Our Christmas Shopping List
Sometimes you get to a sticking point when it comes to holiday shopping — there’s always that one person that you just can’t come up with a gift for. Don’t fret–we’ve all been there, and we can tell you that booze is the answer! In hopes of making your life a bit more simple,we’ve put together some suggestions to end your shopping struggles. Here’s our collective list of what we like to give (and maybe even get for ourselves) for Christmas!
Travaglini Gattinara ($32.99) – This is one of my favorite wines; and I’ve loved this wine from the start, and my first encounter with it was back in 1999. I hadn’t made the leap into the wine world yet and I was still working in the automobile business. I used to spend my weekends going to different stores, looking and touching the bottles of wine like they were my children. It may seem a bit silly, but it’s such a different package – I had to try it. So I bought a bottle and took it home – it was delicious and almost too good to drink – the nose was captivating. It had dried floral notes, leather and tar with a little cedar woven in. It was my first experience with Nebbiolo and the love affair began.
The 2004 vintage is stellar and offers a deep pomegranate red wine with delicate fragrances of violet and rose on the nose. The palate is mouth filling with red-fruit flavors of raspberry and cherry and hints of licorice and vanilla. Full-bodied with soft, silky tannins, the wine has a long, smooth finish. Total maturation time is 3 years. This would be outstanding with your Christmas feast – especially with red meats, game and hard cheeses.
If you are not satisfied with my review, The Wine Spectator gave it 90 points…that’s got to count for something, right?
Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay ($54.99) – This Chardonnay is definitely a special occasion wine – or a perfect gift for the collector in your life. Many of the past vintages have cellared for up to 15 years. . Mount Eden Chardonnay displays a hint of cardamom, anise and hazelnut with notes of meyer lemon and lots of baking spices on the palate. Fleshy and full white fruits round out the expressive palate. This is a great gift for the special person who truly enjoys Chardonnay.
Chanson Pere & Fils Viré Clessé ($19.99) – This wine went straight to the top of my wish list this Holiday season! 100% Chardonnay from the Macon wine region in France, Viré Clessé has turned me into a huge fan of white Burgundian wine. Combining suppleness and sophisticated minerality, this Chardonnay has floral fragrances mixed with fresh citrus aromas that dance on the palate. The clean, elegant label is a reflection of the wine within!
Susana Balbo Malbec ($24.99): This year, one bottle that would bring me a lot of holiday cheer is the Susana Balbo 2008 Malbec. One of the first female winemakers in Argentina, Susana Balbo has become one of the most well-respected winemakers in the new world. Balbo is the force behind the popular Argentinian line, Crios. This particular Malbec is a work of art; Ripe, rich, creamy and supple with a fruit-concentrated & lingering finish. Balbo says of her creation, this is “a wine that truly struggles between its fun and serious side.” So if there happens to be a Malbec lover– or someone who shares the same struggle between their fun and serious sides– on your list this year, Susana Balbo’s 2008 Malbec might just do the trick.
Founders Old Curmudgeon (4-pack, $14.99): Brewed by the Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan, it’s an “old ale” at 9.8% abv. The malt bill takes over in this one, giving the beer a complex richness similar to most Scottish-style ales, with flavors of caramel, toffee, and dark fruit mingling with some hops in the background. Strong, heavy, and warming, it may not be for the faint of heart, but those with a taste for Scotch ales or strong ales in general will find a lot to like. This is one old curmudgeon that is definitely worth getting to know this holiday season.
Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw (22 oz., $11.99): A Strong Dark Ale from Brouwerij Het Anker in Belgium. Brewed on February 24th every year to commemorate the birthday of Charles V, the name of this beer translates as “Grand Cru of the Emperor,” and it certainly deserves the title. At 11% abv, it is amazingly smooth for it’s strength, with flavors of chocolate, molasses, port, caramel, and brown sugar mixed up with Belgian yeast. Amazingly complex and flavorful, yet velvety smooth and easy to drink; truly a beer fit for a king.
Ithaca Excelsior Alphalpha (22 oz., $13.99): Part of the New York-based Ithaca Brewing Company’s Excelsior series, it’s a Double Honey Bitter at 8.5%. What makes this golden straw-colored ale so special is the incredible balance of it, with complex hop flavors and a crisp grassiness complemented perfectly by the sweetness of Alfalfa honey. So flowery and sweet that you’ll forget it’s freezing outside.
Kauffman Luxury Vodka 2005 (1L $239.99): For the person who has everything and isn’t easily impressed. This $239 bottle of vodka doesn’t win any penny-pinching awards–but it makes up for it infinitely as far as taste and complexity. Kauffman Vodka is produced in Russia by Dr. Mark Kauffman, who holds a PhD in chemistry. Touted as the “worlds only vintage vodka,” it’s produced from wheat from a single harvest, and only after it meets rigorous quality standards. Distilled multiple times with its final distillation being through quartz sand, the finished product is a unique and complex spirit. I was lucky enough to sample this vodka the other day. Mind you, I’m not really a vodka drinker–but, man, oh man! This stuff was G-double O-D awesome. Like old man winter’s breath, it was clean–with the minerality of freshly fallen snow, and notes of crusty bread followed by a deep pull of raw of milk straight from the cow. And, and…I tried it room temperature…imagine what it would be like chilled! Heavenly.
Bruichladdich 16yr Bourbon Cask Whisky ($61.99)– Bruichladdich is your not-so-typical Islay whisky producer. The region of Islay is known for its heavily peated, iodine scented drams. To its benefit (and sometimes detriment,) Bruichladdich completely breaks the mold. Known for a more experimental approach to scotch whisky, Bruichladdich steers to and fro as far as traditional standards go, experimenting with cask aging styles, levels of peat smoke and the like–ultimately bringing a fresh approach to the production. Not being a huge fan (yet) of the tradtional Islay style, this whisky rolls right up my alley. Aged mostly in Jim Beam casks and finished in Buffalo Trace barrels, this scotch is unctuous and layered, with sweet bourbon notes, spicy cedar, vanilla, nuances of smoke and a fresh grassy-ness right on the finish. Perfect for the single malt or Bourbon enthusiast in your life (or me, for that matter…)
Pierre Ferrand Réserve Cognac ($64.99) – Not just for men in smoking jackets anymore. This cognac is so good it could make a criminal convert to a stand-up member of society. Ferrand is my go-to cognac producer, and their whole line-up is fabulous. They age even their basic cognac to XO standards (re; minimum aging in barrels is 6 years), and use grapes grown soley in the Grande Champagne designation. It pours a pale amber and immediately greets you with scents of butter toffee, apricot jam and vanilla. The mouth is generous – rich and seductive, with dried white flowers, wildflower honey, sweet vanilla cake with a hay-like earthiness and dry, nut-like qualities on the finish. Smooth as a silk gliding over a baby’s bottom–and would please even the most discerning drinker.
Hopefully this compilation will ease your shopping woes. From all of us here at Andover Liquors, we wish all of our readers the happiest of holidays…cheers!