Wine is the perfect gift: It’s sold all over the place, it comes in a wide range of prices, it’s easy to wrap (those festive wine bags are perfect, but a swaddling of tissue paper works, too), and almost everybody (teetotalers aside) likes it. Even people who know nothing about it appreciate the gesture and will almost certainly be grateful when they pop the cork.
For those who need a good very-last-minute Christmas gift (or something nice to bring to a between-holidays fête), here are 10 bottles at various prices — all of them good, thoughtful presents.
Segura Viudas Brut Heredad Reserva NV ($19)
Forget prosecco: This reasonably priced sparkler from Spain’s Catalonia region comes in a beautiful gift-worthy bottle and offers the drinker a mildly yeasty nose, a pinpoint mousse, and plenty of round, apple-y fruit outlined by a halo of refreshing acidity. A classy apéritif.
Rene Geoffroy Brut Rosé de Saignée 1er Cru NV ($52)
There may be no wine more festive than rosé Champagne. This one, from a grower in Ay, France — pinot noir country par excellence — is packaged in a gracefully shaped clear bottle that shows off its beautiful ruby hue. The wine, made by the uncommon saignée method (in which some of the juice is “bled” off the must to concentrate the color and flavor) is fresh and lively with an intense berry flavor and surprising depth and almost red-wine-like structure. Lovely food wine.
Dom Pérignon Michael Riedel Limited Edition 2006 ($200)
This one is admittedly sort of a show-off gift bottle with a green-spangled label designed by German artist Riedel (no relation to the Austrian wine-glass family of the same name). The wine, from an excellent (comparatively) recent vintage, is richer and rounder than some examples of this standard-setting premium Champagne, with a fresh, ripe character that lets the pinot noir shine through.
Donnafugata SurSur 2015 ($20)
Here’s a widely distributed, easy-to-drink, thoroughly enjoyable white from Sicily (the grape is grillo) — the kind of wine gift you hope the recipient will open and pour for the two of you instead of stashing it away. The wildflower nose and peach-and-apricot flavor (it might remind you of a rich, less grassy sauvignon blanc) should brighten any winter table.
Domaine de la Vougeraie Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot Vougeot 2013 ($160)
For the lover of pricey California chardonnay, this extremely elegant, opulent white Burgundy, from an ancient property in the Côte d’Or, might come as something of a surprise — no alcoholic heat, no overbearing vanilla – but it really is an extraordinary expression of the grape. (Trivia: The appellation actually allows small percentages of pinot blanc and pinot gris to be added to its wines, and this bottle has the tiniest touch of each.)
K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah 2014 ($27)
Who would have suspected that some of the best syrah in the New World would come from the Wahluke Slope region of eastern Washington State? Well, idiosyncratic Washington winemaker Charles Smith, for one. This wine should delight any fan of syrah-heavy Rhône (or Californian “Rhône Ranger”) wines. It has all that juicy, plummy flavor the best of those wines exhibit, with plenty of spice, a hint of tapenade, and a savor of Provençal scrub. Luscious stuff.
Ridge Vineyards Hooker Creek Zinfandel 2014 ($32)
If a Martian (or even a Frenchman) once day importunes you and demands, “What’s this ‘zinfandel’ of which you speak?” I’d suggest reaching for a bottle of Ridge. For more than half a century, the winery has pretty much defined zinfandel at its best, in varied but consistent styles, and the Hooker Creek is a model of what they do so well. This is intense wine, chewy and deep, with suggestions of dried fruit and chocolate (and maybe licorice), plenty of tannin, and a lingering aromatic finish. Real wine.
Troon Black Label G*S*M 2014 ($50)
Speaking of Rhône-style wines from the Pacific Northwest, this more or less half-and-half blend of syrah and mourvèdre (the “G” — grenache — comes in at only 4.2 percent) is a mouthful of wine, but not an inky monster. Its faint grapey sweetness is nicely balanced by medium tannin and a touch of forest-floor funkiness. Spring this one blind on a knowledgeable connoisseur and see where the guesses go.
Tignanello 2013 ($110)
The original “super-Tuscan” and still one of the best — a classy, Antinori-made blend (sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon in an 80/20 ratio this vintage) that manages to combine freshness and spice with a faintly leathery old-wine complexity.
Joseph Phelps Insignia 2013 ($250).
Pretty much a foolproof high-end gift for somebody you want to impress. Insignia is the original “Meritage” wine and still, consistently, one of the best. This is the 40th anniversary bottling of this pricey but classically Californian creation, almost 90 percent cabernet sauvignon, with bits of merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot. Everything you’d expect in a top Napa cabernet is here — the mint, the eucalyptus, the rich berry fruit, the hint of stone, the deep shadow of oak — and it’s all in perfect harmony.