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Your Wine Christmas List
Some Super Seconds ($100)
You may have heard that most Bordeaux wine estates are now offering second wines. Now, second wine does not mean second rate, not when the reputation of the estate itself is in play. A second wine, basically, is made from grapes that are just too young to be considered for the grand vin. And not all second wines are comparatively recent. Château Margaux’s Pavillon Rouge, for example, has been produced for a century or more. However, there has been, in these days of increasingly expensive Bordeaux wines, a tendency for more and more wines to be put forth as château products, rather than being declassified and sold as village wines. The upshot is that you may often be able to find a wine that is a fair approximation of the estate’s grand vin, at a fraction of the price, but your selection should be careful.
With $100 to spend, a bottle of Château D’Issan’s “Blason d’Issan” 2005 ($27) should be pleasing, as would a “Sarget de Gruaud-Larose” 2000, from Château Gruaud-Larose ($45). Add a “Gartieux de Pichon-Lalande” 2001 from Château Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande ($30), and your list will contain fine wines from the Margaux, St. Julien and Pauillac regions.
A Case of Wines ($200)
Everyone likes a case of wine. The trick is to make sure the wines are flavorful, without breaking the bank. Here is a case that I think you might like. There are two bottles each of six varieties, and to save the suspense, the total before taxes is $178.28.
We’ll take a look at the white wines first. Start with two William Fèvre “Les Champs Royaux” 2007 Chablis ($18.99). This is an excellent Chablis, from one of the best winemakers of this storied region. It is a careful blend of good properties, and I’ve found it sometimes rivals his first growth Chablis offerings, at roughly half the price. Also from the 2007 vintage is a starter Alsatian wine, Hugel’s “Gentil” ($11.49). It is flavorful, on the border between dry and fullbodied, an excellent value, from a superior wine craftsman. Then, if you haven’t yet tried the Austrian Gruner Veltliner, this is the season to begin. Wimmr’s Gruner Veltliner 2008 in the liter size is sold for a bargain $9.69.
The red and rosé wines for your case are all good bargains as well. From St. Emilion, Les Vieilles Pierres from the stellar 2005 vintage is a good introduction to this grand region of quality wines, @ $15.99 a bottle. But we have all heard that 2007 is an exceptional vintage year for the wines of the Rhône, and so I have added a Grand Veneur Côtes du Rhône 2007 ($14.99). And completing the case, you must try Sasha Lichine’s excellent Château d’Esclans “Whispering Angel” Rosé for $17.99.
A Memorable Six Pack ($300)
For those who treasure fine white wines, I have saved the best for last. Why not put six white wines on your wish list? At the very least, your friends have been warned! Here is the assortment, total retail price without taxes just over $300. We’ll start with a Simmonet-Febvre “Les Clos” Grand Cru Chablis from 2005 ($49.99). Add a white Bordeaux Château Carbonnieux 2005 ($34). Then come three succulent white Burgundy first growths, from the superior 2005 vintage. They are Louis Latour’s “Blagny” Premier Cru Meursault ($42.99), Girardin’s “Abbaye de Morgeot” Premier Cru Chassagne-Montrachet, and Sauzet’s “Les Referts” Premier Cru from Puligny-Montrachet. It will be a gourmet delight to compare and contrast three of the finest white Burgundies from an excellent vintage. And for a white wine chaser? Let’s add a Sauternes, Château Lafaurie Peyraguey, from the superb Sauternes vintage of 2001. It’s the perfect way to end the old year—or start a hopeful new one!
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