Whenever I decide to give someone a bottle of wine for the holidays, I always have to take a buddy with me to the wine shop. Why? Because I know I’ll walk away with one gift bottle…and about 20 other bottles for myself. My buddy is there to make sure I get only what’s on my list, and not one bottle more. As a wine fanatic, it’s tough not to splurge during the holidays, especially with so many delicious wine options out there. Whether you’re looking for that perfect wine gift that will please the ultimate wine critic in your life, or you’re a collector wanting to spoil yourself a little, these are the absolute must-have vintages this season.
Any (I Repeat, Any) 2011 Port
Normally, I reserve all of my Port purchases for the winter, and I stick with the tried and true producers like Fonseca, Dow’s, and Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman. However, this year I broke my own rules, investing in a handful of experimental Port producers for the first time. In 2011, Port reached new heights in quality, and many critics call it the best vintage of the last 20 years. Not only was the weather warm and clear for most of the harvest season (which led to intense, rich wines), many producers decided to blend lesser-used grapes into their wines. Rather than the same Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Nacional that you see in most vintages, you’ll find hundreds of other rare grapes being used that give these wines a well-rounded, elegant profile.
Nearly every shipper declared 2011 as a vintage year, and this only happens once or twice per decade, if you’re lucky. It’s almost impossible to make the wrong Port purchase when you stick with this vintage. However, I still have a list of must-have wines, based on the personality of your giftee:
For the collector who dislikes “dessert” wine: 2011 Dow’s is the best choice. The wine has less residual sugar than most Ports on the market, giving it a drier feel overall. It’s also immensely complex, which makes it an ideal gift for people who love either red Bordeaux or brut vintage Champagne.
For the patient collector: Niepoort 2011 is built to last, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this wine reaches its peak 50 years from now or more. You could drink this bottle now, although it won’t truly reveal itself for another 10 years. This is a gift that will only continue to increase in value.
For the wine collector who has everything: Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha Port will probably make your giftee gasp when they see it. Just 310 cases were made from the estate’s oldest vines, and it has a heady, floral quality that can only be found in the world’s greatest Ports.
2012 Sine Qua Non Writing on the Wall
Wine collectors aren’t like casual wine drinkers. You can’t simply walk down to the grocery store and expect to find a bottle that will make their jaws drop. If you’re looking for a gift for someone extremely special, and you’re willing to splurge, I highly recommend any Sine Qua Non vintage, especially 2012’s Writing on the Wall. To start, every Sine Qua Non vintage is utterly unique, and the estate never makes the same bottle twice. This is a perfect gift for collectors because you can almost always find at least one bottle that they don’t yet own.
Writing on the Wall is an especially thoughtful gift if you can find a magnum that comes with the original collector’s edition art book set. I’ve received dozens of gift bottles in my lifetime, but I’ve never had one that came with its own gorgeous book set. The only problem with this gift is that it is extremely hard to find; the estate only sold 350 magnums. The good news is that the collector in your life has likely never seen one in person. If you manage to hunt this one down, you won’t have to worry that you’re getting a gift that your giftee already has.
All Three La La’s
Guigal’s La La’s are classic wines, and many collectors own at least one bottle. However, finding the same vintage of all three of these wines (La Mouline, La Turque, and La Landonne) can sometimes be difficult, especially as the wines get older. The La La’s are usually incredible wines that make a great gift on their own, but when you give them to a collector as a single set, they become even more special. When the time comes to open those bottles, you or your loved one can try each version in turn during the same tasting, savoring their small differences and deciding once and for all which is your favorite.
I recommend investing in the 2012 vintage, since critic Jeb Dunnuck found this vintage to be ideal for short-term cellaring. All three were given perfect or near-perfect scores, and La Turque in particular is considered the leader of the pack that year. La Landonne was also praised for its savory layers. La Mouline wasn’t far behind, with pure, refined notes. What makes this wine vintage gift unique is that you can pair it with a reservation at your favorite dinner spot. It’s not just about the wines, but about the experience of sharing them with the people you love.
If you’re still not sure what to get the serious wine collector in your life, try visiting your local wine shop and speaking with the experts. Come prepared with a list of the wines that you know your giftee already loves, and they should be able to help you find the perfect bottle. Alternatively, you can get a gift card to a wine marketplace so they can choose their own perfect wine. Whatever gift you end up choosing, make it exciting and tailored to your loved one’s palate.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.
By Jared Greenhill [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons