Citizens of the wine world say what they want for Christmas

  • Wednesday 22 December 2004

Citizens of the wine world are peace-loving, bibulous, liberal, and at least one shows signs of advanced Elvis Syndrome - according to decanter.com’s Christmas poll.

We asked a few dozen winemakers, wine writers, owners and other wine professionals around the world what they would like for Christmas.

Two kinds of wish dominated – a more peaceful world, and lots more good wine.

We found that while Americans tended to go for dramatic, all-encompassing dreams, the British were far more modest in what they expected to find in their stockings, and mainland Europeans tended to be a bit more hard-headed.

For example, Napa veteran John Shafer wishes for ‘peace to break out and for everyone to heed Gandhi’s advice: You must be the change you wish to see in the world’, and his fellow winemaker Jayson Woodbridge ‘would like all the snipers, car, train and disco bombers to take a walk through a park and look at the children, see them with their fathers and mothers, sit down for one evening with a couple of great bottles of wine, a beautiful woman and really taste life. I can only hope for change.’

In contrast, John McLaren, head of the California Wine Institute’s London office, says he’d like ‘cyclists to make some fleeting acknowledgement of the Highway Code’, while Serena Sutcliffe wants a pair of wellington boots, ‘as I am in Venice for Christmas’ – and she’s joined (not literally, of course) by Andrew Jefford, who wants ‘a new pair of walking boots.’

Sutcliffe and Jefford also made heartfelt pleas for peace and sense – the latter wanting Britain to have ‘the courage…to embrace and enjoy its European identity rather than continuing to bathe in the tepid, scummy bathwater of a long-lost empire.’

In France we found a dedication to the cause of wine. Jean-Luc Thunevin ‘wishes that Chateau de Valandraud would successfully be classified with the 2005 New St Emilion classement,’ while exhorting us all to open ‘great bottles’ as often as possible, and for the eminent May-Eliane de Lencquesaing of Pichon Lalande, nothing would beat, ‘a great great 2005 harvest, as wonderful as Pichon's 2004.’

Some were very specific: California maverick Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon wants ‘public revelation of massive fraud in the counting of votes in the state of Ohio’ and a new election.

Some are gnomic: Jancis Robinson wants ‘politicians to tell the truth as well as knowing it, and wine commentators to know the truth as well as telling it.’

And some display what we have come to see as the ‘Elvis Tendency’. Our own Howard G Goldberg, Decanter’s veteran New York correspondent, whose dreams show perfect taste, if not a firm anchor to reality:

‘Inspired by faucets in Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s 1895 mansion in ritzy Newport, Rhode Island,’ he writes. ‘Hot, cold, hot seawater, cold seawater - I want Wilhelm Weil to lay a pipeline from the Rheingau to my kitchen. By pushing a spigot button marked Riesling, I’d get a chilled Weingut Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Gold Cap Trockenbeerenauslese in my holiday morning corn flakes. The dining room would have a Taittinger button.’

Happy Christmas to all our readers.

Those Christmas wishes in full:

  • What I’d like for Christmas is for cyclists to make some fleeting acknowledgment of the Highway Code and for mobile ‘phones to cease working on trains. Then I’d be in a better frame of mind for telling everyone just how good California wine can be between £5 and £10.

    John McLaren UK Director, Wine Institute of California

  • Inspired by faucets in Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s 1895 mansion in ritzy Newport, Rhode Island - hot, cold, hot seawater, cold seawater - I want Wilhelm Weil to lay a pipeline from the Rheingau to my kitchen. By pushing a spigot button marked Riesling, I’d get a chilled Weingut Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Gold Cap Trockenbeerenauslese in my holiday morning corn flakes. The dining room would have a Taittinger button.

    Howard G Goldberg Decanter’s New York correspondent

  • Being a gambler and a winemaker is a poor combo in normal times but I do like the thought of a small best ever quality harvest, stable pricing and exchange rates a bottle each of the rare ‘ 61 Yalumba The Signature and the ’59 Ch Latour I gave away on a losing bet and another please of ’78 La Tache I won on another bet !

    All this would be useless without more wine drinkers , peace in the world and the perennial humor of my major buyer friends in the UK.

    Merry Xmas

    Robert Hill Smith Yalumba, Barossa, Australia

  • My hope for 2005 is for peace to “break out” and for everyone to heed

    Gandhi’s advice: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    John Shafer Shafer Vineyards, Napa, California

  • That I may make and enjoy good wine in a world of peace and harmony.

    Sadly peace seems to be a commodity in short supply and yet it is what 99.99 % of the worlds population desire above all else. I wish that the other 00.01 % would have second thoughts.

    We also wish you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

    Anthony Barton Chateau Leoville Barton, Bordeaux

  • A great great 2005 harvest, as wonderful as Pichon's 2004 (Professeur Ribéreau-Gayon said it was his best harvest ever regarding Pichon!).

    Wishing you all the best for 2005,

    May-Eliane de Lencquesaing Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Bordeaux

  • In my stocking: a new pair of walking boots

    Hopes for 2005:

    1) humanity ceases to equate progress with growth (and the concomitant exploitation of the planet's fragile resources);

    2) electorates in democracies begin to vote intelligently and elect politicians of courage and global vision rather than voting stupidly and electing those characterised by cowardice and greedy self-interest dressed up as 'patriotism';

    3) Britain has the courage and confidence to embrace and enjoy its European identity rather than continuing to bathe in the tepid, scummy bathwater of a long-lost Empire.

    Not much to ask!

    Andrew Jefford wine writer and Decanter columnist

  • What I would really like for Christmas is that more of the world's winedrinkers would open a bottle from Sauternes or Tokaj at some time during this convivial and festive time. I have never opened one of these wonderfully hedonistic wines for my guests without everyone present enjoying them - very often for the first time. They normally begin spontaneously to sing for joy, sometimes leaping onto my lap and covering my face with kisses in gratitude for having thus opened the door to them of a lifetime of pleasure and discovery. Christmas is therefore a perfect time for the savvy winelover to heal family rifts and generally spread an infectious feeling of joy, simply by pulling a cork or two.

    It works both with Sauternes and Tokaj, but to be absolutely sure it is best to include at least a bottle of each over the Christmas period. Best results obtained with Suduiraut and Disznoko, though probably works pretty well with some of the others.

    Christian Seely Managing Director, AXA Millesimes

  • If I could play Santa, I'd give every restaurateur in London a copy of "Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter," the great chef whose motto is "no detail is too small—exceed expectations." In my own stocking, I'd love to find a bottle (at least) of '59 La Tache, the wine that got me started on this journey.

    Brian St Pierre food and drink writer and Decanter restaurant critic

  • That Chateau de Valandraud would successfully be classified with the new 2005 St Emilion Classement. And that everybody could find good opportunities to open great bottles for any possible celebrations all through 2005.

    We wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2005

    Jean-Luc Thunevin Chateau Valandraud, Bordeaux

  • I would like all the snipers, car, train and disco bombers to take a walk through a park and look at the children, see them with their fathers and mothers, sit down for one evening with a couple of great bottles of wine, a beautiful woman and really taste life. I can only hope for change.

    Very best for the holidays and thank you for asking me this question, it made me stop and think.

    Jayson Woodbrdge 100 Acre Vineyard, Napa, California

  • The best Christmas present I could feature would be the public revelation of massive fraud in the counting of the votes in the State of Ohio, necessitating a new Presidential election, a la Ukraine. I have already a number of very lovely bottles of wine in my cellar; the prospect of drinking them some time in the future at their peak on a wasted, decimated planet does not fill me with joy.

    Randall Grahm Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz, California

  • I am happy to give you my thoughts as long as they can be please credited to my own website, www.superplonk.com, so your readers can expand their horizons there.

    What would I like in my stocking? A case of Domaine Leroy Pommard 2003 with a card from Sandra Bullock inviting herself to dinner. Failing this, the deeds to a vineyard in McLaren Vale would be most acceptable.

    Malcolm Gluck wine writer

  • The three things I would most like for Christmas are:

    1. My beautiful new website design for www.jancisrobinson.com to be up and running without a glitch

    2. All politicians to tell the truth as well as knowing it

    3. All wine commentators to know the truth as well as telling it

    Jancis Robinson wine writer

  • Wellington boots, as I am in Venice for Christmas! And less cruelty and viciousness in the world for the New Year - but then that is what I wish every year and it does not seem to do any good! So, lots of (genuine!) 1945s to drink instead.

    Serena Sutcliffe MW Head of International Wine Department, Sotheby’s

  • Serious Answer:

    That someone as intelligent, thoughtful and wise as Andrew Jefford was running this world rather than George Bush.

    Wine Answer:

    That none of the bottles that I open over Christmas is corked.

    Flippant answer:

    After some great wine on Christmas Day, a nice refreshing pint of bitter on Boxing Day followed by 3 points for Crystal Palace.

    Stephen Browett Farr Vintners, London

  • I think sleep is what I most want for Christmas. I have children that are too young to sleep through the night compounded by dogs that are too old to do the same. More sleep is needed to have pleasant dreams - about wine, for sure.

    Jonathan Maltus Chateau Teyssier, Bordeaux

  • After five years of intensive renovations and constructions, I would like 2005 to be a flourishing year for Haut-Bailly: we would love to show the new face of the property to all wine lovers!

    Véronique Sanders Chateau Haut-Bailly

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