Neil Hodgson's wine column
Christmas is only a month away, so it is time to start buying gifts for the special people in your life, if you haven't already.
Because this is a column about wine, of course I am going to tell you to buy something wine-related, but it doesn't have to be a bottle of wine. There are lots of choices.
Two of my favourite gift-buying places are Page and Blackmore Booksellers in Trafalgar St and Casa del Vino in Hardy St.
At Page and Blackmore, you will find a nice selection of wine books that will please any wine-loving person. They stock two great books from the person I consider New Zealand's leading wine writer, Michael Cooper.
His annual Buyers Guide to New Zealand Wine ($39.99) is a bible for every wine buyer. If you have a cellar or enjoy good wine, this should sit beside your favourite chair. Without doubt, it is the most comprehensive book that reviews and rates multiple vintages of New Zealand wines.
For something a little lighter, Cooper's 100 Must-Try New Zealand Wines ($34.99) is, to use his words, "to give you a diverse and stimulating array of New Zealand wines to choose from, regardless of whether you are in the mood for a wine of sublime quality, or looking for something new and exciting, or just thirsting for a bargain".
Well laid out and packed with easy-to-understand information and recommendations, it would make a great gift.
Just around the corner at Casa del Vino, you are spoiled for choice. Owner Ann has everything from premium glassware to special bottles of liquid nectar that will satisfy every taste and budget.
If the person you are buying for loves a particular variety of wine, such as chardonnay, then why not buy them a couple of glasses designed specifically for that wine.
Riedel makes a range of premium glasses designed to enhance every variety of wine, and the right glass does make a difference. They are expensive – $55-plus a glass – and if you don't want to stretch to that, then check out the range from Spiegelau, another premium maker whose glassware starts at about $20 a glass. One really good idea is a tube of four stemless glasses.
Casa del Vino has plenty of treats in the way of wine itself.
How about a magnum (1.5 litres) of the 2008 Te Mata Coleraine for $185 in a presentation box, or a magnum of bubbles from Pol Roger for $220?
If you have a whisky lover in your house, then a single malt from Bruichladdich in a presentation box with a purpose-designed whiskey glass for less than $100 will be perfect.
I have been drinking
Dibon Cava Brut Reserve – $18.95 at Casa del Vino. The recommended retail price for this Spanish delight is about $25, but Ann has it at this special price just about all the time. Bright and fresh, with powdery minerality and a twist of citrus, this sparkling wine is simply delicious. Perfect for every occasion this summer.
Saint Clair Family Estate 2011 Gruner Veltliner – $21.50. As winemakers are coming to grips with one of the newest varieties to be planted in New Zealand and the vines get a bit of age, the finished wines are getting better and better.
This example from Saint Clair smells like gewurztraminer, has pear and soft apple flavours similar to pinot gris, a mouth texture reminiscent of chardonnay and a lovely citrus finish, almost like riesling.
This New Zealand-produced gruner veltliner is proof this new variety has exciting potential.