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Dreaming of a White (or Red) Christmas

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Twenty top wine gifts to lift holiday spirits

floating-candlesLooking for a terrific bottle of vino to excite the wine fan on your list this holiday season? Any one of these truly remarkable bottles is sure to do the trick!

Bodega Tiza Mendoza Malbec 2006, $20
A dark ruby wine from Argentina with lots of black cherry and blackberry flavors, spicy oak and cocoa powder. Soft and lush with great structure and length.

Bodegas Ostatu Crianza Rioja 2006, $22
This prominently tempranillo Spanish beauty boasts an aromatic bouquet of anise, black fruits and vanilla. It is robust and round with firm tannins.
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV, $60
Delicate and delightfully crisp with citrus flavors, this outstanding Champagne offers toasty, spicy, brioche aromas and tiny, persistent bubbles. It strikes the perfect balance between freshness and richness.
Chateau Doisy-Védrines Sauternes 2001, $40
Full bodied, rich and creamy with a terrific mouthfeel, this sweet dessert wine packs a powerful nose of white flowers, spice and stone fruits with flavors of honey, dried fruits and orange zest.
Châteauneuf du Pape Vieux Télégraphe 2006, $60
This classic Châteauneuf blend has an intense and complex bouquet of jammy red berries, smoke, tobacco and violets. Well structured, round and firm, it has a fabulous velvety texture and an impressive finish.
Domaine Carneros by Taittinger NV, $25
Consistently well-made, this California sparkling wine is a classic blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. Elegant and refined, it offers aromas of vanilla, spice and apples with creamy flavors of lemon mousse and ripe pears.
Elyse “Morisoli Ranch” Napa Valley Zinfandel 2005, $35
Spicy and bold, this garnet-colored zin emits scents of ripe raspberries and cherries with a hint of smoke and spice. On the palate it is luscious, silky and seamless.
Fonseca Vintage Port 2000, $50
This full-bodied, unctuous port is concentrated and complex with layers of juicy fruit flavors. It is quite forward and harmonious with an exotic floral, spicy, black-fruit-laden bouquet and an incredibly long finish.
Jacob’s Creek “St. Hugo” Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $32
Medium bodied and stylish, this delicious Australian cab offers black fruit, chocolate and cedar notes with rich flavors of currants, cherry and raspberry accented by spicy oak. Lush with silky smooth tannins and a long, satisfying finish.
Justin Isosceles Paso Robles 2006, $60
This Bordeauxstyle blend emits classic scents of leather, smoke, cassis, black cherry and spice. Impeccably balanced and harmonious, it is packed with ripe red and black fruit flavors and has well-integrated tannins and great structure.
Keenan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $43
Rich, ripe and deeply concentrated, this Spring Mountain red is aromatic with intriguing scents of currants, cigar box, cedar and leather. Powerful and intense, it should develop nicely for years.
Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Sonoma County Merlot 2005, $30
A classic merlot, this smooth, sophisticated wine has a charming bouquet and flavors of violets, plums, mocha, cherries and black currants. Medium bodied with a silky, smooth mouthfeel.
Kilikanoon Barossa Valley “Testament” Shiraz 2005, $60
Inky dark, bold and highly aromatic, this intensely flavored Australian red is what shiraz should be. It is smoky, earthy and peppery with hints of lavender and spice and bold, black fruit flavors that perfectly meld.
Labouré-Roi Pouilly Fuissé 2005, $20
This 100 percent chardonnay from the Burgundy region screams finesse. Delicate, fruit driven and floral with aromas and flavors of stone fruits, lemon zest and a slight minerality. Crisp and dry with a pleasant finish.
Fournier Père & Fils Les Belles Vignes Sancerre 2007, $30
From the Loire Valley comes this delightful sauvignon blanc with tropical fruit, citrus and limestone aromas. Crisp, fresh and clean, it has a nice round mid-palate and a lingering finish.
Moises Whale Vineyards “Yamhill Carlton” Pinot Noir 2006, $40
Made by native New Orleanian James Moises, this fantastic Oregon pinot comes from 35-year-old vines, giving it loads of complexity. Richly concentrated with lots of dark fruit flavors, it is quite enjoyable now but will age gracefully for years.
Perrier Jouët Blason Rosé NV, $75
Crisp and lively, this lovely bubbly is pale salmon-pink in color with delicate scents of rose petals and ripe red fruits. Effervescent, lively and persistent, fresh flavors of cherry and raspberry dominate the palate.
Secco-Bertani Valpolicella Valpantena Ripasso 2006, $19
Amarone fans will rejoice with this younger, less intense yet quite enjoyable version of the distinctive wine. The wine is full-bodied and intriguing with complex, jammy flavors and aromas of black plums, chocolate and spice and fine, firm tannins.
Shafer Napa Valley Chardonnay “Red Shoulder Ranch” 2007, $50
For those who prefer more austere, fruit-driven chardonnay rather than overtly oaked ones, this is up your alley. Tropical fruit flavors of melon, pineapple and tangerine perfectly intertwine with exotic spice creating this bright, elegant and balanced wine.
Yalumba Edna Valley Viognier 2008, $20
Definitive viognier aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, orange blossom and spice define this fantastic Australian white. Well structured with
a creamy texture, racy fruit flavors dance across the palate gently melding into a fine, precise finish.