Top 43 wines to buy now

Shopping for a wine-lover's gift? Here are some of our judges' favorite bottles from the Sunset International Wine Competition


Love the unusual? Loathe drinking the same thing everyone else is? Here’s your beverage list.

  • James Arthur 2011 Edelweiss (Nebraska; $17). This white grape was developed to withstand cold winters. Here, it’s slightly spritzy and semisweet, with bright Granny Smith apple flavors and a clean, balanced finish.
  • William Chris 2011 John Dale Vineyards Blanc du Bois (Washington County, Texas; $28). Yes, Blanc du Bois is a grape, too, in this case with characteristic honeyed florals, tropical fruit, and mouth-filling texture.
  • Chiarito 2009 Fox Hill Vineyards Negroamaro (Mendocino; $32). Dried herbs and crispy-edged brownies spice up ripe dark fruit and dusty tannins.
  • Sea Mist NV Cranberry/Raspberry Wine (Oregon; $14). Beautiful definition of cranberry and raspberry fruit, with impressive richness and a smooth finish.
  • Peter Vella NV Sangria (American; $11). If you don’t have time to make your wine punch from scratch, this is the way to go.
  • Eaglemount NV Ginger Cider (Washington State; $14). Clean and long—ginger hits just the right note on the nose with the apple aromas.


All-American Zinfandel is great with a pungent, spicy, fruity turkey dinner.

  • Ancient Peaks 2010 Zinfandel (Paso Robles; $17). Cranberries and cherries are sprinkled with spices and brightened with acidity.
  • Fritz 2009 Estate Grown Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley; $25). Red cherries keep this one bright, but darker berries, licorice notes, and earth keep it interesting.
  • MacLeod Family 2010 Indian Springs Ranch Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley; $28). Textbook Zinfandel: wild raspberries and spicy black pepper in a mouth-filling style.
  • Meadowcroft 2009 Zinfandel (Sonoma County; $34). Rich, deep fruit, with good structure and balance and just a hint of toast.
  • Scott Harvey 2010 Mountain Selection Zinfandel (Amador County; $22). Well-ripened red fruit with a dash of briary spice and a firmly structured, racy finish.
  • Shenandoah 2010 Special Reserve Zinfandel (Amador County; $11). Great balance between fruit and acidity. Brambly berries touched with spice.
  • V. Sattui 2009 Black Sears Vineyard Zinfandel (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley; $42). Peppery, with exuberant red and black fruit and a long, spicy finish.
  • Zinfatuation 2010 Zinfandel (Amador County; $10). Shy aromas rebound with mouth-filling texture and firm structure.


Challenging people on your holiday gift list? We’ve got the perfect bottles for your...

  • Brother: Troublemaker by Austin Hope NV “Blend 3” (Paso Robles; $20). A classy response to all those years of his teasing.
  • Old college roommate who’s turned into a wine snob: Goldeneye 2009 Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley; $55). Hedge your bets with a variety that’s hot, but with a bottle that has the pedigree of an illustrious Napa winery (Duckhorn) behind it.
  • Pop culture–obsessed friend: Barrymore 2011 Pinot Grigio (Delle Venezie IGT; $20). With this winning Grigio, Drew Barrymore joins the legions of celebrities jumping into the wine biz.
  • New spouse: Fidélitas 2011 Semillon (Columbia Valley; $18). The name is the message: fidelity, loyalty, honor.
  • Recent college grad: Fetzer 2010 “Valley Oaks” Moscato (California; $8). Don’t waste big bucks on the bottle you tuck in this stocking—22-year-olds know the wine to drink now is the sweet white the likes of Drake and Gucci Mane have been rapping about.
  • Boss: Jordan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley; $52). A role model of a California Cab.


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