Twelve Wines for Christmas 

Three Chilean labels, two French picks and a picpoul in a pear tree

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By the time you read this there will be fewer than the proverbial 12 days of Christmas to go, but I'm going to take a some poetic license and put together a dozen wines that your true love should give to you.

After 50-some weeks of work, over 100 airline flights, and scores and scores of tastings and winemaker meetings I've selected 12 of the most interesting wine tasted this year. I've even checked out the availability so that you should be able to locate most selections in government wine shops, if not in your favourite private wine store.

On the first day of Christmas... We begin with an amazing sauvignon. The Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011 is a huge value at $13. It hails from the heralded Valle de Leyda on Chile's Pacific Coast. I love fresh acidity and minerality in this wine with its light seawater, grapefruit and watermelon flavours. Both refreshing and food-friendly without any aggressive, bitter asparagus notes. Extreme value, it should star at holiday parties.

The bookend red, pricewise, from Europe is the Beso de Vino Selección Syrah/Garnacha 2009 $13 from Cariñena Spain. You will love the round, supple, full warmth with juicy acidity. Plum jam, orange, meaty, peppery, chocolate, black cherry, liquorice, savoury flavours. Big and bold so there's lots of stuff here for that lamb stew and pork chops. Drink now. Excellent value if you like it big.

One of the best white wine finds of the year is the Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet 2010 $14. This southern French white is under cool to be seen with and it's delicious to boot. A perfect party appetizer from its Meyer lemon, honey, spicy, quince and ginger aromas to its fresh juicy lemon oil, grapefruit, ginger and pear skin flavours. Money in the bank under screwcap.

Chardonnay drinkers who love the grape not the oak should stock up on Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2010 $14.50 from cool climate San Antonio Chile. The 2010 makes it two in a row for this delicious unoaked organic chardonnay that over-delivers. Expect its trademark clean fruit with gooseberry and passion fruit aromas mixed with just off-dry fruit flavoured with citrus, guava and passion fruit notes and a swath of minerality. Well done.

The party or dinner bookend would be its pinot companion, the Cono Sur Visión Pinot Noir 2010 $18 from Valle del Colchagua, Chile. So ripe, round, smooth and suave with fine concentration and fresh acidity you will love sipping its wild plum, strawberry jam, smoky, vanilla flavours. Turkey works here, or duck, or just good friends.

And on the sixth day of Christmas...the highly versatile Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2010 $16, which is our pick. I love the drinkability of this wine. Fresh and clean, and not too aggressive in acidity. Dry with just the right amount of crunchy apple fruit, all in a pleasing, food-friendly style. A fine match with local shellfish or it can be served as an apéritif with bite-sized appetizers.

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