When it comes to wine for the holidays, I like to mix it up with the best of ‘em – from Gamay to Gewürztraminer, there are plenty of fun festive pairings to go with your big turkey dinner (or whatever it is you scarf down at your big holiday meal). In fact, Michelle Bouffard picked a great selection of wines for all your winter gatherings last week.
But I never like to overlook a grape variety that, in the effort to get creative, is sometimes forgotten for festive feasts – Chardonnay. Whether you prefer a crisp, unoaked Chard or something with a bit more richness and complexity, Chardonnay’s many styles can complement a wide variety of meals – including your holiday dinner. Here are some of my favourites.
1) 2014 Unorthodox Chardonnay from Blasted Church (Okanagan Valley, B.C.)
The 2014 version of this un-oaked wine combines 95 per cent Chardonnay Musqué – a somewhat spicy, aromatic variety of the Chardonnay grape – with five per cent Viognier. Pear, mineral, red apple skin, lemon candy and those underlying floral and spice aromas are a knockout on the nose. It’s a light-plus bodied, extremely fresh white that melds pear, chalky, lemon, red apple and spice notes that bring plenty of Chardonnay character as well as a bit of an aromatic edge that will work beautifully with a classic turkey dinner. I tasted this one back in August as well and loved it then too.
2) 2013 Voyageur Chardonnay from Keint-He Winery & Vineyards (Niagara Peninsula, Ont.)
Although Keint-He is located in Prince Edward County, this Chardonnay was sourced from three different vineyards in Niagara, fermented individually and then blended just prior to bottling. Lemon, pear, floral and crunchy green apple notes on the nose are certainly alluring; on the light-plus bodied palate those traits are fleshed out by some subtle spice thanks to a portion of the wine being aged in French oak barrels. Keint-He excels at subtlety and elegance in their wines, and this is no exception.
3) 2013 Chardonnay from Harper's Trail (Kamloops, B.C.)
There’s no mistaking this for anything but Chardonnay on the nose – the Harper’s Trail brings pear, red apple skin and peach notes as well as secondary honey and vanilla notes from some subtle use of oak. It’s a fresh, juicy Chardonnay, with loads of ripe apple, lemon and peach notes, and that modest oak does well to add a bit of complexity.
If you’re still interested in trying wines from Chardonnay to Gamay this holiday season, check out My Wine Canada’s free shipping offer from a number of killer Canadian wineries. The offer ends TOMORROW AT MIDNIGHT; check back on Dec. 16 to see which new wineries are in the second wave of free shipping offers.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.