Holidays Mean Cracking Out The Good Wines, And Beyond

Holidays mean indulging in a glass of wine or a seasonal cocktail for many of us, and for just as many it means a gift for hard to buy for friends or family. If you’re looking to impress, or splurge — and you’ve tried the usual outlets — try these creative choices from creative retailers.

Wine etc (Central and Happy Valley), focuses on highlighting individual wine regions and boutique wine makers, the shops are as much for education as they are about discovery for wine lovers. Shop Manager Ken Lee has a few personal favourites for the holidays, among them a Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc 2010, Pessac-Léognan ($739), which Lee calls, “A Crisp white wine with white fruit characteristics [that] pairs well with a variety of rich and flavourful holiday dishes.” For those who prefer red — or like to live dangerously by pairing red with turkey — an Henri Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Les Fremiets 2011 ($829) is ripe and fragrant with fruit, and has characteristics with “exuberant mineral influences, and [an] incredibly complex finish.”

What would New Year’s Eve be without bubbles? Godmé Père et Fils’ 1999 Brut Millésimé ($709) and its fine mousse bubbles make for a champagne that’s, “Rich and aromatic, perfect for celebrating a holiday party,” finishes Lee. Over at French specialist Winebeast, Store Manager Mia Wong recommends Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1er Cru Selection Belles Années Brut Blanc de Blancs ($428) for casual bubble needs and Louis Roederer Cristal 2005 ($2,100) for prestige occasions. Pierre Gimonnet’s signature champagne has a purity, balance and elegance Wong likes, noting, “Les Belles Années is a cuvée made of a balanced blend of three vintages of Cuvée Gastronome, with nice density, very fine bubbles, lot of freshness, good acidity, delicate fruity flavours.” The high demand Cristal, once imbibed by Tsar Alexander II, has stayed true to form and terroir, with an “Intense nose, succession of exquisite aromas, full-bodied mouth, faultless palate, lovely balance, delicious bubbles, generous and long finish with great minerality,” finishes Wong.

Of course, not all tipplers enjoy grape nectar, so for them — or gifts for them — beer or spirits could be in order. Danish brewer Mikkeller has a range of seasonal brews, including the Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas India Pale Ale, with Ginger and pine needle accents, Santa’s Little Helper, a Belgian ale brewed with traditional Christmas spices and the X-Mas Fra Til Via spiced holiday ale ($54-$55). From Belgium, Delirium Christmas Dark Amber ($35) is sweet and malty, and San Francisco’s Anchor Christmas Ale ($37) is the 41st iteration of Anchor’s winter brew, which is slightly different each year. Festooned this year with a label featuring the Deodar Cedar — or California Christmas tree — Anchor, Mikkeller and Delirium are available at Sai Kung’s The Bottle Shop.

From Japan, saké, technically a beer as it’s brewed, comes Four Fox Saké ($550), available at Liquor and Liqueur. General Manager Ming Cheung calls Four Fox impeccable, adding, “It meets the standard to be classed as the highest grade of saké, Junmai Daiginjo, and the sleek light-up bottle makes it instantly desirable. I take mine chilled and straight up.” Finally, Cheung suggests Michter’s Sour Mash ($680), an award-winning American whiskey defined by its unique grain selection. The “mash” part of the whiskey refers to its sourdough bread-style production process, where a previously fermented mash is used as starter for a new batch. The Sour Mash, “makes a great choice for a Christmas gift because it’s a very unique whiskey falling somewhere between bourbon and rye, giving it an extremely complex flavour profile. A great addition to any whiskey collection,”
Salut!, everyone.

Editor’s Pick
If you’re in the market for something a little off the beaten path, wholesaler Seapower Hong Kong stocks a broad range of rarities from around the world, including one of Argentina’s best: Alta Vista. The 2007 Alto ($498) is one of the richest Malbecs you’ll ever try — it practically demands a knife and fork — with a velvety finish and a typically Argentinean grip to the glass. Not for the faint of heart. For the adventurous there’s the Premium Torrontés ($168), the country’s “liar wine” for its fruity nose and dry, bold taste. Seapower has no store, but if you contact them via web, they’ll bring a case (mixed is fine) to your door in a matter of days.