Wine Ambassador, Dave Lofstrom, discusses wine and his favorite holiday.
Of course, Champagne, or other sparkling wine, is traditional to help ring in the New Year. I am not opposed to enjoying a glass of bubbly on such a festive occasion. That said, New Year’s Eve is a prime occasion to celebrate with other wines, too, whether it’s opening up something from the cellar or tracking down something rare and noteworthy or just going out and buying something super cool. In years past I have opened up all kinds of wines including culty Napa Zinfandel, ridiculously small production Mosel Riesling, and a range of lovely reds from Bordeaux.
New Years, perhaps more so than any other holiday, is a time when we are meant to celebrate life passionately. We have the opportunity to look back fondly on the past year and look forward to the exciting new adventure that awaits us. I believe that your wine choices should mirror that same sentiment.
When picking a wine for NYE — or several — think about what exciting new wine discoveries you made this year. Did you find a wine that is worth celebrating? Did you take a great trip and can’t get a certain bottle out of your head? Pick that one, and you’ll have a story to tell as you drink. Or, go the other way and pick a wine that foretells the possibilities of the New Year. Have you recently learned about a wine region you’re not familiar with? Are you planning a trip next year? Grab a bottle from that corner of the world, try it out, and toast to your new wine tasting adventure.
For me, New Year’s Eve is always about wines I’m excited about. So what am I excited about? Over the past 12 months I have grown to love wines from the Rhône Valley. I’ve had some classic and not so classic examples of the brilliant range of wines from the Rhône. Odds are good that I’ll be opening up something from the Rhône on NYE. I also think that it’s important for me to commemorate my decision to move to California and work for Qupé. So far, it has been an amazing experience, and I am excited to see what next year will bring for Qupé. To celebrate, I will certainly be opening a bottle of Qupé, pioneer of Rhône varieties in Santa Barbara County/California, which ought to make for a great comparison with the Rhône I’ll be trying, as well as a wonderful celebration of past, future, and passion.
If you’re not sure what to drink from Qupé on New Year’s Eve, here are my personal top picks (in no particular order):
2010 Qupé Syrah “Sonnie’s” – Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard
This Syrah is a beautiful balance of fruit, herb, and spice. It truly captures the terroir of the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard. This was the first wine that I tried after coming to work for Qupé, and I was immediately impressed with the quality of this Syrah. I knew at that moment that I had come to work for the right winery.
2001 Qupé Syrah “Hillside Estate” – Bien Nacido Vineyard
This is a cool wine. I didn’t think that you could age California Syrah for so long and have it turn out to be so tasty. To be fair, there are few California Syrah that I would recommend aging for 12 years. You just have to find the right producer who knows what he or she is doing. This Syrah is supple and lush but still lively with tannin and acidity. There are only a few bottles left in the tasting room, so snatch these gems up while you still can.
2009 Qupé Syrah – Purisima Mountain Vineyard
This is an elegant expression of Syrah. Raspberries, lilac, and spice all come to mind with this biodynamically farmed beauty. This Syrah is a reminder of the huge variety that can be found within Syrah.
2005 Qupé Syrah “X Block” – Bien Nacido Vineyard
This Syrah is intense, big, and bold but with both classic structure and flavors, such as smoked meats, spice, dried berries, and herbs. You would be hard pressed to find a more impressive wine from Santa Barbara to open on New Year’s Eve. We only have a few magnums available, so it will definitely be a party.
Whatever you decide to drink on New Year’s Eve, I hope you enjoy it! Happy New Year!