Sometimes you need to find a special bottle of wine as a gift or to open for an occasion. If you try one of these wines you will receive gratitude and platitudes.
The 1999 Baudana Ceretta Piani Barolo is the reason people love Italian reds. Please open this wine at least 90 minutes before you plan to drink it. You could spend the evening just inhaling the wonderful aromas of this Barolo. You will find your nose greeted by tar, violets, and black cherry. Don't worry, this is only a promise of things to come. In your mouth this wine is rich and juicy, with pleasant full flavors on the tongue. There is a looooooong, slightly oaky finish. It may be hard to find, but it will be worth the search. At $55 a bottle, it's a steal for what you will get.
The 2001 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, from Rutherford, epitomizes what a Cabernet should be. The aromas are sweet and smoky, with notes of dark berries. The flavors are dark as well, dark plums, black cherries, and black pepper. The hint of vanilla keeps this wine from tipping in the wrong direction. The feel in your mouth is creamy, with a nice medium weight. The famous "Rutherford dust" comes across your mouth, leaving you satisfied, but wanting more. An excellent offering for $38 a bottle.
The Australians have been some very good Chardonnays for decades now. The 2001 Leeuwin Art Series, from Margaret River, is a prime example. Wine Spectator has crowned Leeuwin as the "benchmark [Chardonnay producer], not only for the region, but for the country as a whole." The Art Series brings us a wine closer to the style of Burgundy than California. It is big, but balanced. There are wonderful flavors of fig, pear, ginger, and honey. The finish is silky smooth, with lingering hints of sweet spices. You can age this wine for the next sevral years. Expect to pay about $65 for this premier Chardonnay.