anything else and you can always do that (get Chateau Ste. Michelle’s or Waterbrook, both $8), but why not try wines made from grapes that originated in France’s Rhȏne area? These are nonpareil for holiday foods, and they also happen to be grapes that are excellent for Texas vineyards.

Want Old World? Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($15)
Want New World? Bonny Doon’s Gravitas ($15)
Want Texan? McPherson’s Les Copains White is a wine we Texans can pour with pride anywhere in the world ($18). Ditto for Pedernales Cellars' Viognier ($18).
Want to spend more? Try Treana’s Blanc, a magnificent wine, year after year, always worth way more than the list price of $25.

Winemakers Jason “JC” Diefenderfer and Austin Hope of Hope Family Wines, makers of Treana wines (Photo Courtesy of the Winery)

Rosés

Rosés are the Meryl Streep of the wine world: They can do anything. And for some reason – lucky for us – they stubbornly maintain their low prices. Plus, you can use them for every course except dessert.

Want Old World? Muga Rioja Rosé ($12) is easy to find, but Cellar Barcelòna carries the benefit of supporting one of Austin’s great original winemakers, Russell Smith, now a resident in Spain.
Want New World? Robert Hall Rosé ($15) is made by another Texan in exile, the great Don Brady, a guy who deserves a statue in the Walk of Texas Winemakers.
Want Texan? Becker Provencal ($15, currently hard to find), but a great second choice is Llano Estacado’s Signature Rosé ($15).
Want to spend more? I love Domaine Tempier’s Bandol Rosé ($65), but the world of pink wine has many narrow alleyways and it’s worth asking a trusted wine seller for current advice.

Award-winning Texas winemaker Kim McPherson (Photo Courtesy of the Winery)

Red Wines

Of course, this is where most wine lovers will settle, and the grapes of the Rhône shine brightest. Although I will remind you of the great assistance provided by our friends at Fox Searchlight Pictures who, 13 years ago, destroyed the marketplace for one of God’s greatest grapes, the Merlot. Yes friends, I’m referring to that great vino touchstone Sideways, and Merlot is a perfect wine for turkey, ham, and many green vegetables.

Rene Rostaing, the rock star of Côte-Rôtie. Or perhaps we should say the poet. You get the idea. (Photo Courtesy of the Winery)

Want Old World? Château de Ségriès Cotes du Rhône ($15) or even better, their Lirac for $20.
Want New World? Château Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot ($13) or Qupe Syrah ($17)
Want Texan? Texas wineries have been so aggressive on their upward pricing trends that it’s difficult to find a really good red wine in this price range. Llano Estacado’s Signature Red ($11) is dependable. You can also thank wine pioneer Kim McPherson for keeping the lid on prices. I could have mentioned all three of his Les Copains (red, white, and rosé) which are often available in the $15-18 range, but try his La Herenecia ($18), a blend of Tempranillo along with Rhône varietals. Brennan Vineyards' Buffalo Roam ($17) is a bit fruitier but perfect for folks who will feature a ham with dinner.
Want to spend more? It’s not hard to burst into the five-figure range, but unless you are a hedge fund manager, let’s stick to good values. For fans of wines that are thick enough to have to lick off your teeth after each sip, try Mollydooker’s Shiraz Carnival of Love ($80). This is controversial stuff, not for the genteel of spirit. On the opposite end of the scale, for connoisseurs of minerality and dryness, Rene Rostaing's "Côte Blonde" Côte-Rôtie ($120) is matchless.

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