Seven wines to make holiday hearts sing

It’s been a busy few weeks attending wine tastings at local shops and here are some of my recommendations for your consideration.

Butternut Chardonnay lives up to its name: buttery, creamy and delightful.
Butternut Chardonnay lives up to its name: buttery, creamy and delightful.

2011 Butternut Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $11.99 — The BNA Wine Group is headquartered in the heart of the country western music world — Nashville, Tenn. — yet the sweet sounds are coming from its St. Helena office in Napa Valley. Winemaker Tony Leonardini grew up working in local vineyards and crafted his first wine, a Cabernet, from backyard grapes in 2000. He must have liked the movies, because his Butternut Chardonnay grips like a big box of buttered popcorn. It’s a creamy, oaky delight with plenty of carmelized honey, hazelnut and apple. A great change of pace from unoaked varietals, this is bound to be a party favorite.

2011 The Rule, Cabernet Suavignon, Napa Valley, $14.99  — BNA Wines is on a hot streak with its oak-infused bottlings and this lush Cab gets well-balanced  push from touches of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. Layers of strawberry and dark cherry rule with a subtle creme brulee sensation. Try it with a grilled sirloin or beef tenderloin.

Louis Jardot Macon-Villages Chardonnay, France, $10.99 — A bargain Burgundy  from a consistently solid winery. Clean, crisp and fresh, this unoaked varietal generates floral aromas and pure citrus flavors to excite the palate. Try with grilled swordfish and Oue, la la!

2011 Trapiche Old Cask Malbec, Argentina, $9.99 — I can’t say enough about South American Malbecs when it comes to exceptional quality. Here is another. The color in the glass — rich violet hues — is inviting and the blackberry and warm spices pouring forth clinches the deal on a steal for the holiday season. Good with just about any meat dish you can make.

Veramonte Primus Red Blend, Chile, $12.99 — Every year this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Camenere gets a little bit better. The 2010 vintage is more convincing as a Bordeaux-style red: good fruit forward taste of chocolate cherry and cedar. It  finishes long and somewhat dry. If California made this, it would cost twice as much.

2010 Domaine Chandon Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $17.99 — This is why I hunt for exceptional deals. This wine regularly sells for $35 a bottle but was priced for a one-day blowout at $17.99 recently at the Wine Connextion in North Andover. I tasted it and bought two bottles. This is only the second vintage Cabernet from Domaine Chandon, which specializes in producing a splendid array of sparkling wines. They’ve taken their expertise to a new level with this effort. If you can get it at this price, it’s worth the experience.

Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir, Central Coast (CA), $15.99 — When spending good money on a Pinot Noir, you want a consistently smooth, velvety wine that delivers extravagant flavors of cherry pie, strawberry rhubarb and a bit of cola. Here’s a Pinot Noir of wonderful style and grace, a fitting piece de resistance for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day feast. Enjoy!

Send comments to