Russ Winton: Wine List

Gifts for wine lovers


I don’t get wine for Christmas. Friends and family say that they don’t know what wine to buy for the “Wine Line” guy. This is lame. In my last column, I mentioned splurge wines for special occasions. Well, Christmas is one and I really love splurge wines ($$$). Here are some gift ideas (of course not for me) for those serious wine lovers you know.

Most wine fans like sparkling wines but never get enough. How about a bottle of 2016 ‘J’ California Cuvee Brut ($27) and the Non Vintage Brut Cuvee 20 ($38). The CA Cuvee is a blend of Russian River, Santa Lucia and Mendocino AVAs. The Cuvee 20 is from the Russian River AVA. The 20 refers to their 20th anniversary of producing sparkling wines. Pop the cork on both, add a few dozen oysters and that’s a very Merry Christmas.

The most popular red wine is cabernet sauvignon. Why not give your wine lover a top notch cabernet tasting? My suggestions are: the 2014 William Hill Estates Napa Valley ($45), the 2014 Concannon Vineyard “Mother Vine” Livermore Valley ($45), the 2013 Black Stallion Estate Winery ($30) and the 2014 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley ($28). If you like your neighbors and they can make a decent appetizer, invite them over for a blind tasting. If these wines seem too much of a splurge ($!), then try these; the 2015 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County ($20), the 2015 Hess Select North Coast ($16), the 2016 Cigar Columbia Valley Washington ($20) and the William Hill Estate North Coast ($20). Hosting a cabernet sauvignon tasting would be a great way to start a New Year’s Eve party.

Here’s an interesting Aussie gift from down under. Buy these two bottles of Jacob’s Creek Shiraz. One is the 2016 Barossa Valley Reserve Shiraz ($14) and the second is the 2015 Double Barrel Shiraz ($17). The Reserve is a blend of two regions, a typical shiraz, fruit forward and with a smooth finish. The Double Barrel has aromas of blackberries, smoke and peaty notes and flavors of berries, chary notes and vanilla. After blending the wine, it’s finished in old Scotch whiskey barrels which adds power and complexity. Two wines from the same grape, both delicious and a very thoughtful gift.

What’s on our Table this week is port, something I never buy but enjoy getting. One of my favorites is the Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port ($26). It’s a blend of Portuguese varieties from the Douro Valley. It has flavors of dried fruits, orange peel, nutmeg, clove and ginger. It’s perfect with spiced cookies, gingerbread, pecan pies and blue cheese. Have fun wine hunting and have a very Merry Christmas. Cheers!

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