Are you a last-minute shopper? Do not despair! Below is a list of items I’ve come to love and covet over the year. It is made up of items that are on my “I wish” list, to bottles that I happily keep on hand and gift to those with discerning tastes. The top of my list is, in my opinion, the coolest gadget to hit the wine industry, possibly ever. So whether you're shopping for me, or your favorite wine lover, here are some go-gift picks from your K&L Personal Sommelier.
1) Coravin For the wine collector
2) Osocalis XO Alambic Brandy For the cognac lover
Earlier this year a couple of my closest friends, my husband, and I were given the opportunity to visit the distillery of Osocalis, hidden deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Founded in the early 1990s, Daniel Farber studied in Cognac after he began making brandy in the 1980s. Based primarily on Colombard and Pinot Noir, the cognacs are distilled in a small, 100-gallon antique alambic still, then aged for decades in Dan's old barn before being blended and bottled.
After six hours and countless barrel samples (including from his original barrel made 32 years ago) we all left with a deep appreciation for and understanding of this classic spirit. Made with California grapes, but an otherwise nearly identical distillation process to that of Cognac. The XO is a blend of Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Noir. Only 720 bottles produced.
3) 2010 Araujo "Eisele" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon For your boss
Araujo's Eisele is a wine I’d admired in some of my clients' private cellars, but never in my wildest dreams thought I’d have the opportunity to taste, much less visit the famed property. And yet in August not only was I a guest of the Araujos, along with the rest of the domestic buy team, the trip coincided with a visit from Antoine Donnedieu, the US ambassador to Latour. Tasting the full line- up of the 2010 vintage, I was so mesmerized I was almost locked in to the gigantic cave. Luckily (or not) they opened the 25 foot doors and let me out. I tasted the 2010 again at the 2013 Grand California Cabernet tasting in November. The wine is stunning, and I believe with the recent sale to Latour, will become increasingly hard to obtain.
4) 2012 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir For everyone
Dare I say skip Cabernet as the go-to gift, and consider giving something that is much more food- friendly? Winemaker Ehren Jordan, who worked alongside Helen Turley at Marcassin, Larry Turley at Turley, and Bruce Neyers at Neyers, started producing cool climate Pinot Noirs in 1999 under the original title Failla Jordan (since dropping the Jordan for legal reasons). Ehren’s winemaking philosophy is to stick as closely to natural winemaking as possible, with no inoculation, fining or filtering. The grapes reach full phenolic ripeness, without being out of balance in the glass. Although just their entry level wine, only 2,000 cases were produced. Made in a style that is ready to drink, this wine will continue to age gracefully thanks to the fine tannins and bright acidity.
5) A Well Stocked Bar For the new homeowner/cocktail enthusiast
For my private cocktail classes I emphasize how important it is to start all of your cocktails with the best ingredients, which doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive, but as I learned in my culinary upbringing, you’re only as good as your worst ingredient. All bars should have the basics: vodka, gin, bourbon, rye, dry vermouth, and sweet vermouth. If you’re going just a step further include tequila and rum. And if you’re making a Manhattan, you need these cherries, and for an Old Fashioned (and hangovers) you need a bottle of these bitters on hand at all times. Trust.
And some ideas for stocking stuffers…
Somm As you may know, a handful of us have taken the Court of Master Sommelier exams, even fewer of us have passed on the first try. This beautiful documentary follows four obsessed Master Sommelier hopefuls through the process.This has set a new bar for wine movies, and is a must see for anyone that appreciates wine.
Sugar Knife Marshmallows From K&L whiskey aficionado customer turned artisan booze infused marshmallow maker. I dare you to not eat an entire 6-piece packet in one sitting. Cindy and I couldn’t.