A combination post this year, for everyone caught short by the truncated holiday shopping season or who may have been iced in: Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, plus a couple of additional gift ideas. And anyone who wants an autographed copy of the cheap wine book needs to order from the website by Friday afternoon for holiday delivery:
• Red wine: Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2011 ($25, sample, 13.5%), one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year and which deserved more than the passing mention it got on the blog in September. This is a classic Washington state red blend with rich, black fruit and where the Washington state syrah stands out. Highly recommended, and a fine value at this price.
• White wine: The Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Théo 2011 ($30, sample, 13.5%) was the highlight of an Alsatian riesling Twitter tasting this summer. It’s a complex wine with the requisite varietal character (some oiliness, lemon fruit) but still quite pleasant to drink in a way that some high-end Alsatian rieslings, which try to cram everything in, aren’t.
• Sparkling wine: Poema Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%), another excellent cava in both price and quality (and a tip ‘o the Curmudgeon’s fedora to reader James Phillips for suggesting it). Look for tight bubbles, very crisp golden delicious apple fruit, and even a little brioche, a yeast-like flavor that usually shows up only in Champagne.
• Wine book: The New California Wine, $35, by Jon Bonne, the wine editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. Bonne is one of the two or three best wine critics in the U.S., and his analysis of California wine — good and bad — is usually spot on. This is a great gift for anyone who wonders why California wine is so wonderful, except when it isn’t, and how the isn’t happens as often as it does.
• Wine glasses: Schott Zwiesel Tritan Forte, about $10 each. These are among the best so-called unbreakable crystal glasses, and crystal does make a difference. How unbreakable is unbreakable? Given my propensity for falling down more often than I plan, I can vouch for their sturdiness. They do break, but you have to make an effort.
More about Christmas wine and gifts:
• Holiday wine gift guide 2013
• Christmas wine 2012
• Wine of the week: King Estate Pinot Gris 2012
• Wine of the week: Dibon Brut Reserve NV
• Wine of the week: Hardys Nottage Hill Pinot Noir 2012