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Christmas Wine gift ideas
I was thinking of cutting some slack for the fat fella in a red suit. I don’t need any more wine or junk. As a lover, obsessive, of all things vinous means I have a cellar plus many wine gadgets and gizmos, mostly unused. A favourite is a gorgeous almost Georg Jensen-like Dom Perignon stopper – it only fits on that champagne bottle and no other so it’s limited in the true sense of the word. But when I do drink Dom, alas not as often as I would like, it’s often shared this time of year and I can confidently say nothing is left in the bottle so that damn Dom stopper is utterly useless. What isn’t useless is a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 2003 to drink on Christmas day. It will set you back about $195. I’d love a bottle but here are some other gifts for the wine nerd, aficionado or novice at various price points.
Bosch IXO vino cordless screwdriver and corkscrew attachment
Yes you can have hours of fun fixing all the loose screws in your house and when you’re done, place the corkscrew attachment on to the Bosch IXO, open a bottle and reward yourself with a drink. I’ve only seen these on amazon.com for about $80. Personally, the best corkscrew is le Creuset screwpull - effortlessly it pulls the cork out of the bottle then lifting the lever easily, the cork slides off. Several types are available from around $100 plus. Available locally at wine specialist shops, quality bottle shops but also try David Jones or Myer.
Although a much easier option is to buy a great wine under screwcap thus there’s buckley’s chance of TCA aka as cork-taint or oxidation in the wine and no need for a corkscrew. Here are a few top wines, most under screwcap, with tasting notes I wrote for Saturday’s Age Life&Style section:
Cape Mentelle Margaret River cabernet sauvignon 2010 $90 (shop around as I’ve seen this cheaper, $73 at Boccaccio Cellars until Wednesday 19th December).
When it comes to Margaret River cabernet sauvignon, Cape Mentelle needs no introduction – it’s one of the pioneers and leaders of the region. And it doesn’t falter. Considering the cellaring potential of cabernet, this will age easily for another decade and more yet it’s surprising just how well this young, medium-boded wine is drinking now as the tannins are supple and elegant with some grip on the finish. There’s a core of gorgeous ripe fruit with cassis, exotic spice plus tobacco and dark chocolate mixed with the fragrant leafy appeal of this variety yet there’s a real fineness and restraint too.
Pewsey Vale The Contours 2007 $26
Riesling is one of the classiest varieties because it is refreshing and vibrant in its youth yet develops complexity and depth as it ages. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find readily available aged riesling. Thanks then to Pewsey Vale for The Contours, a riesling it releases with five years’ bottle age. While super fresh, vibrant and lively as anything, this has touches of a riesling with a bit of age. There’s candied lemon peel, some toastiness and savoury nuances, very focussed and a long finish. And a bonus as the price belies its quality.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne blanc de blancs 2002 $335
Nothing quite marks a special occasion than popping the cork off a champagne bottle. And drinking it of course! It’s the ultimate celebratory drink and Taittinger’s prestige cuvee, Comtes de Champagne, is one of the most beautiful. The 2002 is an exceptional vintage and this blanc de blancs, so it’s all chardonnay, is one of the best starting with its super fine, lingering bead. It is opulent with a hint of citrus, creamy mousse and toastiness yet it’s also very restrained and precise with its finely tuned acidity driving the champagne to a persistent long finish. This has such presence and it’s one of my favourite champagnes but alas, at a price that makes for rare drinking.
Massolino dolcetto 2011 $32
Dolcetto is one of the key reds from Piedmont, northwest Italy that’s made into a fresh wine for immediate drinking pleasure. Yet it has loads of acidity so it can complement a rich lamb tagine. While from one of the finest producers, Massolino, there’s no mistaking this variety in the glass it’s alluringly bright purple and while the fruit is fantastic don’t think it’s a fruity wine because it’s as savoury as anything. However, it is fragrant, super vibrant with orange zest, balsamic notes and a hint of menthol. Sure there’s plenty of cleansing acidity on the finish but this dolcetto is almost soft on the palate and really gluggable. Yum.
S.C.Pannell McLaren Vale grenache 2010 $49
Stephen Pannell has long been a champion of grenache, a Mediterranean variety that suits the climate of McLaren Vale so very well. He has access to 70-year-old bush vines that are dry-grown and in Pannell’s caring hands the result is a medium-bodied, ultra fresh juicy red. It’s an enticing wine that’s not obviously fruit driven although there are certainly hints of raspberry and umeboshi - Japanese sour plums but it’s ultra savoury and spicy. There’s such a lightness of touch here making it too easy to enjoy several glasses partly driven by the wine’s fine, grainy tannins, good acidity and moreish finish. For what it’s worth, this is a much-lauded red, and awarded on the Australian show circuit, and it’s easy to see why. Delicious.
Kooyong Haven pinot noir 2010 $75
A single vineyard should be exquisitely unique, defined by its meso-climate, soil and generally small scale. Most importantly, the wine should be exceptional. Kooyong has three disparate and outstanding single vineyard pinot noirs with Haven defined by its structure. Hence it usually needs extra time in bottle but the 2010 is incredibly approachable such is this pleasing ripe vintage. It’s a fragrant mix of dark fruits, blood orange zest, earthy sous-bois and all that does is entice as pinot delivers joy on the palate. Expect the savoury and meaty nuances to meld with the fruit alongside tangy cleansing acidity; round defined tannins that build before a long flourishing finish. A complex wine, beautifully structured and a superb drink. For details: www.portphillipestate.com.au
And talking of pinot the biennial Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Noir Celebration has a few tickets left to this amazing event held over two days – February 8 & 9, 2013 at RACV Cape Schanck resort. Apart from tasting pinot from Burgundy, Australia, America, New Zealand and more, key winemakers including Ted Lemon from Littorai and Etienne Grivot from Domaine Grivot will be on hand to lead discussion. And the keynote speaker is the erudite Jasper Morris MW a wine importer and Burgundy expert. Ticket for the two days costs $990. For details and bookings go to www.mpva.com.au. This is definitely a Christmas gift for pinot lovers whether an aficionado or an eager enthusiast.
A beautiful set of glasses or just one does make a difference. There are many excellent brands out there although I have been a fan of Riedel ever since I started drinking wine, a rather long time ago. It’s not necessary to buy every style of glass to suit every wine style. Who really cares or has the space? My everyday glass, well glasses as I have three, is from the Vinum range comprising cuvee prestige for sparkling although sometimes that wine whether champagne, franciacorta or local ends up in the riesling glass that I also own. And finally, the pinot noir glass. Each costs about $40 but I have always bought the glasses on sale or as a special deal. Check out specialist retail outlets plus Myer and David Jones.