Wine: Some ideas for last-minute Christmas gifts

Just a few days left to pick up some last minute presents and to prepare for Christmas.

Wine: Some ideas for last-minute Christmas gifts

Men are notoriously difficult to buy for but provided they are not teetotal there might be some ideas in this week’s column or wine selections.

You may remember earlier in the year I praised the Coravin, a device that allows you to remove wine from a bottle through the cork via a hollow needle.

As the wine is poured the space in the bottle is automatically filled with flavourless Argon gas and the wine will continue to age as slowly as before.

This device is only really useful for wine collectors who like to check on the progress of old wines (and at €299 it is not cheap), however I find it invaluable.

Available from O’Briens and selected quality wine shops.

Wine reference books are always useful and the names to look for are Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson.

Oz Clarke’s books are particularly entertaining and he published two of note this year — The History of Wine in 100 Bottles and Grapes and Vines, a very readable and useful guide to wine grapes and styles (far more accessible than Jancis Robinsons more academic book on the same subject).

If you are looking for an Irish book then John Wilson’s recently published Wine Guide is well worth a look as is Raymond Blake’s Breakfast in Burgundy.

Nothing beats Champagne as a present in my view.

Buy the one recommended below for your mammy or mammy-in-law and insist she is not to open it for the family but to drink it herself or with her best friend.

Fathers-in-law are a little trickier but one of the new craft distillery spirits is bound to be welcome.

I’ve enjoyed the two releases in the Hyde range this year (an Oloroso and a Dark Rum Cask finish) and the new release from Teelings The Revival is excellent — a Small Batch 15 Year Old Single Malt.

If you would like something unusual with a distinct Irish accent the St Patrick’s Distillery  in Douglas, Cork, have an interesting whiskey and a very distinctive vodka and gins range made from potatoes.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Passori Rosso Veneto, Italy — €10.99

Stockists: Spar

This is one for buying late on Christmas Eve or Stephen’s Day which is the beauty of Spar. Also recommended is the Spar Chianti.

Made from late picked slightly dried grapes and with some straightforward red fruits and a textured smoky finish.

Il Capolavoro Appassimento, South Eastern Australia — €10

Stockist: SuperValu

Made in the classic dried grape style of the Veneto, this is a ripe bundle of fruit that is sure to cheer up any wintry nights over Christmas and will also match the turkey.

Bright cherry aromas, fruity and soft on the palate with a good hit of dried black grapes on the finish.

Guy Saget Pouilly Fumé, Loire Valley, France —€14

Stockist: SuperValu

Classic Loire Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of chalk, gun-flint and citrus, ripe and soft on the palate with floral touches, lingering ripe fruit and a dry chalk influenced finish.

This will work well with goats cheese, with seafood as a starter course or as an aperitif.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Domaine Barville Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011, Rhone, France — €32

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

I think this may be the first supermarket Chateauneuf-du-Pape that I have ever recommended.

This is not a bargain price but is still a lot less than I would expect to pay to get a Chateauneuf that tastes like it should.

Big rich fruit flavours, supple and complex berry fruits with spice and touches of chocolate, lingering ripe characterful complexity.

Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, France — €59.99

Stockists: O’Donovans, World Wide Wines, No. 21 Cork, Midleton

Piper-Heidsieck used to be the poor relation of the famous Houses but has shown marked improvement recently.

This beat out many other famous names to win through in the NoffLA Wine Show Awards and it was a worthy winner - lemon peel and fresh brioche aromas, softly textured and rich on the palate with lingering toasted almonds on the finish.

Santa Rita Casa Real, Maipo Alto, Chile — €49.99

Stockist: The Loop T2 Dublin Airport, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, The Corkscrew, Redmonds

Made by the inspirational Cecilia Torres from a 1960’s Cabernet Sauvignon plot on the Casa Real Estate.

2010 is the best of recent vintages and already shows remarkable poise.

Supple black and red fruit, mint hints and lingering plums.

One of the best wines I’ve tasted all year.

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