Giving someone a bottle of wine or spirits this time of year implies sharing — with the gift-giver, family or friends. And that's a worthy excuse to dig deeper, to find something special, richer or more rare, to introduce someone to a personal favorite or alluring find.
Choosing a bottle made locally is even better, as a relationship with a nearby producer may well be formed.
Here are a handful of recommendations for locally made wine-minded gifts worth giving and/or sharing around a holiday meal.
Angelica: Swanson Vineyards has topped its luxurious self with Angelica, a fortified dessert wine made from Mission grapes grown in Amador County's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Following a solera system of winemaking, traditional to sherry, former longtime Swanson winemaker Marco Cappelli, who now resides and farms in Amador, harvested the high-elevation Mission grapes, let the native yeast kick in and then fortified it all with brandy. In the end, it contains four vintages' worth of blended wine, giving it a yin and yang character of smoothness against bite, full of cherry, pecan, dried fig and molasses flavors and aromas. Packaged in a deluxe box loudly labeled, "For The Person Who Has Everything," it probably is. 19 percent alcohol.
$140 for 750 ml. www.swansonvineyards.com or alexisnapa.com
Charity Case 2009 Barrel-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley: A group of Napa Valley winemakers get together and donate fruit to make this and other wines, the proceeds from which go to charities serving children and families in and around Napa County. Just last summer, the Charity Case Foundation gave $30,000 to two local groups. Full of lush, tropical hues, the wine would make a very worthy companion to your holiday get-togethers and also serve as a feel-good gift for your charitable-minded friends. An $18 chardonnay will be released soon.
$12. 738-5155, www.charitycase.org
Chiller Wine Cask: Crafted from a decommissioned U.S. Army ammo case, the Chiller is a refillable wine cask, light enough to be portable and placed on any kitchen countertop, fridge or bar. Made by Sonoma-based company the20, it holds a three-liter bag of wine (four bottles's worth) and costs $39 with or without the "Make Wine Not War" slogan branded into its steel side. The company also makes The Lite, another 3-liter cask made from birch wood for $45 that can be personalized for another $30. Its top of the line cask is called the Premier, made of red oak with a stainless-steel tap ($299). Available wines to go with the casks include such offerings as Rock Wall's Super Alamedan ($65 for three liters), among many, many others.
Dark Matter 2006 Zinfandel Howell Mountain: Peter Mondavi Sr.'s son Marc has four daughters: Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna. Together they've banded together to create Dark Matter Wines, and this is their first released wine, made in a ripe style with plenty of bold, red raspberry and plum flavor and pepper spice nestled against leathery soft tannins. Angelina is the winemaker, having started out at age 10 in the lab at Charles Krug, then working for Hess Collection, Pine Ridge and the Yalumbu Wine Co. in Australia's Barossa Valley after college. She's now the assistant winemaker for Jayson Woodbridge's One True Vine, which makes Hundred Acre and Layer Cake among other wines.
$300 for a three-pack. 676-8086, www.darkmatterwines.com