A Conniosseur’s Wish List 

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In this column, I write mostly about inexpensive to moderately priced wines that most of us can afford. I normally shy away from bottles more suited to billionaire budgets. But this week, I’m making an exception. This article is aimed directly at my rich friends'and don’t make me name names here'who are puzzling over what to buy their favorite wino this holiday season.

My wish list begins with the economically priced Fleur de Champagne gift set from Perrier-Jouet ($118.90). For not much more than what a season of The Sopranos on DVD would set you back, you can give your local wine critic a bottle of this lovely Champagne from Epernay in France, plus a gift set of two handpainted Champagne glasses with the distinctive Perrier-Jouet floral design to match the floral, lemony flavors of this wonderful bubbly.

And while we’re adding to our crystal collection, let’s throw in a bottle of my favorite liqueur, B&B. A bottle of Benedictine & Brandy D.O.M. (for Deo Optimo Maximo'“to God most good, most great”) along with a snifter glass to drink it from can be yours (or mine) for just $33.95. For just short of 500 years, the monks at the Benedictine monastery at Fecamp on the coast of Normandy have been brewing up this luscious secret blend with fabulous fruit and spice aromas and the flavors of sweet butterscotch mixed with spiced tangerines and honey. It’s the ultimate drink to sip by the fire on Christmas Eve.

If you really love me, you’ll hook me up this holiday season with a jeroboam (3 liters) of Grande Reserve Chimay from Belgium ($90.65). Chimay'which is one of only six Belgian beers to carry the “Trappist” appellation'is, not surprisingly, brewed in a Trappist monastery. Top fermented, nonpasteurized and made from all-natural ingredients, this rich, complex and fruity ale from will mature and age with time, just like me.

I’ll tell you what: Gift me a split (375 ml) of Chateau D’Yquem 1994 Sauternes ($134.60) for the holidays, and I’ll share my foie gras with you. This vintage is a bit light on the palate'not a great year'but hey, that’s what makes it so affordable!

My richest (and dearest) friends will want to supply me with a bottle of Chateau Palmer Margaux 1970 ($516.55), just to help round out the rough edges of the holiday season. Robert Parker awarded this classic Bordeaux with 95 points: That’s good enough for me but I’d also settle for the ’83 vintage, which you can pick up for around $450. But before we leave France, may I suggest that a heavenly bottle of Burgundy from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache 2002 ($701.55) would bring tears to my eyes if it were to be found lingering under the tree on Christmas morning. And I promise to share it with you when it’s fully aged, in about 30 or 40 years.

I would not, however, turn up my nose at the generous offer of a 1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Valeriano ($130.35) with its soft tannins, high alcohol and yummy caramel-covered fruit appeal. And it’s the only wine I know with a rhino on the label, indicative perhaps of how well this wine would pair with game.

A 1963 Corvette in the driveway on Christmas Day would be a dream come true. But then, so would a ’63 bottle of Warre’s Vintage Port ($424.95). Along with 1945 and 1977, 1963 was a classic vintage for Port, and don’t I deserve the best?

Well, OK … then how about buying me a pint of Guinness at MacCool’s?

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