Cinematic propaganda to the contrary, as every astute person knows, the best Christmas gift anyone can receive is not a BB gun, but a pony. If Santa Claus accidentally forgets to bring me a horse this year (as he has for the past thirty years or so), then I hope that he will bring me some good wine, and two bottles from Joseph Phelps Vineyards are right at the top of my Christmas gift wish list.
Most wine lovers know that the 2007 vintage in California was remarkable and that it produced some of the greatest wines in the state’s history. However, it is not as widely appreciated that the 2008 vintage was nearly as good, and as evidence in support of this contention, I offer Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2008 Napa Valley Insignia ($200), the most incredible wine that I have tasted in the past year. Blended from estated-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, 2008 Insignia has seductive dark berry, mocha, and mint aromas that lead to richly complex and beautifully orchestrated flavors that include blueberry, cassis, plum, and sweet oak, with hints of coffee, mineral, and cedar lingering in the background, all of which close in a long, resonant, polished finish.
For many years, I have had the same white wine with my Thanksgiving repast, and this year was no exception, because Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($32), like its predecessors, is one of the most versatile and delectable dinner wines available. This wine’s attractive lemon and tropical fruit aromas precede ripe melon, citrus, and guava flavors that are accompanied by a creamy texture and which find closure in a crisp finish. Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc would perfectly complement most dinners featuring poultry or fish, and it would go equally will with oysters.
If there are people on your holiday gift list who love good wine, I strongly recommend giving them one or both of the Joseph Phelps wines described above. I know that I would certainly be delighted to find them under my Christmas tree, though I would also really (really) like to get a pony this year. Looking over my behavioral ledger for the past twelve months, I find that I have been almost perfectly nice, and I assure everyone that to construe any of my behavior as naughty would be a grievous error most likely caused by either misunderstanding or mistaken identity. It’s enough that I have to contend with an obvious ideological bias on the part of elves, many of whom are clearly afflicted with an anti-equine fanaticism that has influenced Santa to bring me socks and shirts every Christmas instead of a pony. In any event, I remain hopeful that this will be my year, and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.