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I hope whoever is reading this enjoys an amazing holiday with their loved ones. Speaking of the holidays, do you know what’s underrated? Spending just the right amount of time, and money, looking for the perfect wine to share. There’s so much information out there, it can be confusing to know what to pick. With this in mind, I decided to do another episode of Wine Library TV— the 1,003rd episode– 2020 Holiday Edition. 

Phifer Pavitt, Date Night, Sauvignon, 2018 

The Phifer Pavitt Date Night, Sauvignon, 2018. It’s from Napa Valley, $20-$30, depending on where you buy it, and has earned 91 points from Wine Spectator. It was a fun way to start my five-year run on Wine Library TV. Back then I, along with the American consumer from 2006 to 2011, was not feeling Napa Valley or California Sauvignon Blanc.

As a matter of fact, I think I said that all the Sauvignon Blanc in California should be ripped up and replanted with a different grape. That’s how little I valued it. Then, I really valued Sancerre and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. However, over the last 18 months I’ve been stunned by my overall appreciation for California, Sauvignon Blanc. I think the style has evolved. 

It’s more balanced, less sugary, and less goopy. The wine world itself has begun to follow a lot of food and health trends. You know, clean eating and just  being thoughtful about what you’re putting in your body.

Smell test: I get a little bit of oyster shell. It’s very fresh,very sea ocean life. There’s a hint of melon, call it cantaloupe, with a little hint of lemon and lime coming through. So, you know, the classic oysters and cantaloupe with a little Sprite poured on top of it.

Nice nose. Let’s give it a whirl.

Taste test: Gorgeous acidity throughout this wine, a banana peel meets a Granny Smith apple.  Midpalate, huge acid on the finish. I still am tasting it. Gorgeous acidity. 

FInal Verdict: 90/100. I think this wine would pair extremely well at $20 to $30 bucks, a really strong value, doesn’t have the minerality of a great Sancerre that I’m a fan of in that $30, $40 range, but this stands up and this continues the momentum that I told you, Spectator gave a 91 points, to me, this is a 90 pointer as well.

Pairs well with: seafoods, scallops, oysters, clams, and salad.

Marnet Campbell Ranch, Pinot Noir, 2018

I’ve been hearing huge hype about this Marnet Campbell Ranch, Pinot Noir. It got 92 points from Wine Spectator, it’s a $50, Sonoma Coast Pinot. 

In the heyday of my 2006-2011 Wine Library TV episodes, Pinot was exploding. Burgundy was exploding as well. And I was talking about Barolo being the next thing to explode. Well, sure enough, you know like a good Monday morning quarterback, here we are nine or ten years later. 

You could buy it for $40 or $60 bucks back then. Now, they’re $300 to $400 a bottle. Therefore, I thought it’d be fun to have some super culty, California wine for the holidays.  Buy it for your boss, buy it for yourself, buy it for Christmas and all the other holiday dinners.

Smell Test: Okay, what a beautiful nose. It has a little bacon fat, huge strawberries… just gorgeous feet, strawberry fields forever.

Taste Test: Wow.


Since my last wine review, I’ve had the luxury of traveling the world quite a bit and staying in some really, really, fancy hotels. This wine’s silkiness is like the nicest silkiness sheets from the most expensive Ritz-Carlton you can imagine. Just silk all the way through. Beautiful red fruit, raspberry, and strawberries throughout.

Final Verdict: 94/100. This is an incredible $50 Pinot Noir, that in my opinion, rivals $100 red burgundies that I have 15 times a year. To me, this is a 94 point Pinot Noir and anywhere you can get it under $50 is a humongous buy.

Pairs Well With: beef, game, poultry 

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2014

The big dog, Joseph Phelps Insignia 2014. An iconic wine. 97 points from James Suckling and 97 points from Wine Advocate. It’s 87% Cabernet, 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2%. Malbeck, and costs $200 a bottle. 

Over the last 25 years, that has built itself up to being one of the most significant wines in California. And I’m always so honored and excited to taste it. Let’s give it a sniffy sniff.

Smell Test: This comes across almost like a perfume, or a jam. It’s like if you walked into your grandmother’s kitchen when she made hand-made jam (now I had a Soviet grandmother and she did this all the time).

She was my dad’s mom, may she rest in peace; she was also an OG. My grandma would go outside and pick raspberries, get all cut up and crap, then come back to the kitchen and make that jam. I remember a very authentic, clean flavor. This is like that.

But when I sniff again…it smells like artificial candy. So this is a really interesting juxtaposition. On one side of the bouquet, I smelled that authentic berry, but on the other side I sniff and get a lot of candy. It’s like dessert. 

Taste Test: Blackberry, black currant, dark chocolate, high cocoa count. These are real chocolate flavors. Not Kit-Kat chocolate, health food chocolate.

This is the cacao that is probably good for you, and you should probably like it, but it’s bitter and mixed in with a lot of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries. 

Final Verdict: 90/100. This wine should really still be $50 to $70, not $200 a bottle. To me, this is far from the 96 and 97 and it’s playing off its pedigree. However, it is good, and if you’re a fan of the brand it’s a solid choice. 

Pairs Well With: beef, lamb, game, poultry 


And those are my top 3 wines for the holiday season. Before I leave you, remember to try new things. Trust your own palate. You may disagree with all three of my reviews here. So try new things, try new things, try new things. That is how you become great at wine because you’ll get happiness through it. If you want a more in depth overview of each wine, check out the video I posted on Instagram (linked below).

I wish you all so much health during this holiday season.