5@5 - Master Sommelier Richard Betts
December 29th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Whether it's champagne on New Year's or port on a long winter's night, wine in the winter just kind of makes sense. It warms you from the outside in and is a positively splendid companion to nurse by the crackling fireplace. Hey, what else are you going to do when your door is blocked by a two-foot snowdrift?

Rest be assured such frigid temperatures require more than your average cream puff varietals - save that full-of-fruit rosé for the summer.

Here to assist in stocking your cold weather cellar is Richard Betts. Betts is the co-founder of Betts & Scholl wines and the founder of cc: Wines, which just launched in October 2010. The former wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, passed his Court of Master Sommeliers exam on his first try, becoming only the ninth person to do so at the time - let's just say, we trust this man's palate.

My Five Favorite Winter Wines (at least right now): Richard Betts

1. Bring on the bubbles
"Be it New Year's or just winter blues, nothing turns a frown upside-down more quickly than a really lovely glass of Champagne. Recently we have seen many interesting new wines coming from small growers which are certainly fun, but truly great Champagne is created by a process of blending and this is where the venerable old houses really excel. They have all of the ingredients to make the most luxurious and lovely elixirs each and every year. Amongst them all, I consider Champagne Krug to be very pinnacle. Their entry-level Krug M.V. Cuvée is rich, round, complex and a great partner to food, family and friends."

2. California dreamin'
"I am a big fan of white wine every day. Even if it is just a glass as preamble to the reds, white wine serves an important purpose of wetting the palate and getting your juices flowing before the more well-endowed wines follow. That said, I often reach for a richer white in the colder months and one of my very favorites right now is actually a California chardonnay. There is an ocean of labels and a multitude of styles these days but I single out Lewis Cellars in Napa as real masters of the varietal. Their 2009 Napa Chardonnay is amongst the very best from California and unlike some of the more trendy names; you won’t have to mortgage the house to enjoy it."

3. La vie française
"So, while we were learning about dinosaurs in second grade, French kids were learning that White Burgundy meant Chardonnay, Bordeaux meant Cabernet and Merlot, and Hermitage is the place where the Syrah grape reaches its apogee. It is the last of these that I’m totally taken with. On the steep hillside that is Hermitage (about an hour south of Lyon), the J. L. Chave family has been making wine since 1481. One might imagine that over the past six-hundred years they would have learned a thing or two about making great wine. In my opinion, their Hermitage is truly one of the great wines of the world. Considering the sums that first growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy are fetching, it is also an amazing deal. 2007 is the current release and you can enjoy it now or forget it in the cellar for years to come."

4. Don't cry for me Argentina, but do bring me a glass
"Argentina remains red-hot as we’re all discovering the charm of the exuberant and affordable Malbec grape. My current favorite is The Show 2009 Malbec from Mendoza. It is everything you want in a big red - loads of rich red and black fruits accompanied by vanilla and spice and a totally appealing structure that make it a great partner to just about anything. Best of all, it is super affordable so it makes for a fantastic wine for those occasions when it is more than just a few friends."

5. More bang for your buck
"Ok, ok, I know, Cabernet is king. Everyone loves it and it is always the most popular red grape in the room. It is also one of the most over-hyped wines out there and it is easy to over-pay for just so-so wine. That said, I am super excited about my new “CC:” project. The debut 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet is one of the great values from California today. It is a blend of wines made at some very fancy addresses that are blended and bottled and can be had in most cases for less than twenty bucks, which makes it one of the most delicious deals going. Cheers!"

What are you drinking this winter? Pour a glass in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • HolidayShopping • Sip • Think • Wine

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. newyorkvintners

    And...you can also buy C&C Cabernet Sauvignon and C&C Chardonnay at New York Vintners: http://www.newyorkvintners.com

    February 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  2. M C Crockett

    For white wines, I don't care, particularly, for either Champagne or Chardonnay. I would prefer a Brut from Biebrich or a Kabinett, Spätlese, or Auslese from the Rhein-Hesse or Rhein-Pfalz. Perhaps this is an indication of how much time that I spent traveling to Germany on business and in Weinstuben after work. :)

    After a decade of drinking California'a vin ordinaire, I've switched back to varietals. I do like Cabernet Sauvignon but have really come to enjoy old vine Zinfandel. In particular I like those from the Lodi Appellation. Listening to the Creedance Clearwater Revival while drinking these wines is optional.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  3. DHart

    My winter warmer.... Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet from Columbia Valley, WA. About $11 and drinks like $35. Washington State cabs and merlots ROCK!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  4. Steve S

    What's nice about Malbecs is they are really tasty and inexpensive. One of my favorite reds is Petite Syrah.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  5. Carina

    Cabernet and Malbec blend called "44" from Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery in Wisconsin.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  6. sandie

    I drink Beringers white zinfandel ever since I went to napa valley in Cal. I am drinking right now as a matter of fact.

    December 29, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  7. VitaBellaWine

    Nice selection! VitaBella Wine Daily Gossip brings together some articles exclusively about Wine, read on the internet over the last 24 hours. This is a good article selected today by http://www.vitabella.fr

    December 29, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  8. Osbert Haro

    About the wine–Funny weve been drinking 2009 malbec here in New Mexico not quite the 2 foot of snow yet but close. I still prefer all Spanish red wine from Rioja especially the CRIANZA from Haro,Spain wines. Please try it and let us know.

    Osbert Gamaliel

    December 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  9. Elisabeth Nelson

    I know next to nothing about wine, but winter, especially Christmas, means gluwein to me. It is a very cheap german red wine that is meant to be drunk warm.9as in heated on the stove)

    December 29, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • D

      WORD...good stuff!

      December 29, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  10. Fast Eddie

    There is one glaring error in this article. French kids, and French adults for that matter, are not taught which grapes grow in which regions in the second grade, or any grade. The French are totally ignorant about varities of grapes. They learn to recognize wine by the chateau, appelation, or region, not by grape. I asked a clerk (in French) in a prestigous wine shope near the Madeline in Paris for a wine made from the Viognier, the grape of Condrieu, I got a look as if I had asked for a wine from Mars. When I changed my request to a bottle of Condrieu, I was shown several choices. This scenario has played out numberous times in France (I never learn). The French know wines, not grapes.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  11. carinne

    New Jersey's wine passport has led me to a variety of vineyards I would otherwise ignore. Typically I'd pick up just a california wine from the store and be done. However, Brook Hollow's Proprietor's Red – possibly the best I've encountered in a long, long time.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  12. Ffrindak

    I personally like Spanish wines... a good 2006 Crianza is good enough for me in the winter.

    December 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  13. iluvwine

    Rombauer red Zin is fantastic and a favorite

    December 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  14. JBJingles_from the humble abode

    @Dover – It is a little game a few regulars play, quite harmless I assure you. Now, you have made several comments on our comments, but none on the article...anything to add to the topic?? I really do appreciate learning what others like in wine. I'm looking to try a new Syrah.

    December 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  15. joesommelier

    Finally, someone on this "blog" who knows what they are talking about.

    December 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Dover

      This "blog" has actually become a huge platform for spam (not the canned variety from Hormel either)

      December 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  16. FFCLQ

    ABC- anything but California

    December 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • joesommelier

      See my comment above – I replied to the wrong post. Sorry "This chick".

      December 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  17. This chick

    Would not hit that! YUCK!

    December 29, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • joesommelier

      Really? Perhaps you should stop drinking grocery store, bargain bin Cali wines then you might realize California has been making Grand Cru wine for decades. People who take your approach are myopic and missing out on some truly wonderful wines.

      December 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  18. Hazibat Abeej

    At first glace, I thought that was an old picture of Ray Davies ...

    December 29, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  19. Tazer

    On topic, what an information-packed article! I am a big wine enthusiast, so a few suggestions on wines to try are always appreciated! Cheers!

    December 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  20. jillmarie

    Back to the topic- as a wine and champagne enthusiast, I was glad to learn more about Malbec. I also love the idea of having white wine as a starter before reds.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  21. JBJingles_from the humble abode

    On topic, I'm starting to really like a Syrah and may have to give the one in #3 a try, but I will smell the cork first of course! :)

    December 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • He

      Why not smell the wine? It smells better than the cork....

      December 29, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
      • JBJingles_from the humble abode

        It was a joke due to a persistent troll here a few weeks ago...

        December 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
      • vapor

        i wheel keel u and thrash u. u wheel dye and crya nd i will laugh as i bang ur mom

        January 10, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  22. Truth@All

    My wife is sitting with me in my office wondering just what is so important that I ignore everything else...

    December 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  23. Dave the 1st

    Yeah, he'll DEFINATELY be here.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • vapor

      i am busy bangin ur mom. u wheel dye

      January 10, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  24. The Witty One@All

    And we can come in tomorrow and see Vapors drunk 2AM comments.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • feet eat

      i like to start fights in stupid forums like these. if you are someone who likes to get verbally thrashed, then please post something stupid and I wheel shred you verbally. you will look like a stupid person, which you are. everyone reading will know youare ignorant when i finish with you. i like to defend vapor against morons

      January 10, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  25. JBJingles_from the humble abode

    Well played my highness! Now back to CK to gloat/moat... :)

    December 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  26. Queen of Everything

    Oh yeah! Two in a row! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!!!

    December 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  27. The Witty One@Tazer

    I second that.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  28. Dave the 1st

    nice job
    two in a row...

    December 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  29. The Witty One


    December 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  30. JBJingles_from the humble abode

    boy that was quick!

    December 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  31. Truth

    NOT hittiing that...

    December 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  32. The Witty One

    I wouldn't hit it with Jdizzle's pole!!!

    December 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dover

      You need to change your screen name. Witty people come up with something different every now and then.

      December 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
      • RichardHead@Dover

        Here's something different-Kiss My AZZ and quit trolling my friends.

        December 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
      • Dover@dickhead

        Your friends need to get a collective life. How "well played" is that you bunch of boring cretins?

        December 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  33. Queen of Everything

    ding, ding, ding

    December 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Truth@Queen

      Well played your highness!

      December 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Truth

        Thank you! Give my best to the missus. Sorry I didn't really believe it was her earlier.

        December 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
      • Truth@Queen

        I think she now believes me to be completely certifiable having read some of this site...

        December 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
      • Dover

        Do you people ever tire of writing "Well played" or "I'd hit that"? Are you all so one dimensional?

        December 29, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • Queen of Everything@Truth

      At least you're in good company!

      December 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
      • feet eat

        everyone is stupid

        January 10, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Markus

      She is tapping a Vendange bottle (Merlot)

      December 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
      • Queen of Everything

        Ha! Ha! I could go for a nice Merlot right about now. It's gotta be 5 o'clock somewhere.

        December 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • feet eat

      i like to start fights in stupid forums like these. if you are someone who likes to get verbally thrashed, then please post something stupid and I wheel shred you verbally. you will look like a stupid person, which you are. everyone reading will know youare ignorant when i finish with you.

      January 10, 2011 at 4:53 am |
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