VINTAGES 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

12 Last Minute Wine Gifts for the Stocking, the Hosts and Someone Special
By David Lawrason, with notes from John Szabo, Sara d’Amato & Michael Godel

In the final rush toward Christmas we offer you a last-minute shopping list of personal favourites that are still in stock at least in some VINTAGES stores. We have divvied them up into three categories; wines for the stocking, wines for you to take for the host at a holiday gathering, and wines for someone special on your gift list.

For the Stocking

Wine bottles tend to hog space in a stocking itself, so you might want to place these bottles at the foot of the stocking, along with a sign for Santa saying “Don’t Touch Please (We Already Gave you Milk and Cookies).…

Vaucher Pere & Fils 2014 Fleurie, Beaujolais, France ($16.95)

David Lawrason – I have enjoyed this twice since it was released December 9th. There is cool, calm, complexity that makes it an almost perfect all-purpose red – sippable alone thanks to some maturity and mild tannin, light enough to go with heavier fish and poultry (maybe even turkey), yet complex enough to work with roasts and casseroles. Grilled steak maybe not. I have always admired Fleurie’s genteel charm, and this has it.

Vaucher Père & Fils Fleurie 2014Prunotto Barbera D'alba 2016Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2016

Prunotto 2016 Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy ($18.95)

Sara d’Amato – From the elegant packaging to the generous, perfumed aromas, this lively barbera looks and tastes a great deal more expensive than it is. Energetic and nervy, dry but with a sensation of sweet fruit, this is a deliciously drinkable, widely appealing wine is great to keep on hand for unexpected gatherings or last minute gifts.

Vasse Felix 2016 Filius Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia ($20.75)

Sara d’Amato – Chardonnay is a classic that never strays long from fashion. This example from the isolated, rocky coastal shores of Margaret River by the region’s founding producer is one for the ages.  Far from the rich, oaked aged examples that one has come to expect from Australia, this freshly defined version offers great purity, elegant oak treatment and a stylish mineral character. Affordable and sure to surprise your wine-loving recipient.

For The Host(s)

Here are suggestions for when you are dashing off to a Holiday party. Remember the etiquette is that the host is not obliged to open your gift bottle at the party itself, as they may have already carefully planned the types and quantity of beverages to be served. But in less formal situations the bottle you bring may well get opened. Hard to say. In any event, you want to display some largesse and sense of good taste, so go a bit upscale.

Tardieu Laurent 2015 Vieilles Vignes Vacqueyras, Rhône, France ($39.95)

Sara d’Amato – Although under the radar for some, the small region of Vacqueyras of the southern Rhône sandwiched between Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, has the capability of producing top-notch wines of authenticity and great finesse. Sensually peppery, this traditional blend exudes the floral muskiness of the sun-soaked valley and makes a great discovery wine for the sophisticate hostess.

Muga 2013 Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($25.95)

David Lawrason – I suggest Spain because it is hot right now and topical, yet perhaps unexpected as a gift. This Rioja is ideal as a host wine because it is balanced, supple and rich enough to be enjoyed now if opened at the party, and it will age well in case it ends up in the host cellar. As a VINTAGES Essential it should be available in most locations.

Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain ($39.95)

John Szabo – Spain has come on strong in 2017, and we’re finally starting to see more of what this sleeping giant of a country has to offer. Telmo Rodriguez is unquestionably one of the key figures leading the charge to greater international notoriety (see my recent interview with Rodriguez) and an example of why you should take Spain very seriously as a fine wine producer is his Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2011. This is a terrific wine for the price (and a terrific wine, period), complex, complete, judiciously oaked, balanced, vital, lively and, well, lovely. I could drink this all day. Tannins are finely tuned and acids firm and bright. ¡Viva España!

Tardieu Laurent Vieilles Vignes Vacqueyras 2015Muga Reserva 2013Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2011Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2013

Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2013, Tuscany, Italy ($50.95)

Michael Godel – San Lorenzo is the valley home to the 18th-century Pianigiani and Ricucci villas. The Castello di Ama San Lorenzo is made from vines solely planted in estate vineyards, of sangiovese 80 (per cent), merlot (13) and malvasia nera (7). It was an exceptional year for Gran Selezione (and Riserva for that matter), here in a traditionally calculated blend that uses just the minimum sangiovese quantity allowed under the rules of the denomination. It’s a highly floral affair, as a result and quite creamy, tangy and full of complex acidities. The most traditional I find of the Ama range, rooted in family and regional history going back further than many. It’s an expression of rustico and tannin, with a solid core of black cherry fruit and lots of leather, yet nary a moment of cured meat. Really sings an antediluvian song for the Sienese and perhaps even the Florentines.

For Someone Special (Who Loves Wine)

If you are still casting about for a fine wine gift for someone you know well, you should know what they like. Or perhaps you know they will be pleased by something off-beat. In any case you want to go premium, showing how much you care.

Le Vieux Donjon 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France ($65.95)

David Lawrason – Everyone loves good Chateauneuf, but it is not always top of mind. And again it is one of those wines that you can drink or hold. I would actually hold this new 2015 for three years to gain maximum enjoyment, but there is a certain lushness and poise that will make it appealing now as well. This was a great vintage, and the WineAlign team has given it 93s across the board.

Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf Du Pape 2015Faustino I Gran Reserva 1994

Faustino I Gran Reserva 1994, Rioja, Spain ($68.95)

Michael Godel – Nothing says I’ve put a lot of thought into your wine gift as much as an old bottle of wine. Lovely 23 year-old tempranillo aromas come through in the Faustino I Gran Reserva 1994 though not quite as old as you would imagine them to be. The volatility and American oak notes are present, the acidity quite fresh and the fruit still alive so a mix of vats and juices is perceived, if only imagined. Still quite tannic and chalky. This is an old Rioja guaranteed to be the centre of attention and the table conversation.

Domaine Servin’s Bougros Grand Cru Chablis 2013, Burgundy, France ($69.95)

John Szabo – This is one of the best whites I’ve tasted this year. It’s a stunning wine, and amazing value, all things considered, offering a gorgeously complex array of aromatics, rich, highly mineral, lightly honeyed and waxy, very pure and concentrated. The palate, too is amazingly dense and well structured – this is a big mouthful of wine – all the while keeping purity and freshness at the highest level. It’s like a honey-drizzled essence of rock in liquid form, and ready to enjoy or tuck in the cellar for another 5-10 years. A fine wine gift for that discerning friend.

Terralsole Vigna Pian Bossolino Brunello di Montalcino 2010, Tuscany, Italy ($100.95)

Michael Godel – As with many Vigna-designate Brunello produced in the 2010 vintage the depth of flavour character and pure sangiovese liqueur does more to attract attention than the firm grip of some vintages. Such is the case with the Terralsole Vigna Pian Bossolino 2010 Brunello di Montalcino. It makes these Brunelli seem evolved and developed but it’s just that they are showing their cards earlier and the question of quality in structure should not be challenged. This can be drunk earlier than both 2012 and 2011 (and even 2008) but its longevity will run with the best of those vintages. Terralsole is right up there with the best of them.

Domaine Servin Bougros Grand Cru Chablis 2013Terralsole Vigna Pian Bossolino Brunello Di Montalcino 2010Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino 2012

Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2012, Tuscany, Italy ($49.95)

John Szabo – I’ve always been a fan of the elegant side of sangiovese, a grape capable of incredible perfume, especially in the higher elevations of Chianti Classico and Montalcino. Caparzo delivers on the promise in their 2012 Brunello di Montalcino, a wine of lovely perfume, savoury-floral, pot pourri-inflected in the traditional style. I love the delicate, elegant yet also intensely flavoured palate, which beguiles with its subtlety and finesse, and broad range of flavours, not to mention the lingering, perfumed finish. Drink or hold this into the late ’20s.

And that’s a wrap (with a bow) on this edition.

David Lawrason
VP of Wine



Henry Of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc De Blanc 2011