Some things are just more important than money. If price is no object in your quest for the perfect bottle of wine for that special someone on your holiday gift list, you may want to consider one of these top-rated vintages:
2002 Shafer Stags Leap District Napa Valley Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($190): Patience is key for this young cabernet, which is predicted to reach its prime in 10 to 15 years. Think of it as an investment.
2005 Prinz zu Salm-Dalberg Nahe Wallhauser Felseneck Riesling TBA ($801/375ml): At $800 a bottle, this Riesling had better be good. By all accounts, it is: “Wine & Spirits” magazine speaks in the same breath of its “decadence” and “purity.” Angels and demons, indeed.
2001 Penfolds South Australia Grange Shiraz ($225): You can find a good shiraz for under $30, but if you’re unwilling to settle for anything less than one-of-a-kind complexity, this is your wine. The upside: under the proper conditions, it will outlast that new iPod.
1999 Tokahi Essencia ($500/500ml): “Wine & Spirits” magazine awarded this Hungarian tokaj 100 out of 100 possible points: an unusual occurrence, to say the least. Their adjective of choice says it all: “Stupendous.”
2004 Taylor Fladgate Porto Vargellas Vinha Velha ($233): This porto is one for the ages. Buy it now for someone who is willing and able to give it a good home for the next quarter-century.
As you can see, the main drawback to giving expensive wine is the delayed gratification: If you want a gift the recipient can open and enjoy immediately, then these vintages are not for you. But if you like to imagine them savoring your present 10, 15, 20, or more years into the future, and money is no object, by all means consider one of these extraordinary wines.