• Thomas Dawber

🍾Wine Gifts From the Old World and the New🎁

There exists a well-intentioned bit of conventional wisdom that one should not gift wine to a wine enthusiast.

“You’ll never pick the wine they like!”

“You don’t know what you’re doing!”

“They have plenty of wine already!”

I can only speak as one wine enthusiast when I say that I love being gifted a bottle of wine from a friend or family member. And I’m sure everyone at Learys will agree with me when I say we love to help people pick out a special bottle for somebody.

Because here’s the thing- there is no wrong answer. As long as the gift is selected thoughtfully, there is no wrong wine with the recipient in mind.

If your uncle usually drinks Napa cabernet and you give him a premier cru Burgundy, he will appreciate the bottle because of the sentiment it represents from you. Your sister, who prefers chardonnay, won’t think less of you because you bought her a Sancerre. In fact, most wine lovers welcome the chance to try something new! Uncle Napa has a cellar full of cabernet, and you just gave him something special to pair with a nice pork loin or duck breast, and he’ll think of you while enjoying it. Maybe your chardonnay sipping sister will want the crisp change of pace offered by your French sauvignon blanc. It is very easy for wine drinkers to get stuck in a rut, drinking the same bottles again and again. A gift of something different is sometimes just what’s needed.

I know it can be tough figuring out what bottle to choose, and we are here to help. All of us here at Leary’s compiled a list of our favorite wines to give as gifts this holiday season. These are all wines that we love and drink ourselves, wines that you can be confident and proud to gift to your wine-loving loved ones.

Bella Union Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

-Armando’s Keeper Cabernet

We fell in love with this wine earlier this year and are happy to include it as one of our monthly in-store features this December. This project was founded by the partners who run Napa’s historic Far Niente winery, and this vintage, the sixth, is the best to date. This is a concentrated, full-bodied cab, loaded with dark fruit, baking spices, and firm tannins. Absolutely delicious now, this wine will only get better with a few more years in the cellar. Wine Enthusiast magazine agrees, naming it one of their Top Cellar Picks for this year and awarding it a monster 95 point rating!

Domaine de Rome Sancerre “Le Champ Pendu” 2019

-Lefty’s Best Sancerre

This Sancerre was a huge hit this past summer, and we just received a few more cases to finish out the year. Sourced from a single organically farmed vineyard in France’s Loire Valley, this sauvignon blanc is lean and crisp. The restrained nose is crushed shells and lemon, and the mineral-driven palate leaves your mouth watering. This is a no-brainer accompaniment for Christmas Eve’s feast of seven fishes, but the vigneron Herve Baudry says that it pairs even better with meat, such as a veal blanquette or poultry with morels. Whatever is being served, this bottle makes a great host/hostess gift.

G D Vajra Barolo “Ravera” 2015

-Kevin’s Cru Barolo

Yes, 2016 is the classic vintage that Antonio Galloni called “spectacular.” But the cru Barolos from that vintage are still several years from drinkability, and the best wines of 2015 are quite ageable in their own right while being much more approachable now. Plus, they can offer great value for money compared to their 2016 counterparts, if you know where to look. The 95-point rated Barolo Ravera from Vajra is a prime example of that. Open and polished now, this also has the concentration and tannic backbone needed to age. Galloni said it “captures all the best the vintage has to offer” and projects a drinking window past 2040. This is a can’t miss gift- while Barolo lovers will adore it, it’s the perfect introduction for someone who has never had a Barolo. It is available at Leary’s (in super-limited quantities) for nearly 40% off its release price.

Mas Donis Old Vines Montsant 2017

-Tom’s Grab Bag Garnacha

I’ve long said that the best quality to price ratio in the wide world of wine is in Spain. If anyone doubts that assertion, I present this wine as exhibit A. This Garnacha-based blend from the northeast region of Montsant piles up 90+ point ratings like a wine three times its price. It’s a full-bodied red with loads to offer, big, round, and fruit-forward while managing to not be a fruit bomb. Some florals on the nose and spice and minerality on the palate keep it far more complex than one expects from a $12 bottle of wine. Oh, did I not mention that this wine is $12? One of the best <$15 bottles that you can buy, this is perfect for whatever socially distanced grab bag, or Yankee swap your friends, family, or workplace may be doing this year.

O’Shaughnessy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

-Ken’s Classic Cabernet

We’re thrilled to be able to offer up a small allocation of the classic Napa cab O’Shaughnessy. The bulk of this juice usually is reserved for their wine club members, and most of what leaves California is scooped up by restaurants. A blend of fruit from their three estate vineyards throughout Napa, this 2017 offers immediate appeal. In his 91 point review, Antonio Galloni calls this plush and silky. With a higher percentage of mountain fruit than is usually found in Napa cabs at this price point, O’Shaughnessy is a serious wine to gift this holiday season.

If you have a wine lover in your life, let us help you choose a bottle that they are sure to love. Giving gifts to loved ones is the most enjoyable part of the hectic holiday season, and this year, unlike any other, it may be the only tradition that we can all continue to observe. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and we are always here to help.

Happy Holidays to all of you and your loved ones!🎄🍾🍷

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