Best Wines to drink over Christmas
- Friday 16 January 2009
Smart Supermarket Buys:
Château Roumieu, Sauternes, Bordeaux,
France 2006 ★★★★
A solid dessert wine with a sweet and spicy nose that shows a savoury streak underpinning honeycomb and toffee apple. The palate is light and classic and, although not bursting with complexity, is a bargain at this festive price.
£5.99/375ml (normally £11.99); Coo
Marks & Spencer, Finest Reserve Port,
Douro, Portugal NV ★★★★
The top-selling Port at M&S shows lots of complexity with good fruit purity and intense chocolate and spice aromas. It’s a very drinkable fortified wine that can be enjoyed after a meal on its own, or with cheeses or chocolates.
£6.99 (normally £9.99); M&S
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva,
Spain 2004 ★★★
It might be the one of the biggest producers in Spain but it is also one of the most dynamic and innovative. This is a very classic Rioja with lots of strawberry and cherry fruits. The palate is complex and very fruit-driven with some soft tannin. A great buy.
£6.99 (normally £8.99); Sai
Casillero del Diablo, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Central Valley, Chile 2007 ★★★
A very reliable brand which always, performs well at our tastings. This wine is full of fresh blackcurrant fruits with some vibrant and refreshing juicy notes. The palate is smooth and balanced.
£4.99 (normally £6.99); Sai
Initial de Desmirail, Margaux, Bordeaux,
France 2005 ★★★
The second wine of 3rd Growth Château Desmirail, this a lovely claret that allows you to get an early taste of the quality of the 2005 vintage (though you’d be rewarded by leaving a couple of bottles a few more years). Brambly and spicy on the nose, the palate has great freshness and more dark fruits.
£11.99 (normally £14.99); M&S
Tabalí, Encantado Chardonnay Reserva,
Limari Valley, Chile 2007 ★★★
Produced in the north of Chile, this combines tropical fruits with ripe apple. The palate has a fine structure with good fruit weight and a creamy finish.
£6.66 (normally £8.49); Wai
Clover Hill, Brut Rosé, Tasmania,
Australia 2006 ★★★★
An attractive rosé from one of Tasmania’s top sparkling producers. There’s a distinct, direct aroma of bright red fruit. The palate is similarly expressive with berry fruit and dainty notes of roses and violets, all wrapped together in a mineral cloak. £16.99; Odd
Delamotte, Brut, Champagne,
France NV ★★★★
This blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier is dry and elegant with fresh vibrant apple fruit. Balanced acidity combines with richness, minerality and a zesty finish. An ideal party fizz.
Egly-Ouriet, Tradition Brut Grand Cru,
Champagne, France NV ★★★★
Very grown-up, with buttery richness intermingling with aromas of nuts and toasted almonds. There’s a lovely weight to the fruit on the palate and a creamy gutsiness to it as well. Dry and pure. £28.50; L&S
Tesco, Finest Vintage Champagne,
France 2007 ★★★★
A very well priced vintage blanc de blancs. The nose combines fresh and lively aromas with bready notes. Lot of nuttiness and marzipan characters on the palate. With this price tag, one not to be missed for the party seasons.
Bluff Hill, Brut, New Zealand NV ★★★
A tasty, quaffable sparkler, tailor-made for the party season. The nose is soft and buttery with some fresh, citrus highlights.
The Co-Operative, Les Pionniers,
Champagne, France 1999 ★★★
Co-op’s first own-label Champagne is a fine effort. The fruit still has enough life in it and is showing some deep apricot and lemon nuances. Underpinning these is a broad, waxy facet and good length.
Waitrose, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne,
France NV ★★★
This 100% Chardonnay form the Côtes des Blancs displays a zesty, clean nose with aromas of apple and white flower. The crispness will make a delicious aperitif, or try it with smoked salmon.
Party wines (under £8):
Domaine du Météore, Les Léonides,
Faugères, Languedoc, France 2005 ★★★★
This classic blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan combines Mediterranean elegance and intense cherry fruit with a herbal edge.
Domaine du Soula, Trigone Blanc,
Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes,
Languedoc, France 2007 ★★★★
This unsual blend of Vermentino, Maccabeu and Grenache Blanc combines expressive notes of apricots with honey. The palate is refreshing with round, tropical fruit.
Gwenaël Guihard, La Grille,
Cool-Fermented Chenin Blanc, Anjou,
Loire, France 2007 ★★★★
This is dry but also textured and exotic, with lime and apple aromas and hints of honey. The palate is more tropical, with fine balance and a long length.
Poggiotondo Cerro del Masso,
Chianti, Tuscany, Italy 2006 ★★★★
A delightful wine perfumed with intense cherry and violets. Lovely concentration, balance and complexity on the palate with a great depth of rich fruit.
Alasia, Piedmonte Cortese, Italy 2007 ★★★
This excellent value wine offers good fruit. The nervy, dry palate with moderate
alcohol and crisp flavours makes it the perfect party wine to enjoy without food.
Errazuriz, Estate Sauvignon Blanc,
Casablanca Valley, Chile 2008 ★★★
Lean and green, before revealing rhubarb and tropical notes. There’s a nice weight of grassy undertones and mineral hints.
£6.99; Odd, Thr
Marks & Spencer, St-Maurice, Côtes du
Rhône-Villages, France NV ★★★
Not a showstopper in terms of complexity, but at this price you can’t argue. It’s meaty and gamey, with attractive red berry fruits and just a hint of spice.
O Fournier, Urban Malbec, Mendoza,
Argentina 2007 ★★★
Bright, lively nose with lifted, sweet apple and blackberry. Similar flavours on the palate which is appealingly textured and also hides an alcoholic kick (14.5%).
Popolino Rosso, Sicily, Italy 2007 ★★★
The ultimate in easy drinking, proving how attractive Nero d’Avola (90% of the blend)
can be. The palate is dominated by primary, vibrant, lavender-laced fruit.
Vavasour, Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc,
Marlborough, New Zealand 2008 ★★★
A really quaffable wine. Herbs, asparagus, tropical fruit and pea pod aromas are followed by a fleshy, open and generous palate with a gooseberry finish.
Bollinger, Brut Rosé, Champagne,
France, NV ★★★★
This stylish rosé combines an inviting nose and palate of vibrant red cherries, raspberries and minerality. Very classy with admirable complexity.
£55; BBr, F&M, Har, HvN, Sel
Château Le Boscq, St-Estèphe Superieur,
Bordeaux, France 2005 ★★★★
A great bargain from the outstanding 2005 vintage. This claret offers very attractive, expressive fruit with some toasted oak. Complex but supple and with great ageing potential.
£17.39–£20; BBR, Lai, Mls
Cullen, Kevin John Chardonnay, Margaret
River, Western Australia 2006 ★★★★
Young, perfectly formed and deservedly one of Australia’s top Chardonnays. It starts out lean and focussed but evolves gracefully in the mouth, with succulent, fleshy fruit and streaks of minerality.
£35.95; F&M, ScC, Swg, You
Domaine de la Pousse d’Or,
Les Jarollières, Pommard 1er Cru ,
Burgundy, France 2006 ★★★★
One of the most recognised names of Pommard and Volnay, this 1er Cru blends varietal characters with gamey notes. Dense, smooth, elegant purity of fruit.
£45; WaD, Wai
Domaine de la Vougeraie, Les Evocelles,
France 2001 ★★★★
A focused, typical nose. Very elegant body with superb richness and soft fruit. A lovely example of this classic appellation.
Domaine Huet, Le Mont Sec, Vouvray,
Loire, France 1995 ★★★★
From the top Vouvray producer comes this beautiful, perfumed wine full of minerality and purity. Firm on the palate with lots of substance and depth, with attractive honey characters on the finish.
Salon, Champagne, France 1997 ★★★★
Only produced in years where the harvest is exceptional. The nose is full of delicate, creamy aromas with notes of hazelnut and brioche. Despite the richness, it’s elegant with lots of clarity of fruit and firm minerality. This will definitely impress your guests, but it will need a decade to be at it best.
Marks & Spencer, Special Reserve Port,
Douro, Portugal NV ★★★
The nose displays some dried plums and blackforest aromas. Rich and full bodied with spicy characters. This Special Reserve comes in a very stylish Decanter, making it the perfect gift for Christmas.
Tim Adams, ‘Aberfeldy’ Shiraz, Clare
Valley, South Australia 2005 ★★★
A typical South Australian Shiraz, this wine is full of spicy and blackforest fruit with some tar and liquorice. The palate is robust, yet with a certain elegance and finesse. This is still very young, with a potential to age for another five years.
With smoked salmon
Domaine Pierre de Préhy, Chablis,
Burgundy, France 2006 ★★★★
Classic, Chablis steeliness here with flinty mineral streaks but also a generous layer of fleshy apple fruit.
Olivier Leflaive, Bonneveaux, Montagny
1er Cru, Burgundy, France 2006 ★★★★
One of Burgundy’s most highly rated négociants. Full, white and tropical fruits with hazelnut notes and sharp acidity.
Domaine Louis Boillot & Fils,
Les Grands Poisots, Volnay, Burgundy,
France 2003 ★★★★
Lots of ripe fruits but with lovely elegance and purity. Well-weighted, with clean, crisp acidity and refined oak characters.
Josetta Saffirio, Barbera d’Alba,
Piedmont, Italy 2006 ★★★★
A fruit-driven wine of red cherry and soft spice. The palate delivers fresh, elegant black fruits with a lively acidity.
Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Pinot Noir,
Martinborough, New Zealand 2006 ★★★★
A top producer that makes small quantities of excellent wine.Spiced plum and red fruit perfume, and silky tannins.
Fabrice Lesne, Perrières, Beaune Premier
Cru, Burgundy, France 2006 ★★★
Focused yet still fleshy, with leathery undertones and hints of game. Should be even more desirable in two years’ time.
£16.99; M&S ➢
Matetic, EQ Pinot Noir, San Antonio,
Chile 2007 ★★★★
Beautifully concentrated with summerfruit coulis and a savoury twist. Very young yet still very drinkable.
£17.99; Gns, Maj, Wai
Waitrose, Valpolicella Ripasso Classico
Superiore, Veneto, Italy 2005 ★★★★
A rich, fragrant wine with notes of macerated cherries. Delicately balanced
fruit and a natural sweetness with an attractive bouquet of red and black fruits.
Coyam, Rapel Valley, Chile 2006 ★★★★
An interesting blend of Syrah, Merlot, Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
and Mourvèdre, this is big, dense and rich with lot of black fruits and pepper.
Bonny Doon, Sangiovese, California,
USA 2007 ★★★
A unique offering from California with healthy doses of lifted strawberry fruit. It’s tasty and youthful, if not that cheap.
Domaine de la Rectorie, Cuvée Parcé Frères,
Banyuls, Roussillon, France 2006 ★★★★
Crushed black forest fruits with sweet spice. Lovely intensity and balance between the alcohol and sweetness. Long.
Lapis, Királyudvar Tokaji Hárslevelü, Tokaj,
Hungary 2006 ★★★★
An attractive fruit palate of marmalade, and honey. Wonderful rich flavours of caramelised orange supported by a complex structure and a lively acidity.
Mince pies & brandy butter
Gonzalez Byass, Apostoles, Palo Cortado
Viejo 30 Anos, Sherry, Spain NV ★★★★
This rare style of Sherry offers notes of butterscotch caramel and sweet spice. Full and harmonious on the palate.
Tesco, Finest Pedro Ximenez, Sherry,
Spain NV ★★★
Wonderful aromas of marmalade and dried figs. A lush nectar with perfect balance between sweetness and acidity.
Stilton and Cheddar
Marks & Spencer, 20 Year Old Tawny Port,
Douro, Portugal ★★★★
A perfect match with mature Cheddar, this is full of nutty caramel and toffee notes. Superb richness and complexity.
Symington, Late Bottled Vintage Port,
Douro, Portugal 2003 ★★★★
Stilton and Port is a classic combination. This LBV has a smooth, mellow palate of spicy, ripe, sweet concentrated fruit.
Henriques & Henriques, Malmsey
Madeira, Portugal 2001 ★★★★
Sweet, rich and luscious wine full of walnut and coffee aromas. Beautifully balanced with fine concentration.
Quinta do Noval, LBV, Douro,
Portugal 2003 ★★★★
Broad, intense and vibrant, this is one of the best LBVs on the market. It’s powerful but finely judged with a savoury streak.
£12.40; Ave, Boo, Tes D
All wines are ready to drink now, excepting Indulgent Gifts, many of which will reward further cellaring.