Wine review: All I want for Christmas

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Entertainment,Food and Drink,Scott Greenberg

Twelve days of Christmas. Twelve bottles of wine in a case. Coincidence? Maybe. But if I could unwrap just one present on Christmas morning, it would be this case of wines. Retail prices are approximate.

No case would be complete without at least one bottle of Champagne. The nonvintage Pierrer Gimonnet & Fils Blanc de Blancs Brut ($40) from France is made exclusively from chardonnay, and flavors of creamy lemon and nectarine are elegantly woven around a core of acidity and tight bubbles giving the wine wonderful balance and structure. QPR 9

For spicier meals, it's smart to have a bottle of 2011 Weingut Johannishof Charta Riesling ($16) from Rheingau, Germany, on hand. The beautifully textured flavors of white peach, tropical fruits, candied citrus peel and orange blossom come together in harmony on a not-too-sweet frame. The lively acidity provides a crisp, mouth-watering finish. QPR 9

Another food-friendly favorite is the 2011 Lake Chalice Pinot Gris ($20) from Marlborough, New Zealand. The flavors of white peach, pear and Crenshaw melon feel juicy yet elegant in the mouth. The burst of citrusy acidity on the finish keeps the palate refreshed. QPR 8.5

I like the concept behind organic wines, where the land is treated with respect. The 2011 Paul Dolan Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($18) from Potter Valley in Mendocino, Calif., uses these principles to produce a wine that is full of kiwi, papaya, lime and lemon grass flavors, kept bright on the palate by tangy acidity, thanks to the cold nights and hot days. QPR 8

Many Rhone Valley wines have to have a little age on them before they can be enjoyed, but the 2011 Charles Thomas Cotes du Rhone Rouge ($12) from France is a steal that is ready to drink right now. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, the wine is bursting with red plum and ripe red cherries. The smooth tannins and juicy finish make this a versatile red to pair with a wide variety of dishes. QPR 9.5

Sometimes I crave a good rustic bottle of wine that mentally transports me to Spain, like the 2007 Montecillo Crianza Rioja ($12) from Spain. This 100 percent tempranillo opens with scents of cigar box and smoky cedar. Flavors of red plum, cherry and tobacco mingle with earthy tannins and finishes with a touch of dried herbs on the medium-bodied frame. QPR 9

The 2007 Casa Lapostolle Merlot Cuvee Alexandre ($18) from the Colchagua Valley of Chile is a wonderful value in forward-styled red wines. From the expressive nose of red fruit to the deep flavors of eucalyptus, black raspberry and blueberry fruit in the front of the mouth, as well as hints of ripe cherry and warm vanilla on the satisfying finish. QPR 8.5

The 2010 Ken Wright Pinot Noir ($30) from Willamette Valley, Ore., is a pinot on the weightier side and sports aromas of violet and wild strawberry that are repeated on the palate where they join rich flavors of cherry, fresh raspberry and juicy plum. Touches of mineral mingle with notes of graphite and spice to produce a profoundly elegant finish. QPR 9

Australia is known for its big shiraz-based wines, like the 2007 Mitolo G.A.M. Shiraz ($30) from McLaren Vale. This wine is bursting at the seams with flavors of jammy blackberry, dark plum, rich cocoa and black licorice. Notes of toasty oak, vanilla and black pepper dominate the full, lush finish. QPR 9.5

One of the best malbecs I have had all year is the 2007 Las Moras Finca Pedernal Malbec ($45) from the high elevation vineyards in San Juan, Argentina. Powerful flavors of black cherry, dark cassis and black plum punch the palate up front, while notes of chocolate and mint dance on the long, complex finish. QPR 9

Forget the down comforter. I am going to use the 2008 Rodney Strong Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) from the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County, Calif., to keep me warm this winter. This single vineyard wine features jammy blackberry, dark chocolate, black licorice and warm vanilla flavors that shine across the entire palate on their way to a well-balanced and smooth finish. QPR 9.5

My big splurge this year will be the 2007 Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino ($75). This wine is released only after spending three years maturing in oak casks and then six more months in bottles. Made exclusively from sangiovese, the flavors of rich red plum, black cherry and blackberry are layered across the palate. Notes of vanilla, allspice, tobacco and coffee gently materialize on the beautifully balanced finish. QPR 9.5

Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.

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