December 17, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … …

purpledecAnd there are always the inevitable questions that rise at this time of year – what are the best wines for that special gift.

Wine can make a special gift if you know the preferences of the receiver.  Otherwise, it can go as wrong as Grandma’s giving a cute knitted jumper with bunnies to a teenage Goth.  You get the idea!  The first thing to know is whether they prefer red, white or fizz.

If you do not know then aim for something that simply says ‘Prestige’ by looking at it.  For this reason Champagne or a very good quality fizz is always a great fallback.  In lieu of a favourite brand go for a non vintage fizz such as Veuve Cliquot ($85+) or Bollinger ($80). For something a little different, Gosset Grand Millesime 2000, Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut, Clover Hill Blanc de Blanc ’06 ($50+) or Arras Grand Vintage 2003 ($65+). If you are after a good fizz on a budget, then aim for a great Aussie sparkling. My recommendations are: Blue Pyrenees make a great NV fizz for under $20, or Kiki Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc ‘09 (which is a Kiwi fizz being  refreshingly different) or why not try a Sparkling Shiraz as something special this year.  The drier Majella Sparkling Shiraz 05 ($30) or the velvety Mount Avoca ‘Jack Barry’ NV ($28) are both great drinking and will be gifts that will light up anyone’s eyes.

There are some brilliant Australian whites around at the moment and believe it or not more people drink whites than reds these days. There were 6% more white than red sold last year according to Nielsen figures (MAT Feb 10).  In saying that, this is also the year to revisit Chardonnay and you really cannot go past the silkiness of Shaw & Smith M3 ‘09 for $44 or Cape Mentelle ‘09 also $40+.  There are plenty of fresh 2010 Rieslings that have come out in the past months.  Grosset Polish Hill ‘10 ($47) is a very stylish new release or  Moppity Lock & Key Riesling ‘10 is a good option at $14.  My picks for this season though are: Rutherglen Estates Renaissance VRM ’08 (Viognier, Roussane & Marsanne) around $30, Mt Horrocks Semillon ’09 or a crisp Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon of any vintage ($40+) from the Hunter.

Red wines make excellent gifts particularly if the receivers budget never stretches to some of the finer reds in life.  If you are searching for an Australian wine for a Pinotphile then Marchand & Burch Mt Barrow ‘09 ($70) & Ashton Hills Vineyard Reserve ($65) are excellent wines, but then so is Moorooduc Estate ‘McIntyre Vineyard’ ‘08 ($36).   If you are after BIG reds then try a stylishly fresh Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 09 ($85), John Duval Eligo Shiraz ($100) or Balnaves The Tally 05 Cabernet Sauvignon ($90).  Don’t despair though if you have a tighter budget. Wines such as Kirrihill Vineyard Tullymore Shiraz ‘09 ($20), St Hallett Gamekeepers Shiraz Grenache ‘09 ($14+) & Paracombe Cabernet Franc ’06 ($27) are all delivering excellent quality at remarkable value.

Holiday Tip: Why not tie a gift tag to the neck of the bottle so that if the wine goes into the cellar (or cupboard in my case) the receiver will always remember just who gave them that wine.  You never know, they may even open it with you some time down the track.

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