Rhymes and Reasons: Four Christmas Wines From Joseph Phelps Vineyards

The holiday season is upon us, and I am sure that many people share my regrettable habit of postponing Christmas shopping until the last possible moment. However, there is no need to panic, because with the help of a popular Christmas ditty, I am going to recommend four wines from Joseph Phelps Vineyards that would make splendid presents for the wine lovers on your holiday gift list.

“YOU BETTER WATCH OUT,” otherwise you might overlook the beautifully crafted Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2010 Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($55), which is an uncommonly versatile dinner wine. I enjoyed it with my Thanksgiving turkey, and the French citizens of Burgundy have an expression, “Pinot Noir fattens beef,” and so I am confident that this bottling would also perfectly complement meals featuring grilled steak or pot roast. This wine has appealing cherry-berry and spice aromas that lead to red cherry, plum, and currant flavors accompanied by hints of tea, tangerine, cedar, and vanilla, a notably silky texture, and a smooth, lingering finish.

“YOU BETTER NOT CRY,” because there is no reason to when the delectable Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2010 Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($55) is available to amplify the pleasures of your holiday banquets, especially those that involve poultry or seafood. The seductive honeysuckle and peach aromas of this Chardonnay precede abundant, perfectly balanced citrus, peach, and lemongrass flavors enriched by notes of toast and vanilla that are made even more delicious by virtue of the wine’s creamy texture and which close in a long, vibrant finish.

“BETTER NOT POUT,” because you can be certain to delight any wine lover on your gift list with a wonder of New World winemaking – Joseph Phelps Vineyards Napa Valley 2009 Insignia ($200). This red wine has been a marvel of excellence and consistency at stratospheric levels for more than three decades, and the 2009 bottling is yet another extraordinary effort from the Joseph Phelps winemaking team. Blended from 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec sourced from 100% estate-grown Napa Valley vineyards, 2009 Insignia offers generous dark fruit and spice aromas that lead to deep, impressively concentrated blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, and currant flavors complicated by notes of plum, cocoa, spice, and vanilla-oak that are supported by supple tannins and which close in a resonant, extended finish.

“I’M TELLING YOU WHY”: There are, in fact, two reasons why. First, there is one of my favorite dessert wines – Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2011 Napa Valley Eisrebe ($50). Made in the traditional style of an “ice wine,” or “Eiswein,” as it is called in Germany, Eisrebe has aromas of jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, and apricot that lead to delicately honeyed peach, pear, and pineapple flavors. I can think of few ways to bring a holiday feast to better closure than with a glass of this incredibly luscious dessert wine.

And the second reason why: “SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN.”


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