If you're wondering what wines you should be getting out of your cellar this Christmas, look no further, as Steven Spurrier tells Decanter the best vintages of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Rhone that are perfect to drink this festive season.
Both north and south have gained many followers and while prices from top estates have rocketed, the reds from both regions still offer great value.
2002 was rained off and the heat of 2003 was too much for the region, while 2004 is showing well – the best of this poor trio. 2005 is a good choice in the south, thanks to ripe fruit and refreshing tannins, but is still backward in the north.
2008 (unremarked at the time) is one to follow for mid-term drinking. Chez Spurrier, it will be Clos des Papes Châteauneuf 1998 with the turkey.
Written by Steven Spurrier
Steven Spurrier’s Christmas cellar vintage guide: Bordeaux
For claret: 1990s from both left and right banks justify their reputation at 21 years; while 1995 and 1998 from the right, the classic 1996 and lighter 1999 from the left and 2000 from both are all on top form.
2001 impresses me more and more and is now ready; and avoid anything but good names in 2002 in favour of the controversial 2003 (which I like but many do not). 2004 is good but still tight, 2005 too young, 2006 better than 2004 and starting to show well.
Barsac and Sauternes are gorgeous at any age, 1996 being the star of that decade, while 2001 has never been surpassed. Rain killed 2002, but the heatwave helped 2003, now rich and open.
Steven Spurrier’s Christmas cellar vintage guide: Burgundy
Fiona Beckett’s tasting (in the January 2012 Decanter issue) came up with white Burgundy as the best match for Christmas turkey. I tend to cellar white Burgundies, except for the Mâconnais, and am now finishing my 2004 Chablis (mostly 1er cru), moving on to 2005/6/7 next year.
For reds: 1990 and 1995 are wonderfully mature; 1996 never, for me, lost its leanness; 1997 (supple, fruity), 1998 (firm structure), 1999 (super classic) represent a classy trio; 2000 is still holding up; 2001 nicely concentrated; 2002 a ripe vintage and good now; the non-acidified 2003s are wonderful; 2004 lacks flesh; 2005 needs time; and 2006 and 2007 are opening up well.