I thought about posting this piece right before the holidays as a gift guide, but I decided it would be better to hold off until January. I live in New York, and it has been bloody cold and nasty. A recent NY Times article, Feeling that Winter Cold? Here’s Why by Stephen Chang, stated that the extreme cold weather we’ve been facing is the result of “Arctic oscillation, in which opposing atmospheric pressure patterns at the top of the planet occasionally shift back and forth, affecting weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere.” This high pressure system “is more pronounced than any other time since 1950.” Brrrrrrr….
What does that mean? (1) It takes a lot more motivation to leave the house. (2) Many have that funkytown/winter blues thing going on. This piece includes a variety of treats to buy for yourself to consume today or, in some instances, age. It can also be used as a gift guide for something a little unique. Or, if you want to have a party at your own house, here are some suggestions on ways to mix it up.
Since I am in the business, I have the luxury to taste a broad spectrum of wines and spirits. This list was inspired by some of the wines and spirits I tasted in preparation for my WSET Advanced Exam and from the 2009 New York Wine Experience. I deliberately excluded wines from the U.S. and many of my “go-tos” (Burgundy, Willamette Valley, Ribera del Duero, Rioja…) because we all need to try new things.
Some of the wines below include hyperlinks for direct purchase from Wine Access (WA), with whom I have a relationship.
Bowmare Single Malt 12-year-old Scotch: $40, peat, sea salt, vegetal (40% alcohol by volume)
Boulard X.O. Calvados (Pays d’Auge): $86, spicy apple (40% alcohol by volume)
Calvados is an apple brandy from Normandy and Brittany (France). “While there are 11 distinct producing regions within the appellation of Calvados, the best comes from the Pays d’Auge.” (source “Exploring the World of Wines and Spirits,” Christopher Felden in association with WSET) There are 4 grades of Calvados: Fine/Trois Étoilles (>2 years old), Vieux Réserve (>3 years old), V.O./Vieille Réserve (>4years old) and X.O./Napoléon (>6years old). Use as an aperitif, digestif, in between meals or maybe with espresso.
1997 Rhum J.M. Vieux (Martinique): $90, pronounced caramel and raisins; dry, luxurious (48% alcohol by volume)
Martell X.O. Extra Fine Cognac: $120, pronounced caramel, sweet and spicy raisins (40% alcohol by volume)
2007 Schloss Wallhäusen “Two Princes” Riesling Qualitätswein (Nahe, Germany): $13, honey, peaches, apricots and citrus flavors; dry minerality
2006 Rocky Gully Dry Riesling (Frankland River, Western Australia): $18, gooseberry, quince, stone
2007 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese (Mosel, Germany): WS 92, $28, perfume, floral, orange blossom
2007 Domaine des Forges Chaume: WS 93, $26 for 500mL, sweet, round and lush
Chaume is a village located in the western part of the Coteaux du Layon in the Loire Valley. It consists of 100% Chenin Blanc and the grapes are affected by noble rot/botrytis. (Sauternes and Tokaji Aszú are also impacted by noble rot, resulting in those luscious, honeyed flavors.)
2005 Domaine du Closel “Clos du Papillon” Savonnières: $35, honeysuckle, white peaches. Keep in mind it’s 14.5% alcohol by volume
Savonnières is a wine appellation in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley. The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Late harvest grapes can formulate into honeyed and smoky-mineral flavors. A good Savonnières and cheese would be so amazing.
2000 Aszú, The Royal Tokaji Wine Company 6 Puttonyos Betsek:– fig, flan
I wasn’t able to track down a 2000, but the 1999 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos Betsek (500 ml) ($99, WS 94) was not shabby.
Tokaji (Tokay) is a town in Hungary. Wines are made with Furmint and/or Hárslevelü grapes. Aszú means nobly rotted/botrytised grapes (similar process Sauternes and Chaume go through).
AND SOME PERENNIAL GO-TOs…
I refrained from doing some of my favorites such as Burgundy, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Côte Rotie, Condrieu – I really could on forever here… (although I tried the 1999 Ribera del Duero “Unico” Gran Riserva, Bodegas Vega Sicilia at the Wine Experience and the song from the Partridge Family, “I think I love you” started to play in my head immediately.) I felt I had to include some wines from Bordeaux, the Southern Rhône and Champagne because these are always crowd pleasers for gifts – and this is a treat segment after all.
2003 Pauillac, Château Pichon-Longueville Baron: ST 93/WS 95 (ranked #33 in WS top 100 list 2006), Bottle: $117 or Magnum: $200; beautiful ripe fruit and berries with that classic Left Bank hint of pencil shavings; smooth and lush
2000 Saint-Julien, Château Léoville Barton: ST 94/WS 97, Bottle: $199 or Magnum: $349 cherries, pencil shavings, spices… absolutely seamless. And oh – how it lingered.
And a few from Bordeaux for the super fancy people out there or maybe for that corporate account that just never seems to be happy, no matter what you do…
2001 Saint-Emilion, Château Cheval Blanc: ST 92-95/WS 924, $347, Power and elegance all in one package; raspberries, pencil shavings, bitter cocoa, a nice one to age
1998 Château d’Yquem Sauternes: ST 95/RP 95, Magnum: $500, Extraordinary. I came back for more three times at the Wine Experience. Orange peel, honey, creamy, perfection, bliss
2007 Chåteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau,” Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe: ST 93/WS 95; 500mL: $35, Bottle: $69 or Magnum: $145, smoky cherries, tobacco and licorice
Bollinger Brut “Special Cuvée” Bottle: $75 or Magnum: $168, ST 91/WS 91, dominated by Pinot Noir (60%), nuttiness, ginger, spiced pears, toasty; will continue to get better over time
Krug Brut Champagne Grande Cuvée NV: ST 95/WS 93 $167, so lovely, so delish, an experience, like a scrumptious brioche with a hint of nutmeg
So there you go… Here’s a way to get out of funkytown.
Please note the following:
- Wine prices are dynamic and therefore, subject to change. Prices are in competition via various vendors WA uses. The prices listed in the article are as of 1/15/10.
- When indicated, ratings from ST came from WA and ratings from WS came from WS, which may result in some disparity between what WA lists for WS when you click on the link to purchase.