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Column: Merry libations from Argentina, Washington State and Germany

Wines to enjoy for the Christmas holidays.
Wines for the holiday
Today’s selection: Excellent Malbec, Merlot, and Riesling wines to enjoy as you get ready for the holidays. Photo: Eric Hanson

As you finish decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping presents by the fire, you might want to enjoy a delicious red wine with some aged cheddar. This week a couple of reds that will fit the bill.

First, an elegant Luis Segundo Correas Valle Las Acequias 2015 Malbec Oak from Mendoza, Argentina ($21.99 on sale until Jan. 2). Produced from 85-year-old vines, there is a lovely aromatic spicy bouquet with dusty dried blackberry scents plus some chocolate.  Although it spends 10 months in French oak, it is not heavy handed; the result is in an integrated vanilla scent and flavour to the wine. Ripe boysenberry and blackberry flavours with some savouriness are on the palate with smooth tannins and a long fruity finish.

Unlike a lot of ordinary Malbecs, the Valle Las Acequias is a premium balanced wine. Enjoy with a barbecued steak or prime rib. Available at all Richmond government stores.

Next, a Columbia Crest 2017 Horse Hills Heaven (H3) Merlot ($22.99). Columbia Crest is large Washington State winery nestled alongside the Columbia River in the Columbia Valley of eastern Washington. It opened its doors in the heart of the acclaimed Horse Heaven Hills in 1983.

Since then Columbia Crest has demonstrated their skill in producing critically acclaimed wines at reasonable prices. In 2009, Wine Spectator selected the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, with a score of 95 points, as the #1 Wine of the Year in their annual Top 100 Wines of the Year edition.

In 2010, the 2007 H3 Merlot was named to Wine Spectator’s list of Top 100 wines of the year, marking Columbia Crest’s sixteenth placement on the list. Washington Merlot can be bolder than the region's Cabernet Sauvignon, which is unusual for a grape that has been used world-wide in blends to soften Cabernet's tannins.

Expect ripe black cherry, plum and berry fruit, with underlying vanilla and toasty notes from prominent oak aging. Full bodied from the fruit and the 14.5 percent alcohol with a smooth finish. Enjoy with Pork Chops Puttanesca, Braised Duck with White Turnips, Merlot, and Thyme, Grilled Lamb Souvlaki, or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Available at Richmond’s Ironwood and Brighouse stores.

Switching colours, there’s the Karp Schreiber 2018 My Karp Off Dry Riesling (17.99 on sale until Jan. 2). It’s a German Mosel from a family winery that started in 1664 as fishermen and winemakers. In over 300 years, they’ve certainly been able to fine-tune their wines.

Expect a lively white wine from the high acid in Riesling grapes with a light body because of the 10.5 percent alcohol and a slightly off-dry finish with unfermented juice balancing the high acidity. There’s a generous bouquet of lime, apple, and diesel. On the palate enjoy ripe apples and baked apple pie with a squeeze of citrus minerality from the Riesling growing on steep slate slopes of the Mosel.

Enjoy with tuna sashimi, tako and salmon nigiri, even the upiquitous California roll. And to add a bit of sunshine, serve the Riesling with fresh strawberries. Cheers to a safe scaled-down holiday!