2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Wine

Most of us have at least one wine lover on our holiday shopping list. With that in mind, I tasted through a ton of different wines to find some I could recommend in different price ranges. I also tried out some wine-related gift ideas and have a suggestion there too. Each of these wines is delicious and offers more value than the price would indicate. Of course, these also make great choices for your holiday table.


Purple Heart 2014 Red Blend ($20)

This wine is predominately Merlot (80%) with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Petite Sirah (4%) and Petit Verdot (1%) blended in. It’s created in cooperation with the Purple Heart foundation, and each year, a donation is made to them. Dark fruits, violets and bakers spices light up the nose. The palate is bold and substantial with tons of black fruit flavors tinged by intermingling bits of red fruit. Wisps of roasted espresso, mocha and clove are all evident on the substantial finish. This is a delicious wine that helps a good cause.

Alcance 2014 Merlot ($22)

In addition to Merlot (90%), some Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) was blended in. All of the fruit is from the Maule region of Chile, an area where Bordeaux varieties thrive. Cherry, red plum and spices are present on the nose. The palate is stuffed with chewy red fruit flavors, a hint of sage and black pepper spice. These elements all continue on the finish. Supple tannins and firm acid provide structure to this mouthwatering Merlot.

Cascina Val Del Prete 2012 Nebbiolo d’Alba “Vigna de Ligno” ($40)

This offering is composed entirely of Nebbiolo. Incidentally, that’s the same grape found in Barolo and Barberesco – two of Italy’s three Big “B” wines. It would take a lot more than $40 to get quality similar to what’s in this bottle in the ones that have either of those words on their label. Red fruits, leather and hints of tobacco are evident on the nose. Cherry and hints of strawberry are evident but take a back seat to some darker fruit flavors and significant spice notes. The notable finish shows off earth, porcini mushroom and dried sour red fruits.


Laurel Glen 2014 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain ($40)

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (90%), some Merlot (10%) was blended in. Red and black fruit aromas such as raspberry and plum emerge from the nose. Those flavors as well as cherry, spice and a hint of sage are present on the flavorful palate. The finish shows off bits of red earth, graphite and a dusting of dark chocolate. There’s plenty of Cabernet character in this easy-to-drink, food-friendly wine from Sonoma County.

Flora Springs Red Blend ($40)

This red blend from Napa Valley features label art by We Freed, who’s best known for creating album covers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are all part of the mix in descending order here. They come together to form a seamless offering that’s a big mouthful of delicious wine. Boysenberry, black cherry and cinnamon aromas are evident. The palate is studded with oodles of ripe, appealing dark fruit flavors and hints of chocolate sauce. Toasty oak, vanilla and continuing fruit flavors are evident on the impressive finish. This is a really tasty blend and a great looking package.

Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 Maestro ($50)

This blend of Merlot (59%), Cabernet Franc (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Malbec (3%) was produced in honor of founder Robert Mondavi and the winery’s 50th anniversary. The fruit was sourced throughout Napa Valley. Black cherry, red plum and a cornucopia of spices lead the nose here. Raspberry and dried cherry are evident on the palate along with bits of chicory and bay leaf. The long finish is highlighted by continued spice notes and further echoes of berry fruit.


Sea Smoke 2014 “Southing” Pinot Noir ($60)

This is 100% Pinot Noir from their Estate Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. Wild strawberry, cherry and spice aromas fill the nose. Those characters carry through the palate, where they’re joined by hints of red raspberry and mineral notes. Wisps of bay leaf, chicory and white pepper are all present on the long, pleasing finish. If you have a Pinot Noir lover on your list, this wine will knock them out.

GOVINO Wine Glasses ($25)

GOVINO has been the standard in reusable, recyclable, stemless and shatterproof wine drinkware for a number of years now. They’re great for casual events, and they can be washed and reused. Now, for the holiday season, they have a version that is festively decorated. For $25, you get either four champagne flutes or 16 oz. cups. Pair them with one of the wines above for an even more thoughtful gift.

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