Countdown to 2024 Holiday Wine Pack
Case of 6 bottles.
Back - by popular demand - for a third season!
Inside this pack you will find six specially-selected wines to mark a few notable dates in December, namely: Christmas Card Day (Dec 9th); Cupcake Day (Dec 15th); Games Day (Dec 20th); Boxing Day (Dec 26th); No Interruptions Day (Dec 29th); and, of course New Year’s Eve, which also serves as a toast to new beginnings in 2024.
Each bottle will have a tag attached explaining why the bottle was chosen to mark the special day. But always remember, we are The Wine Coaches, not The Wine Police, and these wines can be enjoyed any of the other 25 days in December.
In the event you find the description of any of these wines in the pack appealing, you will find they are are also available to purchase, by-the-case, through this Web site.
Wine #1 Domain Plaisance Penavayre, Le Rouge 2020 (Fronton, France)
Every year around this time, we receive our first Christmas card from a cousin in Scotland. And every year, we say to each other "well we better get started then". But unfortunately, we rarely follow through.
So we thought if Cousin Dorothy is able to send out cards early and reliably, there has to be a national recognized "holiday" to get us motivated. Turns out there is, and as a public service announcement to all our loyal customers, December 9th is the day you are supposed to get your mailing list out and start preparing your holiday wishes. And if you prefer to use social media rather than Canada Post, the date still works.
While investigating the "holiday", it appears that back in Victorian times it was quite inexpensive to use the post (only one penny) so people sent lots and lots of letters. But at the same time it was also considered rude to ignore a written message. Apparently one particularly popular Victorian - Sir Henry Cole - who received frequent letters but lacked the time to reply, may have invented the holiday card out of necessity. If the story is true - and who are we to question the Internet - apparently Sir Henry commissioned a friend to design the first Christmas card which he simply popped in the "Penny Post" to his friends, family, and many acquaintances.
So while sitting down to write to your friends and relatives this year, enjoy a glass of "Le Rouge", a blend of Négrette, Syrah, Gamay, the Cabernet siblings Franc and Sauvignon, from the south of France near Toulouse. It's one of our "natural" wines, meaning nothing has been added (e.g. no synthetic chemicals) and nothing has been taken away from the wine.
It has ripe aromas and flavours of small berries - raspberry, wild strawberry, and blackcurrant - with floral/spicy/peppery notes. Medium-bodied and dry, well balanced, with a long, warm finish. If there's still some wine left over by the time dinner rolls around, you'll find it works well with grilled meat dishes, pork, roast chicken/turkey, cassoulet (the regional specialty of Fronton), and earthy/spicy vegetarian dishes.
Wine #2 Bodegas Tajinaste, Rosado 2022 (Canary Islands, Spain)
When looking for something sweet to celebrate in December, we came across National Cupcake Day. Single-serve cakes, that are simple to make, can be decorated in so many ways, and are a delight to eat. What's not to like about cupcakes?
The origin of the cup cake (or cup cake) dates back to the late 1700s, when miniature cakes were baked in actual cups. Even today, some bakers use oven-proof cups or individual ramekins. The cupcake was originally known as the 1-2-3-4 cake because the recipe called for 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, 4 eggs, and also 1 cup of milk, and 1 spoonful of baking soda (so shouldn't that be the 1-2-3-4-1-1 cake?). Today's recipes are only limited by the baker's imagination - just check out past episodes of the The Great Canadian Baking Show and you'll see what we mean.
While baking or enjoying cupcakes on the 15th (or any other day for that matter), we selected the Tajianste Rosado to accompany these little, sweet, treats. It's actually more like a light, dry red than a typical rosé, which can be slightly chilled, and will balance out the sweetness in the cake, and whatever you prefer for frosting (which is usually also sweet).
It's made from Listán negro (pronounced lee-STAN neh-gro) grown on hillside vineyards - actually volcano-side vineyards - on the island of Tenerife (one of Spain's Canary Islands.) The grapes are cold macerated for about 24 hours to get just a bit of colour from the skins, then fermentation was in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks to enhance the fresh berry notes.
It has a bright, cherry-pink colour - so will look perfect alongside your cupcakes - with aromas and flavours reminiscent of fresh berry fruits - strawberry, wild raspberry, cherry, and blackberry. Smooth and dry, with balancing acidity, and a nice clean finish.
We don't expect you will only eat cupcakes on this day, so this wine is lovely on it's own while you prepare the rest of the meal, and pairs well with charcuterie, pizza, burgers, grilled seafood, and vegetarian dishes.
Wine #3 Latido di Sara, Bidaia Txakolina (País Vasco, Spain)
While it's really a UK "holiday", it doesn't mean we can't recognize National Games Day here in Canada. After all, isn't it important to get together with friends and family for an evening of carefree fun once in a while? So dig out the Trivial Pursuit from the closet, dust off the Crokinole board, or set up the Nintendo Wii console and let the good times roll.
No sense ruining the vibe with a big sit down dinner, so order in pizza, set up a Charcuterie board, prepare some different appetizers - thinking nachos here - and let people serve themselves. Same applies with the wine, which is why we selected the fun and refreshing Bidaia Txakoli. The alcohol is lower with Txakoli so it won't affect your game, and has a slight spritz to lift up your spirits when your niece beats you at Super Mario. But don't worry, you can always get back at them when you score at least 18 points using Txakoli in Scrabble.
Bidaia is a blend of Hondarribi Zuri, Gros Manseng, and Petit Courbu grapes, hand-picked from vines, grown on hillside slopes close to the Cantabrian Sea in the Basque region of Spain. Typically Txakoli is not aged in oak, to keep the aromas and flavours fresh, and can be bottled with a little bit of fermentation CO2 still in the wine.
The aromas and flavours are of fresh citrus and apricot with slight mineral/floral notes. Light-bodied, dry, fresh and crisp, with a good balance between the fruit and the acidity. Lovely on its own while you are contemplating your next move in Chess, and it will pair with appetizers (pintxos), sushi, oysters, pizza, nachos and charcuterie for everyone else.
Wine #4 Bodegas Marta Maté, El Holgazan 2020 (Ribera del Duero, Spain)
Preparing the meal on the 26th is usually a lot more relaxing, as is often the day itself. Boxing Day can mean leftovers, which calls for a versatile wine that can work over a range of different tastes and textures. And a wine that just might have the right attitude for the day.
Our selection is made from Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) grapes, hand-harvested from a special plot of ~25 year old vines (called El Holgazán, which roughly translates as "the layabout" - see the Boxing Day connection?). When the fermentation is complete (using indigenous yeasts) the wine is aged for ~7 months in French oak barrels and then 6 months in concrete tanks. This another of our "natural" wines; the vineyards are managed organically, without chemical interventions.
It has a deep cherry colour with intense aromas and flavours of red and black fruits - cherry, blackberry, raspberry - and notes of liquorice, toffee, and vanilla spice. Medium-bodied, with pleasing tannins and a long fresh/sweet finish.
It is definitely a wine for food, and works well with meat dishes (grilled), tapas (Iberian ham), and rice dishes with poultry (a good use for leftover turkey). If you don’t feel like cooking and just order in pizza, this wine is perfect too. Perhaps El Holgazán will be a gentle reminder to slow down and enjoy the holidays.
Wine #5 La Lecciaia, Maremma Sangiovese BIO 2020 (Tuscany, Italy)
We didn't know it was a thing, but the last work day in the year is called "No Interruptions Day." It's the day you clear off your workspace, take care of all those unanswered emails, deal with the niggly little tasks you've been putting off all year, and get organized for the New Year ahead.
You are supposed to achieve this by locking the door to your workspace, turning off the phone, and using the peace and quiet of no interruptions to address all these tasks. Ok, easier said than done - and perhaps everyone in the office or household has to have the same idea. We're going to give it a try this year and if you see #NoInterruptionsDay on our Instagram account you'll know we did it - or at least tried.
After you lock yourself in your office, pour yourself a glass of this Sangiovese sourced from certified organic vineyards in Grossetto Province in Tuscany. The grapes were hand-harvested when they reached peak ripeness and maturity, and vinification was in temperature-controlled, stainless-steel tanks. Finally the wine was aged for 6 months in French-oak oak barrels, and kept in the bottle uninterrupted for over a year before being released.
It's medium- to full-bodied, and soft on the palate, with smooth tannins, with a long finish. So it's not going to distract you too much from the tasks ahead, while the intense aromas of red berries and blackberry will keep you alert while you navigate the abyss of all that unanswered email.
When you finally emerge to eat, you'll find the wine complements fuller-bodied foods like steak, braised meat dishes, and game. But also pasta with meat-based sauces, and thankfully pizza.
Wine #6 Agusti Torelló Mata, Cava Brut Reserva 2019 (Penedès, Spain)
When we first created the Countdown Wine Pack we remarked that 2020 had been a tough year, but that 2021 was "looking to be a lot better." Then the same with 2022 going into this year. I guess we didn’t get it quite right each time, but here we are on the eve of 2024 and we still think that it's worth wishing and hoping for better times ahead.
Whether you open it on New Year's Eve, or on January 1st, this organic Cava is a nice alternative to champagne. It comes with all the benefits of champagne - namely the bubbles - but at a much more attractive price. It's a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes, hand-picked from ~35 year old vines in the area of Vall d'Anoia-Foix near Barcelona.
Each variety is vinified separately using indigenous yeasts. Second fermentation - the one that creates the bubbles - took place in the bottle (like champagne), in underground cellars (also like champagne) with a minimum of 36 months aging on the lees (longer than a lot of champagne). Bottles are disgorged individually, and only when required for market to ensure optimum condition of the finished wine. It's bottled (Brut) with 6.0g/L residual sugar, and is also certified organic and vegan.
It's pale straw in colour, with very fine and persistent bubbles that evolve slowly up the glass. The aromas and flavours are of green apple, citrus (tangerine), and stone fruits (peach and nectarine), with subtle leesy notes. Fine and elegant, with a long persistent finish.
A great aperitif wine and delightful on its own, it will also accompany appetizers, salads, sushi, first courses of white meats, seafood, cheese, and fruit desserts. Or pop the cork at the stroke of midnight to toast the arrival of the New Year with family and friends.