Holiday Wines: From your Rich Uncle and your Cash-Strapped Friend

Who best to know the hidden gems and best buys but the people who live and sell wine daily? We asked several agents, importers and merchants to make gift suggestions; one, that you would be thrilled to find under the tree from your rich uncle, and one from your not so financially well-endowed pals.

They have selected great buys from the south of France, a tremendous mixed case of Brunello, Cognac, ports and whiskeys. Dive in!

Barb and Susan Giacomin, Winequest Wine and Spirit Brokers,

Cash-strapped friend

2008 Renwood Sierra , Foothills Syrah
California, USA, $24

“Que Syrah, Syrah! Will I be juicy? (Yup.) Will I be full? (Oh yeah.) The future’s IS ours to see: time will give the already tasty, sweet blackberry and juicy plum flavours even more richness.”

Rich uncle

Col d’Orcia Poggio al Vento, Brunello Riserva Case of mixed vintages (1990, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001) in magnum
Tuscany, Italy, $3,600

“Back vintage release? Only two cases in Canada? Magnums? From a single vineyard considered one of Italy’s best crus? With some of the best vintages ever? Considered one of Italy’s best wines? Oh unkie… that’s amore!”

Paulette Scott, Pacific Wine & Spirits,

Cash-strapped friend

2009 Chapoutier Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillion Villages
Roussillon, France, $15

“This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan is supple and lively, with juicy red fruit flavours. If you haven’t tried French wine in a while, you’ll be surprised and impressed.”

Rich uncle

Taylors Fladgate Scion Tawny Port
Portugal, $3,700

“An extremely rare cask-aged, pre-phylloxera port dating to the mid-19th century uncovered recently in the village of Prezegueda, Corgo Valley. This is a port of extraordinary quality, rarity and historical interest as well as a memorable experience when drinking; reportedly, one of Winston Churchill’s favourite.”

Wade Brintnell, The Wine Cellar,

Cash-strapped friend

2006 Coriole Redstone Shiraz
Australia, $24

“A forward Shiraz with warm spice and berry flavours. Delightful on its own; will also taste great with your favourite beef dishes.”

Rich uncle

2008 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira
Argentina, $89

“Single vineyard Malbec made from 80 plus year old vines, growing at 3400 feet above sea level. This is an incredibly dense and rich Malbec, displaying a fine balance of elegance and power. But patience is the key, as this wine will easily age for 15 years or more. Only 825 cases were produced.”

Juanita Roos, Crestwood Fine Wines & Spirits,

Cash-strapped friend

2003 Domaine Gauby Les Calcinaires Cotes du Roussillon Villages
Roussillon, France, $25

“Elegant and captivating farmstead wine from a biodynamic farmer — a blend of 50 per cent Syrah, with Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. This hidden gem has all the wonderful flavours and aromas of aged French wine; well made, terrific value.”

Rich uncle

2007 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir
Santa Barbara, USA, $69

“Seven years after the release the movie Sideways, Hitching Post is finally available in Alberta. Remember Miles’ moment? Where he met Maya and ordered the Highliner? This wine is not just nostalgic, but rich, earthy and delicious as well.”

Natasha Susylinski, Treasury Wine Estates,

Cash-strapped friend

2006 Wynns Coonawarra
Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia, $22

“Blackberry, olive and mint on the nose lead into pure Coonawarra — dark berries, eucalyptus and warm vanilla flavours, with fine yet firm tannins and medium acidity. It’s 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, with 16 months in French and American oak, 43 per cent new oak. Available at most retail stores and fine wine boutiques.”

Rich uncle

2006 Penfolds Grange
Barossa Valley, Coonawarra Magill Estate Vineyard
Australia, $400-$450

“Penfold’s head winemaker Peter Gago describes Grange as ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove — beauty, grace, power and balance.’ The intoxicating aromas of fig and quince, pepper and spice, are followed by flavours of dark berries, cola, dark chocolate, molasses, mint. Mostly Shiraz along with two per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, and aged 18 months in 100 per cent new American oak. Available at fine wine boutiques.”

Christina Masciangelo, Artisan Wines,

Cash-Strapped friend

2010 Zestos Jeromín
Tempranillo/Garnacha, Madrid, Spain, $15

“This fresh and fruity, medium-bodied red is produced from older, sustainably-farmed, low-yielding vines. Impress your friends over the season with this versatile, earth-friendly quaffer.”

Rich uncle

Francois Voyer XO Gold Cognac
France, $195

“Serious, hand-crafted cognac sourced from the top vineyards in Cognac by a family-owned house. Allow this beauty to unfold in the glass for several minutes before sipping, allowing the seductive aromas to transport you to a state of bliss. Arrival late-November in limited quantities; call your favourite wine shop to reserve a bottle.”

Valerie Albrecht, Crush Imports,

Cash-strapped friend

2008 Viñaguareña Barrica
Toro, Spain, $20.99

“A medium-bodied Tempranillo, with intense flavours of meaty red fruits. This tasty red deserves to be drunk with slow-roasted beef short ribs on a wintry night, while listening to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Available at Crestwood Wine Shop, Glenora Liquor and Lacombe Park Spirits.”

Rich uncle

2006 Cascina Adelaide
Preda Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy, $86

“Barolo is said to be the “king of wines and the wine of kings,” and this example from a single vineyard (cru) in Barolo doesn’t disappoint. The vivid plum and cherry aromas coupled with the scent of roses and violets lead to rich vanilla and chocolate flavours surrounded by full, ripe tannins. Available at DeVine, Liquid Harvest, Lacombe Park, Sublime, Unwined, Vines of Riverbend.”

Nathalie Mulder, Free House Wine + Spirits,

Cash-strapped friend

2008 Château Montfaucon
Côtes du Rhône Baron Louis, Rhone Valley, France, $24

“Impress your friends with this delightful little gem — drinks like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but at a fraction of the cost. An absolutely beautiful blend of six grapes, combining elegance with complexity and richness.”

Rich uncle

Bruichladdich Legacy V
Scotland, $399

“If Bob’s your uncle, then Bruichladdich Legacy V will be sitting under your tree. This gorgeous 33-year-old single malt is sure to delight any scotch connoisseur, with its long toffee finish and delicious notes of bourbon, vanilla and oak. Aged in a mixture of sherry and bourbon casks, only 1600 bottles made.”

Julie Ward, Saverio Schiralli Agencies,

Cash-strapped friend

2005 Rivera Cappellaccio Castel
del Monte Aglianico DOC, Puglia, Italy, $21

“Award winning Aglianico (ahl-YAHN-eh-koe) from south-eastern Italy — packed with complex aromas, ripe red fruit, spice and tanned leather. Like all Italian reds it is great with food, complementing roast meats and saucy dishes. At fine wine shops.”

Rich uncle

2006, 2007, 2008 Ridge Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon
California, USA, $165

“A revered and thrilling wine lovers dream gift, made from vines planted as early as 1949 high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Complex aromas and flavours: ripe mountain brambleberry, cassis and dark fruits, chocolate, exotic spice, toasted oak with elegant tannins. It’s often mistaken for first growth Bordeaux. Try to keep it in your cellar for a few years, if you can. It’s unusual to have three vintages of this steller wine in stores at one time. Limited quantities available at fine wine shops.”

Jeff Sparling, Fine Wines by Liquor Select,

Cash-strapped friend

2005 Château de Chasseloir Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine
Loire Valley, France, $24

“Produced from 100-year-old vines, this wine proudly speaks of its home at the Atlantic end of the Loire Valley — wet stone and minerals, brisk acidity and a salty tang that begs for shellfish. The richness of this sur lie bottling makes it an absolute treat to pair with a spicy seafood cataplana.”

Rich uncle
1965 Messias Colheita
Single Vintage Tawny Port, Portugal, $120

“A gorgeous, mouth-filling texture and seemingly endless complexity, with hints of nuts, citrus zest, fresh and dried fruit, spices along with flavours of caramel and honey. The ultimate fireside tipple.”

Jason Sanwell, Fluid Imports,

Cash-strapped friend

2009 Tahbilk Marsanne
Nagambie Lakes, Australia, $21

“Bright and crisp, with fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavours. My not-so-secret weekday pairing with this wine is ham and pineapple pizza. Available at Campbell Liquor, Crestwood, Devine, Liquor Depot Lendrum, Sherbrooke, Sublime Wines.”

Rich uncle

2004 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Tuscany, Italy, $130

“Terralsole is a family-owned winery in Montalcino producing a small number of hand-crafted wines. The Riserva is their flagship, intense and rich with amazing depth and complexity. Patience will be rewarded, if you have the self-restraint to keep this wine for at least another six years. Better yet, ask your uncle for two bottles, one for now and one for later. Available at Devine, Campbell Liquor, Liquor Select.”

Ryan Everitt, Trialto Wine Group,

Cash-strapped friend

Pares Balta Cava Brut
Penedes, Spain, $17

“The Cusiné family are some of the nicest people in wine and they make incredibly good wine with a keen eye for value. Cava is made in the traditional method (like Champagne) from the Spanish grapes Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel.lo. Pear and apple aromas lead to fresh, fruity flavours; dry with a soft, pleasing finish. Available at most fine wine shops.”

Rich uncle

2006 Telmo Rodriguez Matallana
Ribera del Duero, Spain, $110

“Telmo Rodriguez is so adamantly traditional he has become innovative in Spanish wine making. By choosing to focus on native Spanish grape varieties, recovering forgotten bush vine vineyards, and using concrete fermentation tanks, he is making some of the most exciting wines in Spain. This Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) has expressive aromas of toast, mineral, Asian spices, incense and blackberry opening to layers of flavour. Give it five years to fully blossom and drink through 2026. Available at fine wine shops.”

All prices are approximate. Not all wines available in all stores.