9 Fantastic Options for the Red Wine Lover on Your Holiday Shopping...

9 Fantastic Options for the Red Wine Lover on Your Holiday Shopping List

Gifting Cabernet Sauvignons from Sonoma and Napa Valley – a simple list of my picks


With the holidays come lists of wines to recommend as gifts. I think that most any red wine lover would welcome a first-rate California Cabernet Sauvignon, or a blend featuring Cabernet as its main component. So here, without too much ado, is a compendium of the best I’ve tasted this year from Napa and Sonoma Counties – and one from the Santa Cruz Mountains. A wide array of prices, naturally, but all of these are memorable and special. No disappointments here!

2014 St. Francis, Sonoma County $22 suggested retail price
Accessible with cherry, plum and vanilla smiles.

2014 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve $26
Always interesting, this is focused, ripe, vibrant and luscious.

2014 Sequoia Grove, Napa Valley $40
Bordeaux-like. Rugged, dense, stick-to-your-gums extracted.

2013 B.R. Cohn, Gold Label $43*
Subtlety, rose petals, deeply fruited and stylish.

2014 Robert Mondavi “Maestro” $50
Impressive – solid, like a fortress. Impeccable balance.

2013 Chateau St. Jean “Les Cinq Cépages $75
Dramatic – black cherry, licorice, plum exuberance. Age-worthy.

2014 Beringer Private Reserve, Napa Valley $140
Always impressive, caressing and long. One of the best vintages ever.

2012 Elivette, Spring Mountain Vineyard $140*
A pure middle-weight, silky, rich, exquisitely balanced. A keeper.

2014 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello $160
Profoundly dark, brooding, monumentally rich. Classic.

*very limited availability

Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.