How to choose your Christmas Wine... Which? What? Why?
Let’s start, as every Christmas day should, with fizz. Champagne is the classic choice, whose virtues we needn’t extol here (although with shortages already appearing, we would recommend buying your favourite sooner rather than later). However, for something slightly different why not look towards the Crémant wines of Limoux or the Loire Valley which often offer champagne quality at very competitive prices. If your Christmas day starts with sweet snacks, a demi-sec (semi-sweet) sparkling can prove a good match.
White wines should be split into two categories, apéritif wines before Christmas dinner and wines to be paired with the meal itself. Christmas dinner with its rich flavours overpowers lighter, delicate whites, so for the meal opt for richer styles. Chardonnay is a good place to start, white Burgundy is perfect, pairing well with the traditional Christmas white meats - ‘village’ wines such as basic ‘Bourgogne Chardonnay’ or villages such as Saint-Aubin provide good examples. Venture into the Premier and Grand Crus for a real treat and for those who prefer crisper whites Chablis with Petit Chablis offering increasingly good value for money in recent warmer vintages. For Sauvignon Blanc fans, try a Pouilly-Fume or a good Sancerre.
A mature Claret is frequently the Christmas go-to, however, the dryness of the wine can be a poor match for turkey, turkey being a dry meat. Pinot Noir is a better match, complementing the trimmings and cranberry sauce well, however,
our recommendation would be to begin with something Grenache-based before opening the Claret. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a well-known example, however, a trip to Gigondas or Vacqueyras will pay dividends, as will the great-value region of Saint-Chinian. For red Burgundy and Claret, it’s best to buy the vintage (for Burgundy try 2014, 2017, 2019, for Claret 2015, 2016 and 2019).
The rule of thumb with desserts is that the wine should be sweeter than the pudding. Therefore, if your Christmas dinner concludes with Christmas pudding, try a super-sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry or an aged oloroso. If you’re tucking into a cheese board, Sauternes or Port complements a range of cheeses perfectly. For port, a late-bottle-vintage offers a great introduction
to the style at very reasonable prices.
The Classic Case £90.00 For the Classic selection, we’ve brought together some of our most popular recommendations. The Spumante DOC from Biancavigna offers a soft mousse and a hint of creaminess to balance an abundance of crisp green apple flavours. Lionel Gosseaumes celebrated ‘Climat No.1’ comes from Touraines newest ‘Cru’, Oisly, and raises the bar for the region. It displays vivid complexity: grapefruit, cardamom and peach all against a background of crisp vibrancy. Genilottes Chablis always impresses with its mouthwatering stony typicity and delicate hints of cream and oak. For the reds, Domaine Denantes ‘Escargot’ Bourgogne rouge displays soft red fruits, delicate acidity and compelling precision. This is complemented by the more earthy, herb-led character of Maison Sinnaes incredible value Cotes du Rhone ‘Sol’, which displays the ripe, sun-blessed character of its name.
Last but by means least, we come to stony soils of the Graves with the Château Mouras 2015. A blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petit Verdot from one of the great vintages of the last 20 years, this Claret displays expressive berry fruit notes with a touch of oak and a ripe, powerful body. One for blue cheese!
The Essential Case £60.00 Our essential case provides a curated selection of great-value wines that punch above their weight. Biancavignas Frizzante offers gentle bubbles with just a touch of sweetness whilst the two whites, a Touraine Sauvignon from Paul Buisse and our very own Les Yeuses Chardonnay, offer crisp vibrancy on one hand and food-friendly weight on the other. The reds are some of our finest picks, two stalwarts of our selection; the ripe, fresh Rioja Tempranillo from Vina Eguia and the luscious Château Bellecroix 2015, full of crunchy black fruit flavours and gentle tannins. To complete the case is a new find; the Domaine du Barres Saint-Chinian is medium-bodied and replete with mulberry fruits and a hint of spice.
The Luxury Case £140.00 For our Luxury Christmas case we start with two Loire Valley wines. Sylvain Gaudrons Vouvray Brut Sparkling is our third addition from this wonderful producer, light as a meringue with a persistent mousse, notes of honey and hay with a vein of crisp acidity. To the west of Vouvray lies historic Anjou, the home of our second choice, Pithon Pailles ‘Mozaik’ Blanc. A Gold Winner at the Sommelier Wine Awards; abundant with complex flavours of spice and citrus and a worthy match for white meats and pork. For the reds, we couldn’t resist including Yannick Amiraults ‘La Source’ from the Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil appellation that takes its name from the fourth-century Bishop, now better known as Santa Claus! Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, this Bourgueil shows a delicate raspberry character balanced by a heightened acidity that makes it very food-friendly. Travelling north before turning south, we have Domaine Barts Marsannay ‘Les Finottes’ combines powerful tannins with hallmark Burgundian delicacy on the nose; floral notes of violets combined with crunchy red fruits. We finish in the Southern Rhone with La Ferme do Monts Vacqueyras from the great 2016 vintage. At its best after 45 minutes to 1 hour in the decanter, this inky, deeply coloured wine is a ripe, savoury, spicy, medium-full bodied delight and a great pairing for Christmas dinner with all the trimmings!