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Expensive Red Wine for X-mas Dinner

My brother and I have started a X-Mas tradition of going in on a fairly expensive bottle of red to share for Christmas Eve dinner. Last year we bought a 1985 Chateau Montelena Cab (disappointing.) Any ideas this year for something in the $150 range? We both tend to like California Cabs and Meritages although Rhone varietals are fine too. Don't worry about the menu. Thanks!

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  1. WOW! What an open ended question!

    If I were going to spend approx. $150 on a CA Cab/blend or Rhone for drinking right now I would probably get a 1994 Chave Hermitage or Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon. Well... *I* would get the Chpoutier which is probably a little less ready to drink but more to my style prefrence. (The Chapoutier will probably be a slightly bigger wine with a little more oak influence.) 1994 was a very good year for the Northern Rhone and for some reason, it is always overlooked. Man, now that I just did a wine-searcher search on those wines and found that they are buyable for $150 the wheels in my brain are deffinitely turning. Hmmm... can I sneak them in to the apt. without my fiancee seeing? ;-)

    1. Are you having steak or prime rib for your Christmas dinner ? Otherwise a great Cab wouldn't be my first recommendation... it might actually be a quite unattractive match with your food.

      Why not break with your tradition and start with the FOOD, then bring the right wine to maximize the experience !

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        The OP said don't worry about the food. What is the difference? I OFTEN decide on the food by what wine i am in the mood to crack open or what is drinking nicely in my cellar.

        1. re: chow_gal

          Thanks Chow Gal! Although I am sure a lot of the people here have a much more refined plaate than I do.

      2. We are either barbecuing tri-tip or having lasagna. I was thinking of using this as an opportunity to try a great Cab I would normally not spend the money on, such as a Caymus or Spotteswoode, but I am open to suggestions. Any ideas Chicago Mike? (Great post on Bourbon Tastng on the Spirits board, btw. Bourbon is my avocation.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: AlabasterDisaster

          For straight "grilled" beef, cab is a good to great match, especially if you use some cab-friendly peppercorns in the marinade of the beef...

          On the other hand if you're doing more of a "smoky & saucy" BBQ, then I would recommend a Zinfandel or Shiraz instead. Try a knockout Ridge single-vineyard Zinfandel (Geyserville or Lytton Springs for example)... just make sure you're talking a great year. In Shiraz you have alot of options: California, France, Australia... again just make sure you have a good year.

          You might do an interesting tasting and have one bottle of zin and one of shiraz to denote the differences in flavor and how they match with the BBQ.

          To continue with the shiraz/zin theme, bring some awesome cheese matches for these wines and have a cheese course. The best for both wines: Plain Chevre and Parmesan Reggiano match both incredibly.

          As for lasagna, I'd lean towards Barbera if you have dominant tomato/bolognese flavors. If more of a lasagna primavera with alot of veggies, then look at a gorgeous high-garganega Soave Classico or a Sauvignon Blanc.

          But getting back to the original premise of a meal for an expensive Cabernet, I don't think this is it at all. Save the cab for an incredible prime rib.

        2. Chiming in - are you spicing the tri-tip (i.e., with a peppery dry rub) or using a marinade - and lasagna....I'd initially lean toward Italian/sangiovese, but think high end Syrah/Shiraz might pair nicely with both dishes...how about Cote Rotie with some age on it?

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