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Vintage wine gifts for special anniversaries

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A special anniversary, such as a silver, ruby or golden wedding anniversary, calls for an extra special gift, and choosing the right option can often be difficult and time consuming. An ideal solution, resulting in a gift that is not only prestigious but also highly personal and thoughtful, is a vintage wine from the corresponding year.

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Vintage wine gifts for special anniversaries

  1. 1. Vintage Wine Gifts for Special Anniversaries A special anniversary, such as a silver, ruby or golden wedding anniversary, calls for an extra special gift, and choosing the right option can often be difficult and time consuming. An ideal solution, resulting in a gift that is not only prestigious but also highly personal and thoughtful, is a vintage wine from the corresponding year. Vintage wines are rightly regarded as being sophisticated gifts with an air of exclusivity attached, but they also provide a direct connection to the year being commemorated, sharing as they do the same year of origin. The vintage wine gift can be enjoyed as the centerpiece of the celebration, or saved as a keepsake for the future. Many prospective purchasers of a vintage wine gift are however discouraged by their lack of experience of vintage wines, fearful perhaps of choosing the wrong option. It is the aim of both this article and the sister article "Choosing the Perfect Anniversary Wine Gift" to dispel any doubts that you may have by providing all the information you need to begin to explore the options available for your vintage wine anniversary gift. Whereas the companion article deals with the more general selection of an anniversary wine for any year, here we will concentrate on the specific options open to you for special anniversaries taking place in the year 2010. Some Thoughts on Wine Styles and Vintages Perhaps the most important thing to note as you embark on your selection of a vintage wine gift for your special anniversary is that you will rarely err, provided you pay due consideration to the tastes of your recipient. Vintage wines are, almost by definition, wines that have established a good reputation through tastings and favourable reviews and so have stood the test of time and found themselves in the cellars and inventories of discerning vintage wine merchants. The weaker and more insipid wines, and those that are simply not suited to long term storage, are generally rooted out and will not become established. So rest assured that, in settling upon a vintage wine gift, you are already firmly on the path to a memorable gift that will be treasured.
  2. 2. This said, it is also worth going that extra mile to ensure the gift is as well suited as possible to the tastes of the recipient. If possible, find out a little about their tastes in wine or other alcoholic beverages. Would they prefer a sweet or a dry style? Do they tend to prefer fruity and bold wines? The more you can establish at this early stage, the more likely it is that your gift will delight. You will note that here I have not emphasised a choice between red and white wines. This is because, as a general rule, white wines are not suited to long term ageing and are generally past their best after 2 to 5 years in bottle. There can be exceptions, such as some sweet desert wines of Sauternes for instance, but for the beginner to vintage wines looking for a wine at least 10 years old and usually much older, white wines are best avoided. There then comes the matter of vintage. It is likely that, in keeping with the special nature of your anniversary, you will want the wine gift to be rooted in a vintage year that is noted for its overall excellence. Whilst there is undoubtedly a certain mystique attached to those years in which the vintage wines are recognised as exceptional as a whole, please remember that there will always be quality wines available from even the poorest years. The quality of an overall vintage year for a wine growing region is only part of the story, and there are many other factors that result in the development of an excellent wine. A very important factor indeed is the extent to which the wine selected will benefit from inbottle ageing. Whilst the overall standard of the vintage of origin may be good, wines will vary greatly in their response to ageing. Most wines that are produced as standard table wines will typically only be suited to 2 or 3 years of storage before they begin to deteriorate, whatever the standard of the vintage as a whole. Those wines that are selected as vintage wines to be cellared for the long term are chosen on the basis of their known affinity for in-bottle ageing. A carefully aged vintage wine is amongst the greatest wines you will ever experience, and is worth seeking out, but it is not an exact science and so only the test of time itself will determine the quality on opening. In order to provide you with specific recommendations for vintage wines for your special anniversary, I will concentrate for the remainder of this article on the red wines available from two classic wine regions: Bordeaux and Italy. The reader is of course encouraged to explore further afield as experience and confidence is gained, to encompass the wonderful wines and vintages of Burgundy, Spain, California, Australia, South Africa, and so many
  3. 3. other wonderful options. Amongst the great wines of Bordeaux and Italy there is however ample scope for the beginner to find a perfect anniversary gift, and the following options are provided as suggestions to get you going. 10th Anniversary Wines (2000 Vintage) The red wines of 2000 will still as a rule be young, and should if possible be kept in bottle for further ageing. That is not to say that they will not be delicious if sampled now, but that even greater delights await the patient beneficiary of the gift. The year experienced good growing conditions in both Bordeaux and Italy, but of these the stand out would be Bordeaux. As a whole the wines produced from Bordeaux were powerful and concentrated, and the vintage wines produced have so far proved to be slowly evolving indicating that they will certainly benefit from decades of bottle ageing. Specific recommendations for this year would be: • Chateau Palmer 2000, Margaux - a full bodied wine with tastes of blackberries, roasted meats, and even hints of wood smoke • Chateau Canon 2000, Fronsac - medium bodied with notes of strawberries, cherries and minerals • Chateau Roquefort 2000 - a medium, soft wine with tastes of plums and red fruits 20th Anniversary Wines (1990 Vintage) Bordeaux and Italian vintage reds from 1990 will as a whole be coming into their peak around now and the buyer can be confident of obtaining a beautiful wine that can be either enjoyed now or saved for a decade or two. Again, both Bordeaux and Italy as a whole experienced great vintage years with ideal growing conditions. Of the two, I would recommend Italy as the truly exceptional vintage from this year, as it was one of the greatest vintages of modern times. The vintage Italian wines are drinking well now but
  4. 4. show every indication of continuing to develop if cellared. Specific recommendations would be: • Brunello di Montalcino 1990, Geografico - a fresh and juicy wine with red fruits and cherries, along with vegetable tones and smoky hints • Barolo Belvedere 1990 - a dry red with a sweet and fruity core, some aromas of prunes and tobacco, and a silky finish • Barbaresco Traversa Sori Ciabot 1990 - a fruity wine with black cherry and cassis fruits, but with oaky, tobacco tones Silver Anniversary Wines (1985 Vintage) Whilst it is generally true that a vintage red wine of this age will be reaching its peak condition, this is not necessarily so for the Bordeaux wines of this year. Lack of rainfall in August and September led to concentrated wines which have now generally gone past their peak. The Italian vintage was superb and consistent though, especially in Piedmont and Tuscany, and so I would recommend Italian wines both for drinking now and for further cellaring if desired. Specific recommendations would be: • Brunello di Montalcino 1985, Castello Banfi - a fresh wine with dark fruits, anice and leather, and an earthy, slightly floral aroma • Barolo Prandi 1985 - a powerful and complex wine, with slight hints of vanilla and a floral aroma • Barolo Patrizzi 1985 - a smooth and sweet wine with hints of tea and cumin
  5. 5. 30th Anniversary Wines (1980 Vintage) These wines will now generally be ready for drinking, whilst the exceptional wines may yet stand further ageing. Whilst the Bordeaux vintage was not exceptional due to wet and cool conditions, the Italian vintage was very good and provided consistent wines, especially the Barolos. Specific recommendations would be: • Marchesi di Barolo 1980 - always a classic Italian wine, the 1980 is smooth and elegant with cherry fruits and hints of roses and tea • Amarone della Valpolicella 1980 - a full bodied wine with plums and liquorice, that will keep well due to the unique production process • Chianti Tenuta di Vignole 1980 - a smooth wine with dark fruits and spice Ruby Anniversary Wines (1970 Vintage) The wines from this year will now generally be progressing past their peak and should be enjoyed now as further ageing is unlikely to provide benefits. Both the Italian and the Bordeaux vintages were outstanding, but I would recommend Bordeaux in particular since the wines in general have such a uniform richness and quality. Specific recommendations would be: • Chateau Latour 1970 - a wine of outstanding quality with a corresponding price tag, simply superlative, full-bodied and concentrated • Chateau de Camensac 1970 - a medium bodied wine with berries and spice, and a mineral-scented aroma
  6. 6. • Chateau Petit-Village 1970 - a soft and fruity wine with some spice and a lingering finish Golden Anniversary Wines (1960 Vintage) It should be noted that wines of this age, in all but the most exceptional of cases, will generally be declining in quality. Whilst the wine can be enjoyed still, it may be found to be well past its best on opening. Such vintage wine gifts make a highly personalised statement, and are often provided as a keepsake as much as for actual enjoyment. Both the Italian and the Bordeaux vintages were not exceptional this year. Of the two, I would recommend the Italian wines, since the Bordeaux wines were generally delicate and did not age well. Specific recommendations would be: • Barolo Carretta 1960 - a smooth and balanced wine with cherries, prunes and dates to the taste, along with aromas of black fruits and raisins • Valpolicella Montresor 1960 - a wine that has generally lasted well, with dark cherries and mineral and earth tones • Spanna Francoli 1960 - another wine that is likely to have aged well, with a fruity taste and slight acidity Diamond Anniversary Wines (1950 Vintage) The availability of wines that have aged well from this year is clearly much more limited, and again it is likely that your gift will be better suited as a keepsake. Nevertheless, there are exceptional wines still out there. The best vintage year was in Bordeaux, from which the best wines were truly exceptional, but I will include an Italian recommendation too given the lack of well aged wines available. Specific recommendations would be:
  7. 7. • Chateau Cheval Blanc 1950 - a wine that has stood the test of time and still drinks well now • Marchesi di Barolo 1950 - a fruity wine with hints of meat and game, and some smoky, aged aromas These recommendations will hopefully give you a head start in choosing the perfect vintage wine gift for your anniversary. As with most things in life, let your own experience and judgment be the key as you continue to sample the world of vintage wines! Click Here for more information.

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