Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Champagne: Why this is the BEST gift for your wine-guzzling friend

What to get your wine lover/wine snob/wino friend for Christmas?
I HEARTILY recommend Champagne. WHY, you ask? I'll tell you why:

Just about every wine-drinker (especially in California) who starts out buying and collecting wine, starts off with Napa Cabernet, or Bordeaux. We cut our teeth on it. Then, our palate changes, and we try different wines, different regions. We start discovering Barolo, Riesling, Riojas, and eventually our palate will evolve, so we start drinking new and different wines. (Meanwhile, our cabs, Bordeaux sit in a pile somewhere). Though some people will stay with Cab/Bordeaux and that is fine. But many wine drinkers branch out. Think of wine as food. Would you like hamburger for every meal?

And then there is Champagne.

So very different from any other wine. Uplifting, exuberant, minerally, graceful and makes you want to swoon. It's difficult not to love it. It possesses an inherent, special quality. As wine snobs will attest, a party with Champagne is always a great time. The only problem with Champagne, is... there never seems to be enough. I may have pricey bottles of Cab or Bordeaux in my cellar, but what is really precious to me are the bottles with the bubbles.

The writer Dorothy Parker said it best:
"Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient Champagne."

You said it, girlfriend!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Year in Retrospective - Best wines of 2011 - Trumpets, please!

This isn't Wine Spectator's Top 100 or whatever, it's MINE. Which matters the most... to me, that is. :)

Someone asked the question: What are your Top Wines of the Year? Here are my answers:

  • What was your favorite wine of the Year?
2010 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Spatlese - by the time I got to try this, it was already sold out from the distributor so I ran to one of our competitors and bought a case

  • What was your favorite red wine of the Year?
2002 Clos Roche Blanche - Gamay
Stunning, haunting, beautiful fruit and nuanced... it was all that, and under $30.

  • What was your favorite white wine of the Year?
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada #10
Sea-salty minerally goodness. Just supremely good!

  • What was your favorite effervescent wine of the Year?
Pierre Peters NV Brut Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru. Also, a good friend brought a 1988 Billecart-Salmon Blancs de Blancs to a party which was outstanding. Also the 1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque was very good.
(Pictured: Pierre Peters Champagne being chilled. Just kill me now)

(Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996, rarely seen in the states. Beautiful wine!)

  • What was your biggest new producer discovery of the year?
Patrick Piuze!

Chablis winemaker, Patrick Piuze. Yes, he's adorable, but he makes great wine! Start buying his wines now, before they get too expensive in the future!

  • What was your favorite tasting of the year?
Tie: The Rudi Wiest German trade tasting, and the Terry Theise Champagne tasting.
Pictured: Rudi Wiest - One of the coolest people in the wine biz.

  • What was region did you start getting into this year that was new for you?
Sicily/Mt. Etna - These are wines made at high altitudes in volcanic soil. Wines with breathtaking minerality and graceful fruit. Look out for the Occhipinti Frappato, and other Mt. Etna wines such as Tenuta Terre Nere.

  • What wine disappointed you this year?
I had the Pierre Peters 02 Chetillons recently and I usually love that wine, but was disappointed. Maybe it's going through a dumb phase, or I am!

  • What was your favorite QPR this year?
2010 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina ($17) and killer.

Those are my picks. What are yours???