A wine collector I know buys dozens of bottles online around the holiday season, and over the years, he’s become acquaintances with the UPS driver who drops off the packages. They often have conversations about their favorite bottles of wine while he signs for the deliveries. One year, my friend decided to get the UPS driver a Christmas wine basket to show his appreciation for handling the deliveries with such care. He chose three bottles of wine that he thought the driver would enjoy and gave the basket to him during one of his usual deliveries. The driver was thrilled with the unexpected gift and the thought that went into it.
A COMPREHENSIVE RESOURCE FOR THE TRUE CONNOISSEUR
For the wine enthusiasts in your life who seem to have everything, the most memorable gift is one you can make yourself. Rather than buying them yet another waiter’s corkscrew or monogrammed glass, you can give a curated Champagne gift basket unlike any they’ve seen before. Even if the person on your gift list has a fully-stocked cellar, a carefully-selected basket of fine Champagne and accessories will make their holiday season unforgettable. These baskets also appeal to casual wine drinkers, so you can make one for nearly anyone on your gift list this year.
Opening a bottle of fine Champagne on Christmas Eve is one of life’s greatest luxuries. A flute of Champagne is synonymous with celebration and is one of the simplest ways to get everyone in the holiday spirit. It’s no wonder why this wine is a holiday classic: vintages are often meticulously crafted, age-worthy, and storied.
After your first experience with the best Southern Rhône producers, it’s hard not to fill your cellar up with these incredible bottles. One of my colleagues started buying Barroche Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Pure in 2004, and she has continued to buy this label ever since. The wine’s fine tannin, elegance, and perfectly ripe fruit flavors draw her back to this producer year after year, and she has also started collecting some of the estate’s other delicious wines, like the Signature label.
Three years ago, I was invited to a New Year’s Eve dinner party with a small group of close friends. I knew that I wanted to bring a bottle of wine, but I was having trouble deciding what type to bring. I assumed that everyone else would be bringing the usual Champagne for New Year’s Eve, so I crossed that off the shortlist. I wanted to choose a wine no one else in the group would think to bring, like New-World Pinot Noir, Riesling, or Torrontés. I eventually decided on a bottle of Rhys Pinot Noir, and it turned out to be the perfect choice for the event. The wine paired beautifully with our food and it was a nice change of pace from the sparkling wine everyone else brought.
Some bottles are destined to make great wine retirement gifts. In a recent discussion on the Wine Berserkers forum, member Andrew Demaree wrote that he gave a bottle of 1997 Montelena to his father to celebrate his recent retirement. To Demaree’s surprise, another forum member responded to his comment saying that he, too, had been given an entire case of the exact same vintage after retiring from his company. Demaree wrote back, “That’s fantastic. They must’ve thought very highly of you!”
A few years ago, I attended a retrospective tasting event of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at a local wine bar. We sampled wines from some of the best years for Napa Cabernet, and it was easy to see which vintages everyone enjoyed the most. The 2007 wines in particular were a huge hit among the crowd. The man sitting next to me gushed over a glass of intense, incredibly complex 2007 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, saying it was one of the best wines he’s ever had. Most of the 2007 wines received similar praise; it was clearly the winning vintage of the night.
The 2018 Napa harvest ended on a high note this fall. Most winemakers across the region are reporting superb grape quality, high yields, and low sugar concentration in the fruit. Hudson Vineyards director Kelly MacLeod says, “This year, it really was a winemaker’s dream. They got to consciously choose exactly what they wanted.” While it’s still too early to tell how these wines will develop over time, all of these factors could result in a collectible, age-worthy vintage. If you’re looking for flavorful New-World wines that are well-balanced with comparatively restrained alcohol, the 2018 vintage may be your dream year, too.
Usually, winemakers in Bordeaux are hesitant to call a vintage superb until all of the grapes have been picked and the wine has finished fermenting. This year, however, winemakers across the region are thrilled with the quality and ripeness of the grapes–they’re already calling the 2018 Bordeaux harvest one of the most successful of the past decade. While it’s still too early to make any definitive predictions about the investment potential of the 2018 vintage, based on the health of the grapes picked so far, you can expect to see plenty of age-worthy, intense wines. This is a vintage that you’ll want to keep a close watch on as it develops over the next few months.
Champagne is home to more than 100 different houses, and each one has its own distinctive style. From Bollinger’s biscuity, full-bodied profile to Gimonnet’s delicate apple flavors, Champagne house styles are incredibly diverse. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult for even experienced collectors to find producers that make wine in the style they most enjoy. Whether you’re starting your collection of top-quality Champagne from scratch or you’re an experienced collector who wants to try new producers, learning about individual Champagne house styles can help you invest in wines that will suit your palate.
Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food—from fresh spring vegetables to rich paté, you can serve this wine with a huge range of dishes. In fact, when I’m invited to a dinner party or bring my own wine to a restaurant, I very often take along a Pinot Noir, especially if I’m not sure what dish is going to be served. The wine’s perfect balance of bracing acidity, sweet fruit, and complex aromatics make it a joy to drink on its own or paired with nearly any dish.
If you’re looking to expand your Champagne collection, investing in wines from either Taittinger or Bollinger is a wise decision. But how do these producers compare? Which estate is the better investment? While Taittinger is elegant and dances on the palate, Bollinger tends to be richer and more powerful. Because they both produce consistently top-quality wine, your preference for either Taittinger or Bollinger will come down to personal taste, vintage, label quality, and how long you plan on storing your bottles. Weighing all of these factors will help you find the wine that speaks most strongly to you.