I am always skeptical of holiday wine pairing articles that tell you the perfect wine to pair with a holiday meal. Holiday meals, of course, can vary enormously, and the right wine for your meal is the right wine for what you're eating. But we thought it would be fun to share what we're all planning for our holidays, so I asked our winemaking team, our tasting room managers, and our other key staff what they'd be drinking, both Tablas Creek and otherwise. I present their suggestions essentially unedited, so you can get a sense of everyone's personality as well as their wine choices.
And us? We're having dinner with my parents this Christmas, so we get the benefit of their choices! But the past few years, when we've been on our own, Christmas is a chance to break out a "special occasion" wine. I typically make a standing rib roast, and pick something I'd otherwise be too intimidated to open. Last year, we started with an old Saint Emilion: 1979 Haut Pontet. The fruit was pretty much gone, and it was more intellectually interesting than satisfying. So, we fell back to something safer and opened a 1989 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, which is at a spectacular stage right now. Mature but still lush and pretty close to perfect. And the warmth of the fruit from the Rhone made a dramatic contrast with the older and more herbal Bordeaux. Wow.
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 do change up the first course every year however, and we’ve settled on seared scallops with drizzled honey and apples. We’ll serve a 2006 Viognier (Guigal Condrieu) with the scallops and the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel with the hearty, rich roast.
Robert Haas, Founder
One favorite of mine is Champagne. I think that Roederer estate is the best of the California bubblys. In the imports, I would look for a vigneron estate-bottled wine. For red wine this year, I would be all for Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2006. Mom can choose the recipes.
Ryan Hebert, Winemaker
Tablas Creek 2006 Roussanne
This wine tastes exceptionally well right now and I really like how the rich honey notes play off the saltiness of the ham.
2007 Adelaida 2007 Pinot Noir
A very well made Pinot Noir that has the perfect elegance to compliment the turkey.
Chelsea Magnusson, Assistant Winemaker
Tablas Creek Vineyard 2005 Esprit de Beaucastel
In my family, we tend to skip the big meal on Christmas day and instead have a large sit-down meal on Christmas Eve. Almost every year, my family goes skiing on December 24thand we come home to have osso bucco for dinner. For us, this is a wonderful tradition, given the dish’s hearty, soul-satisfying character. A perfect pairing with this is the 2005 Esprit with its layers of earthy complexity and rich, deep fruit. As far as I’m concerned, this wine pairs wonderfully with tired muscles and a crackling fire in the fireplace.
On Christmas morning, the whole family comes to our house where we open presents around the tree with a glass of sparkling wine. I love Cava for its exceptional value and bright, fresh quality, and this particular wine is perfect for Christmas morning. It is a Rosado Brut Cava made from Pinot Noir grapes and the color (bright pink!) and the palette are both about as festive as it gets. And the best part? With a dollar tag coming in at less than $20, we aren’t nervous sabering the bottles to kick off the holiday!
Sylvia Montegue, Tasting Room Assistant Manager
Slow cooked stuffed pork shoulder roast with figs, garlic and Mourvedre will be the main attraction on our table for Christmas dinner 2009. The Mourvedre will be incorporated into the sauce for the meat as well as served along with the meal. I love to serve several vintages of a Tablas wine to showcase the differences that each year brings and to help our guests understand why winemaking is so interesting and definitely a challenge. This succulent cut of meat with figs pairs well with the notes of plum, spice and roasted meats that is evident in the 2006/2007 Tablas Creek Mourvedre.
One can't celebrate the holidays without a bubbly. Period. On New Year's Eve we will have diver scallops with brown butter & shallots paired with Camile Bonville Grand Cru Brut. This is a bright, fresh splash of citrus that cuts the richness of the scallops and wakes up your palate on a dark winter's evening.
John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
I'm still working on the menu, but it looks like I'm going to start with a Bouillabaisse. I will likely serve the 2008 Tablas Creek Rosé. An obvious non-Tablas choice would be a Rosé from Bandol or Tavel, but I think a White Burgundy, a White Bordeaux, or even a Rosé Champagne would work.
The main course will include Lamb Chops with braised root vegetables. I'm leaning toward serving the 2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel, but might also substitute the 2006 Perrin et Fils Gigondas or a Mourvedré-based red from Bandol.
A work in progress!
Monica O'Connor, Tasting Room Team Lead
My two wine suggestions for the holidays are the Tablas 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel and J Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.
Though the 2006 Esprit de Beaucastel is a bit obvious given that it is just so elegant & pretty, this choice for me is about the pleasure and comfort of the holidays enjoyed with family and friends. The 2006 Esprit has a magical quality - lush body, serious earth and playful fruit, extraordinarily balanced. What it has to say, it whispers ~ and it says something new each time so you keep coming back.
I find this wine a sensational pairing with a great variety of foods: ahi or salmon, filet mignon, risotto, Tuscan bean soup with fresh herbs; and really fine over good conversation as well.
J Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir RRV I really like for its interesting contrasts and the way they integrate. It has a lovely nose of cassis and darjeeling tea, some earth and berries on the palate, with gentle tannins and pleasing acidity. I would pair this wine with duck, perhaps with a reduction of pan juices, wine and figs.
Tommy Oldre, National Sales Manager
For my Tablas pick, I am selecting our 2007 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, for a couple of reasons. First off, I think it is one of the prettiest wines we have ever made. Secondly, I think it is a great match for most preparations of ham, which I know I will be having this holiday season. Specifically, I really enjoy the way the ‘07 Esprit Blanc, with its Roussanne-based richness, courts the salty richness of the ham and also how the lemony acids in the wine can counterbalance the sweetness offered in most glazes.
For my non-Tablas pick, I select Gasoton Chiquet’s NV Tradition Champagne. Honestly, for me, this is an easy call. This wine is always enjoyable for me to drink; it pairs beautifully with many foods, it has a historically significant presence to it (as the majority of Champagne does for me), and my girlfriend is always happier with me when I bring it home.
Gustavo Prieto, Tasting Room Team Lead
I would pick the Esprit de Beaucastel 2003, because I love the richness of Mourvedre, especially in 2003 that's 50%, nice earthiness, softness and balance and it is drinking quite well now. Also I'm thinking of cooking lamb for Christmas...
For a non Tablas wine I would pick a sparkling wine, since the holidays are all about celebration and I think there is nothing better than a glass of good Champagne, maybe a 1990 Dom Perignon...