Give with one hand and take with the other was the dubious Christmas gift to wine drinkers that earned the Chancellor the title of Santa Claws recently. Thanks Mr. D for putting almost 30 pence duty on a bottle of wine this year, but it’s some small consolation that the new VAT saving outweighs the latest 13 pence hike if you trade up to over £6.07. Having put our best foot forward with the 50 best wines for Christmas in The Information this week, we’re going to concentrate for this week’s retail therapy on some of the frothier gifts, products and accessories being proposed for us this Christmas. And no-one does froth better than the champenois. It’s a mystery how such a great product can end up packaged in the ultimate in kitsch, but, bless them, how well they manage it.
If you expect Dom Pérignon, the luxury brand of Moët et Chandon, to show a sense of style and proportion, you only have to look at their OTT ads to realize how wide of the mark they can be. And sure enough, the good people at DP have excelled themselves by commissioning Karl Lagerfeld to come up with something wonderful. Inspired apparently by the idea of a 1787 Sèvres manufacture of a design based on one of Marie Antoinette’s finer points, our Karl has created a porcelain bowl in the apparent shape of Claudia Schiffer’s breast with a pink nipple on the underside supported by three porcelain ‘bottles’ of Dom Perignon accompanied by a bottle of Dom Pérignon, œnothèque 1995. Nice. You will all want one for Christmas at €2,500 euros.
Laurent Perrier’s limited edition Écrin Grand Siècle is equally tasteful. It is a ‘a stylish case in classic black monochrome which elegantly holds a Grande Siècle magnum and a collection of 6 champagne flutes delicately handcrafted and blown by fine crystal House Baccarat’. ‘Fit for royalty’ gushes LP but only royalty or its modern equivalent would fork out £1,600 at Harrods Wine Department for this expensive tack. Mind you, they’ve probably already stocked up on Champagne Pommery’s Gold POP Disco!, a sparkling sequined gift bag with the sickly 20 cl. Gold POP 2002, ‘perfect consumed straight from the bottle or through a straw’, at £18.99, yes, a pop. In that company, Eric Berthès’ limited edition (207), lockable steel bullet-shaped case engraved "Bollinger 007" with a magnum of Grande Année 1999 looks positively stylish, a snip at the celebratory price of around £2,500. Go on Victoria, you know David wants one.
But what of some actually useful accessories, I hear you say. Well, Philip Stein, ‘the leader in frequency-based technology for luxury products’, has launched the Philip Stein Wine Wand which looks like a thermometer with crystals in its hollow stem and a crystal knob at the end. Apparently, it ‘enhances the flavour of wine in minutes by replicating the natural frequencies of air and oxygen, and infusing them into the wine’. Whether it can turn Jacobs Creek into Château Margaux or not, or turns it back to Jacobs Creek if you haven’t drunk it by midnight, I haven’t been able to work out, but, having tried it, I can honestly say that there does seem to be something in it. Enough to pay £195 for the Travel Wand and £325 for the Large Wand (www.phillipstein.com)? Why not just wait for the wine to do its own thing?
I feel a bit sorry for the poor old Screwpull company (www.lecreuset.co.uk) now that corkscrews are threatened with obsolescence. But since most fine wines will stay under cork for a while yet, there’s always the brilliant, two-movements-and-it’s-open Metal Trigger Lever Model, £79, which comes with that wine buff’s essential, a metal foilcutter, and they still do a host of other products that no self-respecting wine nerd would be without. Originalproducts.co.uk may have some answers. It has the ChillWarm Wrap, £9.99, which can chill or warm a bottle if it’s put in the freezer or warm a bottle, and a device called the Ravi, £39, which if you’ve been feckless enough to avoid chilling your white down in advance, really does reduce the temperature of your wine by 10C as you pour. For the wine lover who has, well almost, everything.
Something for the weekend?
2007 French Syrah Grenache
This bright, vivid blend of the Rhône grapes, syrah and grenache, is moreishly juicy. Its dark berry-fruit flavours and damsony freshness add verve and bite to make it a perfect everyday glugger. £4.49, Marks & Spencer
2006 Tabali Encantado Syrah Reserva, Limari
Vibrant, dark and spicily aromatic, this new-wave, cool-climate Chilean Syrah has rich blackberry-fruit qualities framed by a veneer of cinnamon spicy oak. A great red for venison or pheasant. £7.59, Waitrose
2006 Block 14 Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, Craggy Range, Hawkes Bay
This fine New Zealand red's milled-pepper scents add complexity to a textured, flavoursome wine with remarkable, opulent, black-fruits richness and exuberance. £19.95, Jeroboams shops (www.jeroboams.co.uk )