Guess what goes well with a Father's Day card? A nice bottle of wine. (I hope my kids are reading this.)

One of my favorite quotes about wine comes from a passage in Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. He writes:

"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."

Just think of a sunny afternoon sitting on a seaside patio or deck, with no cares in the world except for the task of ordering your favorite foods and washing them down with your favorite wines -- cost being no object. That's on my bucket list with Taormina, Sicily, the destination. (Did you hear that Wine Goddess?)

Anyway, if your Dad likes red wine, here are some of my favorites to consider for purchase.

(Remember to wrap the bottle in gold or silver foil and present it in one of those exceptionally colorful wine-carrying bags. As you present it, tell Dad that he reminds you of a sturdy Old World vine, planted years ago, that has weathered the ebb and flow of time with wisdom, grace and beauty of soul, to produce a loving family of unequalled vintage which you have represented in this classic wine which comes with the highest appreciation and gratitude for all he has done.)

Hopefully, Dad will take you into his arms, kiss you, and offer to share the wine with you. Now that's a Father's Day gift.

The selections:

  • 1. Tignanello, Toscana IGT -- From the House of Antinori it's the closest thing to divine perfection (and a 100-point rating) from the Chianti Classico region. A blend of Sangiovese (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%), the richness of red berries, licorice and layers of complex mineral flavors lead to a superb, long-lasting finish. Dad can drink this now -- and he should -- but it will stand up to years in the cellar waiting for a special date. For $76 a bottle at Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, Tignanello is a fabulous buy since it usually retails in the $90-$100 range.
  • 2. Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto Monte Sant' Urbano -- There might be better amarones in the Veneto region, but this is the smoothest, most elegant and pleasing I've tasted to date. It's full of fragrant aromas and produces mouth-watering tastes. The first time you experience amarone, you'll admire it forever. The Speri version isn't cheap, about $70-80 a bottle. A tier below, but of the highest quality, is the Villa Arvedi Amarone, Bertani ($35).
  • 3. If Dad has never enjoyed a Brunello di Montalcino, here are several from the 2008 vintage that can be found locally in a decent price range. The best Brunellos are aged four years before release and have a distinctive dustiness and orange peel taste. They are full-bodied, flavorful and dry. Life is too short not to try one. The Capanna Brunello is easily available in the area from the Masciarelli Wine Co. It sells for $45, a steal from similar versions that cost two and three times as much. Expect a muscular wine built on red fruit, leather, cola and dried herb aromas. Also recommended for their quality and price are: Casanova di Neri ($50), Il Valentiano Campo di Marzo ($60), Caparzo ($60) and La Gerla ($45).
  • 4. When it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, there are many good California bottlings at great prices. You just have to dig for the best values. If Dad were shipwrecked on an island, here are the ones he should drink until he is rescued. The 2007 Heitz Cellars ($37-$44) can still be found in some locations, a tribute to the winery's slow-release strategy. Chateau Montelena ($40) remains one of my favorites and the 2010 is pretty good. The new Pine Ridge also makes a statement, as does the Berringer Knights Valley, and Kathryn Hall, which are all in the same price range. For the big spenders, there's former New England Patriots' star Drew Bledsoe's 2010 Double Back ($90) which is excellent with big, thick steaks. Tutto Bene Wine Cellars in Lowell still has a few bottles left. Now you can also get Dad a case of 90-point Liberty School Cabernet, a $14 wine ranked the No. 3 Best Buy in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine. With a 15 percent case discount, it'll cost roughly $137 for 12 luscious bottles.
  • 5. If Dad likes Pinot Noir, try to land a bottle from Oregon's St. Innocent Winery. The 2011 Shea Vineyard Special Selection sold out in four days but there are at least four other bottlings to choose from, ranging in price from $36 to $42. It's a hard find but the New Hampshire Liquor Outlets sometimes score a shipment, as do fine wine stores. If you are willing to spend more, few producers can match the quality and consistency of Williams Selyem's Pinot Noir. The 2011 Terra de Promissio Vineyard bottling received a 95-point rating from Wine Enthusiast and sells for $55. Of course, you can always opt for my favorite, Belle Glos Clark & Telephone ($42 on average).

Email comments to jcampanini@lowellsun.com.