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24 Days of Wine - Part I: A Joyous Beginning

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

The holidays and Christmas time can be hectic, and what should be a joyous time often devolves into a stressful and hectic dystopian December. As we all grow older, we recognize the finiteness of life, which compels us to focus our attention on the things that bring us joy. Some find joy in sledding down snow-covered hilltops or sipping on Fair Trade 76% cacao hot cocoa next to a roaring fire while reading the next great Danielle Steel novel. However, I reside in Florida, where a “blisteringly cold” day means that my AC can finally observe a day of Sabbath. There is no snow falling from the sky nor is there a need to burn the proverbial Yule log in my nonexistent fireplace. The closest thing to burning wood will be the torrefected notes wafting from my glass of white Burgundy while I pontificate about which style of Chardonnay is unambiguously superior. All this pomp and preamble brings me to the reason for writing this article, what brings me joy. It is without hesitation that I attest that my answer is unequivocally wine.

Since there is no Procrustean bed for joy in life, and without intending to be irreverent to the true purpose of Advent, I elected to observe the beginning of the liturgical year with a daily dose of wine in the form of an Advent calendar. While many imbibe throughout the holidays in an unstructured manner, I find it quite salient to note that freeing miniature bottles of vin de jour from their cardboard prison cells obviates the need to rationalize the consumption of yet another glass of wine. Furthermore, my purchase of a wine-centric Advent calendar will help the adult beverage industry’s nearly untenable fight against chocolate’s hegemony of the Advent calendar world. All jokes aside, I find joy in trying new wines and sharing with others. This calendar provides me with the opportunity to share these experiences daily and to help those new to wine find something that they can enjoy, and in turn, share with others.

Over the following posts, I will provide reviews of the wines found in Total Wine and More’s 2022 Advent Calendar. There may not be any Grand cru classé wines here, but there are some interesting wines from vin de France and beyond.

Day 1

Wine: 2021 Kiwi Cuvee Bin 36 Pinot Grigio

Variety: Pinot Gris

Country/Region: Hungary/Felso-Magyarorszag

Review: The label touts this wine as “crisp and refreshing” and they are not wrong. The wine is dry with a medium level of acidity. However, some phenolic bitterness takes over when it begins to warm up, which is not very pleasant. Flavors are a mix of mineral notes and citrus rinds.

Conclusion: Pass, there are plenty of better examples of Pinot Gris.

Day 2

Wine: 2020 Magic Box Red Blend

Variety: 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache

Country/Region: Spain/Viño de España

Review: The wine is dark in color but not opaque. There are notes of black fruit and earth on the nose. The same fruit profile carries over to the pallet but is not too complex. The body has firm tannins and a balanced acidity.

Conclusion: Pass, there is nothing bad about the wine, but there is also nothing exciting about the wine.

Day 3

Wine: 2021 Kiwi Cuvee Bin 88 Sauvignon Blanc

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The nose is a little restrained with notes of green apple and flint. These mild flavors translate over to the palate and pair with a racy acidity. Besides the acid, the wine comes off a little bit boring.

Conclusion: OK, there is nothing off-putting.

Day 4

Wine: 2021 D’Amati Red Blend

Variety: Unknown Blend

Country/Region: Italy/Puglia IGP

Review: The wine is a medium garnet color with a perfumed red fruit and terra cotta pot nose. The label shows a 14% alcohol, but it seems hotter than that. Red fruit and plums carry over to the palate, with not much else going on and light, chalky tannins.

Conclusion: Pass, the alcohol is a little distracting and there is not much flavor to save this wine.

Day 5

Wine: 2021 Grand Sud Chardonnay

Variety: Chardonnay

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine has a golden hue that should only be present in aged whites. The nose is not very aromatic and there are prominent stewed and baked fruit notes. This oxidized character is also found on the pallet with notes of feijoa and baked pears. The lack of acidity is the final count against the wine.

Conclusion: Pass, baked and oxidative notes make this seem like a much older wine. The overall lack of freshness makes this hard to recommend to others.

Day 6

Wine: 2021 Chemin des Sables Méditerranée

Variety: Unknown Blend

Country/Region: France/Méditerranée IGP

Review: Very pale salmon color with light floral and stone fruit notes that are covered up by excessive amounts of sulfur. The sulfur flavor clouds the palate, leaving a dry, high acid rosé.

Conclusion: Pass, the overwhelming sulfur note on the nose and palate is unpalatable.

Day 7

Wine: 2021 Magic Box Pinot Grigio

Variety: Pinot Gris

Country/Region: Italy/Delle Venezie DOC

Review: Very light in color, almost water-like. The nose has a very pleasing blend of subtle white peach, lime zest, citrus, and chalk. The wine is dry with no phenolic bitterness, balanced acidity, and a beautiful freshness. Citrus and minerality carry this to a pleasant finish.

Conclusion: Buy, this is a high-quality Pinot Gris and is something that I would buy again.

Day 8

Wine: 2021 Kiwi Cuvée Bin 69 Pinot Noir

Variety: Pinot Noir

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine is a light ruby color. There is a distinct underripe quality that comes off on the nose with notes of unripe strawberry and cranberry. This is low alcohol, sitting around 12.5%. The palate has short, slightly bitter tannins and a carryover of the same fruit that was showing on the nose.

Conclusion: Ok, it is light and green. It is a pass if you are looking for ripe, fruity wines, but it may be interesting to those who like low alcohol, old timey style wines.

Up to this point in the calendar, the best wine has been the Pinot Grigio from Day 7. This wine was a big surprise for me because I generally dislike the Pinot Gris grape and its respective wines. I am excited to see what the rest of the calendar has in store.

To follow along,

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