Wines of Worth: Wines to Gift this Holiday




Are there wine lovers on your shopping list? It can be challenging to select wine for someone – especially if you’re not sure of their particular tastes. Let this list be your guiding star.


The Cocktailist

Lillet ($17-20) is a classic French aperitif – meant to stimulate the appetite before the meal. Try it over ice, or use in cocktails – the golden honey, apricot, orange oil and earthy spice a complement to many spirits. If tapas are on the horizon, make it a Sherry – Gonzales Byass Tio Pepe Fino ($21-23) is the top selling Fino worldwide. This bone dry, almond-skin sipper makes a fab match for roasted nuts and salty olives. If the intended is really into spirits, you’ll delight them with a bottle of Pemberton Distillery Schramm Organic Gin ($55*). Handcrafted in single batches, this Spud Valley spirit is one of a few rare gins distilled from a potato spirit, then infused with eight organic herbs and botanicals, including hops.


The Hostess

Bringing wine to an event can be hit or miss. Just remember that bubbles go with everything! Cava is an easy like and affordable place to start – Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut ($12-15) is mind-boggling value for all the lively green apple, blossom and citrus enjoyment. Bella Wines Sparkling Gamay Noir ($24*) is the perfect hue for the holiday table, and this dry, wild strawberry scented, grapefruit crisp bubble from Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver will prove a perfect match for all kinds of dishes as well. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV ($30-35) is a stylish, creamy and toasty bubble, from one of the most respected sparkling producers in the state, and can work throughout most dinners.


The Cabinista

If you’re gifting a regular camper, cabin-goer or boater, give them a delicious and convenient wine option for the voyage. Haywire Crush Pad Red, White and Rose ($54 each*) comes in easily packable and handy 3L boxes, so there’s no need to worry about breakage and stacking is a cinch. 100% Okanagan fruit, lovingly tended to by the folks at Okanagan Crush Pad.


The Environmentalist

This consistent producer from Chile is also one of wine’s global organic champions. Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay ($14.50-17) from San Antonio is lemony crisp with ripe pear – lovely for salads, cream soups and lighter quiches. For a hefty veggie casserole, try the organic Purato Nero d’Avola from Sicily ($17-20) – a gutsy and ripe, spicy and earthy red. From BC’s other wine valley, the Similkameen, pick up Clos du Soleil’s Capella ($25-30*). This elegant Sauvignon Blanc is splashed with Semillon and swirling with lemon, perfumed pear and stony herbaceousness. This sustainably farmed winery follows many biodynamic practices, and their celestial-themed labels reference the natural rhythms of the moon.


The Carnivore                       

Napa’s Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon ($40-45) is a big, structured anise and dark fruitcake that would make any grill king or queen happy. Another sure bet for loin-lovers is Chateau Labrande Jean Luc Baldes Cahors ($20-25). 100% Malbec from southwest France, this juicy, savoury red with thorny herbs and dark chocolate will have you thinking about Malbec in a whole new way. If you prefer your Malbec Argentinean (they do know their beef in Argentina), pick up the Catena Alamos Malbec ($15-18). Fantastic value from this reputable producer, this full-bodied red carries ample big, dark, plush and supple fruit, ripe blueberries and peppery spice.


The Locavore

I love BC Cabernet Franc. The pure cherry, herbal, spiced bramble fruit is rustically honest when left to its natural, unpolished state. River Stone Cabernet Franc ($26-30*) is a fresh, smoother style, with juicy choke cherry and bright spiced cranberry. Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc ($35-40) is a deeper, fuller style, with Christmas spice, dense black fruit and cedar. And for a really herbal, textured, spicy tobacco example, try the unfiltered Cabernet Franc from Nichol Vineyards ($30-35*).


The Connoisseur

It’s easy to drop hundreds of dollars on a cult bottle – but why bother when you can get an amazing wine for much less. Grower Champagne is a perfect example. An increasing number of Champagne’s small growers are producing tiny quantities of artisanal wines that are very expressive of Champagne’s diverse terroir. When you buy these small lot wines, you’re paying for the product – not for the global marketing machine that supports the well-known brands. Plus – the quality can often be superior, especially in terms of character, diversity, intensity and complexity. Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs NV ($65-75*) is one such characterful and complex Champagne. Elegant, linear and focused, with a delicate grace in harmony with intensity, this 100% Chardonnay is raised by the Gimonnet family, who has been growing vines in Champagne since 1750.


The Sweet Tooth

Of course, living in BC the first sweet wine that comes to mind is icewine. If you’re looking to gift someone with an iconic Canadian product, there are many fine examples to choose from. Nk’Mip Cellars Qw’am Qw’mt Riesling Icewine ($60-65 for 375ml) is one – thick and unctuous, but with a piercing lemon oil and apricot fuzz acidity to balance the sweetness. Feeling adventurous? Pick up a bottle of Pellegrino Passito de Pantelleria ($25-28* for 350ml). Italian Zibbibo, akin to Muscat, is the grape for this rich honeyed nectar, dense with golden raisins, ripe quince, and elegant butterscotch – hello fruitcake! Sweet wines needn’t pair with sweet foods of course. If the afters tend towards the cheese board, look to Port. If you can afford Vintage Port, then the sky’s the limit my friend – but the Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage ($25-30) is a delicious alternative – and on this market at fantastic value too! Ripe black cherry and black fruit, dried fig, dark floral and vanilla notes pulse through to the lengthy finish.


And if you STILL can’t decide…

Advance tickets are on sale now for the 2013 Vancouver International Wine Festival (February 25-March 3). Limited advance tickets (at a discounted price) and theme packages are available now – just in time for the holidays. Next year’s theme region is California, and the global focus is Chardonnay. For more information, visit



DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.

*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. Some may be in limited quantities. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores – visit or download the free BC LiquorStores iPhone App for locations and availability. Prices may vary.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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