With the holiday season having arrived, here are gift ideas for wine lovers, be they family, friends or yourself:
“A Year of Good Wine” daily calendar (Workman Publishing; $15): Wine expert Karen MacNeil’s desktop calendar provides 365 daily tips, comments and quizzes designed to help any wine lover better understand and enjoy wine.
“A Perfect Union of Contrary Things” by Sarah Jensen with Maynard James Keenan (Backbeat Books; $30): The interesting, multi-dimensional life of Arizona winemaker and rock star Maynard James Keenan encourages readers to follow their own dreams.
Columbia Crest 2015 “Syrah, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley” ($12): This impressive buy is attractively purple-tinged to the eye and both strong and complex to nose and palate. Medium-soft tannins and a lengthy finish add to the enjoyment.
Vale do Bomfim (by Dow) 2015 red blend “Douro, Portugal” ($13): The deep purple color of this blend suggests a powerful wine, and it delivers strength, complexity, full-body and a long finish.
King 2016 Pinot Gris “Willamette Valley” ($19): Hints of gold in the glass announce a quality wine with character. There’s strong fruit on nose and palate, along with fine balance, medium-full body and prolonged length.
Warre’s non-vintage Port “Warrior, Finest Reserve, Porto, Portugal” ($19): The oldest mark of Port in the world, Warrior exudes a wonderful nose featuring strength and complexity. Very rich with strong fruit on the palate and great length.
Santa Margherita 2013 “Chianti Classico Reserva, Italy” ($22): Strongly pleasing across the board with its purple-hued color, along with strength and complexity on the nose and excellent balance, refined style and extended length on the palate. Features more fruit than most Chianti.
Girard 2015 Chardonnay “Russian River Valley, Sonoma County” ($24): Beautiful in the glass with its depth of color foretelling forward flavors, full body, finely honed balance and impressively lingering finish. Well made, well priced for its high quality.
Meiomi 2016 Pinot Noir “Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma Counties” ($25): Broadly appealing, regardless of one’s experience with wine. Its color is mesmerizing, and the nose impresses with strength and complexity. Forward, excellently balanced fruit on the palate.
Tommasi 2014 red blend “Ripasso, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Italy” ($25): Fine color hue and depth is followed by attractive complexity on nose and palate. Good fruit, but beautifully emphasizes a lean style with pleasing tannins, balance and finish. A very good food wine.
Tikal 2013 red blend “Amorio, Mendoza, Argentina” ($29): Amorio indeed! This blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc is luminescently purple-hued in the glass, superbly balanced between richly expressive fruit and finely crafted acidity, beautifully integrated and wonderfully refined. Available online.
Taylor Fladgate non-vintage Port “Reserve, Tawny, 325th Anniversary, Porto” ($38): The eye-catching bottle commemorates the winery’s 325 years, and the palate-catching wine has power and complexity on both nose and palate and excellent integration and refinement. An outstanding buy!
Luca 2014 Malbec “Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina” ($40): This beauty takes Malbec to a high level, with a seamlessly expressive nose and a personality featuring refinement, rich body and beautiful integration. Exceedingly long and engaging on the finish.
Parrish Family 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve, Paso Robles” ($52): This wonderful Cabernet exudes rich, Paso Robles fruit, but there’s much more, including deep color, power on nose and palate, silky smooth texture and great length. Available online.
Ferrari-Carano 2013 red blend “Trésor, Sonoma County” ($55): This Cabernet-based blend from one of my favorite wineries is gorgeous in the glass, as well as exceedingly smooth, rich, refined, thick-bodied, complex and well-integrated.
Nicora 2015 red blend “Euphoria, Le Vista Vineyard, Adelaide District, Paso Robles” ($58): Oh my, this Grenache-based wine with a touch of Syrah impresses with powerful complexity on nose and palate, bold rich fruit, extended length and more. Available online
Fulcrum 2015 Pinot Noir “Anderson Valley” ($59): Fulcrum produces some of my favorite California Pinot Noirs. Strong and complex on nose and palate, this beautifully made wine exudes richness, fine balance, smooth tannins and great length. Available online.
Wines $60 and higher
Grgich Hills 2014 Chardonnay “Miljenko’s Selection, Carneros, Napa Valley” ($60): This excellent wine shines on the palate, featuring beautiful full-bodied fruit, excellently honed balance, light well-integrated oak and a long-extended finish. Available online.
Mollydooker 2016 Shiraz “Carnival of Love, McLaren Vale, Australia” ($75): My holidays wouldn’t be complete without a ‘dooker, and this Shiraz is a fine choice combining strength and refinement, along with rich fruit, beautifully rounded tannins, core complexity and great length.
Tommasi 2013 red blend “Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Italy” ($80): This fine wine impresses with purple hue in the glass, along with strong fruit and powerful complexity on nose and palate. Exudes a widely appealing personality and lingers long on the finish.
Leeuwin 2013 Chardonnay “Art Series, Margaret River, Australia” ($90): One of the most refined Chardonnays I tasted in 2017 features beautiful, full-bodied strength on the palate with wonderfully honed balance, light oak, great complexity and a prolonged length. Available online.
Ehlers 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “1886, St. Helena, Napa Valley” ($110): This exceptional Cabernet impresses with great strength, thick body, beautifully balanced fruit, highly attractive tannins, engaging structure and great power and length on the finish. Available online.