When you want to give a gift, I suggest a case of wine.

Martin Keck enjoying his gift
 When you want to give a gift with more than the usual thought behind it, for such occasions as Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, I suggest a case of wine.

My wine geek friend PJ has a formula to help choose a nice case: “three French, three Italian, three California, three everywhere else. Of those, I suggest eight red bottles, four whites. Include some Bordeaux and some Rhone varietals, a Chianti and a Sparkling. Throw in a California Chardonnay or Cabernet.”

I used this formula as a guide for my son’s Christmas gift. He already had an Italian Chianti and Australian Riesling, so I bought 10 bottles. My tab was $160. This almost-case was a great gift, and affordable. My list is below.

Two from Italy, both reds

Barbera del Monferrato 2009, a biodynamic wine from Cascina Zerbetta, Italy. This is a red wine, 14 percent alcohol, with low sulfite levels, from a small grower in Italy’s Piedmont region. It’s a rich full-bodied wine with some tartness and earthiness, with nice tannins on the finish. A second Italian red was the Borgonero 2005, Borgo Scopeto, Toscana from Castelnuovo Berardenga A dry red wine at 13.5 percent alcohol

New Zealand, white

The 2011 Field of Stones Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. This also is a Wall Street Journal Wine Club selection. Intense flavors of lemon, thyme and guava with crisp acidity and a lingering minerality. 12.5 percent alcohol.

Four from France: Two Reds, A White, and  A Sparkling White, 

For the first red, the Bordeaux Superieur 2008, Chateau de Bonhoste, a Grand Vin de Bordeaux from Famille Fournier. This red wine, 12.5 percent alcohol, is a blend of 70 percent Merlot, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent Cabernet Franc. Garnet-red in color, a baked-fruit bouquet, full body, soft and well balanced, and a nice fruity finish. The second red was the Cotes du Rhone Villages 2007, Laudun, Chateau Courac. 14 percent alcohol.

For the sparkling, the Brut Champagne, Nicolas Feuillatte of Chouilly, France. 12 percent alcohol.

The second white with the Chablis Millesime 2009, Simonnet Febvre of Grand Vin de Bourgogne. 12.5 percent alcohol.

Red from Argentina

I chose the 2009 Malbec, Viña Amalia, Reserve Single Vineyard, Valle de Uco, Mendoza . Fine red fruit aroma, with a fresh taste and well-balanced medium tannins. Flavor of plums and vanilla. 14 percent alcohol.

South Africa, a white

My pick was the Warwick 2010 Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc, from Stellenbosch. Warwick cellar lies on the celebrated slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains in Stellenbosch. Pear and peach aromas, and a pleasant minerality. 13 percent alcohol.

A California white

The 2009 Tessa Chardonnay from Sarapo Family Wines, Sonoma County rounded out the selections. 14.5 percent alcohol

Give your local wine shop your budget, PJ’s generic shopping list, and they should be able to approximate the selection and the cost.

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