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Dec 11, 2009 12:19 PM

Need a red wine recommendation (for gift).

Hey all,

I am the first to admit that I am clueless about wines. I am looking for a bottle of wine for a Christmas gift to a friend, and I was hoping for a recommendation.

I was thinking of a bottle of red wine, but I have no clue about his particular tastes. In that, maybe something that most people would generally like?

I am hoping to spend $50 on this bottle, is that too little?

I am located in Montreal, Quebec, and so I would be looking for something that could be found on

Thank you so much!

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  1. If you don't know about your friend's wine preferences, do you know what kinds of food he likes? Which BYOBs, if any, does he go to? Does he have a wine fridge or cellar? (If he does, it'd mean you wouldn't have to ignore wines that require aging.) Have you thought about giving him an SAQ gift card in lieu of a bottle?

    10 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      He generally enjoys many things, and frequents the french and italian BYOB restaurants in the plateau area. He likely does have a wine fridge or cellar, so wines that require aging is fine.

      I have thought about the gift card, but that would be my last resort. I think it's better (maybe I don't know wine, so it's the norm here?) to give a bottle to show you tried, rather than a generic card.

      1. re: xIcewind

        Looked over my tasting notes for the last six months or so. Here are a few wines that stand out. For availability, plug the SAQ code into the search box of

        Pinot Noir 2007, Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Niagara, Le Clos Jordanne ($43.75, SAQ code 10697420). One of Canada's top Pinot Noirs. New Worldish in its youth, becoming more Burgundian as it ages.

        Beaune 2006, "Les Épenottes," Pierre Bourée Fils ($50, 872366). A solid -- if perhaps a little stolid -- red Burgundy (Pinot Noir). Tasty now but needs another 5-10 years in the bottle to start strutting its stuff. Suppler and more ephemeral, with a "nez qui pinote" as our compatriots would put it, is Bruno Clair's 2005 Marsannay "Les Longeroies" ($44.50, 11168837). Not a lot left in the system.

        Cahors 2005, Les Laquets, Cosse-Maisonneuve ($38.75, 10328587). One of the purest and most noble expressions of Malbec I've encountered. Rich yet appealingly austere. Drink now and over the next decade. This has been in the system for close to a year, so quantities are limited and it's important to buy it at an outlet with good storage conditions (Laurier, Beaubien, Rockland, etc.). For a more modern (frutier, oakier, a little less terroir-driven) style of Cahors, seek out the 2005 Cuvée Expression from Château Lamartine ($46.50, 00854661).

        Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007, Pierre Usseglio ($47, 10257521). The best of the 2007 CDPs that I've tried in your price range. Approachable now, especially if decanted an hour or two beforehand, though capable of aging and maybe improving for another five or more years.

        Barbaresco 2004, Tenuta Roncaglie, Poderi Colla ($54.75, 11100120). Classic Barbaresco. A bit stern on its own but delicious at table. Will be better with a few more years on it. Only a few bottles left at the Signature store downtown.

        Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Veneto, Marion ($48, 10443091). A declious curiosity. The grapes are late-harvested, placed on racks and left to dry for a month or so before being pressed. The result is a rich and powerful, Amarone-style wine made with a very un-Amarone grape.

        Lastly, a couple of fine Riojas, both a little over $50 but both realtive bargains (there are few wines of this age and quality at this price point): the 2001 Gran Reserva Especial from Castillo Ygay ($56, 11166647) and the 2001 Prado Enea Gran Reserva from Muga ($57, 11169670).

        1. re: carswell

          Great, thanks! I'm going to print that list out and take it to the SAQ signature down on St. Catherines, and hope for them to find it!

          Thanks again!

          1. re: xIcewind

            I'd take Carswell's list in tow. You have two marks against you: you live in Canada, where there are regulations that many do not face, and you are guessing on your friend's preferences. IIRC, Carswell also lives in CA (Canada and not California), and knows good wines.

            I know about half of those recommended, and would enjoy a bottle of those, plus probably the rest, as well. Like I said, Carswell knows his wines, so I'd gladly accept a bottle of each - hint, hint.

            You should be able to find something there, close to your budget. Even with the regulations in CA (Canada), you have a very workable budget.

            BTW - I receive wine gifts, and many are new to me. Most are very good wines, and the rest have all been drinkable. I do not fault any gift-giver, who might choose (or have chosen for them) a wine that is not very good. The spirit of the gift counters those quickly.

            Enjoy, and give the gift with love,


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Thanks for the kind words, Bill. xIcewind and I are both Montrealers, so for once it's easy to talk specifics. One advantage of dealing with the SAQ (the local liquor board) is that the recipient can return any intact bottle for an exchange or refund, no questions asked, so if he hates the gift bottle, he's not stuck with it.

              1. re: carswell

                Now, that return policy could be a very good one, and also is one of which I was not aware.

                Thank you for educating this poor "Southern" person!

                Glad that you were around with the specific geo-centric recs. I always shy away from Canadian recs., due to my total lack of knowledge of exactly how the SAQ works.

                The OP is fortunate, indeed,


                1. re: carswell

                  Wow, X, you hit the jackpot with Carswell's response. How lucky.

              2. re: xIcewind

                Of the wines listed, only the Barbaresco is available at the Signature store. The nearby Sélection store on de Maisonneuve and City Councillors has a few. Others will require going to the Atwater, Laurier, Beaubien, Rockland or various Classic outlets. Some you can order online and have delivered to an address you specify. will tell all.

                Also, it looks like the Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard bottling is nearly sold out. The Signature store has bottles of the estate's top red, Le Grand Clos, in the 2006 vintage, though it's $63.

                1. re: carswell

                  Thanks so much, carswell, for your recommendations!

                  I ended up purchasing the Marion since I was at the Atwater store, and that was all they had left.

                  Again, thank you for your recommendations; maybe I'll end up picking up a bottle myself!

                  1. re: xIcewind

                    Glad to be of help, xIcewind. The Marion would have been high on my personal list -- it's a delicious, rich, warming, food-friendly wine both true to the grape and to its terroir and unlike any other Cabernet I've encountered. FYI, here's the producer's website, where you'll find background information on the wine and pictures of the grapes drying on racks.