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What To Drink and Give, Now: The Holidays

The holidays are in full swing, though shopping this weekend with the ice will be tough. So, turn to the greatness of online shopping as you snuggle in the warmth of your home, all promised to arrive by Christmas Day. Here are a few wines and wine focused gifts for your favorite vino lover this holiday, a few of which were sent for editorial consideration, all are ideal for placing under your tree (or for sipping yourself…)

First off, if you haven’t seen, D has produced a gorgeous cookbook filled with recipes from some of our favorite chefs around town, with proceeds benefiting Cafe Momentum.  This one is an easy buy for anyone on your list. Available here for just $14.99.

perspectiveCarol wrote about some of the great reasons to visit Napa Valley last week. If you can’t get out there this holiday bring a little of Napa home with a stunning new book looking at scenes of the valley at work. Perspective Napa Valley is a beautifully presented coffee table book of photographs taken at shutter speed by photographer Sam Aslanian, created with the Napa Valley Vintners, a group of 400+ wineries and vintners promoting Napa Valley (they are also the organization that puts on the fantastic Auction Napa Valley each year helping the workers and families that work the vines throughout the valley.)  Add a bottle or two of Napa favorites, like Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay or Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon (both available at Sigel’s) and your gift is complete. The book is available here for $95.

If Napa Valley wines are both for giving, and tasting around your holiday table this year, there are a few stunning ones that should make an appearance.

I had a chance to visit Etude earlier this fall, as their guest, sipping wines from their Carneros fruit grown with a focus on the environment, following strict ecological practices, on their Grace Benoist Estate. Though Etude Pinot Noir may be the most well known wine from this winery, their Carneros Estate Chardonnay proves that Mother Nature shines on Etude. Balanced, fresh and lively with white flowers, creamy honey and melon notes, and bright citrus notes fill the palate, finishing with just a touch of spice and stone fruit. $32 available via their website; Pogo’s also has the 2009 release available for $39.99.

ladera_bottleThere is something special about Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. With red volcanic soils and high elevations sitting above the fog line, grapes benefit from long days filled with sunshine and soils that give texture and minerality to wines. Ladera Vineyards sits at elevations around 1600-1800 feet above sea-level, capturing these Howell Mountain benefits, making powerful, full-bodied 100% Cabernet Sauvignon for their 2010 Howell Mountain Reserve, the first release of this reserve wine. Aged 21 months in 100% new French oak, and bottled without fining or filtering the wine is a true expression of place, highlighted by flavors of ripe black plum and black cherry, baking spice, toasted caramel and brewed espresso. With both firm tannins and fresh acidity the wine should age nicely for 10-15+ years. Only 2000 cases were made of this special wine, available for $85 a bottle via their website. Pogo’s and Spec’s stores carry Ladera locally as well.

cambiumThough many of us buy a bottle and drink it that night, some wines are meant to be held for a while, laid down in a cellar and enjoyed after a bit of aging. Sequoia Grove released their Cambium wine late this summer. The 2009 Bordeaux blend comes from the finest fruit from select lots of vineyards on Atlas Peak, in Oak Knoll and on the Rutherford Bench, blended together to create a robust, full-bodied red filled with dusty, leather notes, black cherry and blackberry, spice and bold tannins that will soften with a bit of age. Only 566 cases were made. Available for $140 on their website.

Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon year in and year out is a delicious wine, and the 2010 proves to be the same. The high quality, much loved Cabernet, now on their 33rd vintage, is from sustainably grown vines from their estates in St. Helena, Rutherford and a touch of Coombsville, blending both valley floor and mountain fruit, to create a layered, dense and well structured wine with character. Aged 18 months in almost completely new French oak, and another year in bottle before release, the wine is filled with cedar, licorice and sweet spice notes with touches of rich coffee and mocha, and balanced tannin structure to be able to enjoy now (with a bit of time in a decanter) or to hold for enjoying in a few years. $160 available via their website; select Goody-Goody stores available locally as well.

riojaRioja, Spain more your speed? Ana Fabiano published “Wine Region of Rioja” earlier this year extensively detailing the beauty of this special land filled with exotic flavors, delicious delicacies and incredible wine, many at shockingly affordable prices. Add a bottle of Vina Pomal Reserva Rioja (priced at around $20 a bottle) for an impressive gift transporting you to Spain. The book is available in hardcover here for $19.40.

If you have a gadget lover on your list, there are a few that will impress any with their functionality.
TemPour is a new chilling/aerating/filtering/storing device designed to chill a bottle, open up the nose with instant aeration and even store any unfinished wine for the next night, all within a compact device for convenient use. Available here for $40.

savinoSavino is a new wine tool, partially funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign, that will save any bottle of opened wine up to a week. Now you can pull out a bottle you may have been holding on to on a random Tuesday night, knowing you can enjoy a glass then and still sip it later in the week. Savino promised to keep your favorite wine (white or red) tasting the same it does when you open it, even if you drink the remaining, saved wine a week later.  Available here for $49.95.

st germainEvery spirits store in town has their holiday packs on sale now with some of your favorite spirits packaged with glasses, flasks, cocktail books and more. But, if you have a cocktail lover on your list that has an affection for the sweet, fresh and delicate white flower flavors of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, give them a bottle with a nifty carafe for mixing their favorite cocktail. My go to with St Germain these days mixes Grey Goose La Poire (or any pear vodka) with St Germain, mint, muddled cucumber and club soda. Light, fruity, floral and delicious. The carafe is available here for $12; St Germain is available at your favorite liquor store for about $28 a bottle.

Complete_Wine_Selector-330x463For the novice or total wine geek, writer Katherine Cole just published the “Complete Wine Selector,” a detailed book outlining how and why to chose your new favorite wine. The book is smart, creative and beautifully presented for anyone who has an interest in wine. Available here for $25 plus shipping, and Katherine will sign it for you.