Institute of Drinking, blog of @whatrodisdrinkn

Last Minute Wine Gifts You Can Actually Still Find...mostly

Tomorrow is going to be a ridiculous day at the department stores and malls for all us that told ourselves we have all day Saturday to finish up that Christmas shopping. Of course I'm just realizing this so I'm thinking I'm not alone.

While wine shops will be busy they will be nothing like trying to run through a mall, Walmart or Target tomorrow. I'm sure you aren't surprised that I find wine and spirits and things as wonderful and thoughtful gifts for those in your life.

I know you are busy so let's get started. Here are some ideas you might find helpful.

1. Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2016. I'm thinking specifically of all my friends out there who love the Kimmy juice aka Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. There are legions of fans out there and while you could just grab them a couple bottles of that specific wine why not get them to step out a bit? Matua is also from NZ and has a very similar flavor profile AND it was #46 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 this year. Kim Crawford......didn't make the list. Now that is thoughtful. Very available and by the way won't break the bank at about $12.

2. The Calling Russian River Chardonnay 2015. This wine has a good story in that it is a project of Jim Nance the broadcaster. Maybe you have a Chardonnay loving golf aficionado on your gift list? This is a delicious, cool climate Chardonnay AND it is #67 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 this year. Very reasonable at about $30.

3. Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. While Concha Y Toro was long known in the US for inexpensive 1.5 liter bottles in the 1990's many people don't know that they are one of the most admired wineries in the world. They are the pride of Chile and make some amazing wines. So for the big "smack your momma good", as my friend Eddie Kennison would say, Cabernet Sauvignon lover in your life this is a great and luxurious choice. This wine always gets great scores but this particular vintage received 96 points from the Wine Spectator AND was #90 on their Top 100 this year. This type of luxury doesn't come cheap but if you want to impress this will do it at about $120 a bottle.

4. Anything Orin Swift. This has been the trendy luxury winery this year and almost every wine lover out there knows about the wine that put them on the map..... The Prisoner. Orin Swift and Dave Phinney are no longer associated with The Prisoner having sold it a few years don't buy that one. Who the hell knows what the new owners did to it BUT Dave Phinney is a master wine maker who makes some of the most interesting and bold wines out there with labels to match. I'm not a big "cool label" guy but this might be the exception. He puts as much thought into the label as the wine. These wines make fantastic gifts. You won't find them on every shelf so you might have to call around but it will be worth it for the hug you will get when someone sees this under the tree with their name on it. Here are some of his wines:

Mercury Head: Cabernet Sauvignon that is possibly the toughest to find but features a simple Mercury Head nickel glued to the bottle. Yep a real one. About $120 bottle.

Abstact: A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah. I was at Jasper's last night for dinner and saw 2 different tables drinking this wine. Lucky Bastards. Delicious at about $40 bottle

Papillon: This was the first wine I ever had of Dave Phinney's after having The Prisoner. My friend Greg Hewett introduced me to it via Acme Wine where he is a member. That was the mid 1990's and was an immediate favorite. A Bordeaux blend that is powerful yet is refined and elegant. Findable in the market for about $65 bottle.

Palermo: This is a Cabernet Sauvignon is in the ripe red fruit spectrum. It is very round and soft so not the gripping tannic style of cab. It is blended with parts Merlot and Malbec and aged in French Oak. Reasonable at $45 bottle.

Machete: This is Petite Sirah with some Syrah and Grenache in the blend. This one is hard to find as it was high on the WS Top 100 last year and has a cult following but worth seeking out. Powerful aromas of cassis, ripe cherries with hints of dark bitter chocolate. Lots of savory qualities to this wine with a long textured finish. IF you can find it expect about $55 bottle.

Mannequin: For the Chardonnay lover...Ripe peach and tropical fruits alike pineapple but very viscous and creamy but also boasts the complexity of a bit of minerality. He achieves this complexity with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat and aging it in 40% new French Oak and sur lie aging for 9 months. Bam. Can be had for around $30 bottle.

Finally.....does it have to be wine? Hell no! Whiskey makes a great gift for most wine lovers. Let's start with this to get it out of the way. You won't find a bottle of Pappy anything so don't bother calling or asking at the store. I can see their eyes rolling like my teenage daughter being told to clean her room from here. BTW, If you want to see one of the funniest, inside the industry Pappy YouTube videos EVER check out Hitler Gets No Pappy. Let's talk about what you can find. Lots of great choices to consider. Here is a short list of my go to brands:

Eagle Rare 10 year

Redemption Rye

Elijah Craig

George Remus Repeal


Buffalo Trace

Russell's Reserve 10 year

Rittenhouse Rye....the real insider's Rye. Ugly package, great product!

There you have it friends. I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas or whichever tradition is important to you and your family. I appreciate you reading. And that is what I'm drinking!

Vaya con Dios!

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