Liquid Gifts: From cash-strapped friends and rich uncle Bob

We ask our friends of the vine (and the barley) to suggest both great buys and the ultimate gifts for our annual rich uncle/cash-strapped friends column.

We are looking for soulful wines and spirits, the offbeat producers and regions, the not-Parker-rated beauties, always of course, with an eye for value. We asked for the finds, the hidden gems, the too-good-to-be-true wines and spirits.

We asked for a delightful gift, one under $25, something we’d love to receive from that friend with more taste than money; and the other, a sky-is no-limit bottle that anyone would be thrilled to find under the tree from the wealthy and generous relative we call Uncle Bob.

What a selection we have for you! Suggestions range from vintage bubbles to rare single malts, expressive whites to cheap and cheerful under $20 reds, even a deliciously fresh and frothy artisan cider. There is something on this list for all wine and spirit lovers for all occasions.

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Pergolas Old Vines Tempranillo (Valdepeñas, Spain), $14

“Viva old vines! A fabulous fiesta of a wine with blueberry and blackberry notes, a touch of earth, vanilla and some mineral, you won’t wait for mañana to open a bottle. After the first tasty sip you’ll be so shocked by the low cost you may run out to get a case. ¡Ay, qué bueno!”

From the rich uncle

2003 Capezzana ‘Ghiaie della Furba’ Toscana Rosso IGT (Tuscany, Italy) 3L (back vintage), $300

“This is the only time I want to hear the phrase ‘super size me.’ This super Tuscan (Cab, Merlot, Syrah blend) has loads of Tuscan character — distinct, deep and full-bodied, boasting intense aromas and flavours of dark fruits, leather, spices and coffee beans.”

Peter Seepish, City Cellars

10505 -123 Street, 780-420-1650

From the cash-strapped friend

2008 Velenosi ‘Il Brecciarolo’ Rosso Piceno Superiore (Le Marche, Italy), $20

“An aromatic and complex blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese from an under-appreciated region of Italy. Has body and persistence with marasca cherry and spice flavours, and the well-integrated tannins provide a warm, satisfying finish.”

From the rich uncle

1964 Bowmore Oloroso Sherry Cask (Islay, Scotland) $1,972

“Bottling of a single cask that produced only 300 bottles, part of the same batch of oloroso casks that produced the legendary Black Bowmore.”

Paulette Scott, Alberta sales manager, Pacific Wine and Spirits Inc.

From the cash-strapped friend

2011 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough N.Z.), $23

“Fantastic Sauvignon Blanc with great minerality; fresh, crisp and alive. Mouth filling — gorgeous lychee and elderflower matched by passion fruit and honeyed ripeness.”

From the rich uncle

Torres Jaime 1 Brandy (Penedes, Spain), $123

“A special blend from the oldest soleras (30 years) named for the founder, Jaime Torres Vendrell. Complicated, in the best way. Complex bouquet, with coconut, dried fruits and spices. Round, lush and velvety on the finish. Finger-licking amazing!”

Domenic Manocchio, The Wine Cellar

12421 102 Avenue, 780-488-9463

From the cash-strapped friend

2008 Kamiak Red Gordon Estates (Columbia Valley, Washington, USA), $24

“This well-balanced, medium-bodied blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot and Syrah possesses ripe red fruit and spicy pepper notes. Great just for sipping, would also work well with medium-hard cheeses, pork or poultry dishes.”

From the rich uncle

2009 Chambertin Domaine Trapet Père et Fils (Burgundy, France), $283

“A powerful wine, chock full of tannins and somewhat austere at this point. But when this Pinot Noir comes around, it is going to be gorgeous. Like many of Trapet’s offerings, patience and time usually lead to some seriously fine drinking down the road.”

Graham Usher and Bill Medak, Unwined Fine Wine, Spirits, and Ales

#2 512 St. Albert Trail, St. Albert, 780-458-4777

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Pergolas Old Vine Tempranillo (Valdepeñas, Spain), $14

“A great little wine that you’d want to take to dinner at a friends. Decent and quite approachable. Your friends will think that you are a wine genius.”

From the rich uncle

Auchentoshan 1978 Bourbon Cask (Glasgow, Scotland), $446

“This whisky is for the collector. If we could afford one, it would be very hard to resist opening the bottle. A superb single malt — a dram to savour.”

Erin Rosar, sommelier manager, Co-op Wine & Spirits

5962 Mullen Way, 780-432-2258

From the cash-strapped friend

2012 Louis Latour Chardonnay (Ardeche, France), $14

“The understated label and reasonable price may make you think is it ‘too-good-to-be-true.’ Can we really enjoy McIntosh apple, vanilla custard, lemon and hints of toasted almond flavours in a medium-bodied wine that pairs wonderfully with food at this price? Yes, we can!”

From the rich uncle

Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV (Champagne, France), $52

“Like most sommeliers, I love to show off sparkling wines, and how food friendly they are, any chance I can get. Notice the warm golden colour and lively bubbles that deliver rich aromas of apple, pear, lemon, toasted nuts, fresh rolls and soft oak. Perfect with traditional holiday meals, popcorn with butter, and sipping with good company.”

Lionel Usunier, owner, Keg n Cork Liquor Company

3845 99 Street, 780-461-0191

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Cameron Hughes Lot 250 Meritage (California, USA), $18

“It has a lovely peppery nose of raspberries and plum with saturated black cherry flavours and fresh acidity. This negociant is a ‘wine god.’ His wine always, always over-delivers.”

From the rich uncle

Bruichladdich DNA 36 year old Single Malt Scotch (Islay, Scotland), $800

“This unique one-off release is a blend of Bruichladdich’s oldest and rarest spirit. Extremely limited availability.”

9658 142 Street, 780-488-7800

From the cash-strapped friend

2011 Basa Blanco, Telmo Rodrigues (Rueda DO, Spain), $19

“This aromatic, full-bodied white wine is predominately Verdejo — an absolutely perfect autumn white expressing layers of aromas and flavours of tropical fruits, lime and crisp ripe apples, along with a deliciously creamy finish.”

From the rich uncle

2004 Tantalus Vineyards Traditional Method Riesling 1.5L (S.E Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, B.C.), $150

“The winemaker, David Paterson, considers this magnum of bubbly to be his best ever. Sold out in BC in a flash, but a few bottles are about in Edmonton. Classic aromas from the only ingredient, Okanagan Riesling — lime, wet stone and Granny Smith apples, and on the palate lemon cream, lime zest and honey-coated bubbles.”

Deb Pirker, territory manager, Grady Wine Marketing

From the cash-strapped friend

2008 Castillo de Almansa Reserva (Almansa DO, Spain), $12

“Expect spicy black fruit and toasty aromas, a touch peppery on the palate, with soft tannins. It’s the number one selling Spanish wine in western Canada for a reason — it’s an easy, everyday red wine that over-delivers at the price.” Pictured page 26, far left.

From the rich uncle

2008 Staglin Family Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford, Napa Valley, USA), $190

“This gorgeous, enticing, richly-flavoured wine is remarkable for its understated elegance and finesse, with subtle touches of green and black olive, dried currant, sage, cedar and dusty, loamy earth. Wows you with delicacy!”

Julie Ward, sales agent, Lifford Wines & Spirits

From the cash-strapped friend

2010 Map Maker Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ), $24

“Perfect example of classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc — intense aromas of passion fruit, fresh-cut grass and citrus grapefruit, and tasting of exotic guava, blackcurrants and elderflower.”

From the rich uncle

2008 Seña (Valle de Aconcagua, Chile), $120

“Seña is the iconic Chilean Bordeaux blend created by Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi — elegant and complex with abundant raspberry, blackberry and baking spice aromas and flavours, along with silky tannins. and great structure. Extraordinary cellaring potential.”

Alison Phillips, Aligra Wine & Spirits

West Edmonton Mall Entrance 58, 780-483-1083

From the cash-strapped friend

2010 LAYA Bodegas Atalaya (Almansa DO, Spain), $13

“This well-balanced Grenache Monastrell blend has a complex nose of ripe red fruits, a luscious mouth feel and a long, smooth finish.”

From the rich uncle

2009 Painted Rock Icon Red (Okanagan Valley, B.C.), $60

“This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cab Sauv, Petite Sirah and Syrah has a rich texture, succulent fruit and a surprising minerality. It’s wild yet sophisticated — a true expression of the unique terroir of the Skaha Lake escarpment.”

Ryan Everitt, Trialto Wine Group

From the cash-strapped friend

2011 Dearly Beloved ‘I Thee Red’ (Central Coast, USA), $20

“Dearly Beloved brings together Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Carignane to create a perfect union — aromas of dark cherry, plum and spicy vanilla oak with blueberry, black currant and toasted vanilla bean flavours.”

From the rich uncle

2009 Beaurenard Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhone Valley, France), $50

“An intense ruby colour with immense and complementary aromas of fruit, fur, smoke, mineral, nutmeg and gingerbread. Delicious now, after some time in a decanter, or cellar for up to 20 years. From one of the Rhone’s greatest producers — an ideal option for any serious wine connoisseur.”

Tara Smith, wine and spirits manager, Sherbrooke Liquor

11819 St. Albert Trail, 780-455-4556

From your cash-strapped friend

2009 Le Vieux Pin ‘Le Petit Blanc’ (South Okanagan, B.C.), $23

“Because of my summer spent in the gorgeous southern Okanagan Valley working in the tasting room at Le Vieux Pin, I’m a little partial to their wines. This is a fun, easy-drinking white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and a smattering of others.”

From your rich uncle

2004 Veuve Cliquot Le Grand Dame (Champagne, France), $436 (1.5L)

“If my rich uncle were to leave a bottle for me under the tree, I would hope it’s a large bottle of Le Grand Dame. I happen to be a bit of a ‘bubblehead,’ believing that if most of the world had a glass of bubbly every day, it would be a more pleasant place. Champagne also happens to be incredibly versatile and pairs well with most foods. Finally, if you get a large bottle, you can share it with more friends, which is the best part of enjoying nice wine.”
Pictured page 27, left.

Sandi Hollas, Peller Estate

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Peller Estates Private Reserve Syrah (Okanagan VQA, B.C.), $23

“Pepper, smoke, raspberry, cherry, mint and savoury spices, with a herbal note. The palate is chocolaty, smoky and carries a lot of oak, all in a crowd-pleasing style suitable for barbecues big and small.”

From the rich uncle

2011 Sandhill Small Lot Viognier (Okanagan VQA, B.C.), $39

“A beautifully aromatic white — tangerine, peach, apricot, floral and yellow plum. Juicy peaches, sweet citrus and ripe apple flavours in a dry, medium-bodied style with the rich mouth-feel characteristic of Viognier. The finish lingers with refreshing flavours of tangerine, lemon drop, and white peach.”
Pictured page 27, right.

Anita Jarmolicz, International Cellars

From the cash-strapped friend

2011 El Petit Bonhomme (Jumilla, Spain), $15

“Sweet generous aromas, plummy red fruits, full body and soft tannins from a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha and Syrah. The winemaker is Montreal-born Nathalie Bonhomme. Delicious wine, superb value.”

From the rich uncle

2006 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Barossa Shiraz (Barossa Valley, Australia), $75

“Stonewell is made from the very best of the Lehmann growers’ Barossa Shiraz vineyards, a dozen small old vineyards, the oldest planted in 1885. These sites produce sparse bunches with tiny berries, creating a wine of intense flavour, strength, opulence, a velvety finish and remarkable longevity. Excellent with rare roast beef, or lamb rack, also a wonderful partner to mature cheddar and fresh crusty bread.”

Hayley McRae, Artisan Wines

From the cash-strapped friend

2010 Valle dell’Asso Mazzo Rosso (Puglia, Italy), $15

“A fresh, medium-bodied Negroamaro and Cabernet blend tasting of tobacco, plum and cinnamon. Perfect for dinner with friends or fireside drinks.”

From the rich uncle

Francois Voyer Napoleon Cognac (Cognac, France), $100

“This complex and elegant Grand Cru Cognac is aged between 14 and 20 years, with compelling aromas of jasmine, peaches, vanilla and spice. Voyer Napoleon is the Cognac of choice of uber-chef Alain Ducasse, and it is a perfect pairing with most cigars.”

From the cash-strapped friend

Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Femier Bio (Normandy, France), $12

“The domaine’s orchard is planted with several ancient varieties of cider apples — Bisquet, Binet Rouge, Clos Renaux, Peau de Chien, Petit Jaune — each making a contribution to the unique personality of this deliciously refreshing organic cider.”

From the rich uncle

2002 Bollinger Grande Année (Champagne, France), $200

“A blend of 60 per cent Pinot Noir and 40 per cent Chardonnay sourced from two thirds Grand Cru and one third Premier Cru vineyards. Always a precise Champagne, offering hints of marzipan, bread dough, baking spice.” Pictured page 26, right.

Valerie Albrecht, sales agent, Crush Imports

From the cash-strapped friend

2006 Bodegas Vinedos Del Jalon Claraval (Calatayud DO, Spain), $18

“Enticing aromas of black and dried fruit, followed by wafts of spice and balsam. The palate delivers savoury, ripe tannins, structure and balance. One sip, and I am transported to Spain.”

From the rich uncle

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum (Peru), $130

“A super-premium rum for the connoisseur, round and full-bodied, with a fine sweetness and flavours of dried fruits, toffee and cloves. Enjoy it pure, hand-warmed, with a good cigar or Valrhona chocolate, while admiring your recently acquired Rembrandt.”

Scott Parker, regional manager, Moët Hennessy Portfolio

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina), $19

“The Terrazas Reserva wines, hand harvested from select estate vineyards within the top districts of Mendoza, Tupungato, Vistalba, Perdriel and Cruz de Piedra, stand out for their aromatic intensity and complexity.” Pictured page 27, centre.

From the rich uncle

2007 Cheval des Andes (Mendoza, Argentina), $79

“The joint venture between Chateau Cheval Blanc and Terrazas, a Bordeaux-style blend of Malbec, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot, results in a magical encounter creating a refined and subtle, yet complex ‘grand cru’ of the Andes.” Pictured page 27, centre.

Natasha Susylinski, Treasury Estates

From the cash-strapped friend

2009 Maison Roche De Bellene (Burgundy, France), $23.

“A tasty, easy-drinking l pinot noir with red cherry and spice flavours and silky tannins from Nicolas Potel.”

From the rich uncle

2008 Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia), $1,100

This special release, 51 per cent Cab, 49 per cent Shiraz, possesses the classic Penfolds nose of cola, cinnamon, star anise and soy with dark fruits and spice flavours, balanced acids and tannins.”

All prices are approximate.