I can tell it's Christmas because so many people are calling to ask for suggestions for wine gifts.
So here are some gifts I would love to have this holiday season. Of course, depending upon your bank account, you can spend as much as you choose on wine and related gifts. My budget, however, is not unlimited so I'll stick with gifts for less than $100.
Let's begin with wine. Here are some bottles that should please the palate of just about every sipper:
2005 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir ($60): I have collected wines from this Oregon producer since their first vintage in 1990, and the 2005 Evenstadt is among their best wines yet. If you like earthy, black cherry and mocha flavors overlain with aromas of spice and vanilla, you'll love this wine. While the it's enjoyable today, the balance of this wine will enable it to continue to improve in the bottle for another 10 years. Match it up with this year's holiday prime rib roast.
2004 Pio Cesare Barolo ($58): Pio Cesare's 2004 Barolo is a wonderful example of why Barolo is considered one of the greatest wines on the planet. Deep, dark fruit flavors with coffee, mushroom and earthy aromas, this relatively soft (for Barolo) wine will, if consumed now, need to be decanted for at least three hours. It would be wonderful with a crown roast of pork sliced and served on top of porcini mushrooms sautéed in olive oil (with a few drops of truffle oil) and seasoned with salt and black pepper.
Rene Coutier Brut Champagne ($48): This relatively small producer in the Grand Cru Champagne village of Ambonnay is a real pleaser. Full of toasty, rich, brioche flavors with a silky texture, this champagne can be served as both an aperitif or with a seafood entrée such as mussels cooked in a spicy broth of white wine, garlic and tomatoes.
2006 Lafond Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay ($25): If you prefer a well-rounded, nuanced chardonnay with plenty of fruit and balancing acidity, then you need to lay your lips around the Lafond. Lovely with Chilean sea bass, sautéed with a little butter, salt and pepper and finished off in the oven for about five minutes.
2006 Hedges Three Vineyards Red Mountain ($28): Washington State is a terrific venue for merlot and cabernet and the ''06 Hedges Red Mountain is blend of those two grapes. Soft tannins and balancing acidity make this complex wine a joy to consume with a holiday meal such as roasted turkey or Cornish game hens.
Here are a few more vinous picks for your holiday gift giving that should be real pleasers: