This article first appeared in Santé Magazine on December 2023
The holiday season is officially in full gear. If you are looking for a last-minute idea, a special bottle of wine makes a fantastic gift. If you have a boss, a sibling, a spouse, a business partner, or a client who is an avid wine lover, this list is all you need. These 10 wines represent thought, sophistication, and elegance.
These wines are the perfect gift for that person who has an extensive collection or even a wine cellar. Any of the wines on this list will make a lasting impression. The best wines for gift-giving are from those producers with exceptional reputations and a long wine-making history with a focus on quality and terroir. If you want to make an impression, these ten wines are all you need.
Champagne Billecart Salmon Nicolas François 2008 (SRP $260) is a vintage bubbly for the Champagne lover on your list. This is a wine that can be consumed now or put away in their cellar. It has great texture with a strong personality and an incredible intensity curbed by its fully integrated low dosage. The finish develops towards notes of toasted bread and bergamot. This is an impressive vintage with great depth. Tense and mineral-driven, it is characterized by an elegant vinosity and offers you all the distinction of a well-aged champagne. A champagne that is well worth the splurge.
Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St. Jean Premier Cru 2019 (SRP $190) – This elegant white Burgundy is sure to be a hit if you have a white wine lover on your list. Michel Niellon has an incredible history of winemaking in Burgundy, having crafted more than 50 vintages of extraordinary wines. The perfumed nose on this 1er Cru is markedly floral with additional notes of white-fleshed fruit and soft spice nuances. The delicious, intense and vibrant flavors possess better depth and persistence on the slightly drier finale. A wine that should age well in the cellar.
Quintessa Napa Valley 2020 (SRP $250) is a highly collectible wine that is from the upper echelon of Rutherford Napa Valley with a cult-like following. Like every Quintessa vintage, 2020 is complex, concentrated, and fresh. A core of dark fruit—black cherry and cassis—is wrapped with a swirl of sweet clove spice and savory crushed herbs. Layers of structured tannins reveal the mineral character of Quintessa’s terroir in a distinctive year. From aromas and flavors to texture, structure, and sheer vibrancy, the wine is balanced, moving seamlessly into a juicy, polished finish. Quintessa is a wine that is sure to excite the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon lover on your list.
Chateau Lynch Bages 2020 (SRP $160) entices with its concentration as well as with the refinement of its tannins, which mingle with a beautiful freshness. 2020 is also an exceptional vintage for Bordeaux. Located at the gates of Pauillac, Château Lynch-Bages is a property that has left its mark on the history of the Médoc. Although the terroir of Bages has been known since the 16th century, it was in the 18th century that it gained fame. With the son of an Irish citizen named Thomas Lynch at the helm, the Bages vineyard was recognized at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Château Lynch-Bages is one of the finest references in the prestigious Pauillac appellation and a must-have for any Bordeaux wine lover.
Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille 2018 (SRP $280) is a rare and collectible wine. The Gaja name is the most internationally acclaimed Italian wine family. This 2018 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille has bright acidity that wakes up the palate giving a lovely, fresh, tangy finish. Bright, bitter-cherry flavors are accompanied by a Burgundy-like weight and texture with a very fine texture to the tannins. This is a beautifully lithe and lively wine full of energy. The wine has plenty of aging potential.
Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz Barossa Valley, Austrailia 2018 (SRP $850) – Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz is considered one of Australia’s “cult wines”. It is a rare, unique, and exceptional wine made from old vines from the luxury premium Hill of Grace site. The grace, elegance, history, and pedigree of Henschke are unlike any other wines from Australia. The palate is plush, deep, complex, and powerful, with a core of supple blackberry and blueberry fruit laden with spice and pepper, and beautifully balanced by fine acidity resolving into a long and elegant finish of rolling, velvety tannins. Hill of Grace wine is one of Australia’s most acclaimed single-vineyard releases, highly sought-after by collectors.
Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley, Chile 2019 (SRP $140) – Clos Apalta’s philosophy is as simple as it is ambitious: to express terroir in the wines, looking for excellence, elegance, and character in a handcrafted wine that can talk about the amazing place that is the Apalta Valley. Planted back in 1920 it also has deeply rooted grapevines averaging 60 years old that provide low yields and grapes with deep complex flavors. This flagship wine is designed to reflect the grand cru terroir of Apalta. Made from 64% Carmenere, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot, this is a wine for the connoisseur who is looking for a complex blend.
Biondi–Santi Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2020 (SRP $120) – In Montalcino, the Biondi Santi family invented Brunello, one of Italy’s prized glory when it comes to wines. The 2020 Rosso reflects the signature style of the high-altitude vineyards of the Biondi Santi estate and has a vibrant freshness and a distinct fruitiness that makes it thoroughly enjoyable at a young age. On the palate, it is vibrant and lively with fine-grained tannins, bright acidity, and succulent, crunchy fruit leading towards a long-lasting, savory finish. An elegant and charming vintage. This Rosso can be consumed now or will evolve gracefully in the cellar.
Quinta Da Côrte Porto Tawny 30-Year-Old (SRP $700) is a rare port that is made in limited quantities with only 200 bottles produced. It is not every day that an oenologist has the opportunity to find hidden treasures in Douro. Therefore, the creation of this Port wine was a very special process for Marta Casanova, Oenologist of Quinta da Côrte. This classy tawny immediately seduces you with the complexity of its aromas: currants, cinnamon, candied citrus fruit, coffee, cashew, caramel, walnuts… It is a sweet and harmonious blend with magnificent complexity. Every wine lover needs a Port to add to their collection, and this 30-year-old Tawny Port is the perfect choice.