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14 SLO County wines that are perfect for a holiday party or gift

Daou Vineyards and Winery won recognition for a 2014 cabernet sauvignon.
Daou Vineyards and Winery won recognition for a 2014 cabernet sauvignon.

Looking for some special bottles of wine for holiday celebrations and gifts?

There are plenty of great, local choices from small producers that will never make any national list, but if you’d like some guidance from leading wine publications, two just came out with their lists of the top wines of the year. And once again, San Luis Obispo County vintners made a strong showing.

Here are their top picks.

Wine Spectator

SLO County wines from Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2017, with highlights from the rankings:

▪  No. 10: Booker Wines 2014 Oublié ($80) — An “expressive and impressively structured” blend of grenache, mourvedre and counoise with complex, densely layered flavors of currant, pepper and espresso.

▪  No. 16: Turley Wine Cellars 2014 Ueberroth Vineyard Zinfandel ($48) — An “impressive combo of refinement and torque” in a ripe, rich old-vine zin with berry, licorice and sage flavors.

▪  No. 22: Saxum Vineyards 2014 James Berry Vineyard ($98) — A dramatic blend of grenache, mourvedre, syrah, counoise and roussanne that “weds power and opulence” with rich currant and licorice flavors.

▪  No. 24: Justin Winery 2014 Justification ($50) — A warm and inviting mix of cabernet franc and merlot that’s “smooth-textured, graceful and refined” and will drink well through 2035.

▪  No. 26: Tablas Creek Vineyard 2015 Patelin de Tablas Blanc ($25) — Grenache blanc, viogner, roussanne and marsanne combine in a “vibrant and mouthwatering white” that’s best enjoyed now.

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles was recently honored at the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. Here's a look at how Tablas Creek strives to protect the environment.

▪  No. 79: Alban Vineyards 2013 Reva Alban Estate Syrah ($98) — “Refined yet dynamic,” with formidable black raspberry, smoky meat and licorice flavors that should drink well through 2026.

▪  No. 89: Daou Vineyards and Winery 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($85) — “Rich, deep flavors” of earth-laced berries and spicy herb notes best enjoyed from 2020 to 2034.

Wine Enthusiast

SLO County wines from Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Top 100 Wines of 2017, with highlights from the rankings:

▪  No. 27: Stolo Family Vineyards 2014 Estate Syrah ($40) — “Possibly the most savory rendition” of Central Coast syrah, with unusual flavors of peppercorn, miso, kelp and teriyaki.

▪  No. 45: Talley Vineyards 2015 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay ($38) — “A mysteriously compelling experience” with plump aromas and a palate bursting with cream, sea salt and lemon.

▪  No. 59: Vina Robles 2013 Suendero Red ($56) — A “show-stopping blend” of cabernet sauvignon with petit verdot and malbec with intense aromas and a soft palate.

Best buys

Looking for more reasonably priced bottles for larger gatherings? Wine Enthusiast also puts out a Top 100 Best Buys with a couple local choices:

▪  No. 64: J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2014 South Ridge Syrah ($15) — A plush texture marked by black plum, strawberry and a touch of mint on the palate.

Some SLO County wineries are adopting holistic farming practices, called biodynamics, to improve their fields and wines. Mike Sinor of Sinor-LaVallee Wines explains how it helps his winery.

▪  No. 48: Now Presenting… 2014 Red ($12) — A dynamic and layered wine for the price, with a rustic, berry-led palate and peppery spice.

Wait awhile

Want to stash something away for a while? There’s a list for that, too, Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar Selections:

▪  No. 76: Epoch Estate Wines 2013 Ingenuity ($70)A blend of syrah, mourvedre, grenache and petite sirah that shows the winery’s characteristic dense style that will last for a decade.

▪  No. 89: San Simeon (Riboli Family Wines) 2013 Stormwatch ($70) — This “serious and structured” red blend ups the Riboli family’s luxury game with a bottle that should age well through 2033.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter or Instagram @sallybuffalo.

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Wine tasting can be overwhelming if you don't know what to look for. Jenna Congdon — a certified sommelier and wine director at The Station and Granada Hotel and Bistro in San Luis Obispo — takes us through the 5 S's of wine tasting.

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