I’ve chosen my Christmas wines… I can’t wait
Do you love Christmas? I love Christmas. I mean really love it. I start counting down on the 26th June; it’s from this day on that my mind wanders to what wines shall we have on the big day this year, and each wine I taste becomes a contender.
Choosing Christmas wines is a big deal. Each year we alternate between my folks and the in-laws, ensuring we see both sets over the festive period. Its now become tradition for us to take a selection of wines for the big feast so there’s plenty of (self applied) pressure to get things right.
And there are rules. Self imposed again; nevertheless, they are still rules:
- A six-bottle case comprising 2 white, 2 red, 1 fizz and 1 sticky
- No repeating any wines from previous years
Last year’s selection:
Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2008, West Sussex, UK
Domaine Ferrand Pouilly Fuisse Prestige 2008, Macon, Burgundy
DeMorgenzon DeMorgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve 2010, Stellenbosch, SA
Joseph Drouhin Chorey-le-Beaune 2010, Burgundy, France
Elboador +7 2007, Priorat, Spain
Castelnau du Sudiraut 2007, Sauternes, Bordeaux
The supermarkets have played a huge role in this year’s selections – it seems they have chosen wine as the battlefield for this year’s Christmas price war; as consumers and wine lovers, we are getting a very good deal. November has been littered with 25% off the whole range promotions and I for one, have not been afraid of getting stuck in.
I had a few options in mind here but when Tesco decided to reduce their Moet & Chandon Vintage Champagne from the spectacular 2004 vintage from £42.99 to £35… then offered a further 25% off to £26.25, there was no decision left to make! I love the elegant, lively and biscuity edge of Moet – their vintage offerings are super-charged versions of the NV and I can’t wait to get stuck into these beauties over the Seasonal period.
My discovery of 2013 has been German Riesling. I’ve been extolling the virtues of Alsatian, Australian and New Zealand Rieslings for a few years now but a tasting of what JJ Prum have to offer has turned me into a true believer. I considered a JJP Kabinett but came across another big name at a not so big price in Sainsbury’s. Not only a quality name, this Kabinett is from the Graacher Himmelreich vineyard; birthplace of my favourite wine at the Prum tasting. At only 8% ABV and with ripe fruit and balanced acidity, what a wonderful partner to any Xmas starter.
I can’t do Xmas without Chardonnay. I think it is the perfect partner for turkey. Over the past few years we’ve had Meursault, Chablis, Pouilly-Fuisse, but this year I’m shopping in the New World. For a grape that has been so dreadfully abused over the past 10 years, the revival is almost complete. This year I have tasted stunning Chards from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California and Argentina – wines that have made me happy, made me smile. The Margaret River region of Western Australia is home to some fantastic Pinots and some delightful Rieslings… and its also home to some magnificent Chardonnays; one of those is Larry Cherubino’s Hen & Chicken, buttery rich, bursting with flavours of peach, lemon, gentle spice, and has a super fresh and long finish (£15.75 from Wine & the Vine). Job boxed!
I was going to steer clear of France this year – until I remembered the bottles that have been waiting for this precise moment. When we tasted our way around the Rhone last summer, at Delas we found a fantastic wine that screamed out Christmas. The guy in the tasting room agreed but made us promise not to drink it with our 2012 dinner, but to save it for 2013. That wine is Delas Chante Perdrix 2007 from the Northern Rhone.
Cornas has to be made from 100% Syrah (most other Northern Rhone appellations are made like this is although they are permitted up to 15% of white grapes to lighten the wine). For many years Cornas was the poor relation of the area, although quality has soared over the past decade and I’m looking forward to a powerful and spicy number with super ripe tannins.
And how about a Rioja for Christmas? Gran Reserva wines are exceptionally complex and full of dried fruit and spice; these flavours can stand up to all the flavours of a Christmas dinner, but are still mellow enough not to overpower the (rather boring) bird. I have gone for the Faustino I Grand Reserva 2001 – recently named as Decanter’s 2013 wine of the year! Bright as a button and super concentrated, yet light bodied but plenty of tannin and delicate. Very classy… Especially at £10.49 from Sainsbury’s (usually £17.99, reduced to £13.99 and a further 25% reduction!)
I may not be going for my first choice… but am by no means unhappy with my selection. Peller Estates was one of the standout producers at the recent Decanter Fine Wine Encounter and I really fell for their Vidal Icewine. The problem is I can only find the wine online and the 12-bottle minimum order put me off. So I decided to go traditional. And what is more traditional than a good bottle of Port?
I first tasted the Quinta do Crastro LBV 2008 at a wonderful Roberson tasting of Portuguese wines, hosted by the marvellous Charles Metcalfe. Made from 100% Touriga Nacional, the wine is full of sweet dried cranberry, a touch of fig and is oh so smooth and oh so fresh; and Roberson is a 5 minute walk from work… Fantastic!
So they are my Christmas selections for 2013. I hope you choose as well, and if you’re still struggling with your choices, I hope I’ve provided a touch of Christmas inspiration. Drink well and cheers to you all!