It has been one year since my last confession. I have been a fair to moderately good boy. There has only been the occasional quid pro quo. And even when wine companies have shipped me free wine, I have been unafraid to damn them with faint praise in this column. So, I hope you will grant me my wine wishes this holiday season. As I’m sure you know, the person who is the real reason for the season turned a lot of water into a lot of wine for his first miracle. I’m going to assume that makes it kosher to ask for wine in my letter to you, the more capitalist reason for the season.
I’m not sure how many 40-somethings write you wish lists, but I am willing to check a box online saying that I am at least 21 before I hit “submit.” Is online wishlist posting the way kids do it these days? Do I need to put my wine wishes in an Instagram story? Not quite sure. #okboomer. How are the reindeer? Are the other reindeer still bullying Rudolph because he has the same name as the President’s personal lawyer? #okdonner.
If you want me to submit my wine wish list the old fashioned way, by taking a magic marker and circling items in a catalogue — maybe the Wine Spectator — I can do that, too. Oh, my first wish is for a renewed subscription to Wine Spectator. Even though their top 100 wines become so sought after that they are virtually impossible to acquire, I like reading about all the wines I’ll never get to try. It also helps me to know which celebrities have jumped into the world of winemaking and how I can avoid their brands.
Perhaps as a stocking stuffer, I could have some Riedel wine glasses. I was one of those people who used to scoff at the idea that the shape of stemware, and the thickness of the lip of the glass could have an effect on the smell and taste of a wine. But I am now a convert. Not only have I experienced an incredible wine come to life in incredible new ways when put into a high quality glass, but I know a restaurateur who takes his poor quality house wine and intentionally puts it in the wrong type of glass to mask the flaws of the wine. They make Bordeaux, Burgundy, Brunello, Chardonnay glasses and so many more. And each glass is only about $65. I found a nice set of eight for $265. But I’m sure your elves know how to blow glass. No need to order it from Williams Sonoma.
I know it must be hard to grow and vinify wine in the arctic cold of the North Pole, so if you need to outsource to fill any holes on my list, I will understand. Maybe there are some Burgundy wine makers who are on your “nice” list and who would be willing to lend a hand? But I bet you and the elves could make some nice ice wines or “eiswein” in the North Pole. It’s hard to resist a sweetly delicious wine made from frozen grapes, pressed frozen, and where the tiny bit of juice expressed is so sugary that it takes months to ferment into wine. It’s like visions of sugar plums dancing on my palate. If you can’t make the eiswein yourselves I’d like to try the Weingut Markus Huber Berg Riesling Eiswein from Austria. I circled it in the Wine Spectator.
Another wine on my wish list is from Côte-Rôtie — the “roasted slope” of the Northern Rhône in France. What’s interesting to me about wines from Côte-Rôtie is the blending of a white grape, Viognier, and a red grape, Syrah, into a singular wine. Both of the grapes are fermented together and the wine is said to have meaty flavors like bacon from the Syrah and floral aromas from the Viogner. It’s rare to get both from the same wine. I’ve had Syrah/Viognier blends from South Africa but never from the source: Côte-Rôtie. I’ve been such a good boy that I hope you’ll bring me the E. Guigal 1998 La Landonne. I’ve loved Guigal wines from the Southern Rhône. And this $175 Northern Rhône wine is something that, frankly, I deserve, Santa. I mean, do you remember that Cancer Connection Campout I did back in February? That is worth at least 97 Wine Enthusiast points, don’t you think? As Sally Brown says, “All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”
And since this is a wish list, I might as well go big. I’ve been lucky enough to try four of the five first-growth Bordeaux. Everything but Château Latour. So, I’ll wish for their grand vin which is a mostly Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend and goes for like $800 a bottle. I understand that this may be out of range of the North Pole wine budget. If you need to skip this one, my feelings won’t be hurt. And since I have so generously allowed you to skip this particular wish, I’m going to go for broke here with my next wish. Santa, I’m going to ask for the big one. One of the most sought after and expensive wines in the world. It’s the Barbie Dreamhouse, the Tickle-Me-Elmo, the Grand Theft Auto V of wines: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Even affordable red Burgundy rocks my world. I can only imagine how drinking the notorious DRC would be a life changing experience. I found a bottle of 1996 Gran Cru online for about $20,000. I know that’s more than I spent on my car. But it’s Christmas, Santa!
I hope Mrs. Claus, the elves, and all the reindeer are well. But as a parting note, I hope you will reconsider your Elf On The Shelf warrant-less dragnet surveillance of children. I know we live in a post-9/11 USA Patriot Act society, but that creepy looking, blankly staring elf relaying back to North Pole Centcom how many times I’ve opened a second bottle of wine on a Sunday night is disconcerting and a little embarrassing. I’m a good boy, Santa. Have you heard of Monte’s March? Please make my wishes come true. Should I leave you cookies and milk or perhaps a small glass of Brandy? If you leave me a bottle of A. Hardy le Printemps Cognac in Lalique Crystal (a steal at $15,000). I’ll leave you a snifter and you can help yourself.
Merry Christmas, Santa!
Tweet Monte Belmonte at @montebelmonte.