“Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” is my wife’s latest mantra for Christmas giving.
With “something they want” in mind, here are a few suggestions for memorable gifts. Limited to things in bottles, the suggestions are made by experts and cover a range of styles. There’s more here than the expected wine and spirits, but that’s a good place to start.
I asked local merchants what they would recommend for holiday giving. I guarantee these gifts will bring a ready smile. If not, re-gift to me!
At Fountainhead Wines in Norwalk, Mike Pelletier is thinking festive Champagne to liven the holiday season. Marie Weiss Champagne Brut ($38) and Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier ($77) both meet his high standards for quality and value. He also has a limited quantity of Belle Pente Pinot Noir, Murto Vineyard, 2014 from the Willamette Valley. Held at the winery for an unheard-of seven years to be released at peak maturity, it’s a bottle you don’t see everyday.
Terry Rogers at Harbor Point Wines and Spirits in Stamford still has a few special-edition bottles of Hillrock Distillery, Hudson Valley, Solera-Aged Bourbon ($120) in stock. Signed by master-distiller Dave Pickerell, this collectable bottle will thrill any whiskey drinker. She also recommends a personal favorite — white Burgundy from Thévenet – Le Brun, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuit ($24) along with an art edition Grande Dame Clicquot 2012 Champagne ($225) with a label by Iconic Japanese Artist, Yayoi Kusama.
It seems like wine lovers eventually come to the Pinot Noir wines of Burgundy. Corey Shoop at Wines and More in Milford is over the moon about Domaine Antonin Guyon, Beaune, 2012 ($65). He’s also into Bourbon, recommending Remus, Repeal Reserve Series V ($85) crafted from five vintages. The limited release Thomas S. Moore, finished in Port Casks ($67), is on his list too.
Jim Winston at DB Fine Wines in New Canaan loved the challenge of narrowing down his carefully-chosen inventory to a few special gift wines, aiming high for wines that would be treasured. He spans the wine world with marquee wines including E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie, Château d’Ampuis ’14 ($150), Casanova di Neri, Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Nuova ($130) and the sure-to-impress Paul Hobbs, Beckstoffer To-Kalon, Cabernet Sauvignon ’17 ($500).
To me, Winston’s most intriguing suggestion is Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc ’19 ($100) which I would match up with Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc ‘18 ($50), a similar wine from Paso Robles made in partnership with the Perrin family of Beaucastle. The pair would make a unique gift.
Don’t want any alcohol in your bottling? Then turn to fruit. Long-time pickler Jane Costello of Jane’s Good Food has bottled a special batch of spiced peaches ($25) made from a colonial-era Boston recipe. With local fruit from Woodland Farms seasoned with apple cider, cloves and spices — it’s more of a chutney than a jam, just right for holiday season eating. Jane says, “It’s a delicious topping for baked Brie or add a spoonful to your next turkey or ham.” Order at janesgoodfood.com.
Natalie McCraigh is the Chief Preservation Officer at Wonderland Jams. Her creative flavors are made using family methods with local fruit. The 4 oz bottles ($10) are great for stocking stuffers, house gifts or secret santas. (Are we still doing that?) Some of the twenty hard-to-resist flavors are Strawberry Balsamic, Blackberry Bourbon and Chipotle Raspberry. Order at WonderlandJams.com.
Any of these bottles would be a welcome gift. And they could put the giver on the path to the Santa Clause hall of fame.
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.