12 Wines for the Holidays | December 7, 2018

12 Wines for the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Filled with parties and dinners and quiet moments at home. All of these call for special wines and we’ve rounded up our top 12 of the year for our annual 12 HOLIDAY WINES feature. 
This is not an easy thing to select! We are looking to capture the spirit of the year, the products that moved us that we are most excited to share. Sparkling, crisp and complex whites, a rose to raise your eyebrows, fresh reds (perfect served chilled with a turkey sandwich) and powerful reds to stop you in your tracks – it’s all here. We lovingly stand behind each of these wines, hand-crafted by a winery we’ve visited and care deeply about.
Less talk and more wines! Let the list begin. 


Bobinet NV RIFIFI Pétillant Naturel Loire Valley, France
$41.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Bobinet is one of the great new recent additions to our portfolio that we can’t stop talking about. Lovingly crafted biodynamic wines from the heart of Saumur, we adore everything this hubsand and wife team makes, but nothing beats a good bubble. The Rififi is their dry and aromatic pet-nat, an ancient style of sparkling wine first invented by monks in the 16th century and taking over lists around the world because it is simply delicious. Here, 8th generation vigneron Sébastien tends to estate Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc grapes before his wife, winemaker Emeline makes them sparkle in this perfect complex, yeasty bubble that offers dynamic value. 


WHITES! crisp and fresh 

De Martino, 2017 Gallardia Old Vine White
$26.99 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

De Martino is one of the most progressive and exciting names in the Chilean wine industry named Chile’s Winery of the Year in 2011 and topping every critics best-of list ever since. They focus on organic viticulture of the highest quality and their commitment to sustainability, terroir and excellence shows in everything they do. Yes, their home vineyard in Maule is stunning, but their passion project in Itata is incredible. This is where Spanish settlers planted some of Chile’s first vines and where brothers Marco Antonio (MW) and Sebastian source this wine from dry-farmed, ungrafted vines planed in 1905 (!). The field blend is 70% Moscatel and 30% Corinto (Chasselas) and is savoury, aromatic and complex, like no muscat you have ever tasted (dry as dry!) and did we mention $26.99 in six pack cases. 

90 points:  I marvel at how this unusual blend marries a wonderful scent (red apples, fresh grapes, a touch of ginger biscuit) and a steely, juicy, invigorating flavour profile. A thing of beauty.Decanter, Peter Richards MW, 2016 vintage
Domaine Phillipe Zinck, 2016 Riesling ‘Terroir’
$36.99 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

Philippe Zinck has been a Lifford favourite for over a decade. His classic varietal wines are always in stock (and great!), but for the holidays we love to show off how supremely delicious his ‘Terroir’ line is. Alsace is all about vineyard slopes, and these wines come from the higher altitude chalk and clay soils that offer a more complex and well structured mouthfeel. The Riesling is delicate and complex with laser-sharp acidity that gets your attention. It sits on your tongue like a well-tailored suit, hitting all the right notes with precision. Pair with fresh cheeses or grilled scallops to elevate to the next level. The sommelier best-joke of all time is that Riesling is the best grape that no one drinks. Prove them wrong! Dry dry dry. Organic viticulture. 


WHITES! complex and show stopping

Julien Brocard, 2017 Chablis La Boissonneuse
$43.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

The holidays are not complete without Chablis, that forever-favourite corner of Northern Burgundy with special soils that transform Chardonnay to the extraordinary. Brocard is one of the regions stars, a family run company that has one of the largest organic and biodynamic holdings in all of Burgundy. The Boissonneuse is from their 7 Lieux project, a special bottling celebrating their most special biodynamic plots. A firm, tense and structured Chablis that is lifted enough to get you through any interaction with your in-laws and structured enough to pair with any main course as a stunner treat. Recently included in Jane Anson’s book Wine Revolution documenting the world’s most exciting organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Jane chose the Boissonneuse as her favourite from Brocard describing “the smoky-steel side of Chardonnay, a Japanese sword slicing cleanly through a basket of lemons”. 
Pazo San Mauro, 2016 Albariño ‘Sanamaro Sobre Lias’
$54.99 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

Pazo San Mauro is an incredible property in the Southern-most tip of Rìas Baixas, Spain. First built in 1591, the property was purchased in 2003 by the Marquès de Vargas family who have made a huge investment to restore this winery to its former glory. We love their classic Albariño, a salty dream, but the Sanamaro Sobre Lias is something special. Only produced in the very best years the Sanamaro comes from meticulously selected grapes on the rolling hills of the river Miño. The vines form a natural amphitheater, bathing the grapes in extraordinary sunlight. Hand-picked grapes are fermented in a mix of oak and stainless steel with extended lees contact crafting a complex and powerful profile worth paying attention to. One of the star discoveries on our last trip to Spain and a pleasure to share today.  


Joseph Mellot, 2016 Sancerre Rose ‘La Rabault’
$34.99 / bottle 
(6 btls/cs)

Drink more rosé! And truly, drink this Rose. Not just for summer, complex and nuanced rosés offer incredible pairing opportunities and frankly look great on a table (and taste great in a glass). Sancerre is one of the world’s best white wine producing regions. Increasingly, we are seeing a spotlight shine on their beautiful Pinot Noir rosés and for good reason. The Rabault is a single vineyard top property from Joseph Mellot, a family-winery started in 1513. They have a little bit of experience (!) and have become one of the foremost ambassadors of the incredible wine and value the Grands Vins de Loire have to offer. Pinot Noir from clay and limestone ferments in stainless steel producing a beautiful dry and steely, salmon coloured rose that smells of roses and tastes of raspberries and wet stones. Mouth-wateringly delicious and begging for another sip. 


RED light and fresh

Dominique Piron, 2016 Morgon ‘La Chanais
$26.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Dominique Piron was founded in Morgon in 1590. Fourteen generations later it remains one of the region’s best wineries with incredible granitic vineyard sites. La Chanais is the name given on Napoleon’s map to the parcel where the winery was built and the namesake of this 100% Gamay, Cru Beaujolais crafted from 50 year old vines. We love this wine for its complexity without weight. It is easy to drink and fruit-forward, without sacrificing depth of flavour. Cherry-thyme perfume, liquorice and mouth-watering acidity make this Piron a star on its own or perfectly paired with appetizers or any first course. Serve a bit chilled and watch it sing.

91 points: Wine Spectator wine of the week. 
This ripe, light- to medium-bodied red sports layers of pure blackberry, cassis and damson plum, edged with licorice, floral and apricot details. Tangy, mouthwatering acidity highlights the mineral and spice details on the long, lightly grippy finish. Drink now through 2020.—Gillian Sciaretta, WS
Populis 2016 Wabi-Sabi Red, Mendocino County, California
$38.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Populis is one of our favourite new additions and an example of the lower-alcohol, more balanced New California wines everyone is buzzing about. After winemaking school at UC Davis, Diego Roig and Shaunt Oungouian travelled the world making wine at top estates across France, Italy and Australia. Coming back to their native California they craved delicious, honest wines of soul that they could actually afford. They started Populis to offer just that, sourcing amazing old-vine, organic vineyards from Northern California and doing-as-little-as-possible to capture pure, honest and delicious wines. The Wabi-Sabi red blend is a salute to the Japanese notion of the beauty of imperfections, how many elements left to express their unique personalities can combine to a greater whole. This year’s blend of Carignan, Zinfandel and Syrah has the backbone and rusticity of Italy and Southern France with the pop of fruit only California can bring. Recommend ++ to serve a bit chilled with literally any moment. 

medium-bodied and balanced 

AA Badenhorst, 2015 Secateurs Red, Swartland, South Africa
$25.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Adi Badenhorst is one of South Africa’s stars, a 3rd generation winemaker, a gregarious, generous soul and one of the founders of the Swartland Revolution. Adi champions old, unirrigated, bushvines and granite-soils that make pure, expressive wines of place. He is making some of the best wines of South African at unbelievably low prices – don’t take our word for it, he is a critical darling. The Secateurs red is mostly Shiraz with a big-dollop of high-acid, crunchy Cinsault and a sprinkle of meaty Grenache making this lip-smacking blend smooth and supple with grip and freshness. Hand-picked grapes fermented in concrete and aged in old casks yield a perfumed, peppery, spicy blend with smokey, red fruits that will convince you that South African wines belong at the top of your wish list. 

90 points, Editor’s Choice, Wine Enthusiast 
This Shiraz-based blend offers earthy notes of fresh mint, white pepper and herbal fynbos, all spicing up the red cherry and raspberry fruit core. A delicate whiff of sweet smoke is seductive, while the palate offers more earthy notes of tilled earth and currant leaf that carry through to the finish. Fine but structured tannins lend a velvety texture. Drink now–2020. – Lauren Buzzeo 

Telmo Rodriguez, 2015 Corriente, Rioja,Spain
$22.99 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Telmo Rodriguez is one of Spain’s greatest winemakers. He has changed the landscape of his country with incredible forward-thinking ideas and a supreme advocacy of terroir, native grapes, biodynamic farming and precise winemaking. His latest project in his hometown of Rioja is Corriente, a turn-of-the-century expression that referred to the pure everyone wines of Rioja. Telmo being Telmo, it is also a playful jab, his ordinary, everyday wine is extraordinary. Handpicked bush-vine Tempranillo from cool-climate sub-zone Laciengo is fermented in concrete, aged in old, large oak and blended with traditional Graciano and Garnacha to craft an exceptionally balanced, medium bodied Rioja with spice, depth of flavour and purity of fruit that tastes great anytime and is one of our best value steals of our portfolio. 

90 points, Wine Advocate
There is a red with no more aspiration than being an everyday wine, following the style of a wine from the 19th century from which the 2014 Corriente takes its name. This is a fine-tuned red with some time in cement, with some rusticity and character, mixing berries and hints of orange peel, just a pinch of spices. I think it achieves its goal and it even over-delivers for the price.

complex and full bodied

Saintsbury, 2015 Pinot Noir Carneros, California
$55.99 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

Saintsbury is Napa royalty and we are thrilled to represent this classic star that has crafted some of California’s best Pinot Noirs since 1981. David Graves and Dick Ward were pioneers in the cooler-climate region of Carneros, now world-famous for powerfully expressive and long-lived Charonnays and Pinots. The Saintsbury 2015 Carneros is their classic expression, hand-harvested at night and hand-sorted a second time at the winery, to ensure the absolute highest quality in the bottle. A perfumed nose of rose petals, dark cherry, rhubarb and wild strawberry give way to a silky-smooth palate of cherry, plum and cinnamon spice and a palate that is longer than the time between Christmas and New Years. The winery is entirely solar-powered and incredibly focussed on sustainability at every turn. A magnificently complex wine to share now or save for later. 

91 Points, Wine Enthusiast
Earthy in sage and black tea, this wine is lightly layered and seamless in texture, with an underlying minty flavor. Cardamom and cola provide a spiciness that persists along a road of great length and breadth. -Virginie Boone


Tenuta Argentiera, 2015 Villa Donoratico, Bolgheri, Italy
$49.99 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

Last but not least, a world-famous wine from a world-famous region. Tenuta Argentiera is a magnificent estate in the small, but prestigious DOC of Bolgheri, a terroir dedicated to great wine and synonymous with celebrated Super Tuscans. The winery sits at the highest altitude of the entire region, close to the Tyrrhenian Coast, creating an unique microclimate that is maybe why they win literally every award. Their top wine of the same vintage was just rated the runner up in James Sucklings 100 Best Italian Wines of the Year, but their second wine, Villa Donoratico always astounds us with this same quality, at a fraction of the price. Hand-picked Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Cabernet Franc (30%), Merlot (20%) and Petit Verdot (10%) are aged in top quality French oak for 12 months before resting another 10 months in bottle and traveling the ocean to join you for Christmas dinner. This is a staff and restaurant favourite for its incredible complexity and value for price point. As usual, we saved the best for last.

92 Points, James Suckling 
92 Points, Wine Spectator 
90 Points, Robert Parker

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