10 Terrific Holiday House Wines

Last year's Holiday House Wine article gives a humorous back drop for the season - and reason - for having a good stock of standby wines.  Check it out real quick, then come back to see this year's recommendations.

Just to recap, the criteria we're using for these are:
  • Wines that go well with or without food.
  • Wines that you should be able to find almost anywhere.
  • Wines you can watch your Cousin Eddie drink and not feel bad that it's wasted on him.
  • Wines you can buy at a bargain (under $12 for most) - not just because your going to go through so much of it, but because you might also want some leftovers.
  • Wines pretty much anyone will find unobjectionable - if not down right quaffable.
While 2010's reviewed wines have been characterized mainly by rivers of drinkable, average wine, there have been some noteworthy surprises at the budget-conscious end of the price spectrum.  We celebrate those in this list.

2009 CousiƱo Macual Sauvignon Gris - The year's biggest discovery in value-priced whites.  The crisp nose gives way to a welcoming, round body causing involuntary bursts of "Wow" and "Oooh, that's nice". Very well balanced. Long, lovely, and slightly creamy finish. Over delivers in a big way.

2010 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough - Youthful, zesty, and super bright.  Unapologetically alive. Fresh-cut grass meets citrus bowl in a salivary gland-stimulating extravaganza.

2009 Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc - Textbook example of California Sauvignon Blanc with green apple, fresh-cut grass, and slightly tart citrus bite that fades after the first sip. Refreshing, tasty, and inexpensive.

Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay Big Green Box - Big-assed box 'o wine.  Fresh, clean nose with traces of caramel and vanilla that follow through on in your mouth. Smooth and fairly full-bodied. Far from complex, but easy to like.

Blackstone Pinot Noir - The nose is all business in this one. Very light bodied, but not lacking in flavor at all. Prominent tannins for a wine of this weight. Very easy drinking and wholly likable character.

2006 Gallo Pinot Noir - Hard to believe there's still some of this on the shelves out there.  Really delivers. Spicy notes on top of smooth fruit and a respectable backbone. Structure, tannins (in check), and a bit of sweetness on the long finish.

2009 Leyda Pinot Noir Classic - Very light crimson with a soft brick tone. Complex aromas make you impatient to taste it. Silky smooth texture, spice, toasty oak, and a lovely light-medium bodied fruit. Elegant with or without food. Tasted blind and guessed to be more expensive.

2008 Smoking Loon Petite Sirah - Solid crowd pleaser. Extracted, oaked, dense, chunky.  A dash of subtle funk make this a winner. Good structured fruit without the monster Petite Sirah tannic bite.

2007 Bogle Petite Sirah - Generous floral notes with vanilla. Medium bodied, interesting and very pleasant. Acidic component provides good balance. Refined. Sensational bargain.

2009 Turning Leaf Merlot - A delicate aroma that could fool many a discriminating shnoz.  Balanced, easy, smooth as heck, and with a little grip to it.  Some well proportioned oak and a lightly tannic finish.  Very well done.