How do you shop for someone who seems to have everything? If you’ve ever looked for a gift for a serious wine collector, you’ve likely run into this problem. My uncle collects high-quality Sangiovese and already owns hundreds of bottles of this variety; for his 60th birthday last year, I didn’t want to get him something that he already had, and I wanted the gift to be extra special for this milestone celebration. So, I got him a 2006 Soldera Case Basse Toscana Sangiovese, a wine that has become rarer since vandalism at the estate in 2012 destroyed a large amount of several vintages and made Case Basse wines even harder to come by. He said it’s one of the best gifts he’s ever been given.
Rare wine gifts have the power to impress experienced and beginner wine enthusiasts alike. Most wine collectors appreciate the history and unique qualities of a rare bottle. Whether you’re looking for a rare wine as a gift for someone who’s impossible to shop for or you want to show the wine enthusiast in your life just how much you appreciate them, this guide will help you find the most gift-worthy bottles.
What Is a Rare Wine?
A rare wine is any high-quality bottle that is difficult to find on the secondary market. The four factors that make a wine particularly rare are:
- Made in a limited quantity. Some producers (in Pomerol for example) only make a few cases of wine each year.
- Age. Wines naturally get rarer with age. A bottle of 1986 Château Lafite Rothschild is more difficult to find today than it was when it was first released because many of these bottles have already been opened.
- Special circumstances or history. In the past, producers in Burgundy have collaborated on special wine vintages. These one-off wines may never be made again, so they’re particularly unique and often in high demand. Winemakers may also experiment with new styles or blends in small quantities. Or, a particular vintage could be a milestone year for the estate, such as the last wine the chief winemaker made before retiring.
- Provenance. Ex-château wines are among the rarest of all wines. It’s difficult to find an older bottle that has never exchanged hands and has perfect provenance.
If your gift recipient is knowledgeable about wine, then they will immediately recognize how much effort it took to find that special bottle.
The reason that these types of wines make great gifts is that they are true collectors’ items. Only a limited number of people get to own these bottles, and your gift recipient will be one of those lucky few. Rare wine gifts also show your gift recipient that you put thought into their gift. Giving wine as a gift means finding out your gift recipient’s tastes and locating a trustworthy wine merchant that has the bottle in stock and in good condition. If your gift recipient is knowledgeable about wine, then they will immediately recognize how much effort it took to find that special bottle. If you’re shopping for gifts for a selective wine collector or you want to celebrate a big event, like a milestone birthday or an anniversary, then rare wine gifts are an excellent choice.
The Best Rare Wine Gifts from the Old World
Finding an impressive gift for someone who already has a cellar full of top-tier Old-World wines like Château Margaux or Château Lafite Rothschild can be challenging. Rare wine gifts from the Old World are a great option. While any wines from top producers in the Old World make worthy gifts, rare bottles are that much more special.
We’ve created a list of some of our favorite rare wines from the Old World:
- 2005 Château Lafite Rothschild
- 2005 Château Margaux
- 2005 Château Angélus
- 1993 Château Mouton Rothschild Nude Balthus Label
- 1990 Château Montrose
- 2014 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Bèze Les Ouvrées Rodin
- 2005 Domaine Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras Premier Cru
- 1993 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes
The Rhône Valley
- 2016 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée XXL
- 2007 Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Deux Frères
- 2005 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus Ex Machina
- 2008 Ornellaia Masseto
- 2008 Gaja Langhe Sorí Tildin
- 2006 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva
- 1997 San Guido Sassicaia
- 1993 Dal Forno Amarone della Valpolicella Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta
- 1970 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
- 2007 Salon Le Mesnil
- 1998 Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Cuvée Rare
- 1995 Charles Heidsieck Brut Blanc des Millénaires
- 1992 Philipponnat Brut Clos des Goisses
All of the wines above are rare, but that isn’t the only reason that they make great gifts. They also received high scores from notable wine critics and have excellent aging potential. However, keep in mind that some Old-World wines may be rare and collectible but are already past their peak or not meant to be drunk yet. When you shop for rare wine gifts, consider whether your gift recipient would prefer to drink the wine or keep it as a trophy and whether they have a way to store the wine if it needs time to age.
The Best Rare Wine Gifts from the New World
Many wines from the New World are rare because they are released in very limited quantity by small-scale producers. For instance, all Sine Qua Non wines are rare because this producer only makes a small number of cases in each style every year and never makes the exact same wine twice. Every new release is given a distinctive name and has unique artwork on the bottle’s label, making these wines unique additions to a collection. Rare wines like these are ideal for wine enthusiasts who enjoy the taste of bold New-World wines and are constantly seeking out exciting new tasting experiences.
New-World wine labels sometimes feature unique, bold artwork that you won’t find on most Old-World bottles.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite rare New-World wines:
- 2006 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
- 2006 Colgin Red IX Estate
- 2006 Opus One
- 2006 Harlan Estate The Maiden
- 2005 Colgin Cariad
- 2004 Sine Qua Non Grenache Ode To E
- 2003 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon T6 Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard
- 2003 Sine Qua Non Syrah The Inaugural Eleven Confessions
- 2000 Sine Qua Non Incognito
- 1997 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard
The rare wine you choose will depend on your gift recipient’s personality and taste. The look of the wine bottle may also influence your selection. New-World wine labels sometimes feature unique, bold artwork that you won’t find on most Old-World bottles. This may be appealing if you’re shopping for someone who loves art or collects unusual wine bottles, as these labels are works of art in their own right. Sine Qua Non, Kenwood Vineyards, and Leeuwin Estate have all used existing artwork or commissioned new artwork for their wines’ labels.
How to Give Rare Wines
Rare wine gifts are impressive by nature, so it’s not necessary to add any extra elements to the gift. Simply wrap the bottle in festive paper or place it in a simple wooden gift box and let the quality of the wine speak for itself. However, if you want to add a more personal touch, consider a useful wine-related addition, such as monogrammed wine glasses, gourmet snacks that pair well with the wine you chose, or the gift of professional wine storage. Any collector will appreciate the gift of professional storage, but it is particularly thoughtful if you plan to give your gift recipient a bottle with aging potential.
Time and place are other factors to consider when you give someone a rare bottle of wine. A crowded party may not be the best time to give a rare wine gift because it can get lost in the shuffle. Instead, consider offering your gift during dinner or at a smaller gathering, as these are situations in which the recipient can more fully appreciate the surprise. When you find the perfect moment to give someone a fantastic rare wine, they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.
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 finest wine.