My December issue is packed with ideas in the bottle section, but for something else? The important part is to side step the schlock. For example, I don’t know anyone who would appreciate bottle charms or an aerator or a device that instantly ages a wine. For myself? Books! Bottles! Glassware! And if someone were feeling generous, a bigger wine fridge would be most welcome. But just so it’s not all about me, I asked some friends and colleagues what they would like to give and get.
Doug Wregg, the eloquent voice of Les Caves de Pyrene siad that a Eurocave that held 170 bottles or so would be most welcome, and by the way, "Please stuff it with wines from Overnoy and Ganevat and an English version of Jonathan Nossiter's Natural Resistance."
Perhaps the most precise response came from the ever esoteric Levi Dalton, the still-a-sommelier-at-heart maestro behind the podcast, I’ll Drink To That. He has his eye on a slim glass straw he saw at Charlie Bird. "When they open an older bottle of wine they use a glass pipette to draw out a sample to taste. They do this without moving the bottle. This helps them determine if they should decant the bottle or not before they ever tilt the bottle or disturb the sediment.”
One of the most eloquent writers on wine I know, Josh Raynolds, a critic for the Tanzer Report (now owned by Antonio Galloni) gave another vote for Ganevat. “They’ve become well-nigh impossible to find at retail in the United States. Seven-hectares of vines producing around 1,500 cases per vintage spread across almost 20 different bottlings, translates into good luck getting any. So, any bottle would be a thrill, but one of his chardonnays even better.”
The food gift is a no-brainer for him. “I’ll take (or give cheese) from Jasper Hill Farm, in Greensboro, Vermont. Their Vacherin Mont d’Or doppelganger called Harbison is an addiction.”
Over at The New York Times, the country’s preeminent wine critic, Eric Asimov shot me a note with such a lovely affirmation about the newsletter I had to include it. Eric wrote, I like to give people great wines that they may know, but aren't so unfamiliar that they'll feel puzzled. Like a really good grower Champagne, a fantastic sherry, or bottles I love from unusual places like Irouléguy. You can even package familiar and unfamiliar, like a Champagne and a fantastic sparkling wine from a completely unexpected place, like Vermont (you know what I'm talking about). For special gifts, I like to give great glasses, like the Zalto Universal. As for me, anything featured in The Feiring Line will be welcomed and cherished.
Honestly, I didn’t prompt Eric for that. Meanwhile here’s a few generated from the downtown offices of The Feiring Line. Happy shopping.
Peter Liem canonized sherry a few years back with his book Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla, but Talia Baiocchi, editor-in-chief of Punch takes the solera mainstream with the spunky book, A Modern Guide to Sherry. Not too much, not too little, it's engaging, informative and beautifully places you in the soil and culture of Jerez. She makes an excellent case for a manzanilla in every fridge. Ten Speed Press, $19.95.
Even if I hadn’t been a Deidre fan, even if I hadn’t written the forward, even if I hadn’t recommended her wines (and this is what Mr. Asimov was referring to) this would be on my list of most impressive books of 2014. A heartfelt blend of memoir and viticulture, it goes beyond the vine, directly to humanity and the earth. From pruning to the scourge of Japanese beetles or fighting to grow organically when your colleagues insist it’s impossible, Heekin pulls us along on the journey to make wine on the edge of possibility, and will spoon feed you everything you ever wanted to know about vineyard cycles and pruning in a State so difficult for vines some would argue viticulture is impossible. They’re wrong. Fabulous for wine enthusiasts and gardeners of all kinds. Chelsea Green Publishing $35.00
Wink Lorch was on to the Jura (and Savoie) long before it was fashionable, and she put that knowledge into this extremely well laid out book. You won’t get the super geek knowledge here, but you will get a very fine overview of the producers and the way to handle your travel, whether you’re on the road to the Jura or reading from your armchair. Wine Travel Media £25. Also available in the e-book edition from the usual places
There’s no way around glass breakage, which is why this kind of gift is never out of style. And if someone is hooked on Riedel, consider it your obligation to open their mind. Think Zalto. The Universal is still my favorite glass. With it’s razor edged lip and balance, I can’t help think of it as more an instrument than a drinking vessel. A gift box set of six will set you back $354, but is an astounding gift.
My devotion aside, Zalto there is now competition. The Gabriel Glas One for All has a message that resonates; one glass can do it all from Champagne to Spain. Their design seems to draw inspiration from the Zalto angles, but has more curves. There’s a mouth blown version (the Gold edition). Both are featherweight in the hand. The machine formed version goes for $29 and gets approval for affordability.
The Self Plug
Support your local artisanal wine writer: Me. Spread the love. $65 for 8-9 issues. There are a few ways you can do this--head to the site for the info and if you have trouble, email me! Gifting is a little tricky but totally doable. Best to hit the contact button and ask me to walk you through it.
For all of the above, if you want me to send along a copy of either of my books, add $20 per book to the total.