The idea that there is one perfect holiday wine is silly. There is no one single holiday meal, and no one single holiday group. But at the same time, it's fun to peek into other worlds and see what people are planning. I asked several key members of the Tablas Creek team what they'll be drinking at the holidays this year. There was no requirement that the wine be a Tablas Creek wine, and as you'll see, several non-Tablas suggestions were offered. But there's a healthy amount of Tablas Creek in the plans, too, which has to be a good sign.
As usual, I've left the recommendations in the contributors' original words. In alphabetical order:
Neil Collins, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager
I think for our holiday meal we will begin with a dry Bristol's cider which is always a good fit for the season and the food. With old Tom himself I think I will seek out a demi-sec Vouvray, I suspect that the sweetness will pair well with the turkey coupled with the fact that I am currently intrigued by the Loire Valley wines. And needless to say there will be a bottle of TCV Roussanne on hand, probably the 2002 because that is a sure thing. HAPPY HOLIDAY
Chelsea Franchi, Assistant Winemaker
This is going to be a very special holiday season for my family for many reasons, so we’re going to pull out all the stops when it comes to food and wine. Last year, I had the great privilege to sit in on a Panoplie vertical tasting at the winery just before Christmas, and the 2004 Panoplie struck me as a wine my parents would thoroughly enjoy. Its character is deep, lush and ripe with bittersweet chocolate, gorgeous sweet plum and profound fig notes. It certainly carries a “wow” factor upon first impression and only becomes more impressive with time in the glass. Honestly, I don’t think it matters what this wine is paired with – I’m sure it’ll please its audience regardless.
We traditionally kick off our Christmas morning with a few bottles of bubbly to enjoy as we open presents with the whole family. I’m a fan of just about all bubbles, but my favorites are always on the creamy and yeasty end of the spectrum. My choice this year, the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige Extended Tirage, is a wonderful value in my opinion, considering the extended sur lie aging and the use of méthode traditionelle fermentation techniques. I love finding wines that taste more expensive than they really are, and this happens to be one of them.
Nicole Getty, Director of Wine Club, Hospitality and Events
The traditional Christmas feast at my family's house is a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. We usually change up the first course every year but last year was such a success, we’re doing it again! We will be pairing seared scallops with drizzled honey and apples served with a 2008 Viognier (Halter Ranch Vineyard) and the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel with the hearty, rich roast.
Robert Haas, Partner
This year, the family is going seashore for our Christmas dinner with Maine lobsters from Barbara Scully's Oyster Farm located at the mouth of the Damariscotta River. They will be arriving at our house live on the 24th after less than 24 hours out of the water. We eschew fancy preparations for simply boiling them in salt water and serving them with lemon and melted butter. Yum!
Our wine choice is Tablas Creek's Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2007: an intense minerally white with ripe, full flavors of stone fruits balanced with bright acidity that goes beautifully with this quite rich shellfish presentation.
John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
As always, we'll begin Christmas Eve dinner with a fish or shellfish course. This year we’ll look back to a favorite, Steamed Mussels with Garlic Sabayon, from the Herbfarm Cookbook. Really, just about any clean, dry white will work. The Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc loves garlic and would be a great choice, as would our Vermentino. But a dinner guest promised to bring a favorite Chablis (I don’t know the producer), so we’ll put that front and center and go from there.
For a main course we’ll have a rack of pork coated in herbs, crushed fennel and black pepper, roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary, and braised fennel. An earthy red wine of medium weight seems to me to be the ticket. The Tablas Creek 2008 Côtes de Tablas is the obvious choice from our current roster, with its deft texture and fruity, slightly herbal underpinnings. I’m also going to open our 2003 Esprit de Beaucastel, which was the star of a recent library vertical tasting. It may be slightly weighty for the pork, but it’s so delicious right now that I really don’t care if it’s the perfect match. Other wines I would try are an old-school Rioja (read: not over extracted or oaked), or a high-quality, Grenache-based Rhone.
Tommy Oldre, National Sales Manager
It looks like most of the holiday gatherings I will be attending will be in the potluck category and, for me, this equates to bringing our 2008 Cotes de Tablas. It's versatility and friendly profile make it a great match for many dishes, and many palates, and it's always a nice way to introduce Tablas Creek to any new faces I may meet. I also plan to have Champagne at the ready. I'm not sure which producers I will be drinking, but Bonnaire is a safe bet, as is Billecart-Salmon. I enjoy drinking Champagne for all that it is as a beverage and for all of the celebratory emotion it can inspire. For me, the chance to celebrate family and friends, and to celebrate with family is friends, is what this time is year is really all about.
Deanna Ryan, Assistant Tasting Room Manager
We plan on serving an English style prime-rib dinner, with Yorkshire pudding of course, and Trifle for dessert. At this point, I am thinking of opening an 01 Founders Reserve and the 03 Esprit de Beaucastel.