Top Three 

As we approach the start of a new year, it's time to reflect on things past. My top three picks this time around include an outstanding wine, a benchmark beer and a great new gadget.

Orval Trappist Ale, $5.50-$7

I revisited this brew for a Thanksgiving beer article. It had been a few years since I last tried it, and, on first taste, I wondered why. Since its introduction in 1931, this has been something of a benchmark. Plum, apple, caramel, banana bread and the requisite touch of Belgian funk greet the nose. The palate is filled with spicy fruit, just the right hit of tangy, food-friendly citrus and a bit of pepper. It is now a staple in my fridge.

2014 Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay, Arthur, $32

Joseph Drouhin, one of the most respected houses in Burgundy, brings a French sensibility to its Oregon venture. When I first tasted this Chardonnay, I was floored. You pick up soft notes of oak backing the floral peach aromas with a touch of mineral. The flavors are a round and ripe mix of stone fruit, mango and papaya. The succulent finish is balanced by a nice kiss of acidity. Good now, but would reward a couple of years in the cellar.

Metrokane Rabbit Wine and Champagne Sealer, $7

Sometimes the simplest innovations are the best. Unlike other closures that only work on sparkling wines by hooking over the neck, this device fits any bottle. Just insert it at the top and turn. The tighter you twist the tighter it seals. Works great for beer, as well; you'll want more than one.

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