The Winegeeks Christmas Wishlist
By Ryan Snyder
Category: Winegeeks Opinions
Forbes recently had to remove Santa Claus from its Fictional 15, a list of the wealthiest fictional people in the world, because of all the letters complaining that he is a real person. Since good ol' Saint Nick really does exist, we Wine Geeks decided to put together a Christmas list destined for the North Pole. I hope he's still taking gift requests this late in December!
What wine will you request from Santa this year?
What wine would I want as a wine lover? All of them of course, and perhaps a couple of surrogate livers to help facilitate enjoying said wines. But if we are talking about Christmas wishes I want a legend. I want one of the few wines that were (and are) so magical, so extraordinary, that generations after the fact people are still crooning over them. Luminaries such as 1945 Mouton-Rothschild, 1947 Cheval Blanc, 1961 Latour, or either of the Rothschilds from 1982. Maybe a bottle of the 1811 Chateau d'Yquem, a wine that seemingly no amount of time can tame. These are the stalwarts, the beacons of wine immortality. Wines that if you are lucky enough to have one in your cellar you will be the envy of all of your winegeek friends.
I know that each of these hail from Bordeaux, and though there are scores of other great wine regions no spot on earth regularly commands the respect, adoration or ridiculous price tags as Bordeaux. So when making a wish I say shoot for the top. So who is bringing the 40 year-old 1st Growth to dinner on the 25th anyway? I'll save a decanter for you.
My greatest fear is to have to drink the same wine everyday for the rest of my life. I don’t have a passion for wine; I have a passion for wine's diversity, so trying to pick a single wine to have Santa bring me is virtually impossible. But I can speak to a specific style of wine that I am currently enamored with and am looking to stock away before prices get out of control.
In 2001 Germany implemented a new First Growth wine classification system. Those wines from the Rheingau are labeled Erstes Gewachs; those from the Mosel are Erste Lage; while every other region will label their first growths with name Grosses Gewachs. I have tried a wide variety of these first growth wines and have been nothing less than overwhelmed with their concentration, texture, length, depth, complexity, power and bracing acidity. If you decant and leave these wines to aerate 45 minutes to an hour before serving, you will be been blown away at how the flavors develop and expand across the mid-palate. Although very limited in production, the cost of these wines is cheap when compared to Grand Cru Burgundy and are far more cellar worthy. As well, since 2001 Germany has had a string of exceptional vintages each with their own unique character. So whether it is Robert Weil, Schafer-Frohlich, Biffer, Donnhoff... Santa, I don’t care. I need to bury enough now so when I can’t afford them, I have plenty to drink.
What would I love to find nestled below the Hanukkah bush this holiday season? That should be rephrased as "what wouldn’t I love to find?" However, when narrowing it down to just one bottle of wine, of any vintage, from anywhere in the world, I would choose a lovely old (and I mean very old) bottle of Madeira. Yup. The real stuff from the island off Portugal, where rare vintages from 150 years ago can still be found, and drunk for that matter. What a better pairing for everything from 5-year-old Gouda with it's caramelly color and nutty flavor, to ripe figs in late summer, to simple vanilla ice cream. And if it were to appear on the wings of a gift-giver this year, I would sip and savor, one small lingering glass at a time... hoping to make it last another 150 years.
Even though I am the one who posed this question, it has had me stumped for a couple of weeks now. Of all the wines, what one wine would I want Santa to slip into my stocking? The only way I can even attempt to come up with an answer is by process of elimination... First of all, I’d like a wine that is older than I am, which means the vintage has to be before 1976. I’d want a bottle that I could open immediately on Christmas, decant that day and savor that night, so I’d prefer something that’s been aged properly and is ready to drink now. That rules out all New World wines. Since it’s December and cold outside, I’d prefer a red wine, which rules out the outlandish Trockenbeerenausleses that could have graced my list.
I could ask for one of the great Bordeaux, such as the '61 Latour, but I'd prefer a wine with much less of an ego, which basically rules out all of France. At this point, I’m left with two options: Port and a Piemontese Nebbiolo. The likelihood of finding a Nebbiolo from a great pre-1976 vintage is highly unlikely, so I’m going to have to go with a Port from a Portuguese-owned quinta. Santa, I’d love a bottle of Quinta do Noval Nacional from the superb vintage of 1963, and after you drop it off you’re more than welcome to come inside for a glass.