2016 Holiday Wine Gift Guide I – Whites and Light Reds


El Carajo’s Holiday Wine Gift Guide – Whites and Light Reds

It’s getting time for the season of family gatherings and gift giving. A perfect complement for those people who have worked hard on preparing the meal and gathering is a great bottle of wine. Here I will talk about some of my favorite white wines and light reds. All the following wines discussed are perfect for thanksgiving and would make great gifts!


Chardonnay is the most commonly drank white wine in the United States. Odds are at leas  t a couple members of your family or a close friend (or 3) drinks Chard. The perfect complement for a Turkey (or lechon) is a nice California Chard with lots of buttery notes to it. Some of my favorites are Sonoma Cutrer, Rombauer, and Louis Mason’s Sonoma Chard. (for detailed tasting notes, skip to the bottom).

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauv Blanc is the second most commonly drank white wine in the United States. If you were shaking your head furiously at my talk of Chardonnay, you likely will enjoy a good Sauv Blanc. Ones like Rodney Strong, Groth, and Merry Edwards bring loads of grapefruit, lemon, and floral notes with a much fresher mouthfeel than Chardonnay and go great with the sides at thanksgiving like green beans, potatoes, and stuffing.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is always welcome at the dinner table. The lightest of the reds with notes of dark and red fruits with hints of earth tones, these crowd pleasers work with all foods lighter than a bacon wrapped steak! A few favorites for the season are California Pinots which have a touch more alcohol which is perfect for our “winter.” Try the Gladiator, Martinelli “Bella Vigna”, or a bottle of Sea Smoke “Ten” or “Southing” Pinot.

Light Spanish Reds

If you want red but Pinot isn’t your thing, try some lighter Spanish reds. Reds from Spain can be big and bold like those from Toro or Ribera del Duero and for turkey these wines are a bit too bold. Instead, opt for some tangy, fruity Garnacha like Breca, or for an elegant and oaky Rioja like Viña Ardanza.

Chardonnay Tasting Notessonoma-cutrer

Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches 2014: Rich and vanilla toned on the palate with hints of butter and lemon. An easy drinking yet hearty wine.

– 90pts WW –


Rombauer Carneros 2014: Ripe and creamy on the nose with loads of butter pineapple and peaches on the weighty palate.rombauer

– 92pts WW –


Louis Mason’s Sonoma 2014: A cut above your typical chardonnay. Muscular yet delicate, buttery yet with fresh minerality, fruity without being sweet. A real contender for best California Chardonnay.lewis-masons

– 93pts WS –


Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notesrodney-strong-sb

Rodney Strong “Charlotte’s Home” 2014: Tropical nose layered with zest lemon notes. The palate is light and refreshing with a touch of weight.

– 90pts WE “Editor’s Choice” –


Groth Napa Valley 2015: Ripe Meyer Lemons, tangerine and guava on the nose with a soft floral background. On the palate, it is incredibly fresh and crisp.groth-sb

– Not Yet Rated, previous vintage 91pts WE –


Merry Edwards 2014:  Succulent and rich with notes of mango melon and peaches with tropical undertones and elegant minerality and floral tones. A truly refined Sauvignon Blanc.merry-edwards

– 93pts WS –


Pinot Noir

Cycles Gladiator Central Coast 2014: Dark cherries and raspberries on the nose follow through with some richness and additional layers of bacon fat and plums. An easy drinking pinot. gladiator

– Not yet rated –


Martinelli “Bella Vigna” 2014: A perfect example of Russian River pinot. Almost see-through, ethereal with notes of ripe cherry, black berries, and hints of vanilla. A big crowd pleaser.martinelli

– Not yet rated –


Sea Smoke “Ten” 2014: Soft elegant yet rich on the palate. The Ten is loaded with complex dark fruits, baking spice tones, and a long finish.seasmoke-ten

– 94pts PP –


Sea Smoke “Southing” 2014: More berry driven than the Ten. The southing is a touch lighter on the palate with more mocha and vanilla notes.seasmoke-southing

– Not yet rated previous vintages rated 92pts CT –


Lights Spanish redsbreca

Breca Old Vines Garnacha 2012: Blackberries, cherries, vanilla, and mocha with a touch of flinty minerality suspended in a rich yet surprisingly soft tannin wine.

– 91pts WA –


Viña Ardanza 2007: The nose screams coconut, candied cherries, vanilla and rose petals. The palate follows through with some added tobacco and mocha flavors. Soft and easy drinking.vina-ardanza

– 94pts WA –


All of these wines were hand selected by our Somm Carlos Fonseca. For more information on any of these wines reach out to us on Facebook or see us in the store.