Many of us will be hitting the road this holiday season, and traveling near or far to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. In this “spirit” City Vino presents some wines to bring along with you to gift or share. We are calling these selections the “Nifty Gifty” wines.
The first for our gifty selections is the 2016 Atelier Prestige Les Illustres Coteaux d'Ensérune, from the Languedoc in Southern France. “Les Illustres” translates from the French into “The Illustrious,” and the label is very stately looking indeed. The large gold “8” represents the 8 winegrowers who combined their skills to create this illustrious wine. The d'Ensérune is in reference to the archaeological site call “Oppidum d'Ensérune,” which is a historic national monument in France that dates to Roman times. A nice gifty for someone who’s a history buff, soil nerd, or who thinks of themselves as illustrious. <smile>
The Les Illustres cuvée is 60 percent Syrah, 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10 percent Malbec. The wine has aromas of violets, blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, bramble, tobacco, leather, cardamon, and white pepper. The palate opens with both blue and black fruit, almost as if in a compote form. Next, you may taste dark chocolate, black pepper, earth, tobacco, herbs, and jerky spice and smoke. This wine has beefy tannins. We’d suggest trying this alongside steak au poivre, mushroom risotto, roasted sausages, and grilled or roasted meats like beef ribs, duck breast, and lamb chops.
The 2020 Maison Brotte La Rollande Crozes-Hermitage, from the Rhône Valley in France, pays homage to the harmony of the wine. The name Rollande was a popular first name back in the 1930s, when the Maison was created, and it means “glory” and “courage.” Perhaps this is the gifty wine to give to someone who puts their life on the line day in and day out, or someone who has fought courageously against some foe. This wine can be shared with those, or to toast those exceptional people we know or knew or even don’t know.
The La Rollande is 100 percent Syrah, and has that beautiful dark-purple hue this grape can show in your glass. There may be smells of black currants, violets, pepper, licorice, and black olives, along with matching flavors with an addition of black cherries. A long finale of a finish brings those black fruits with it. Play off the pepper notes with duck breast in green pepper sauce, pepper crusted steak, and soft cheeses.
From Paso Robles in California, we present the 2018 Vina Robles Fore Estate Reserve Blend. On the label is a golfer in garb of older days, or perhaps the famed golfer Payne Stewart. A nice gifty wine to present to a red-wine-drinking golfer, whether they play a full 18, 9 holes, or even miniature golf like we do. No matter the playing level, this is an “above par” wine, and we aren’t talking a bogey or a double bogey either.
The Vina Robles Reserve blend is made from 51 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Petite Sirah, and 9 percent Petit Verdot. In the glass, it is a deep and dark garnet in color. On the nose and palate, you may experience some boysenberries, black cherries, and cassis along with cedar, olives, tobacco, mocha, and Amaretto. The wine has bold yet expressive fruit, along with supple tannins. Don’t let the tannins fool you, this is an ageable wine. We suggest teaming this wine up with braised short ribs, steak or duck with a cherry sauce, burgers, or kabobs.
Now we get to the nifty gifty for the “difficult” relative or friend. C’mon you know that we all have “that” person in our lives. The one who tells you that “you look like you’ve put on a few pounds since the last time I saw you.” The other that asks “when you are going to find a significant other, get married, and have babies?” Maybe another one that inquires about when you are going to get a “real” job, though you feel you have found your true calling doing what you do. You may know someone who may comment on your choice of clothing, makeup, hair style, tattoo, or piercing. Every! Single! Time! When it comes to giving gifts or sharing a wine with folks like we have described here, let us suggest you present them with our next wine choice with a lead-in of “I saw this wine and I thought of you.” Or, if you dare, “I saw this wine and it has your name all over it.” <insert sly grin here>
That wine choice is <insert drum roll here> the 2018 Tait Wines "The Ball Buster" from the Barossa Valley in Australia. What a glorious way to let them know that you recognize what they are doing while sharing a very lovely wine. That, our friends, is definitely a two-fer.
The Ball Buster <snicker> is comprised of 77 percent Shiraz, 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8 percent Merlot. The aromatics bring us some black currants, stewed plums, cherries, and cocoa. The palate features blackberry, plum, pepper, and wet stone, rolled up in a long finish. This is a good wine to serve with hard cheeses, barbequed pork, and anything where black pepper is prominent.
Wherever your travels take you for the holidays, we wish you joy, peace, and good food and wine on the table. May your nifty gifty wines warm hearts and palates!