Forbes 2022 Holiday Gift Guide: Under The Radar Wines

A lot of great wines just don’t get the recognition they deserve. Here’s a roundup of some wines that deserve your attention for both gifting and drinking during the holiday season.

DAOU Vineyards 2019 Soul of a Lion, $170

Named in honor of Georges and Daniel Daou’s father, this wine offers and explosion of flavors including blackberry, blueberry, black currant, dark cherry, sweet tobacco, and licorice. . “Holidays are about celebration, and you want to open a wine that honors the people you have chosen to share your table with, says Winemaker Daniel Daou. “At our family table, that is Soul of a Lion, named in honor of our father.” Another great wine that’s not on everyone’s radar is The Bodyguard, which is a delightful blend of Petit Verdot and PetiteSyrah, which retails for $40.

Graham Beck Brut Rosé, $20

This South African bubbly, made in the traditional Champagne method, is one of the best wines for drinking while eating a holiday meal. It pairs great with so many entrées and sides, but it also shines when serving dessert – it’s especially delicious with a pecan pie. Its Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine is also particularly festive for ringing in the New Year.

Tank Garage Winery Crystal Visions, $75

Tank Garage Winery does some pretty experimental and experiential wines. Literally gift some good vibrations with this crystal-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon from Tank Garage Winery. This small-production wine was actually surrounded by charged quartz crystals during production, creating an ethereal and savory red wine perfect for bohemian dreamers.

DAROM Red 2021, $27.99

DAROM is a new brand from the renowned Yatir Winery in Israel. One of the three wines of this new brand to make its debut is the DAROM Red, a dry red wine. “DAROM by YATIR’s wines are connected to the dynamic history of the soil, and the unpretentiousness accompanying them is felt in every sip,” says Eran Goldwasser, winemaker. “The tasting notes offer a lighter character, with fresh fruit flavors.”

JUSTIN Winery 2020 Justification, $65

Though famed Paso Robles winemaker JUSTIN is known for its Isosceles red wine, equally good though quite different, is its Justification red blend. This wine, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, expresses the spirit of a few Right-Bank Bordeaux producers by blending Merlot and Cabernet Franc with its complex expression of herbs, red fruit and elegant structure, but with a Paso Robles twist of full, mature fruit.

Les Vins Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé, $14.99

Georges Duboeuf released the Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé in its collection of Beaujolais wines in 2018, and this has become a favorite among Nouveau enthusiasts ever since. Traditionally, rosé from this region of the world is not available for purchase by consumers until February or March of the following year. Pale in color and freshly scented, the Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé offers lovers of the varietal a rare opportunity to enjoy a younger rosé with early availability.

Goose Ridge Vineyards 2018 Vireo Red Blend, $45

The Goose Gap AVA within Washington’s Columbia Valley was named Washington’s 19th appellation in 2021. This luscious red blend from Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards and Winery within the Goose Gap appellation was crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Sourced from some of the best Goose Gap Mountain blocks, this wine benefits from meticulous viticulture and winemaking practices resulting in notable elegance and depth.

McManis Family Vineyards Barbera, $12.99

Fourth generation farmer Ron McManis and his wife Jamie founded McManis Family Vineyards in 1990 in the northern interior region of California. The Jamie Lynn Vineyard is the McManis small “home” vineyard located on both sides of the entrance to the winery. Less than 3 acres, it is planted entirely to Jamie’s favorite varietal – Barbera. This special limited production wine from the McManis team has aromas of with raspberry, black cherry, and clove notes. Medium-bodied with a hint of mocha flavor, the wine lingers on the palate with soft, mellow tannins.

Dutcher Crossing – 2018 Winemakers’ Cellar Testa Reserve Carignane, Mendocino County, $40

While Carignane is most commonly grown in France and Spain, it’s much harder to come by in Northern California. This Carignane boasts of a palate bursting with red fruits like tart cherries and cranberries, providing an abundance of texture and structure.

Imagery Estate – 2019 Lagrein, Upper Ridge Vineyard $45

Since it was founded in the early 1980s, Imagery Estate Winery has been known for experimenting with interesting blends and lesser-known varietals that are uncommon in California. The winery’s Lagrein is no exception. This ancient grape variety is native to Trentino-Alto Adige in northeastern Italy, but thrives in Imagery’s Upper Ridge estate vineyard, one of the highest elevation vineyards in Sonoma County. Deeply hued and full-bodied, this Lagrein expresses ripe blackberry and plum aromas with hints of spice and a spry acidity on the palate. Another unusual wine that would be great for gifting is their 2019 Tempranillo, Upper Ridge, also $45.

Evening Land Vineyards Seven Springs Passetoutgrain 2019, $35

While many people might be familiar with the Willamette Valley, not as many people know about a sub-AVA called Eola-Amity Hills. Passetoutgrain as a wine is often referred to as Burgundy’s best-kept secret and not often found stateside. This co-fermented Pinot Noir – Gamay blend produced in the whole-cluster carbonic method, is ripe for the wine lover on your list looking for something new, different and delicious.

Penfolds 2019 St. Henri, $150

Penfolds’ Grange is a famous wine from that continuously receives perfect scorings from wine critics year after year, but the brand’s St. Henri is a comparable Shiraz, but it’s not as well known. It’s got an incredibly high quality but boasts a more approachable price point than Grange, making it a great wine for more novice collectors to collect as it only gets better with age.

Biltmore Estate Pinot Noir, $22

With grapes sourced from California and aged in oak barrels in North Carolina, this lovely Pinot Noir is made for pairing with traditional holiday meals. In fact, roast turkey was George Vanderbilt’s favorite – you can replicate the recipe here.

Go There Wines 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé Pet-Nat, $34

Go There Wines aims to disrupt the global wine industry, by bringing to market trailblazing wines made by women and other underrepresented winemakers from lesser-known wine-making regions around the world. Go There allows winemakers to name their own prices, receive payment upfront and ensures that 25 percent of the profits go straight to them. Made by Abdullah Richi, a Syrian winemaker in exile in Lebanon, this naturally sparkling wine boasts notes of morello cherries, lemongrass and savory brioche. Another lovely wine to try is the 2021 Extra Brut Reserve Sparkling Rosé by Nondumiso Pikashe who is charting a new path in Paarl, South Africa.

Black Star Farms Gamay Noir, $23

This medium, light bodied red wine boasts notes of fresh-cut violets and tart red fruits. Made of 95 percent Gamay Noir with a mix of 5 percent Pinot Noir, this is a versatile red wine, which pairs amazing with grilled meats of all kinds, but it would even pair nicely with Cajun seasoned shrimp and grits.

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, $100

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino is a limited quantity wine made from a meticulous vine selection in the best lots of the Catena family’s estate vineyards. These Zapata vines are carefully hand tended and produce extremely low yields. The grapes are micro-fermented in new French oak barriques and the wine is then aged for 24 months in new French oak.

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