The Southern Rhone
The Southern Rhone is filled with fabulous wines, from myriad appellations but the truth of the matter is that the region's reputation in the USA was built upon the great wines from Chateauneuf du Pape. Prices for these wines continue to creep up, which does open the door for the values from Gigondas, and Vacqueyras in particular, to steal some of their thunder but for the most part when someone wants a Southern Rhone for the Holidays they usually want Chateauneuf. These are great wines for gifts, essentially ready to drink on release but with great mid-term cellaring potential. Once again 2009 and 2010 are both fabulous vintages with the 09s being a bit easier going than the very powerful 2010s. Since these wines don’t require extended cellaring I’d suggest going for the 2010s if you can find them.
2010 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas $25-$30 Big and rich and a stunning value in 2010, this has fruit and savory complexity galore. It’s a powerful, gutsy wine that people tend to adore. 
2010 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape $30-$40 Rich, velvety and packed with sweet red and black fruits, this is lovely blend of modern and traditional in the Southern Rhone. 
2010 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape $53-$70 Holding on to tradition, this offers up savory olive and meaty accents that will emerge with time adding tremendous complexity to the core of black fruit. Tannins need a few years to resolve but this will be amazing. 
2010 Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape $65-$80 Always a bit more elegant, this is none the less a powerful vintage for Charvin that retains red fruits with gentle floral, herb, and salty mineral accents. 
2010 Vieux Telegraphe La Crau Chateauneuf du Pape $65-$85 Certainly among the most traditional Chateauneufs, and a rare wine that is built for the cellar. This is as complete a VT as I’ve ever had, so complex already but the real fireworks are 4-6 years in the future.  Stellar!