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Christmas dinner wines

Jarrett Osborn
Special to The Vail Trail2005 Le Cadeau Rocheux ($55), from Willamette Valley, Ore.
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Christmas dinner menus are not set in stone, so unlike Thanksgiving dinner, we have more flexibility with our food and our wine selections. Start with a silky and crisp German Riesling, the 2004 J.J. Prum Sonnenuhr Wehlener Spatlese ($38). This white is naturally low in alcohol, and does not taste sweet like a lot of Riesling from the United States. Because of the cool region, the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, this wine has lovely acidity, paired with rich golden apple, mineral and honey, and grapefruit on the finish. Great to start a party, or pair with Brie and chutney/marmalade, a light salad, crab and lobster.Okay, enough with the white wines. Try a Pinot Noir comparison next. First, the 2005 Baxter Toulouse Vineyard ($56) from the Anderson Valley in California. Silky, elegant, with raspberry and light mint and seaweed notes (yes, seaweed: crisp and fresh), this beauty from north of Napa has clean acidity and earthiness on the finish. Stands up to lamb, wont overpower salmon or smoked trout, great with turkey, the most versatile wine of the bunch. Compare this to the 2005 Le Cadeau Rocheux ($55), from Willamette Valley, Ore. This red displays the typical sandalwood and earth of Oregon Pinots, but is bigger and badder than most. Huge flavors of bacon, dark oak, coffee, cocoa and dark cherry, the Rocheux finishes with mild tannins and a white pepper and gamey hit. Drink this with your beef tenderloin, elk, roast duck or venison roast.Finally, the big boys. Many Zinfandels can be too sweet and cloying; not so the 2004 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel ($30) from Napa Valley. The big, rich blackberry fruit is there, as is the black pepper finish. But no sweetness, just fine tannins, earth and a dark oak and meaty finish that pairs well with New York strips or filet mignon, elk or stuffed beef tenderloin.The 2005 Torbreck The Struie ($58) is one of the top Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia. Big and dark, with extracted blackberry, rich oak, earth, mint, light eucalyptus and sweet clove, this red has a big kick on the finish of white pepper and tannins. Let this open up for 30 minutes, then pair it with the biggest steak in the house, topped with Stilton blue cheese. Such rich berry flavors, and a dark chocolate note, mean this wine will soften in the glass with time and go with the chocolate dessert, as well. Merry Christmas, and get ready for New Years wines! Jarrett Osborn, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits


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