Vintage Gifts 

Picking the perfect holiday bottles

Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard Select, New Zealand, 2002 ($10) is user-friendly, with lots of grapefruit and kiwi flavors. Big House Red Ca’ del Solo, Bonny Doon, 2002 ($11) is an easy-to-drink combo of a soft Italian and Rhone reds. Big House White Ca’ del Solo, Bonny Doon, 2002 ($11) is a smooth white that lacks the tangy edges of the Allen Scott. Last but not least is a high quality screw-cap wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Argyle Pinot Noir 2002 ($19.99).

Our next stop is at your brother-in-law’s house.The wine collector never has anything at his place that is ready to drink, so you get to bring the wine. The wines we’ll bring today are very good for Christmas dinner, but shouldn’t break the bank.

Havens Merlot, Napa, 1999 ($20) is a ready to drink, luscious merlot. There’s no wimpiness here, so it will go with the ham, turkey or roast. Clancey’s Legend, Peter Lehmann, Barossa Valley, 2000 ($20) might be the last vintage of Clancey’s, as the family has just sold the winery. The backbone of this wine is Shiraz, and its tannic flavors work together with a velvety undercurrent. All that and it’s ready right now.

There are quite a few good, affordable 2000 drink-now cabernets. St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 2000 ($17) is a cabernet from a famed winery right across the street from Chateau St. Jean, or as they say, “They are right across the street from us.”

As you may have noticed, wines are meat accompaniments. If you are going to do a repeat of Thanksgiving, the best wine to pair with the bird and trimmings this year was an Alsatian white. A wine to take over to the brother-in-law’s is the Trimbach Pinot Gris 2000 ($16).

If you want some power to impress the collector, both of the following wines will do the job admirably. Traveglini Gattinara 1998 ($36) is a full-throttle Italian from the nebbiolo grape. One of the best wines this year was the Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah, Napa, 2000 ($30), and what a glassful of flavor. The 2000 vintage was a light-flavored one in Napa, which is exactly what you want for an intense petite syrah to be. It has crushingly good S

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