The season of giving and consumer spending is fast approaching. Wine sales more than double during the holidays, as does the dollar value spent per bottle. With so many over-valued and under-achieving wines on the market it can be difficult to choose the right gift.
While I have the good fortune to try expensive wines all year round, the number of high-end bottles is so much more prevalent at tastings in the weeks leading up to the year-end break. Here are five gems to look for when shopping for holiday gifts.
The grape: Nebbiolo
The history: Regal king of Piedmont
The lowdown: The ’07’s continue to impress. Perhaps the best Ascheri Barolo I have tasted to date
The food match: Bourbon Java Steak Tips
Ascheri Pisapola Barolo 2007 (739920, $42.95) will not be punished for unremarkable rust and rusticity. Barolo as it should be, disciplined and indoctrinated in the ways of the Nebbioli. Black licorice meets unsweetened cherry and a whiff of cigar smoke. Double Z notes “if you say silky or velvety your palate is mistaken.” Proper, wicked, excellent. 91-92 (From the VINTAGES November 24th, 2012 Release)
The grape: Pinot Noir
The history: If Burgundy is your game, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the closest second
The lowdown: From a blend of some of Oregon’s greatest vineyard sites & appellations
The food match: Yukon Gold Potato Poutine, turkey gravy, fior di latte
Bergström Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 (255935, $49) shimmers red rubies in the glass and emanates as a study in Oregon geology. Colorful silicic material is expressed as strawberry cola, ripe and caramelizing. Even at 14.1% the Cumberland remains elegant and balanced by thunderegg, spherical characteristics and tempered acidity. 91–92 (From The VINTAGES May 2012 Classics Catalogue)
The grape: Shiraz
The history: Success measured by billions of dollars in the land of OZ
The lowdown: So often jamming beyond control, once in a while there comes along a Hermitage ringer
The food match: Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Pork Ribs, tomatillo vinegar, chipotle chile glaze
Elderton Neil Ashmead GTS Grand Tourer Shiraz 2009 (271486, $65) named after and produced in honour of Elderton’s co-founder, the GTS is a crushed berry beauty with raven highlights. Kirsch cordial in a cedar mansion dreaming of the Hermitage hills. This Barossa Road Warrior drives in at 14%, takes turns with speed, alternating between northern Rhone peppery, smoked meat and Barossa berries. Leaves the vineyard’s Command in its dust. 92-93 (From The VINTAGES May 2012 Classics Catalogue)
The grape: Sangiovese
The history: The Grosso of Montalcino is still so often undervalued
The lowdown: When Brunello under $50 is this good it should not be dismissed
The food match: Wild Mushroom Ravioli, wild boar ragu, truffle oil
San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 (650812, $49) has so much cure “there’s a meat hook in my heart.” Carbon driven molecular complexity of dense, red brick cherry liqueur. Butchery core, clove perfume and late snare attack. 92-93 (From The VINTAGES Shop On Line October 4th, 2012 Release)
The grapes: Grenache and Syrah
The history: Jerome Quiot’s domain is named for the “Lazarists” who in the 17th century had a hospice for old, poor and disabled
The lowdown: This is Châteauneuf at the height of lush with so much minerality you might think you have a mouth full of rocks
The food match: Simmered Coq-Au-Vin, roasted root vegetables, buttered salsify
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Exceptionnelle 2007 (957274, $55) will pop at the open when it appears online November 15th. The pinkish-maroon hue actually deepens with time spent swirled. Lithospheric rheology and isostatic behaviour befitting the appellation puts graphite, earth and pine forest at the forefront. Tremendous length and potential. Exceptionnelle. 93-94 (From The VINTAGES Shop On Line November 15th, 2012 Release)
Good to go!
Just got some 2006 Bergstrom Cumberland Reserve yesterday–looking forward to cracking one for Thanksgiving!