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A Grand Bounty

Best Christmas Gift Hamper

For 317 years, Berry Brothers & Rudd has been something of a secret password amongst oenophiles. With a royal warrant from the Queen of England and the Prince of Wales, the firm has faithfully served the royal family in a continuous line since the reign of George III. Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant boasts no less than eight Masters of Wine on staff and a Rolodex stuffed with blue-ribboned names, not least prime ministers, royalty and anyone not averse to dropping nearly £1,000 for, say, a bottle of 2012 Opus One.

Discretion has been key to Berry Brothers’ longevity. The only clients the firm will reveal the identities of are all history now—among them, William Pitt the Younger and the Aga Khan—though they form no less a valuable insight into the calibre of the collection.

The cellar, headquartered since 1698 in a small townhouse just behind tiny St James’s Street, is truly unrivalled. Over 4,000 wines and spirits are represented in the bulging wine books. All of which has made selecting a suitable gift hamper all that much of a challenge. This being the Christmas season, our mission was to find something that suggested a touch of class, preferably with a dash of alcoholic bonhomie and strong whiff of good times ahead. Something redolent of festive abundance, but that did not stray into déclassé extravagance.

Several consultations and inebriated tasting sessions later, we’re pleased to advise that the perfect nine-bottle Christmas gift hamper has been found, each carefully picked to go with that blow-out dinner you’re slaving over.

First, welcome guests by popping a 2004 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon, and a 2005 Champagne Vilmart & Cie, Coeur de Cuvée. Meanwhile, prep the bottle opener for a second salvo of 2010 Corton Greves, Domaine des Croix, a 1998 Gran Reserva 890, La Rioja Alta, and a 2001 Chateau Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Pauillac.

As the second course is being served, skip to the New World for a 2009 Vina Koyle Auma, Los Lingues that’s cosying up to a 2012 Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay from Victoria, Australia. And for the post-prandial offering, a rummage through the hamper will uncover a 1985 Fonseca vintage port and a Berrys’ second edition XO Cognac.

Rounding off the nine-bottle bonanza are savoury treats like Sapori truffle oil, Lafitte foie gras, cheese toast, stem ginger shortbread, chocolates and a 12-year-old balsamic vinegar. The price for this festive bounty that’s modestly called Le Grand Hamper? An equally modest £1,000.

You can thank us later.
www.bbr.com

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