Hosts Guide Holiday 2013: Season’s Sipping

<< Back to Robb Report, Aston Martin Turns 100

The 18th-century Swiss writer, composer, and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “I have always said and felt that true enjoyment cannot be described.” Though the celebrated father of modern autobiography and author of Reveries of a Solitary Walker was probably not contemplating the sublime experience of savoring the nuances and subtleties of a glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy at the time he penned these words, his observation serves to remind those of us who passionately discuss and debate the relative merits of fine wine just how subjective its appreciation can be. Limiting our annual list of bottles for giving and pouring during the holiday season to a mere five score proved a particular challenge this year, thanks to more sophisticated viticultural practices around the world and a global spate of near‑perfect vintages that have recently yielded a multitude of great wines. The following pages comprise our favorites and some recent discoveries, along with our impressions of each selection. While we hope that you will read our commentary from beginning to end, that is only the beginning of the celebration: After all, the true enjoyment to be gained from each of these bottles, as Rousseau points out, can only be experienced, not described.

OUR 1OO OUTSTANDING HOLIDAY WINES

They are grouped here according to type; an alphabetical listing that provides detailed notes and pricing follows.

SPARKLING

Henriot 1998 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut

Krug 1998 Clos d’Ambonnay

Louis Roederer 2005 Cristal Brut Millésime

Moët & Chandon 2004 Dom Pérignon

Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon 1996 Oenothèque Brut Millésime

Pol Roger 2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

Roederer Estate 2003 L’Ermitage Rosé

Taittinger 2004 Comtes de Champagne

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2004 La Grande Dame Brut

CRISP, ClEAN WHITES

Baron de Ladoucette 2009 Pouilly‑Fumé Baron de L

Didier Dagueneau 2010 Pouilly‑Fumé Silex

Domaine Laroche Les Clos 2009 Chablis

Liquid Farm White Hill 2011 Chardonnay

Spottswoode 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

FULL‑BODIED WHITES & ROSÉS

Carte Blanche 2010 Chardonnay

Domaine Paul Pernot 2011 Bâtard‑Montrachet Grand Cru

Domaine Roulot 2010 Meursault‑Charmes

DuMOL 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley

François Carillon 2011 Puligny‑Montrachet Les Folatières

Joseph Drouhin 2011 Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche

Château Miraval 2012 Rosé Provence

Moraga 2010 White

Prisoner 2012 Blindfold White Table Wine

Tor 2011 Chardonnay Torchiana

CLASSIC BALANCE & FINESSE

Araujo Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard

Brewer‑Clifton 2011 Pinot Noir 3‑D

Chanin 2011 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

Château Belair Monange 2010 St.‑Émilion

Château Haut‑Bailly 2010 Pessac‑Léognan

Château La Mission Haut‑Brion 2010 Pessac‑Léognan

Château Lafite Rothschild 2010 Pauillac

Continuum 2010 Proprietary Red

Dana Estates 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard

Domaine Fourrier 2011 Griotte‑Chambertin

E. Guigal 2009 Côte‑Rôtie La Mouline

Fontodi 2010 Flaccianello della Pieve

Harlan Estate 2009

Montevertine 2009 Le Pergole Torte

Schrader 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Las Piedras

Screaming Eagle 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tyler 2010 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

Vieux Château Certan 2010 Pomerol

RIPE & FRUITY

Bodega Chacra 2011 Pinot Noir Treinte y Dos 32

Cent’Anni Vineyards 2009 Buoni’Anni Sangiovese

Felton Road 2011 Pinot Noir Block 5

Happy Canyon Vineyards 2011 Chukker

Jonata 2009 El Alma de Jonata Cabernet Franc

Kale Wines 2010 Kick Ranch Vineyard Home Run Cuvée

Le Pin 2010 Pomerol

Leviathan 2010 Red Wine Napa Valley

Madroño 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Merry Edwards Winery 2011 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Morlet Family Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir Coteaux Nobles

Newton 2008 The Puzzle

Pursued by Bear 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Sine Qua Non 2010 Five Shooter Grenache

SPICE & WOOD

Bergstrom Wines 2011 Pinot Noir Bergstrom Vineyard

Château Lafleur‑Gazin 2010 Pomerol

Ehlers Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon 1886

Justin Vineyards and Winery 2010 Isosceles

Kapcsandy Family Winery 2010 State Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

R. Lopez de Heredia 1998 Reserva Viña Tondonia

Marchesi Antinori 2009 Solaia

Paul Lato Hilliard Bruce Vineyard 2011 Pinot Noir Alegria

Penfolds 2008 Grange Bin 95

Pingus 2010

Sea Smoke 2011 Pinot Noir Ten

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2009 Masseto Toscana

Valdicava 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano

Vega‑Sicilia 2003 Unico

Vérité 2010 La Joie

STRUCTURED & EARTHY

Barons de Rothschild Lafite 2009 Le Dix de los Vascos

Château L’Église‑Clinet 2010 Pomerol

Château La Fleur‑Pétrus 2010 Pomerol

Château Latour 2010 Pauillac

Château Montrose 2010 Saint‑Estèphe

Domaine d’Eugenie Clos de Vougeot 2010 Grand Cru

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Clos des Ducs 2010 Volnay

Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2010 Corton

Dominus Estate 2010 Napa Valley

Donelan 2010 Syrah Obsidian Vineyard

Favia 2009 Cerro Sur Napa Valley

Lokoya 2010 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2010 Ornellaia

Vietti 2009 Barolo Lazzarito

BIG, BOLD, & RICH

Aubert Wines 2010 Pinot Noir UV‑SL

Bond Estates 2008 Melbury Red

Château Pontet‑Canet 2010 Pauillac

Colgin IX Estate 2009 Syrah

Domaine Pegau 2010 Châteauneuf‑du‑Pape Cuvée da Capo

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils 2010 Châteauneuf‑du‑Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïeul

Lewis Cellars 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Montepeloso 2009 Gabbro Toscana

Progeny 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Saxum 2010 Heart Stone Vineyard

Two Hands 2008 Shiraz Ares

Vineyard 7 & 8 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Continued…

DESSERT

Château d’Yquem 2009 Sauternes

Dolce by Far Niente 2007 Late Harvest Sémillon‑Sauvignon Blanc

Dönnhoff 2010 Riesling Niederhauser Hermannshöhle

Araujo Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard

One of California’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, this elegant and powerful wine is made from fruit grown from the historic Eisele Vineyard and displays essences of black cherry, espresso, and subtle tobacco spice. ($316)

Aubert Wines 2010 Pinot Noir UV-SL

Mark Aubert has a very impressive list of former employers: Colgin, Bryant Family Vineyard, and Peter Michael Winery (under none other than Helen Turley). If these names and the level of greatness he has achieved with his 2008 Chardonnay fail to persuade the neophyte of his winemaking prowess, one taste of the Burgundian cuvée will remove all doubt. Amazingly low yields pack unfathomable richness into this stellar wine. ($160)

Baron de Ladoucette 2009 Pouilly-Fumé Baron de L

Ladoucette has been in possession of some of the finest vineyards in Pouilly-Fumé since the 18th century. This outstanding example of Sauvignon Blanc from the region is sourced from 40-year-old hillside vines. Made only in the best vintages, this release is pale yellow-green in color, but its flavors are robust, laden with honeycomb, mint, and peach. ($95)

Barons de Rothschild Lafite 2009 Le Dix de los Vascos

Commemorating 10 years of Domaine Baron de Rothschild’s involvement in Chile, this cuvée, which is sourced from a plot of 70-year old vines known as El Fraile, debuted in 1996 and is only produced in extraordinary vintages. ($55)

Bergstrom Wines 2011 Pinot Noir Bergstrom Vineyard

This streamlined Willamette Valley Pinot Noir wears its Burgundian influences on its sleeve, exhibiting elements of Asian spices sprinkled among flavors of raspberry and wildflowers. The wine’s texture is dense and viscous. ($70)

Bodega Chacra 2011 Pinot Noir Treinte y Dos 32

Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia, Argentina. This biodynamic estate, run by the legendary Piero Incisa della Rocchetta of Sassicaia fame, grows astounding Pinot Noir from vines that are more than 50 years old. ($96)

Bond Estates 2008 Melbury Red

Single-vineyard wine is a relatively new concept in Napa Valley, where traditionally wines have been blended using fruit from multiple sources to achieve the ideal balance. Yet Bill Harlan, proprietor of Harlan Estate, and his partner growers have mastered the art of coaxing well-rounded flavor profiles from a single plot of land. This amazing red and shows California terroir at its best, revealing black cherry and black currant fruits, as well savory hints of chaparral. ($355)

Continued…

Brewer-Clifton 2011 Pinot Noir 3‑D

Although Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton also produce wine individually under the Palmina, Diatom, and Melville labels, their Brewer-CliftonChardonnay and Pinot Noir capture not only the essence of those varietals, but also the winemakers’ original and uncompromising style and the diverse and polished flavors that emerge from the tiny Santa Rita Hills appellation in Santa Barbara County. ($80)

Carte Blanche 2010 Chardonnay

Owned by Nicholas Allen, whose great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Château Haut-Brion in 1935, this Napa Valley estate extends the family legacy with its world-class Bordeaux-style wines, as well as those based on Burgundian varietals. Though Carte Blanche makes less than 800 cases a year of this Chardonnay, the wine offers an abundance of citrus, honeydew, and subtle spicy oak flavors in each sip. ($76)

Cent’Anni Vineyards 2009 Buoni’Anni Sangiovese

Produced in Los Olivos, Calif., in Santa Barbara County, this extraordinary Tuscan-style red radiates a brilliant ruby light that foreshadows its delectable red-fruit flavors. Its bright acidity is balanced by firm tannins and earthy undercurrents of tobacco and cocoa. ($36)

Chanin 2011 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

This delicate example, from one of the finest Pinot Noir producers in California’s Santa Maria Valley, shows black tea nuances and sweet, soft cherry flavors. ($53)

Château Belair Monange 2010 St.-Émilion

Edouard Moueix and family have transformed the wines of this St.-Émilion estate into real thoroughbreds; they are both classic and precise. A true star on the rise. ($300)

Château d’Yquem 2009 Sauternes

The only wine to be awarded the Premier Cru Supérieur designation in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, this Sauternes, made of primarily Sémillon affected with Botrytis cinerea, ornoble rot, can potentially age for a century. This glorious vintage exudes flavors of hazelnut and crème brûlée, spiced with a dash of nutmeg. Drinking this wine might be compared to sipping pure sunlight. ($900)

Château Haut-Bailly 2010 Pessac-Léognan

The greatest vintage yet from this Pessac‑Léognan estate shows lush berry and smoke essences, which are enriched by the wine’s dense, glycerin-like

texture. Undoubtedly, this beautiful Bordeaux possesses incredible age

worthiness. ($180)

Château L’Église-Clinet 2010 Pomerol

From perhaps the finest vintage of our lifetime comes yet another best-ever wine from this Pomerol estate. Flavors of mocha, cassis, and black currant entwine around this wine’s beautiful structure. Owner Denis Durantou surpassed himself that year. ($530)

Continued…

Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2010 Pomerol

This right-bank blockbuster shares more than just a locale with Pétrus: It is also owned by the Moueix family. This vintage’s mouthwatering, Merlot-based flavors and elegant finish will assuredly continue to evolve for the next 50 years. ($330)

Château Lafleur-Gazin 2010 Pomerol

Though modest in price compared to the productions of neighboring properties, this delectable Pomerol is anything but modest on the palate, revealing rich flavors of candied fruit, licorice, vanilla, and poached plum. This wine is truly a holiday in a glass—and perfect to pour at parties. ($56)

Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2010 Pessac-Léognan

This blockbuster blend has achieved unanimous praise as the best ever from La Mission Haut-Brion, the sister estate of Château Haut-Brion, located directly across the road. This black-hued wine with purple highlights contains explosive expressions of dark berry, tar, and tobacco atop a structure that will enable it to mature in the cellar for the next half century. ($1,070)

Château Lafite Rothschild 2010 Pauillac

This historic Médoc estate, located in the village of Pauillac, created the first wine to be listed as a first growth in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. However, long before that honor was bestowed, this producer of investment-quality cuvées based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon became a favorite of lifelong customer Thomas Jefferson. ($1,585)

Château Latour 2010 Pauillac

This property is reaching new heights under the leadership of its president, Frédéric Engerer, with another first-growth Pauillac. This particular vintage releases glorious aromas of tobacco, currants, cedar, and black fruit, while lush Cabernet Sauvignon–based sweetness coats the palate. ($1,810)

Château Miraval 2012 Rosé Provence

Made by one of with France’s most renowned winemakers, Marc Perrin, with fruit grown on Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s 1,000-acre estate in Provence, this beautiful Rosé (in an equally stunning bottle) is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. ($23)

Château Montrose 2010 Saint-Estèphe

As is the case with so many of the great estates of Bordeaux, this famed second growth produced one of its finest vintages ever in 2010, crafting a huge wine that burgeons with sweet blueberry, graphite, and tar notes. ($260)

Continued…

Château Pontet-Canet 2010 Pauillac

An amazing wine, this certified-biodynamic Pauillac is considered in many vintages to be as sublime as the coveted first growths. In 2010, this celebrated estate produced the wine of the vintage—one that will age for many decades to come. ($255)

Colgin IX Estate 2009 Syrah

Ann Colgin has been crafting breathtaking wines since 1992. Although her label’s reputation rests largely on her Bordeaux-style blends, she also makes what may be the crown jewel of California Syrah. She describes this wine as “seductive, hedonistic, and memorable,” and we could not agree more. No serious lover of wine should miss this wonderful play on this magnificent Rhône varietal. ($230)

Continuum 2010 Proprietary Red

Founded by Tim Mondavi, whose father, Robert, can be considered the symbolic patriarch of California wine, this Pritchard Hill estate upholds his family’s tradition of crafting the finest reserve wines with this glorious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. ($175)

Dana Estates 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard

The steep and rocky soils of the Lotus Vineyard, located in Napa Valley’s Vaca Mountains, provides the ideal conditions for coaxing supreme complexity from the Cabernet grape. Aged almost two years in new French oak, this stunning California red drenches the palate with dark chocolate and beautiful black fruit flavors made all the more piquant by a mineral whiff of graphite. ($400)

Didier Dagueneau 2010 Pouilly-Fumé Silex

Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau has had quite a task in carrying on the winemaking at his family’s estate in Pouilly-Fumé after his father Didier’s passing. Yet his richly viscous, dry white wine from Sancerre in the Loire Valley, which is rife with white peach essence, shows that his father’s passion for excellence and innovation has been carried forward into the next generation. ($126)

Dolce by Far Niente 2007 Late Harvest Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc

This strikingly sweet late-harvest dessert wine—a California Sauternes-style blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc—is grown in the Coombsville region of Napa Valley and aged for 30 months. This delightful vintage displays flavors of fig, tapioca, and orange peel. ($130)

Domaine d’Eugenie Clos de Vougeot 2010 Grand Cru

François Pinault, owner of Château Latour in Bordeaux, bought Burgundy’s Domaine Engel and, beginning with the 2006 vintage, has continued the tradition of unparalleled excellence with Domaine d’Eugenie. ($260)

Continued…

Domaine Fourrier 2011 Griotte-Chambertin

Domaine Fourrier owns vineyards within Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, and Clos de Vougeot. Today, Jean-Marie Fourrier, who has been at the helm of the domaine since 1994, is considered to be the modern master of Chambertin. ($700)

Domaine Laroche Les Clos 2009 Chablis

Since the ninth century, the monks of the Abbey of Saint Martin have grown grapes on this grand cru vineyard in the Chablis region of Burgundy. As this scintillating white attests once again, Les Clos is unquestionably the greatest vineyard in Chablis. ($109)

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Clos des Ducs 2010 Volnay

The rich limestone soils of Domaine d’Angerville’s vineyards in this region of Burgundy have made Jacques d’Angerville’s Volnays—and in particular the high-elevation Clos des Ducs—one of all Burgundy’s most coveted Pinot Noirs. ($260)

Domaine Paul Pernot 2011 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

Paul Pernot and his sons, Paul and Michel, create stellar wines in Puligny-Montrachet, including this Grand Cru, from vineyards that have been in the family for more than 200 years. This wine has power and flavors of uncommon persistence. ($200)

Domaine Pegau 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo

Displaying the signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape characteristics—including a deep purple color and substantial bouquet garni, smoky spice, blackberry, and kirsch essences—this full-bodied, rich, and masculine wine demands to be paired with a perfect steak for full enjoyment. ($440)

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïeul

This bold Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is from the estate’s finest vineyards in the southern part of the appellation, features signature notes of blueberry, lavender, smoke, and licorice. ($115)

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2010 Corton

Only the second vintage from the greatest producer in Burgundy, this wine is delicious and, unfortunately for oenophiles, extremely rare. ($1,200)

Dominus Estate 2010 Napa Valley

Owned by Christian Moueix, who oversees wine production at Château Pétrus and Château Trotanoy in Bordeaux’s Pomerol, this Napa Valley estate yields a Bordeaux-style blend, the elegance, subtlety, and velevety texture of which pay homage to its French roots. ($185)

Donelan 2010 Syrah Obsidian Vineyard

Featuring flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry, blueberry, cassis, and candied cherry enhanced by a touch of peppery spice, this intense red is fantastic with grilled beef or lamb. ($108)

Continued…

Dönnhoff 2010 Riesling Niederhauser Hermannshöhle

Nahe’s Helmut Dönnhoff is considered one of Germany’s best wine producers. Made from Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, his wines are revered for their elegance and harmonious balance. ($300 per 375ml)

DuMOL 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Many people have stated DuMOL is one of the superstar sources of tremendous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and one would certainly be pressed to make an argument to the contrary. This exclusive producer grows these Burgundian varietals, as well as Syrah and Viognier, on sustainable vineyard sites in the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley regions, Regardless of the grape variety, however, the label’s wines quickly sell out, year after year. ($60)

E. Guigal 2009 Côte-Rôtie La Mouline

This wine embodies the nuances and complexities of the Côte-Rôtie like no other, weaving rich espresso and tobacco notes with lush cherries and raspberries, licorice, and a dusty hint of lavender. One sip explains why this was the wine of the vintage for that region. ($565)

Ehlers Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon 1886

This certified organic 43-acre estate in Napa Valley’s renowned St. Helena appellation has produced grapes since the mid-1880s. The property was purchased in the 1980s by French entrepreneur and philanthropist Jean Leducq, whose goal since has been to craft wines on part with the greatest winemaking estates of Bordeaux. This sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon speaks eloquently to the success of his decades-long dedication. ($90)

Favia 2009 Cerro Sur Napa Valley

After taking over winemaker duties from Heidi Barrett at Screaming Eagle, Andy Erickson and his wife Annie started Favia, a project that enables them to indulge their mutual passion for the complex and underutilized Cabernet Franc grape. This wine possesses searing black fruit laced with notes of herbs and anise. ($156)

Felton Road 2011 Pinot Noir Block 5

Since 1991, this New Zealand winery, located in Central Otago’s Bannockburn region, has produced a Pinot Noir that—along with a Chardonnay and Riesling—has earned Felton Road recognition as one of the country’s rising stars. ($80)

Fontodi 2010 Flaccianello della Pieve

This legendary Tuscan containing 100 percent Sangiovese is spellbinding year after year, and the 2010 vintage is no exception. Made from a selection of the estate’s best fruit, rather than from a single vineyard, this Tuscan tour de force is saturated with flavors of chocolate, ripe cherries, and tobacco. ($130)

Continued…

François Carillon 2011 Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières

Since the 16th century, the Carillon family has made wine in Puligny-Montrachet, and the tradition is carried on by brothers Jacques and François, whose efforts have here rewarded them with a white wine of incredible precision and depth. ($75)

Happy Canyon Vineyards 2011 Chukker

Another gem crafted by Doug Margerum in Santa Barbara County’s Piocho Ranch. The blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon is a Loire Valley–inspired red, meant for cool drinking in a Parisian bistro. ($15)

Harlan Estate 2009

Debuting in 1991, this iconic Oakville estate, which epitomizes balance, elegance, opulence, and grace, represents as pinnacle of Californian winemaking. Robert Parker perfectly summarized the property’s position in the industry: “Harlan Estate might be the single most profound red wine made not just in California,” he wrote, “but in the world.” ($835)

Henriot 1998 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut

An elegant blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this cuvée, which ages for more than a decade before its release, is the undisputed crown jewel of the Champagne Henriot. ($170)

Jonata 2009 El Alma de Jonata Cabernet Franc

Although Santa Barbara County, as a region, is not necessarily known for the successful cultivation of Bordeaux varietals, pockets exists where the combination of soil and microclimate works magic. Such a place is Jonata, which produces exquisite Cabernet Franc that contrast lushness of black fruit with more austere elements, such as baked clay and fragrant wild herbs. ($130)

Joseph Drouhin 2011 Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche

Since 1880, Joseph Drouhin has created some of the finest Chardonnays from the Côte d’Or, and the house’s Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche is one of the world’s most coveted wines. ($750)

Justin Vineyards and Winery 2010 Isosceles

One of the remarkable aspects of Isosceles is that, while it is complex and evolved, it can at times seem relatively restrained and unadorned—like Wes Montgomery or John Coltrane playing a ballad. In this vintage, the wine projects exotic dark fruit notes, buoyed by noticeable but well-integrated tannins. The finish is long and sweet. ($70)

Continued…

Kale Wines 2010 Kick Ranch Vineyard Home Run Cuvée

An amazing Sonoma blend of 60 percent Syrah, 37 percent Grenache, and 3 percent Viognier, this wildly delicious red is the handiwork of Kale Anderson, the gifted winemaker for Pahlmeyer. ($45)

Kapcsandy Family Winery 2010 State Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The Kapcsandy family purchased the historic Napa Valley State Lane Vineyard in Yountville (previously owned by the iconic Beringer Estate wines) in 2000. Winemakers Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer crafted this milestone, which is redolent of melted milk chocolate and sweet raspberries. ($375)

Krug 1998 Clos d’Ambonnay

A spectacular Champagne resulting from the combined talents of the Krug family members—brothers Rémi and Olivier and their late father, Henri—this extremely rare bottling is produced from 100 percent Pinot Noir grown in a tiny single vineyard in the village of Ambonnay. ($1,930)

Le Pin 2010 Pomerol

Named for a pine tree that grows not far from the estate where its fruit is grown, this monumental Merlot-based wine from Pomerol remains officially unclassified, though it is famous for its essences of flowers, exotic spice, and silky mouthfeel. ($3,280)

Leviathan 2010 Red Wine Napa Valley

Perfect for a classic steakhouse dinner, this hedonistic delight is currently expressing dense currant and tobacco flavors that will surely become more complex with bottle age. ($48)

Lewis Cellars 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

From Debbie and Randy Lewis comes this spectacularly concentrated yet incredibly balanced Cabernet dream. ($130)

Liquid Farm White Hill 2011 Chardonnay

A mere 588 cases of this ravishing cuvée were produced—with the express purpose of creating a Chardonnay that “blew the minds” of the winemakers. The wine’s lemongrass, nutmeg, and marzipan flavors in this will blow the minds of laypeople as well. ($37)

Continued…

Lokoya 2010 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Christopher Carpenter has produced a beautifully flavorful Cabernet from this Mount Veeder estate. Although, in each vintage he produces four different Cabernets, each from a specific appellation, in 2010, this property outshone even its illustrious siblings. Bursting with elements of cassis, mocha, tar, and lush blueberry, this stalwart red will certainly hold up to at least two decades of being in the cellar. ($350)

R. Lopez de Heredia 1998 Reserva Viña Tondonia

Family owned for 125 years and located in the Rioja Alta’s capital city, Haro, R. Lopez de Heredia makes this classic Rioja blend from 75 percent Tempranillo, 15 percent Grenache, and 10 percent Manzuelo and ages it for six to eight months in oak. ($40)

Louis Roederer 2005 Cristal Brut Millésime

One of the world’s most coveted Champagnes, Cristal is always thrilling to sip. The 2005 vintage has a particularly soft and delicate nature and shows tarte tatin and hazelnut notes. ($215)

Madroño 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Made by Andy Erickson, whose current client list includes such heavyweights as Dalla Valle, Arietta, and Ovid—and whose winemaking résumé includes stints at Screaming Eagle, Staglin Family Vineyard, Harlan Estate, Spottswoode, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, and Newton Vineyard—this remarkable red comes from Madroño Vineyard, a secluded, self-contained bowl of decomposing granitic soils nestled in the Mayacamas Mountains, just east of St. Helena, Calif., that is perfectly suited to growing Bordeaux varieties. ($100)

Marchesi Antinori 2009 Solaia

Bordeaux-like with a subtle earthy richness, this juggernaut Super Tuscan shows layers of dark berries, cassis, and smoke, with a touch of spicy oak. This beauty pairs perfectly with a rich pasta sauce or, of course, a steak straight off the grill. ($260)

Merry Edwards Winery 2011 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Merry Edwards has a way with this varietal. In 2011, she extracted from this grape amazing perfumes of sweet cherry and raspberry and, on the palate, more fruit and a warm brioche note, as well as a supple body, bright acidity, and a rich finish. ($48)

Moët & Chandon 2004 Dom Pérignon

Moët & Chandon is one of the world’s largest Champagne producers, and its Dom Pérignon Champagne remains the region’s most definitive luxury brand. This substantial vintage reveals milk chocolate and marzipan on the nose, while a sip coats the taste buds in a foamy cloud of brine and candied ginger. ($165)

Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon 1996 Oenothèque Brut Millésime

This rereleased, older vintage remains very fresh, bright, and creamy, with notes of green apple, honeysuckle, and an extremely long and luxurious finish. The black Oenothèque label represents the best of what Dom Pérignon is today. ($360)

Continued…

Montepeloso 2009 Gabbro Toscana

Owned by the uncompromising Fabio Chiarelotto, Montepeloso produces only about 200 cases per year of this exemplary Cabernet Sauvignon, which is grown on hillsides rich with clay and gravel. These heavily perfumed and richly flavored wines have firmly established this estate as one of Tuscany’s new stars. ($164)

Montevertine 2009 Le Pergole Torte

Owner Sergio Manetti created one of the first 100-percent Sangiovese wines made in Chianti Classico, and today he continues to craft his signature wine, which becomes more profound with each new vintage. ($110)

Moraga 2010 White

This unusual white wine is grown in beautiful Bel Air, Calif., where the soil of Moraga Canyon contains deep gravel and ancient seashell buds, much like the soils of Bordeaux. Supremely structured, this Sauvignon Blanc is a rarity in that neither oak nor fruit eclipses its complex flavor profile. ($63)

Morlet Family Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir Coteaux Nobles

This Sonoma Coast Pinot exhibits a classic Burgundian dryness that balances the flavors of sweet cherries and Indian spices—a feat of equilibrium that will surprise no one who knows that the owner, Luc Morlet, comes from France and is a fourth- generation winemaker. ($90)

Newton 2008 The Puzzle

Established in 1977 and located in Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain region, Newton was one of the area’s first estates to utilize the talents of Michel Rolland, the famed consulting vigneron, whose expertise is evident in the Puzzle, a blend encompassing the finest fruit selected from the 112 vineyard blocks. The result is a rich, velvety wine with licorice and soft berry flavors. ($80)

Paul Lato Hilliard Bruce Vineyard 2011 Pinot Noir Alegria

This wine serves as yet another reminder of just how faultless an area California’s Central Coast is for cultivating Pinot Noir. A beautiful balance of sweet fruit, spices, and rich mouthfeel, this vintage suggests that Lato may be cut from the same viticultural cloth as Henri Jayer. ($84)

Penfolds 2008 Grange Bin 95

The gold standard for red wines from South Australia, Grange is not only unique but continues to become more so year after year. Combining Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine explodes with hints of exotic spice, game, lush berry, herbs, and chocolate. ($745)

Continued…

Pingus 2010

Founded in Ribera del Duero by Peter Sisseck in 1995, this producer makes this biodynamically farmed wine in minuscule amounts from Tempranillo vines that are 60 to 70 years old. The legendary Pingus enthralls with its dark fruit, Asian spice, and Rhône‑like brooding power. ($940)

Pol Roger 2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

The highest expression of Champagne at Pol Roger, which was founded in 1849, this cuvée owes its name to the fact that it was Winston Churchill’s personal favorite. “In victory, I deserve it. In defeat, I need it,” Churchill is reputed to have said of Champagne. ($230)

Prisoner 2012 Blindfold White Table Wine

The companion wine to the legendary Prisoner blend produced by Orin Swift, this extraordinary composition translates the label’s tradition of bold flavors into a pristine palate of white varietals. It carries on the bold flavor tradition but this time in a white palette, combing Chardonnay, Rhône varietals, such as Marsanne and Roussanne, Riesling, and Sémillon. ($28)

Progeny 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Just 220 cases were made of this superb 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Mount Veeder. Winemaker Sean Capiaux has crafted this sophomore vintage expertly, rendering flavors of fig, black tea, berry, and tobacco. ($225)

Pursued by Bear 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Actor Kyle MacLachlan and winemaker Eric Dunham prove once again that the Columbia Valley is a veritable Garden of Eden for red Bordeaux varietals. There, the Cascade Mountains, located to the west, shelter the vineyards from the prevalent rains and ensure a long and warm growing season that results in amazingly full‑flavored wines. ($65)

Roederer Estate 2003 L’Ermitage Rosé

California’s finest Rosé sparkling wine, this inviting salmon-pink cuvée blossoms on the palate with essences of fresh strawberry and vanilla awash in crisp acidity. ($68)

(Domaine) Roulot 2010 Meursault-Charmes

Jean-Marc Roulot is one of the finest winemakers in the Côte d’Or, and his premier cru, which expresses the more esoteric side of Chardonnay, is perhaps the most sublime Meursault one can find. ($200)

Continued…

Saxum 2010 Heart Stone Vineyard

This stellar blend of 58 percent Syrah, 37 percent Grenache, and 5 percent Mourvèdre comes from one of the finest and most consistent producers in the Paso Robles region of California’s Central Coast. ($160)

Schrader 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Las Piedras

Schrader sources grapes from select Napa Valley vineyards to craft some of the most compellingly articulated Cabernet Sauvignon to be found anywhere. ($175)

Screaming Eagle 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

The definitive cult wine from Oakville, Calif., is composed primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon bolstered by smaller amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Screaming Eagle’s appeal to collectors knows no bounds, as its waiting list—which is tighter than White House security—attests. The wine’s prodigious scores are dwarfed only by its price. ($1,830)

Sea Smoke 2011 Pinot Noir Ten

Named for the layer of fog that covers the Santa Rita Hills region, which lies among two series of foothills that stretch west toward the Pacific Ocean, this magnificent Pinot combines intensity of fruit with a mineral core derived from soils that were once part of an ancient seabed. ($85)

Sine Qua Non 2010 Five Shooter Grenache

Since 1994, Sine Qua Non’s famed Manfred Krankl has crafted stellar wines from Rhône varietals in Santa Barbara County. This example shows his signature touch in its contrasting elements of sweet berry, floral, and cured-game-meat notes. ($270)

Spottswoode 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Located in St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the historic Spottswoode estate produces minuscule quantities of one of the region’s finest Sauvignon Blancs. ($37)

Taittinger 2004 Comtes de Champagne

The finest Champagne in the Taittinger line, the Comtes de Champagne has been made since 1952 from the only the state’s very best Grand Cru grapes. ($145)

Continued…

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2009 Masseto Toscana

The rarest wine of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, one of the greatest producers in all of Tuscany, this single-vineyard Merlot has been dubbed by many the Château Pétrus of Italy. ($520)

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2010 Ornellaia

Regarded as one of the greatest Bordeaux-style Super Tuscan blends made, this elixir never ceases to amaze. Established by Lodovico Antinori and located next to his cousin’s, Tenuta San Guido, which produces Sassicaia, this glorious estate is now in the deft hands of the Frescobaldi family. ($210)

Tor 2011 Chardonnay Torchiana

Tor Kenwood’s production is tiny, but his wines have truly grand flavor. This luscious white definitely must be experienced by any conscientious admirer of Chardonnay. ($60)

Two Hands 2008 Shiraz Ares

The Australian team of Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz shared one goal when they founded Two Hands in 1999: to make the greatest Shiraz-based wines from the finest regions in their country. This pure Shiraz has all the fruit and complexity anyone could ask for. ($160)

Tyler 2010 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills region is home to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with distinct Burgundian characteristics. This vineyard’s name, which translates to “Pepe’s wall,” alludes to the stone walls that separate vineyards in Burgundy. This flavorful Pinot is made from grapes grown at half the yields allowed for their French counterparts by the AOC system. ($60)

Valdicava 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano

Vincenzo Abbruzzese is often heralded as one of the modern-day geniuses of Brunello di Montalcino, producing a Sangiovese with amazing depth and subtlety. ($225)

Vega-Sicilia 2003 Unico

Located in Ribera del Duero and owned by the Alvarez family since 1982, Vega- Sicilia is considered perhaps Spain’s greatest winery. Unico, the label’s highest achievement, is aged for a minimum of 10 years and can be cellared for as many as 50. This is one of the world’s great red wines. ($365)

Continued…

Vérité 2010 La Joie

Winemaker Pierre Seillan spent decades in Armagnac, the Loire Valley, and Bordeaux before coming to Sonoma with the goal of making red wines as fine as any on Earth. The Cabernet Sauvignon–based La Joie shows the influence of Pauillac, displaying great power, richness, and elegance. ($400)

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2004 La Grande Dame Brut

In Isak Dineson’s “Babette’s Feast,” the tale’s eponymous heroine selects Veuve Clicquot as one of the wines to accompany the extraordinary repast with which she regales her stern, Calvinist guests. The 2004 vintage of this house’s tête de cuvée is itself a hedonistic recipe, introducing honey, almond, tangerine, and poached pear flavors bound together by a pleasantly biting calcium minerality. ($140)

Vietti 2009 Barolo Lazzarito

Located in the village of Castiglione Falletto in Piedmont’s Langhe region, Vietti produces some of the world’s greatest Barolo from organically farmed vineyards containing vines that are, in some cases, as old as 90 years. ($142)

Vieux Château Certan 2010 Pomerol

This soft yet opulent Merlot-based Pomerol, which is one of the most profound wines ever produced by owner Alexandre Thienpont, unleashes upon the taste buds a beguiling blend of berries, vanilla, and spice. ($390)

Vineyard 7 & 8 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker Luc Morlet displays his deft touch with Cabernet Sauvignon in this Spring Mountain elixir, which treats the palate to a medley of cassis, tar, mint, and chocolate. ($100)

This article was originally published in Robb Report’s Host’s Guide Holiday 2013. Click here to read more articles from this issue.

More Spirits

Comments