Wines can provide many gift-giving ideas

November 25, 2020

To forestall scheduling conflicts, McD family Thanksgiving is on Friday this year; I sampled several sparklers to kick off the four-day weekend. Smart time to think about case buying discounts if your budget allows. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, and Valentine’s Day are rapidly approaching. Let’s jump off with a wonderful gift idea from Moët & Chandon for your favorites or secret Santa pals who seem to have everything they need. M&C has come up with an interesting marketing ploy. They are providing their Imperial Brut $45 and Rosé Brut $64 in a classy brushed-metal gift box that may be personalized with up to 16 characters. Go here: Shop owners be aware, to date no one is providing this service in 19971 or 19958 areas.  There is a shop finder included. You may note from graphics, these are generic and could satisfy any special occasion. A case of the Rosé NV is on the market under $60/bottle. Like most quality NV sparklers, M&C is a predictable 90 McD points. The pricing on this package says add a price point. Look for pink-tinted copper with lots of fine effervescence and aromas of brioche, damp earth and mushroom (some say truffle). On the creamy palate, fruit notes and bright acidity, which provides a long, clean finish. The brut imperial also deserves 90 McD plus a price point. If you are sponsoring a party toast for 8-10, magnum bottles add a festive air. You should be able to find some under $100.

Nyetimber makes nice sparklers. I bet you didn’t know they are from West Sussex … England, that is. I sampled a lovely bottle of their NV Rosé Sparkling, a first. Nyetimber makes a full line of sparklers. I was quite surprised to learn their Blanc de Blanc vintage and NV were the same price. Plan on having some old NY pals sneak some in. My suppliers just informed me that, in addition to killing bar and restaurant businesses and holiday gatherings, Jackie Gleason’s foil Petey and his political partners have had the whiskey police crack down on interstate shipping again. 

I don’t normally recommend wine society-type packagers, but I’m making an exception with Landmark Vineyards. Their club has some excellent bargains. You must shop price, though. An example of a fine buy is the Santa Rita Hills La Encantada PN at $48, McD 91. Another is the Pinot Gris RRV 2019 around $19, 88 McD. Light straw color with a redolent mixed bouquet of apricot, honeysuckle, peach and melon. Citrus palate with a repeat of the nose supported with bright, minerally acidity and a slightly herbaceous finish. Shellfish with garlic butter; use the wine instead of lemon. 

Sebastiani is an old-line name that is now owned by Foley Family Wines. I’m happy to report Foley has continued a tradition of excellence with Cherryblock Cab Sonoma, rated 91-93 McD the past several years. These are around the $150 mark. I’d prefer you to shop for Sebastiani Gravel Bed Red 2014, 89 McD under $30. I’ve seen cases of the 2014 still around for $298 and singles at $30. This is a Bordeaux blend of 67 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 percent Merlot, 12 percent Malbec and Petit Verdot. The 2014 is dark ruby with purple rim. Black cherry, currant, coconut, oaken spices with black tea-nuanced aromas. On the palate blackberry, raspberry, autumn leaves (or maybe it came in from the yard). 2014 was a long, warm year and I thought the fruit would overwhelm. Judicious winemaking provided plenty of acidity and tannic support to save the day. It is ready to go and a terrific value wine exceeding its price/value bigly.

I’m happy to report that Mendocino had a very good year crop-wise. Many are writing that the fears of smoke taint there were a bit overblown. Recent winemaking effort seems to bear this out. So far this is anecdotal. My informer Tiziano Vannoni from Mendocino Wine Growers has been very useful and straightforward in the past. Here’s a link for those who wish to learn more:

I hope you all have many reasons to be thankful. One of the many on my list is the constant correspondence from so many of you. Thank you! 

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