It’s not like the holidays aren’t stressful enough, now with COVID and everything else I know that a lot of us are ready to pull our hair out. I was talking with Jill the other day and she was saying how difficult it is to buy for me because, generally, when I want something, I go buy it. What can I say? I was a bachelor for the first 47 years of my life. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of potential gifts for the people that have everything. These wines are for people who love wine like I do. Many of them I consider my “bucket list wines”. There’s a lot to process here but I think you’ll find it interesting. Here is a list of very rare, amazing wines that could make your holiday shopping easier:
2008 Pol Roger, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill $299.99
2008 was one of the greatest vintages in modern history and we have a long history with this brand. We buy all that comes to the state of this mark. Here’s what the Wine Spectator has to say about it: 96-Points. This lovely, elegant version is more about restraint and finesse than power, caressing the palate with a silky mousse and a finely woven range of ripe Asian pear, biscuit and star fruit flavors, accented by elderflower, ground ginger and almond skin notes. Lightly mouthwatering, expanding on the chalk-tinged finish. Drink now through 2033. 700 cases imported
2016 Catena, White Bones Chardonnay $119.99
I realize it seems a bit odd to start this list off with Chardonnay from Argentina but work with me on this one. There are two high altitude Chardonnay vineyards that the Catena’s farm, White Stones and White Bones. Now, in fairness, this is a lot of money to spend on Chardonnay. Having said that I would stack these wines up against Premier and even some Grand Cru White Burgundies, which as you know are vastly more expensive than this. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it 96-Points and here’s what they have to say about it: 96-Points. The slow ripening provided the 2016 White Bones Chardonnay with a little more structure while retaining the very high acidity. The vines, at 1,500 meters in altitude, are planted on limestone-rich soils and didn’t need watering in 2015, as it rained a lot more than usual and allowed for a more natural balanced crop. This has 13.1% alcohol and an amazing eight grams of acidity measured in tartaric acid. It’s a lot more serious, like an austere version of the 2015, with the balsamic and floral aromas more in the background. It has a sharper palate with pungent flavors and superb delineation and purity. This is precise like a laser cut, mineral, salty and veeeery serious and compact. Superb! 4,800 bottles were filled in July 2017.
Malbec (trust me on this one)
2016 Catena Zapata, River Stones, Malbec $199.99
I have done blind tastings of this wine against Opus, Insigna and Chateau Latour and it has won every time for a fraction of the price. The most famous vineyard in Argentina has historically been Adrianna. Several years ago, after decades of study, the Catena family further subdivided this vineyard into distinct plots. They are, Fourtuna Terrae, Mundus Bacillus and River Stones and the last, while not the most expensive, is my favorite. The Wine Advocate seemed to like it as well as they gave it a perfect 100-Points. Here’s their comments: 100-Points. Like the other Malbec from Adrianna Vineyard, the 2016 Adrianna Vineyard River Stones was bottled a little earlier, and the time in oak was shortened. It was a most unusual year that was cold and rainy and allowed for no irrigation. This has good ripeness and sharp acidity, making it powerful but extremely fresh, with a backbone of acidity that lifts the wine up and makes it extremely long and persistent. In fact, the wine blows me away with an unusual combination of power and elegance; it shows detailed and nuanced, with subtle aromas of violets, spices, tobacco and wet chalk. It has a velvety texture with ultra-refined, fine-grained tannins. It is precise in the acidity and on the palate, with textbook chalky tannins and a sapid, almost salty finish. This is serious, austere, mineral, long, compart, harmonious and concentrated, yet it feels light and has that somewhat contradictory powerful elegance. This has to be the best wine ever produced at Catena. I’d love to have a time machine and taste this wine in 20 years’ time.
2017 Domaine Comte Georges de Vouge, Chambolle-Musigny $359.99
A premier cru offering from one of the greatest Burgundy producers. This wine is a collector’s dream and a chance to dip your toe into the rarified world of Premier and Grand Cru Burgundy without having to take out a second mortgage. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it 92-Points and here’s what they have to say about it: 92-Points As readers will know, the 2017 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru consists entirely of declassified your vine Musigny, and the wine naturally bears a certain resemblance to its big brother, unfurling in the glass with aromas of ripe cherries, cassis, dark chocolate and Indian spices. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, ample and fleshy, with a nicely concentrated core of fruit that’s still quite primary having finished its malolactic fermentation only in June/July, framed by a chalky underlying tannins and juicy acids. Review date: January 2019
2009 Chateau Pichon Lalande $259.99
This wine has been aging in our fine wine room since it was first released and should be drinking perfectly right now with some great potential to continue aging. 95-Points from the Wine Enthusiast and 94-Points from the Wine Spectator. Here’s what the Spectator has to say about it: 94-Points The ripe red currant, blackberry and boysenberry fruit is layered with black licorice snap, fruitcake and plum sauce notes. Has the fleshier edge of the vintage but retains a solidly racy graphite spine through the finish. A step behind the ’10 in density and energy, though hardly a slouch.–Non-blind Pichon Lalande vertical (July 2014). Best from 2018 through 2035. 15,000 cases made.
2009 Oddero, Vignarianda, Barolo Riserva $199.99
Perhaps the only thing I don’t love about Barolo is that so often you have to hold it for years before it really shines. Because Barolo in general and from the Vignarianda Vineyard specifically are so tight when they are young the Oddero family holds this wine back for a decade before release. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it 96-Points and here’s what they have to say about it: 96-Points. Again, this wine is typically released ten years after the harvest, and so in the case of the 2009 Barolo Riserva Vignarianda, we are right on time. Balsamic notes and lovely shades of spearmint lift from a bouquet that offers so much green and herbal intensity. This is a delicate and ethereal expression and a very special wine that has little primary fruit or secondary aromas left. The bouquet has moved fully into the tertiary realm with those fleeting and ephemeral perfumes that rise so gently. This vintage does not have the same density and darkness that you get in the similarly warm 2011, edition, and that won’t be missed. I prefer this wine to the 2011 vintage, but I would also suggest a shorter drinking window here.
2016 Gaja, Barbaresco, Sori San Lorenzo $599.99
Angelo Gaja has single handedly transformed how the world sees Piedmont. I don’t have enough time to go into how influential he has been. We actually have three different single 2017 single vineyard wines at this price, Sori San Lorenzo, Costa Russi and Sori Tildin. This wine is one to keep. Best case scenario I wouldn’t drink this wine until 2027 and it will live for decades after that. This is a 2017 birth or marriage gift wine for sure. In the interest of brevity, I am only giving one description, but they are all amazing. By the bottle they are each amazing. Here’s what Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate has to say about the San Lorenzo: 95 Plus-Points. The 2017 growing season saw a couple of violent hail events in the Barbaresco appellation, and this celebrated vineyard suffered some damage during a storm that hit on July 19th. Yields were reduced, but the wine holds its own thanks to the careful fruit selection process put in place by the Gaja family. This wine is a shade richer in terms of flavor concentration, as is always the case with fruit from this slightly warmer growing site. However, like the other two single-vineyard Barbaresco expressions, this wine reveals a thin, sharp and nervous personality that is driven in large part by tannic firmness and acidity. Sori San Lorenzo adds lots of dark mineral definition to cassis, wild cherry, rose and Provence herbs. Like the other wines, it needs extra cellar aging time. Here’s the kicker, you purchase a complete six pack with two each of these wines you save $120.00 a bottle.
2017 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
When people discuss the greatest wines of Tuscany the term “Super Tuscan” invariably comes up and no conversation about these wines would be complete without discussing Sassicaia. One of the three original Super Tuscan wines it’s definitely a wine ever wine lover should have at least once. Here’s what the Spectator has to say about it: 95-Points. A taut, densely wrought red, with black currant, black cherry, iron, wild herb and spice flavors matched to the elegant frame and restrained character. Balanced and long, this has a distinctly Old World feel and looks set to unravel its complex facets slowly. Terrific length. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2022 through 2043. 25,000 cases made, 4,000 cases imported. — BS
1980 Warre’s Vintage Porto $184.99
This is a wine from an unsung vintage that is just now hitting its stride. This is a Port you can buy now and enjoy now. Here’s what Robert Parker had to say: This house makes rather restrained yet rich, flavorful vintage port. Their vintage ports seem slow to develop, and while they never quite have the voluptuous richness of a Dow, Graham or Fonseca, they have a unique mineral-scented character that gives them their own complexity and style. The 1980 is backward, firm, and has yet to reveal its true personality. (This was written in 1988)
2016 Graham’s Vintage Port $149.99
This is Port for the collector. If you buy this plan on putting it in the back of your cellar for a decade at least. I’ve had this wine and it’s a monster. Nowhere near ready to drink but you can see hints of the greatness to come. Here’s what Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate has to say about this 95-Point wine: 95-Points. A bit bigger than Dow’s this year, this is more intense as well. The better wine of these two benchmarks seems to be this Graham’s. Tight on the finish, aromatic and very flavorful, this actually opens rather well and shows off its lovely fruit. The Dow’s will be approachable a bit earlier, perhaps, and this may reward aging even more. As always, Graham’s is wonderfully delicious. That’s one hallmark of the house.
Remember our discount program. Buy six to 11 bottles and receive 10% off, buy 12 or more and receive 15% off. So if you plan to buy any of these wines as a gift for yourself or someone else the strategic move would be to start with these and then fill up your cart with more everyday drinkers so you can get the benefit of the discount on these premium priced wines. I don’t have a ton of stock on any of these so if you are interested please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
V&T General Manager