I was reminded in a not-so-subtle way that Valentine’s Day is the next big gift-giving holiday. In my case, I should probably look at Better Homes and Gardens or Elle magazines for ideas, but if you know someone who is a wine lover, I have some ideas to keep you in good standing for a while.
Since it is a special occasion, you might be inclined to spend a little bit more, so how about bestowing on your beloved a bottle of wine that can age. Nothing says commitment more than “I look forward to drinking this with you in 20 years.” Here are a few wines to accommodate different palates:
Karthauserhof Riesling Auslese Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, 2008 (Ruwer, Germany): I can assure, from personal experience, that this wine will age. One of the best estates in all of Germany, Karthauserhof’s wines retain their vibrancy as they mature and develop secondary characteristics. This is a perfect selection for anyone who enjoys minerally, high acid or slightly sweet wines. Drink now through 2040. Suggested retail: $60
Ridge Monte Bello, 2006 (Santa Cruz Mountains): This Bordeaux-style blend of 68 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent merlot, 10 percent petite verdot and 2 percent cabernet franc is one of California’s iconic wines. If the Santa Cruz Mountains were to have a flag, the simple, classic Monte Bello label would be a great candidate. At a minimum, you can drink this wine with your kids (when they turn 21) and maybe even your grandchildren. Not only does it have the ability to age but also it is one of the most unique cabernet sauvignon-based wines made in California, a result of terroir and the heavy use of American oak. Suggested retail: $150
Hanzell Pinot Noir, 2007 (Sonoma): Since the other recommendations are opposite ends of the spectrum, here is something for you moderates. What can be less controversial than pinot noir? Few New World pinot noirs age as well the premier and grand crus in Burgundy, but a few can hold their own — and if I have only one to choose, it’s going to be Hanzell, hands down. While this wine is not tasting extraordinary right now, it will begin to show what it is made from in about five years and be at its peak in another ... hmm, 15 to 20. Suggested retail: $95
Other options: You might also want to surprise your little wine aficionado with something different, such as armagnac or cognac. The nice thing about these brandies is that they can stay open for months or even years. Like wine, there are artisan producers who make a concerted effort to put quality above quantity. Charles Neal has a terrific selection of armagnacs in his portfolio that are sold in several stores throughout the Bay Area. When it comes to cognac, Park, which is owned by the Tessendier family, has an excellent range, as does A. Edmond Audry.
If you happen to be the enophile in the couple, be sure to leave this article out somewhere painfully obvious. If your valentine does not take the hint, then you know what to get him or her next year — a pair of reading glasses.
Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit your questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.