Editor’s note: PaperCity’s counting down to the holidays with ultra-curated and distinctive gift guides.
My urge to buy wine grows even stronger around the holidays, because I think about all of the gatherings and parties and dinners that serve as vehicles for opening bottles of Champagne, Prosecco, Riesling, Chardonnay… you get the picture. Yes, the days and nights between November 20th and January 1st are paradise for lovers of wine.
In addition to those parties and feasts, there’s the giving of gifts to family, friends and loved ones. Whether they celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus, or Bacchus, the people on your gift list deserve your largesse this time of year. And if those lucky individuals are wine people, this is for you — the Ultimate Wine-Centric Holiday Gift Guide.
This guide is so extensive that we’re splitting it up into two parts. Here are the Best Gifts for Wine Lovers (Part One):
First, and most obvious, you can make those on your list happy by presenting them with a bottle of wine. This is an easy option, and I recommend giving them something they might not purchase for themselves.
A Riesling for the brother who drinks nothing but California Cabernet Sauvignon? Sure. An unoaked Chardonnay for the aunt who loves her Chard buttery and oaky? Yes. Defy their expectations, and broaden their horizons. What follows is a diverse roster of wines ready for your holiday giving.
First, a Napa Cab with some gravitas. The 2013 E.J. Church Reserve Mayacamas Estate from Long Meadow Ranch is a great bottle for someone who might not always drink a “big” bottle. It will pair perfectly with grilled lamb or ribeye, and they can drink it now or cellar it for a few years. The grapes used here grow at 1,300 feet, and aging utilized 50 percent new and 50 percent neutral French oak.
Advise them to open this wine 30 minutes before they serve it, and tell them to look forward to dark berries, pencil lead and sturdy tannins. You’ll pay around $135 for this bottle.
Chardonnay drinkers on your list (or that Cab-loving brother) will not complain about receiving the 2017 Spring Mountain District Chardonnay from Stony Hill Vineyard. The bottle I opened recently was vibrant and lively — I served it with halibut, and you should try that, too — and at $54, it’s a gift whose price-quality ratio is high. I loved this wine’s minerality, and the citrus notes (apple, pear) are more than appealing.
How about a trio of French wines that are easy to buy (they cover the rouge, blanc and rosé bases, and their price points are attractive — retail price $17 — making them ideal for mass giving)? Belleruche is the name on the label, and these should be purchased by the case!
Bonus here: Michel Chapoutier, a legend in wine, is behind them, and they serve as wonderful introductions to his oeuvre. These wines are perfect for daily drinking, they play well with food, and, if your recipients know nothing about the Côtes du Rhône appellation, will serve to make them curious about it. Ask for these bottles at your favorite merchant.
Looking for something a bit richer? That’s easy in the world of wine. For about $100, you can get a Cabernet Sauvignon from a famed Napa name, Martini. Try the 2016 Louis M. Martini Cypress Ranch Vineyard. This single-vineyard wine is ready to drink now (but will improve with a few years of cellaring). Vaca Mountain fruit, 94 percent Cabernet and 4 percent Petit Verdot.
Or, for more Napa History, look for a bottle of Georges de Latour Private Reserve from Beaulieu Vineyard. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to taste the 1964 vintage, and am looking forward to opening a 1973 very soon, as someone very close to me purchased it and has promised to share. (The history of this wine makes great reading.) The 1973 cost $100 at Wally’s.
Which brings me to my next gift: bottles or gift cards from merchants offering older vintages and “special” bottles of wine. You’ve already, I hope, clicked on the link to Wally’s, where you can find a 1945 Bassermann-Jordan Deidesheimer Leinhöle Trockenbeerenauslese for $7,000 (note: Bassermann-Jordan is one of my favorite producers, and I urge you to try anything from this winery) and a 2007 Vega Sicilia Unico for $465.
The good folks at Houston Wine Merchant and Dallas’s Pogo’s Wines & Spirits can procure almost anything you desire, as well, so pay them a visit soon. Two great selections from the latter two shops, respectively, are the 2017 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir ($65.99) and the Benoît Lahaye Brut Natur Champagne ($89.99).
Your gifting list is likely a large one, so here is a quick group of other wines I have poured and tasted recently that would make anyone happy this holiday season:
2015 Todos Red Wine Vineyard Blend, from Jonata ($50)
Inman Family 2016 Olivet Grange Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir ($73)
2017 Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir from FEL ($70)
Gary Farrell 2017 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir ($45)
Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($24)
JUSTIN 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa ($28)
2015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella ($47)
2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon ($79)
Domaine Bobinet Du Rififi a Beaulieu ($27)
I’m confident that you’ll get no complaints if your shopping agenda includes the wines I’ve featured here, so give with joy.
Part Two of my holiday wine gift guide will feature recommendations for wine-focused travel and equipment and accessories perfect for the cork dorks on your gift list.
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