A cliche, sure, but it’s true: One of life’s greatest joys is sharing some of the finer things in life with friends and family. Heading downstairs to choose bottles that you lovingly purchased to years before and aged to perfection for just this sort of opportunity is a rare pleasure—not least because you know the pleasure it’s about to impart. But, that said, we’re also all for letting someone else do the hard work. So we went in search of the trophy wines…
Champagne Piper-Heidsieck 1982 Hors-Série
After four decades of cellaring and hand-riddling, these 3,000 bottles were disgorged by chief winemaker Émilien Boutillat at the start of this year. It has lush mouthfeel, brilliant acidity and pineapple and toast flavors, plus the power to completely change your mindset about how long Champagne can sit on the lees.
Stonestreet 2011 Upper Barn Vineyard Chardonnay Alexander Valley
At high elevation in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, Upper Barn Vineyard is regarded as one of California’s best sites for Chardonnay. Flavors of nectarine and lime with a subtle underpinning of chalk burst in the mouth amid still-fresh acidity. It is creamy on the palate with a long, elegant finish.
Vérité 2012 La Muse Sonoma County Red Wine
Available through the winery’s 10-year rerelease program, this Merlot-dominant Sonoma blend from Bordeaux’s Seillan family has wow factor on impact. Flavors of cassis and blackberry are joined by notes of chocolate, baking spices, tobacco and cedar. Opulent tannins that have begun to mellow linger in the mouth long after the last sip.
Champagne Dom Pérignon 2008 Rose
The 2008 growing season was noted for overcast skies and cool days, which helped to preserve freshness and acidity in Champagne. This delicate pink sparkler has a nose of red berries and violet talc. Lively on the palate, it offers flavors of green apple and cherry with bite that powers on into a finish noted for a whiff of flowers.
Cardinale 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Sourced from multiple high-altitude Napa vineyards, this Cabernet with a touch of Merlot is a testament to winemaker Chris Carpenter’s blending skill. Eight years of cellaring at Cardinale coaxed out silky tannins and intense black-fruit flavors intertwined with notes of tobacco leaf, pencil lead and violet. While this could last another 20 years in your own cellar, nothing says “happy holidays” like pouring it now.
Sandrone 2011 Barolo Cannubi Boschis Sibi et Paucis
After an initial release in 2015, a handful of bottles of this single-vineyard Nebbiolo were stored for seven more years in owner Luciano Sandrone’s personal cellar. The hot 2011 summer brought on ripe flavors of black cherry and raspberry joined by notes of licorice, spice and chocolate that linger on the palate.
Petrus 2005 Grand Vin de Pomerol
Hailing from a stellar vintage on the Right Bank, this is the ultimate wine for Merlot lovers. Even at 17 years, the 2005 Petrus is still a baby, showing concentrated black plum and cassis flavors with notes of dark chocolate, tobacco and clove. If this fails to impress your guests, well… get different guests.
Joseph Drouhin 1990 Chambolle-Musigny Premier CRU Amoureuses
Said to inspire love thanks to its seductive bouquet of cherry liqueur and truffle paste, this rare find from Burgundy is one of the most exquisite Drouhin has ever produced. Vine age of 50-plus years adds concentration and power, while 30 years of bottle aging have brought on elegance and complexity that render it as luxurious on the palate as it is on the nose.
Château Margaux 2009
Around one-third of the grapes grown on this Premier Grand Cru estate make it into Château Margaux Grand Vin. From a superb vintage, this blend of 87 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot is a true combination of power and elegance. It features flavors of cherry and red currant with touches of Earl Grey tea, lavender and mocha.
Bodega Numanthia 2015 Termanthia
When estate director Lucas Löwi joined this storied Toro, Spain, producer in 2015, his first change was to increase aging on its flagship bottling to seven years. This inaugural release under his stewardship is bursting with bold flavors of black currant, dark plum and chocolate-covered espresso beans wrapped in plush tannins that glide into a finish laced with mint and a soft touch of saline.
Cossart Gordon 1978 Bual
This single-varietal Madeira from the oldest company in the Madeira wine trade is perfect alongside foie gras or blue cheese or served on its own as a mildly sweet treat after the meal. Aromas of spice and white chocolate prepare the palate for luscious flavors of apricot jam, orange marmalade, caramel and toasted almonds.
Royal Tokaji 2009 Essencia
Said to be the world’s most concentrated essence of ripened grapes, the 2009 Essencia is the seventh vintage release in Royal Tokaji’s history. Made with the free-run juice of lightly pressed botrytized berries, this delicate elixir has flavors of peach pie, lemon curd, honey and orange zest. It’s a fitting finale to a lavish feast.
Quinta da Corte Tawny 30 Years Old
Only 220 bottles of this were produced, secured from a single pipa or barrel that would have otherwise been blended by winemaker Marta Casanova into 10- or 20-year tawny port. Normally it releases tawnies of “average age,” so this unique bottling is a first for the house. Expect sumptuous flavors of honey, spice and roasted cashews.