RECOMMENDED WINE RELATED CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
Come November, the wine writer becomes rather busy! I’m not complaining, of course, just preparing you with this wine ripple before the wine-al wave hits the shore.
I’m often asked about any wine related presents I might recommend for the lady who wants to surprise the man, and indeed, vice versa for the man who is keen to please his lady. Many of us love wine and all that’s associated with it, so here are some recommendations for you to buy as stocking fillers and/or full-on presents!
Let’s start with the paperwork. You might like to think about buying a year’s subscription to a Spanish Wine Magazine – I have two for you; plus a subscription to Europe’s leading Champagne and Sparkling Wine Magazine.
Firstly, I’m always delighted when my PlanetAVino magazine arrives. Founder, Señor Proensa, is a respected wine journalist, and all writers really know what they are talking about. It’s articulate, well researched and informative. www.proensa.com/planetavino/ .
There is also perhaps the doyen of Spanish wine writers, Victor de la Serna’s online wine ‘magazine’ El Mundo Vino. Again, excellent and informed reading. Victor is always my first port of call when I have a question about Spanish wine. The beauty here is that it’s free! (www.elmundovino.com) .
Then there are the guides. By far the most comprehensive is the Guía Peñín (the Peñin Guide) whose tasting panel tastes around 20,000 wines each year for inclusion in the guide. Originally in Spanish only, it has proved so popular that it is now printed in English and in German and it also has an online version. www.guiapenin.wine . You’ll find that it is well organized with interesting sections extra to the huge list of wines and their marks out of 100. Considered by many to be the ‘bible’ of Spanish wines.
Don’t forget our friend Señor Andres Proensa though – the Proensa Guide is for me indispensable. Los Mejores Vinos de España is always on my office desk – it’s smaller than the above, restricting itself to just those which the panel considers the top 500 wines in Spain. www.proensa.com . It is also online.
I recently enjoyed reading Monty Waldin’s ‘Chateau Monty’ – it’s an interesting story, anyway, and became a UK Channel Four series, so I’d recommend it for that reason alone. However, it greatly added to my knowledge of Biodynamic Winemaking – which could be described as Organic vine growing/wine making, and some! Fascinating – available on Amazon.
Finally for fizz lovers – it’s hard to beat the glossy magazine Glass of Bubbly. Cava is always included of course (and it’s not just me who writes about it!), but you’ll also find other Spanish Sparkling Wines, as well as, of course, Champagne and, well essentially every country in the world that makes sparklers. www.glassofbubbly.com . Also available online.
Now what about wine accessories? I have two possibilities for you. Lazenne, specialises in wine travel accessories; and Avina in wine tools.
The former www.lazenne.com specialises in protective, airline approved luggage to keep your wine bottles safe in the hold of the aircraft. It’s simple but effective – airport security won’t bother you and when you arrive your bottles will be in one piece, ready for you to enjoy them as you did when tasting before you bought, in any of the world’s wineries! There are a number of different fashionable designs to cater for varying numbers of bottles, including sparkling wine bottles.
www.avinawinetools.com makes beautiful corkscrews which really will be ideal presents. Their designs are as sensational as the wines whose bottles they open, effortlessly and with style. There’s also, the Pink Swan, which makes a contribution to Breast Cancer Research for every one sold! You’ll find bottle stoppers, and more, with still more products being developed. The presentation and packaging is excellent too!
Now, wine tourism. Twenty years ago there were very few bodegas which catered for group visits in Spain. When I visited an impressive bodega I remember asking if they might be able to cope with a further visit, this time with ‘some friends’! Having got the green light I’d then tell them that we would be between 30 – 50 people. Wine tourism had started!
It now has a Spanish name, Enoturismo – and from the humble beginnings where I was occasionally aghast to see that the wines to be tasted were being served in plastic cups, it is now very sophisticated. Many wineries have their own boutique accommodation, Casa Rural style, which is of course perfect as there are no drink-driving restrictions.
However, where on earth to start regarding recommendations? There are now so many. So, I’ll mention a few of the more local ones, and then I’ll leave it to readers to ask Mr. Google, according to the areas that you and your partner may wish to visit. Wine related presents are great – both of you enjoy the benefits!
Not really boutique, as it’s a rather grander affair, is the Hacienda Señorio de Nevada (http://www.senoriodenevada.es/EN/hotel.html). I took a group there a couple of years ago – it is excellent, with a super dining room and of course the medal winning wines emanating from the vineyards that surround the hotel are served! There’s a tour available which is very good, and it’s in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about a 10 minute drive from the centre of Granada!
Hacienda del Carche (www.haciendadelcarche.com/en/home/) has a beautifully restored self-catering boutique ‘Rural Home’ perfectly positioned between the bodega and it’s sister bodega, Casa de la Ermita (www.casadelaermita.com/en/ ) on a quiet country road just out of Jumilla. Visits to both bodegas can be arranged, of course. If looking for peace and quite in quite luxurious surroundings this could be for you!
We’ve stayed in the small boutique Rural Hotel of Bodegas Pago de Tharsys (http://pagodetharsys.com/en/) Utiel-Requena. There’s a lovely lake within the grounds with ducks too – plus their cavas are excellent, with very good still wines as well. It’s also a good base from which to explore other top bodegas nearby.
So, several suggestions for wine related Christmas presents – and I hope you enjoy any that you choose!
NB The Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme has three slots in December on www.totalfm.es Total FM 91·8: Sundays, 4th December; 11th December; and 18th December. I’ll be tasting wines and food with my guests and chatting about all things wine and gourmet. All programmes are from 18:00 – 20:00 hrs (Spain Time) – and there are prizes to be won too; and don’t forget I’ll be playing some top music. Please join me and get involved by texting (00 34) 629 388 159 during the programmes with any questions you may have for me or my guests!