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Which Bordeaux vintages to drink this Christmas

Bordeaux wines, along with Burgundy, are so often the instinctive first choice for the festive season's main event. But which are the prime vintages (and appellations) you should be pulling from the rack this year to maximise your enjoyment on the big day?

Bordeaux: the festive table classic

With some 650 million bottles produced on average each year, from 57 appellations and vineyards stretching 100km along its rivers, the vast Bordeaux wine region is not easy to pigeonhole when choosing vintages for best current drinking.

Consumer taste for young or older vintages, budgets (modest or prestige brands) and appellation variation all need to be considered. A fine vintage in St-Emilion on the Right Bank, for example, may not be as exciting in the Médoc on the Left.

Scroll down to see a selection of top Bordeaux bottles from vintages to open this Christmas

And while young Bordeaux can be delicious, the holidays are a special occasion. And bottle-maturation makes Bordeaux special: not only to soften tannins, but also to elicit intriguing tertiary aromas and flavours. From prestige St-Emilion grand cru classé to a more humble Médoc cru bourgeois, wine will benefit from ageing in the bottle.

But because holiday feasts have such robust flavours – gravy, cranberry and roast potatoes, puddings and stuffing – vintages made too delicate by their advancing years should be avoided. Your holiday wine needs some tannic backbone and primary fruit to stand up to your roast goose, turkey or prime rib of beef with all those trimmings.

For a good-quality vintage, about two decades of bottle age works well for the end-of-year holidays, as the wines retain some primary fruit and floral aspects while also beginning to yield such tertiary tones as truffle, wet earth, baked fruits and clementine orange freshness, which only inherently balanced wines with proper cellaring can reveal.

See a selection of top Bordeaux bottles from vintages to open this Christmas

Wines are listed in the order of vintages above – they were selected as the best examples from each year that have all been tasted within the past 12 months. 

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