Wine Gifts for the Cellar

Our top rated selections for gifting


It can hard to shop for your favorite wine lover. The truth is, we don't simply love all great wine. We have our favorites and pick and choose amongst producers and vintages. Trying to find the perfect wine for a friend's cellar is like trying to sink a 3-pointer from half court. You might be able to do it now and again, but it's going to take a lot of luck!

Having said that, there is something nice about getting a great wine as a gift. It can open new doors for you and expose you to wines that you wouldn't otherwise buy or wines you thought you weren't interested in. Couple that with the thrill of knowing someone cares enough to find the very best, and that bottle you never would have bought for yourself can become a prized possession. If you buy the very best, you can be certain that when the time comes for that bottle to be opened, you will be remembered. Remembered as the person who got the wine that was perfect or the wine that opened new doors. Either way, everybody comes out smelling like roses! Maybe even the wine!

Photo courtesy stevegarfield via Flickr/CC

2006 Jean Grivot Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots $90

Red Burgundy is known as a minefield. The effects of the growing season can have a perversely disparate effect on vineyards that lay mere paces from one another. The truly great vineyards are ones that can produce spectacular wines in almost any vintage, and those are the vineyards the connoisseurs follow. Les Boudots in Nuits St. Georges is one of the vineyards.

As is the case with most of the great vineyards of Burgundy, the fruit from Les Boudot is shared by a handful of producers. Two of the very finest producers craft exceptional bottlings from this small plot and sell them of hundreds of dollars a bottle, the remaining producers are all crowded in at close to $100 a bottle. Among these, Jean Grivot's is a standout. The fruit from these old vines yields a rich, structured Burgundy, full of black fruit, mineral scents and an edge of meatiness that needs just a few years to fully blossom.

Buy this wine at Sherry-Lehmann!

Find this wine on Snooth!

2009 Bergstrom Winery De Lancellotti Pinot Noir $60

While it may not reach the same heights as Burgundy's Pinot Noirs, Oregon's have certainly made a mark for themselves. Richer and denser than red Burgundy, Oregon's wines have tended to be complex and elegant if more accessible. Given time, Oregon's 45 years of experience with Pinot Noir pales in comparison with the centuries Burgundians have had to hone their craft, I've no doubt that Oregon will produce wine of Grand Cru quality.

One of the producers at the forefront of this effort is Bergstrom Cellars, particularly with the rich and meaty De Lancellotti Cru. Tannic and dense for Pinot Noir, the De Lancellotti Cru packs in deep and ripe, yet fresh flavors of cherry and raspberry fruit, backed up with exotic spice notes and sweet toasty oak. Give this a few years to blossom and watch it develop for a decade.

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2007 Kuleto India Ink Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $80

I have lamented the change of style in Napa Valley's Cabernets. Gone are the balanced, nuanced wines of years past that needed time to show their innate depth and elegance, replaced instead by blueberry and chocolate bombs with the texture of a milk shake. If you prefer something more traditional, the 2007 Kuleto India Ink Cabernet Sauvignon is going to knock your socks off.

Right now, this is only available from the winery. Once word gets out about this wine, it might not even make it to distribution. This is a monster of a wine, powerful and rich but painfully young. There's incredible depth of fruit to this wine, but it's not going to come out and play today. Instead it's going to make you work for your rewards. When everything finally comes into balance, this will be one for the ages. Simply phenomenal stuff!

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2005 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste Paulliac Bordeaux $120

There are few wines that are so highly regarded, age worthy and important as Bordeaux. The first growths and super seconds have recently priced themselves out of the reach of mere mortals, but that doesn't mean there aren't any great wines to be had, you just have to search a little harder.

Surprisingly, you can still find wines like the 2005 Grand Puy Lacoste at fair pricing. I say surprisingly because 2005 has proven itself as one of the best vintages ever, and Grand Puy Lacoste has a track record for excelling in these rich, ripe vintages. Still very young, one can begin to see flashes of brilliance when tasting the 2005 Grand Puy Lacoste, but patience is required to see this wine at its finest. Today, its crushed blueberry and black currant fruit is kept at bay by intense mineral, earth and oak note, all supported by its balanced yet formidable structure.

Buy the 2008 vintage at Sherry-Lehmann!

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2006 Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino $75

Brunello di Montalcino's reputation has taken a few dingers over the past years. It is the small producers who have always focused on quality who have come through mostly unscathed, though the downward pressure on pricing has kept Brunello quite affordable.

Conti Costanti is a traditional producer who has made compelling Brunello for decades. Emerging from the turmoil of recent years as a leader in preserving the expression of the wine, Conti Costanti's wines are finding new audiences. People are falling in love with the blend of complexity, power and elegance of these wines. Another Tuscan producer who seems to be able to tease some Burgundian magic out of his vines. This is drinking well today but will only improve with additional time in the cellar. I'm counting on it!

Buy this wine at Sherry-Lehmann!

Find this wine on Snooth!

Marques de Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva Especial $50

2001 was a spectacular vintage in Rioja and many producers rolled out their rarely used Reserva Especial labels to celebrate. Marques de Murrieta is one of the oldest and most respected Bodegas in Rioja, so when they opt to make an Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, we should all take note. With a reputation for being one of the richest and most age-worthy Gran Reservas, Castillo Ygay is a wine for the cellar.

The 2001 Castillo Ygay is unusual for a Gran Reserva in that it could use some time in the bottle to integrate. Right now, it's dense and plush with lots of sweet oak adding a bit of a prune element to the palate, but underneath all that sweetness is an incredibly complex and long wine. So deep and seamless on the palate already, it could be hard to wait. This will reward additional cellaring with a fascinating array of herb, spice and savory elements adding detail to the brilliant core of cherry fruit.

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2005 Rieussec Sauternes $80

Sauternes is undoubtedly one of the greatest wines in the world, when it is great. Too often they're more sweet than great, and many times they are not necessarily worth the prices asked. It only took me one sip of the 2005 Chateau Rieussec to convince me of its greatness. This is absolutely brilliant Sauternes and competes very favorably with more expensive examples. Packed full of pineapple, sweet lemon and peach fruit, topped with notes of vanilla, crème brûlée, coconut cream, ginger and honey, it is a breathtakingly complex wine. Rich and sweet yet not nearly cloying, this is fabulous Sauternes and will keep for decades, as long as you can keep your hands off of it!

The easiest way to do that is to buy half bottles to hold you over while your full bottles mature.

Buy the 2007 vintage at Sherry-Lehmann!

Find this wine on Snooth!

2004 Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blanc Champagne $100

Champagne, it's generally popped and poured, so your going to be drinking a young vintage unless you pony up the money for something with some age on it. There's a solution for that you know, it's called cellaring Champagne! I know it sounds a bit crazy, but fine Champagne is like fine wine, it gets better with age. Why do you think producers can charge so much for those matured bottles?

In time, Champagne rounds out, the effervescence moderating and allowing the wine to express its softer, creamier side. Have you never "gotten" Champagne? Can't see what the fuss is about? Think the wines are lean and simple? Join the club, but that's where the ageing comes in. This Deutz Blanc de Blanc is already delicious with classic vanilla-touched lemon and pear flavors in Deutsz's faceted, taut style. Ageing will add complexity, depth and an edge of softness that should make this shine in several year. Or you could just drink it on New Year's Eve and celebrate in luxurious style!

Find this wine on Snooth!

Want to Learn More?

Get more holiday wine ideas with our recommendations for White Dessert Wine!

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Mentioned in this article


  • I live in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. I subscribe to you daily reviews and tips on wines. I have even taken you up on some of your "recommendations" on nice whites and reds. I have been reading your e-mail for about a year now and I have not seen any "recommendation" on any Canadian wine, especially from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, which is renowned for it's "best wines" in the world. We are compared to a mini Napa Valley and have fantastic wines, tourists come from all over the world to taste some of the wine here in the Okanagan Valley.
    No, I am not a wine owner, nor have anything to do with the vineyards here, I just enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

    I am wondering why you do not recognize any of the Canadian wines?

    Have a wonderful Christmas, and best to you.

    Kristin Maier

    Dec 16, 2011 at 3:33 PM

  • Snooth User: davidboyer
    208575 26

    Hi Kristen,

    Although I can't answer your question on behalf of Snooth, I can point out a coupe of obvious reasons why you don’t see these wines on Snooth. But first let me say that I have tasted some of the Okanagan Valley wines you wrote about and that I was surprised by the high quality and excellence of the fruit and winemaking. Everyone in America knows Canada for its Ice Wines, not delicious reds. I tasted these wines in Bordeaux, of all places, this past summer and had never known about them until then.

    Canada is going to have to do better with their efforts to get the attention of Americans and that means campaigning endlessly. It’s a huge, cluttered, virtual sea of wine out there as you know and cutting through, whether it’s for shelf space at retail, or just consciousness in someone’s head, is a major undertaking. The commitment has to be on the part of the wine estate or wine region and it takes major money to accomplish anything significant.

    Secondly, distribution needs to happen and that’s very difficult these days but without it, all marketing efforts will fail if the consumer can’t find the wine on every shelf, or at least many shelves. Distributors are the key to this but they’re not going to take on another wine estate without the resources and commitment to see it through. The third option to get attention in the wine world is to let it grow organically, no pun intended, by word of mouth but this can be a very long process.

    I don’t think that Snooth or anyone else is intentionally shunning Canadian wines but just that there is not a demand for it and therefore it’s below many people’s radar. I tasted the Osoyoos Larose (Le Grand Vin - Red Wine) 2001 and 2005 and for under $50 per bottle, I think this Bordeaux blend is a terrific value.

    Best regards,

    David Boyer

    Dec 16, 2011 at 5:09 PM

  • Where can I buy Spanish Bach white wine in N. Ireland ????

    Dec 16, 2011 at 6:41 PM

  • Write your comment here.

    Dec 16, 2011 at 6:41 PM

  • Snooth User: angmelchor
    990063 85


    Dec 16, 2011 at 7:42 PM

  • Snooth User: angmelchor
    990063 85

    are there bottles of ASTI SPUMANTI? FOR THE NEW YEAR...

    Dec 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,731

    Am I correct in assuming that the $80 price cited for the Rieussec is for a full (750 ml) bottle? If so, I would guess that a half-bottle would come in at $50-55.

    Dec 17, 2011 at 2:11 PM

  • to Kristin Maier.
    ...notwithstanding, most of the wine produced in BC is consumed in BC. Very little of it gets to any other parts of Canada nevermind the US or the rest of the world. So it's almost pointless that Snooth or anyone else pay any attention because the best BC wines cannot even be gotten within BC except at the winery or at a restaurant - certainly not at any of the BC liquor stores.
    I believe its a known fact that BC and Oregon are roughly equivalent in the amount of wine produced. Here probably 70-80% is consumed within BC, in Oregon its the other way around.
    Speaking as a BC resident, like yourself, I'm not complaining about the lack of hoopla.....more for me!

    Mitch Ma

    Dec 18, 2011 at 12:43 AM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,731


    Your insight is very interesting. It is a very reasonable explanation why those of us outside of BC have no or little knowledge of wines from your area. However, please be assured that we do want ot learn about them even if we don't get to experience them. Presumably, we can experience them in visits, or by creating demand for some entrepreneur to exploit,

    Dec 18, 2011 at 1:20 PM

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