Keep your wine shop pals happy this season with gift orders

December 3, 2022

For those readers planning on parties, dinners, gifts for recipients who seem to have everything, wine can be a great choice. The variety, vintage availability and price opportunities are, for all intents and purposes, unlimited. I hope readers have discovered a local shop willing to help locate selections you are interested in purchasing. There is still sufficient time for them to provide this service. Keep in mind that single-bottle purchases will incur a substantial shipping premium over prices you may locate on the web at Total, Vivino, Millesima and my fav, Winesearcher, which has a drop-down to suggest stores in Delaware in its multistate window labeled prices. Acker, Merrill and Condit is the oldest wine merchant in the U.S., and its listing of upscale/cult and access to private wine collections and auctions is extensive. Keep in mind that Delaware has some of the tightest restrictions on shipping wine and spirit purchases. All that considered, I have found several local shops that are very helpful. In order to have the best luck, choose a price range; wine type, i.e., right or left bank Bordeaux, Napa, Cotes du Rhone; and a varietal type, Chardonnay, red blend, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, sparkler, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. Those going upscale after selecting the listed criteria may wish to go to a site that posts wine vintage charts. There are several that are very informative. I’m a longtime subscriber to Wine Spectator. If you go here:, you will get an excellent look at how they work. Others are similar, but the drop-downs and sort by country and region functions are excellent with WS. Many charts go back over 20 years. R. Parker uses a different format, less specific, but has a bunch of good info.

Tis the season for lamb rack, NY strip, filet mignon, roast pork loin, braised beef, smoked meat, and a variety of chilis and stews. For my money, the best selections to suit these are well-chosen Zinfandels. Arguably, the best of these can be found in Sonoma, along the Russian River Valley and in the North Coast area. Like all wine, Zin is vintage- and terroir-dependent, so we will differentiate by price. Seghesio produces several levels of Zin, and all are well made. Their Sonoma Family Zin under $23 has consistently rated 89 or better for several years. Buy the 2019, 92 McD or ‘21, 91 points. 2020 in Sonoma was a disaster for growing anything; none need revisit. 2018 was a wonderful growing year, so you can be safe with nearly any wine selection. Another fine choice is Ridge Three Valleys 2019, $30, 92 McD. This is stealing, folks. Anyone who drinks Zin knows Ridge is a boss hog producer. Their Monte Bello label has rated 94+ since 2014, and sells for $250 and up. New release 2021 is following but can be had for cellarers at $203, needs cellar time. Look for very dark ruby color. Opens to cassis, fennel, cola, barrel spices, wet gravel and tea aromas. Currant and blackberry flavors ride a frame of bright mineral acidity and slightly elevated but smooth tannins with earthy back notes through a long, clean finish. At $41, look for Mount Peak Winery Rattlesnake Zin 2019 (Napa),16% ABV, 93 McD, WA said 95 and also touted the 2020. These age well, so any vintage since 2014 should be great buys under $45. The 2018 was 88 points, just OK. I wrote of Martinelli’s Jackass Vineyard and Jackass Hill Zins recently. They are the ne plus ultra imprint for those who like to show wine labels. They are also at the top of the line. Jackass Hill 2019, RP 98, is currently selling at $375. I’m taking his word for it, especially after seeing a provenance-guaranteed 2016, also 98 points, for $175. I’ll keep you posted. I can get three 96 McD, 97 RP, 2016 Turley Wine Cellars Hayne Vineyards for $300. Please shop before asking your local wine store pal to bring in wine, but keep an open mind to their suggestions. Also expect to order a case of inexpensive or a six-pak of upscale. Good service and shipping charges should command enough premium to keep the wolf away from the door.

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