I have a saying: “You can call me anything you like, but don’t call me an idiot.”
There are variations to that theme (my grandfather always said “Call me anything you want, but don’t call me late for dinner!”), but the basic premise is essentially the same: I hate looking like an idiot. When I go out to an event (be it a party, a wedding, or a funeral), I always over-dress at least a little since no one criticizes the over-dressed guy, but everyone always points a finger at the clown in flip-flops. In school, rarely does the student who provides too much information get chastised to the same degree as the one who provides too little. And no one will ever complain that you tipped a bit too much, as opposed to a bit too little.
That is why today, the day before Christmas, I will be running around like a madman, buying last-minute gifts for my wife.
Because I am an idiot.
Under normal circumstances, I would have had her gifts bought and wrapped by now. In fact, my holiday shopping would have likely been finished before the leaves fell from the trees, but not this year. This year, given our impending move to Texas, my wife and I decided a while ago that we would not be buying gifts for one another.
So I didn’t.
Last night, while wrapping some of the gifts for the kids, I came across an unopened box. As I started to open it, my wife came running while screaming “Don’t open that one!”
It seems as though only one of us actually believed that we were not buying presents for each other this year.
Idiot (that is once again directed at me, not my wife).
So in that spirit (of last-minute shopping) here are a few gifts that if you purchased for a wine lover on your list, you would surely not be labeled an idiot.
2009 Clos de la Tech Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains: Retail $45. A bit closed initially but eventually its shyness waned, revealing Bing cherry and strawberry with just a hint of pine needle. On the palate, this is not a shy wine by any means with waves of fruit but with time, the fruit recedes, however, revealing a fairly complex wine with wonderful balance. Doing very well right now, but no real hurry. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2009 Clos de la Tech Domaine Lois Latour Pinot Noir Cuvée Sud Santa Cruz Mountains: Retail $65. Strikingly similar nose to the standard Pinot: black cherry, rhubarb and clay. On the palate, again many of the same features but with more heft throughout and the fruit nicely balanced by the acidity and depth. This falls in the “no joke” category and certainly gets a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Rivetto Barolo Del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG: Retail $50. A tiny bit stewed on the nose with raspberry predominate (with a little heat: 14.5%). On the palate, surprisingly pretty big fruit for a Barolo, with some mocha and tobacco thrown in. The balance here is admirable and there is a considerable amount of tannin on the back-end suggesting this wine has a ways to go. Bigger than most Barolos I have had, but that is not a bad thing in this case. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2010 Rivetto Barolo Briccolina DOCG: Retail $150. More of a classic Barolo nose with restrained fruit of black cherry and raspberry, some heat (14.5%), some coffee, and a bit of mint. On the palate, this is near seamless from beginning to end. The tannins here are less prominent than the Serralunga, but this wine is not going anywhere anytime soon. This is a wine for the long haul, but honestly, this is so good right now, it would be hard to allow it to age gracefully on a wine rack in the cellar. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Barossa Valley Shiraz: Retail $60. This past year, I made a resolution to drink more Italian wine. For years, pretty much since the beginning of my wine appreciation. As a result? I have turned a corner on wines from the boot. After delving into this wine, I might need to make a similar pledge about Australian wines. When I hear the word “Shiraz” I normally have a visceral reaction since I tend to avoid wines that focus on the big and fruity. Well, this wine is certainly both of those, but it is also something else: oh so good. Great fruit up front, but there is also some five spice, and black pepper. On the palate, the fruit is certainly upfront and it is luscious, but not in a in your face kind of way at all. There are hints of mocha and a bit of tannin on the backend. I realize that not all Aussie Shiraz could be at this level, but wholly cow this is good! Outstanding. 92-94 Points.