Wines I Would be Happy to Find Under My Christmas Tree This Year


“What would I like to find under my tree on Christmas day?” you ask. Well - surprise! - I would really be happy and pleased to find a good bottle of Italian wine! And it wouldn’t have to be a really expensive bottle from a boldface-name producer. I would be pleased to just receive a good bottle of wine that showed some care and thought on the part of the giver and not just one with a pretty label that was quickly grabbed off the wine store shelf.

Of course, I would love to find a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella Classico by Giuseppe Quintarelli or a Lange Nebbiolo Sori San Lorenzo from the Gaja estate under my tree on Christmas day. These rare and expensive wines (a bottle of a classic vintage Quintarelli Amarone generally retails for well over $400 while a Gaja Barbaresco goes for $350 or more - that is if you can even find them) are to savor and enjoy, but they are way out of my, as well as my gift-giving friends’, price range.

plush reindeer with a bottle of wineAnd I certainly wouldn’t want to cause financial stress for any of my friends or family that may be so inclined to give me a bottle or two of wine. I really want to be reasonable when compiling my Christmas wine gift list - I want a good wine but also don’t want to put a dent in any gift-giver’s wallet.

Below are listed some of the wines I would look forward to receiving at Christmas - or any other special day of the year for that matter. It goes without saying that all the wines on the list are Italian and receiving just one of these would make for a very merry Christmas indeed. I have grouped my choices into categories based on type of wine or area of origin.

While not all these wines are inexpensive, they certainly will not be the most expensive ones on the wine shop shelf. These are generally second-tier wines in that the winery may well produce a more expensive version of the same or a similar wine. They are, nonetheless, exceptional wines, wines that anyone would be proud to give and certainly pleased to receive. Second tier doesn’t in this case mean second rate.

Merry Christmas to all / Buon Natale a tutti.

Super-Tuscan and other wines from Tuscany

Poliziano, “Asinone” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 (about $53)
This elegant wine envelopes and caresses your taste buds and makes for a decadent drinking experience.

Gaja, Ca'Marcanda “Promis” Toscana IGT 2009 (about $45)
This Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese blend is from Gaja’s estate in the Maremma zone of Tuscany. The Ca'Marcanda Promis offers us mere mortals the opportunity to experience the grandeur of a Gaja wine without paying a king’s ransom to do so.

Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino 2007 (about $65)
Brunello is considered one of Italy’s greatest wines and this Brunello is from one of Montalcino’s premier winemakers.

Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga, “Rancia” Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 (about $45)
This is a spectacular, 100 percent Sangiovese wine from one of Tuscany’s premier producers.

Barolo, Barbaresco and other wines from the Piedmont

Gianfranco Alessandria, Barolo 2007 (about $46)
This wine spends two years ageing in new and used French oak casks and a year in the bottle prior to release.

Conterno Fantino, ”Monpra” Rosso delle Langhe 2009 (about $46)
Aged in new oak barriques for about 18 months, this Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet blend is satisfyingly rich and full-bodied.

Marchesi di Gresy, ” Martinenga” Barbaresco 2007 (about $48)
A serious red wine that easily competes with other more expensive Barbaresco wines.

Other wines from northern Italy

Bellavista, Franciacorta Gran Cuvee Brut NV (about $65)
Produced in the Lombardy region, Frlanciacorta is Italy’s finest sparkling wine and Italy’s closest rival to Champagne.

Allegrini, Amarone della Valpolicella 2007 (about $72)
This Amarone della Valpolicella is full-bodied and rich with spicy, dried fruit and raisiny flavors that just explode in your mouth – it’s like a dried fruit compote in a bottle.

Wines from southern Italy

Argiolas, Turriga 2006 (about $66)
Turriga is the flagship wine of the Argiolas estate on Sardinia and is made from a blend of  indigenous red varieties.

Paternoster, “Don Anselmo” Aglianico del Vulture 2003 (about $85)
This sturdy but elegant wine with great staying power is from the Basilicata region’s most prestigious winery.

Tenute delle Terre Nere, “Guardiola” Etna Rosso 2008 (about $42)
This complex and nuanced red wine is from high-altitude vineyards located on the slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna.

Palari, “Faro” 2006 (about $65)
This gem from northeastern Sicily has been racking up awards since its initial release in 1994. It is a serial recipient of Gambero Rosso’s annual Tre Bicchieri award and the 2005 Faro received a special award from Gambero Rosso for the best red wine of 2008.

Planeta, “Cometa” Fiano Bianco Sicily IGT 2009 (about $35)
A beautiful wine made entirely of Sicily’s indigenous Fiano variety.

Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali, “Rosso del Conte” 2005 (about $65)
The Rosso del Conte is the first great Sicilian red wine of the modern period. Despite some minor stylistic changes, this wine still follows the basic quality-intensive protocols established by the late Count Giuseppe Tasca d’Almerita over forty years ago.

Sweet, dessert-type wines

Ca’ Rugate, “La Perlara” Recioto di Soave 2008 (about $39 for 500 ml)
Recioto di Soave makes an excellent accompaniment to a wide array of not-too-sweet desserts such as apple, peach or pear tarts, almond cookies or fresh fruits.

Planeta, Passito di Noto 2008 (about $38 for 500 ml)
This generous and refined sweet white wine from Planeta’s vineyard estate in Noto in southeastern Sicily is always a pleasure to drink.

Donnafugata, “Ben Rye” Passito di Pantelleria 2009 (about $40 for 375 ml)
This amber-colored, sweet Sicilian dessert wine is seriously delicious.


©Richard Marcis

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