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Column: Holiday wine gift list

Wine columnist Tony Kwan offers holiday wine recommendations in three price ranges.
wine gift recommendation
Two of Tony Kwan’s holiday wine gift recommendations. Photo: Tony Kwan

It’s the time of the year when we’re all deciding what gifts to give the special people around us.  Wine is always a popular gift item so I have provided my list of the most gift-worthy wines of the season.

Under $20

White: Charles Smith 2018 Kung Fu Girl Riesling (on sale until Jan. 2 at $14.99).  Don’t let the name or label fool you - this is a serious wine.  It is a dry Riesling with floral and tropical aromas.  It has good acidity and fruit on the palate.  It’s a great sipping wine but will pair well with food also.

Red: Columbia Crest 2016 H3 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (on sale until Jan. 2 at $19.99).  I like their Merlot even better at $22.99, but both are magnificent wines.  I find Columbia Crest’s H3 label wines hyper boosted with flavors and this wine is no different.  At 14.5-per-cent alcohol content, it will delight heavy Cab lovers.

Under $30

White: Ken Forrester 2019 Old Vines Chenin Blanc ($21.99).  Some readers may not be familiar with the grape variety Chenin Blanc.  It represents almost 60 per cent of the grapes grown in South Africa, and is a medium to heavy bodied wine with good acidity and tropical fruit flavours.  Chenin Blanc pairs well with almost any type of food, so it is a versatile wine that is ideal for gift giving.  Ken Forrester aka Mr. Chenin is a Chenin Blanc specialist who is celebrating his 25th year producing this wine. The grapes used to produce this wine come from vines with an average age of 38 years, which adds to the complexity of the wine. 

Red: Rivera 2014 Il Falcone Castel Del Monte (on sale until Jan.2 at $27.99).  This is an incredible deal for the quality of the wine.  This wine is made in the Puglia region, and is a blend of mostly Nero di Troia grapes with some Montelpulicano grapes.  Nero di Troia is a dark grape which imparts a dark, almost black or purple color to the wine.  It is quite tannic, but Rivera ages the wine for 14 months in oak barrels and another 12 months in bottle before releasing the wine.  So you essentially get a 6 year old wine for a very affordable price.  Expect heavy tannins and lots of dark fruit – a perfect complement for heavy meat or game dishes.

Over $50

White: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label (Cassette Box)( $72.99).  Each year around this time, Veuve Clicquot produces limited production wine boxes to house their non-vintage champagne.  You can only find them in some liquor stores, but you don’t have to pay extra for the box.  This year, it is a metal box that looks like a cassette tape.  If you place the champagne in the box, it will keep the champagne cold for up to two hours. 

Red: Produttori Del Barbaresco Asili ($72.99).  PDB is one of the finest producers of Barbaresco (made from the Nebbiolo grape).  This wine comes from a single vineyard called Asili, which is arguably the best site to grow the Nebbiolo grape in Barbaresco.  You will find elegance, power and raciness in this wine.  This is an iconic winery and I will have more to say about them in 2021. The wine may need a few years to hit its peak, but it is definitely a special occasion wine that will drink well for the next 20 years.

Hope all you have a happy, peaceful and safe holiday season.  Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is a lifestyle writer.  Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Tony aims to give you an insider’s guide to the best that life has to offer.