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Decanter team’s Christmas wines 2015

Merry Christmas from all of the Decanter team. Here's a sneak preview of how our editorial team members will be spending the big day, including what we're planning to drink...

See below for the Decanter editorial team’s Christmas wines 2015.

Tweet us @Decanter using the hashtag #mychristmaswine and tell us what’s on your wine list this festive season…

John Stimpfig, content director

This year, it’s Christmas in London where my sister-in-law is cooking for the entire clan. So it will be a fairly boisterous lunch with plenty to eat and drink. And because there will be more than a dozen of us around the table, I am planning to provide several different wines to mix things up.

So the batting order will begin with a bottle of 2006 Vilmart Champagne alongside the 2003 Nyetimber to see who can spot the difference. Then we’ll have some 2011 JJ Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese with the smoked salmon. Next will be my very last bottle of Jean-Marc Roulot’s 2010 Bourgogne Blanc (sad face) as well as the 2013 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay to go with the roast turkey. And for those who prefer red, I’ll be opening some Bordeaux 2004 Dufort-Vivens, a bottle of 2004 Almaviva (unbelievably good right now) and a 2007 Chene Bleu Abelard from the Vaucluse. Then I’m going to do what Michael Broadbent recommends which is to serve a lovely light and refreshing Moscato d’Asti with pudding. (Michele Chiarlo’s Nivole is Mr B’s favourite and mine too). And if anyone has any room left there’ll be some Royal Tokaji 2007 Mezes Maly to round things off with the cheese. Should be a good day!

Amy Wislocki, managing editor

The venue: family gathering in north Devon. Ten adults, seven children aged between one and nine, and one new puppy undergoing house training. Decent Christmas drinking essential.

Pisco sours mixed by my Colombian brother-in-law are traditional on Christmas Eve, before the fish stew. On Christmas morning, naturally, something sparkling. Last year we enjoyed Delamotte’s delicious Blanc de Blanc NV. This year I’m going for Sussex over Champagne, and a great wine from a new star on the English wine scene, Wiston Estate Rosé Brut 2011. I’m looking forward to drinking it from the new Jamesse Grand Champagne glasses that I bought after reading Anne Krebiehl’s excellent article in Decanter’s December 2015 issue on why we should all get rid of our flutes. I have been told the Wine Society’s Exhibition Sancerre is excellent, so will pick up a couple of bottles to have at lunch with our traditional smoked salmon starter. With the turkey I usually plump for Pinot Noir, choosing a Burgundy and a New World incarnation (this year, Matua’s Lands and Legends 2013 Central Otago Pinot Noir – which held its own against Pinots from Tasmania, Burgundy and California at a recent blind tasting, and can be found at Asda for less than £20). We’ll have a bottle each of aged tawny and vintage Port on the go, a bottle of the excellent City of London Distillery Christopher Wren Gin (crafted by the talented, retired Tanqueray master distiller Tom Nichol), and too many other reds and whites to mention. Roll on the holidays…

Tina Gellie, associate editor

With my father and my sister and her family in Brisbane, Australia, I save the pennies to spend every second Christmas with them. On off years, as this one is, I find other ‘Christmas orphans’ to share festive celebrations with. For the 25th, this means a potluck meal, where everyone contributes something to the table. For me, given my job, that means all the wine!

I’m not sure what the main affair will be this year, but the best orphan Christmas I can remember centred around rib of beef instead of turkey, along with all the usual festive trimmings. If I’m lucky enough to have that again, I’d bring a selection of reds: Tyrrell’s Four Acres Shiraz 2011 (tasted recently and outstanding) and Château Pichon Baron 2001 (hopefully at its prime) as well as something from Italy – maybe a bit more left field, such as Cos’s juicy Pithos Rosso 2011.

Starters would have to be a bucket of prawns (you can take the girl out of Australia…) and oysters if we’re feeling flush, and I have Gusborne’s Blanc de Blancs 2010 (I picked a few vines for that vintage) and Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rosé NV (a gift) just waiting to be popped as aperitifs and to lead into the meal along with Alheit’s stellar Cartology 2012.

My ultimate Christmas dessert selection would be pretty traditional: shortbread and a big mince pie with lots of brandy butter followed by Roquefort (not Stilton). Fernando Castilla’s Antique Amontillado would work will all three of these beautifully, and we can move on to an Armagnac from Delord to settle the stomach while watching the Queen’s speech.

Chris Mercer, web editor

Christmas in the Mercer household is a typical mix of odd traditions – prawn cocktail anyone? – new-fangled ideas and general excess, all in the best possible way.

I have some empathy with Charles Jennings and Paul Keers for their article, ‘perils of a wine lover’s Christmas’. My parents, for example, will make suitably appreciative noises, but I suspect it’s back to the bargain basket when I’m not around.

The trick is to relax, if you can. All wine is enhanced by good company, after all. Dawn yoga is one practical technique to consider, but I find a glass of sparkling wine on Christmas morning is equally effective.

This year, I’m upgrading to a sparkling wine cocktail and will be attempting Mimosas at breakfast. My sister, who I think single-handedly created concerns about a Prosecco shortage over the summer, is likely to join the fun.

With the starter, set to be some form of seafood, I’m planning to go for Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc-Roussillon. With luck, prawn cocktail will be successfully eradicated this year.

The main lunch is all about turkey and an endless list of trimmings, notably pigs in blankets.  It’s going to be wines that I’ve loved this year that will vaguely fit but that will, more importantly, keep the conviviality flowing.

I really enjoyed Mercurey 1er Cru, ‘Les Naugues’ 2013 from Paul and Marie Jacqueson in Burgundy recently and at least one of these is going on the list. I would also have loved Ten Minutes by Tractor’s Wallis Pinot Noir 2013, from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, but have struggled to get hold of it in time.

I’m also keen to try out a Streicker, Ironstone Block Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Australia’s Margaret River, and will likely pair this with a robust cheese, such as an aged comte.

Also with the cheese – a crucial element of any good meal – there’ll be traditional vintage Port and a potential cameo appearance for Sauternes – a Suduiraut 1999 to be precise. The final word goes to whisky. As other relatives fall by the wayside, I intend to reflect on life with a Laphroaig 18 Year Old.

Ellie Douglas, assistant web editor

I’ll be spending Christmas day with my eldest brother’s in-laws, at their home in Sussex – a total of 10 of us, including two under-fives.

After driving down that morning, we’ll start by toasting Christmas day with some Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2010, alongside some nibbles and salmon blinis. Then with our traditional turkey lunch move on to Château Léoville Barton, Saint-Julien 2008 – a wedding present given to my brother and his wife, that they’re sharing with the rest of us! With our Christmas pudding, we’ll be enjoying some Château Laville, Sauternes 2011, and probably a bit of Port or Brandy after lunch.

To bring in the New Year, I’ll be celebrating at a friend’s new home with some with Champagne Gosset, Brut, Grande Réserve NV that I’ve been saving for a special occasion.

Harry Fawkes, digital publisher

Christmas with my family would not be Christmas without heated discussion over the merit of the five main wines that take centre stage: a Rosé Champagne, a red wine from Burgundy, a red from Bordeaux and a red from the “New World” all rounded off with a vintage Port. Extremely, traditionally British.

This is not a wine discussion, talking about tasting notes, production and storage – but closer to the scene Ray Isles beautifully describes in his piece How to choose the best thanksgiving wine. Family Christmases’, for me, are still run by the statesmen and women of the family, who value the classic wine regions and take delight in opening special bottles especially sort out for Christmas day. I love this tradition; it’s the greatest opportunity to drink some of the world’s best wines with my family around one table. Family favourites on the Rosé Champagne front have whittled themselves down to two Grand Marques – Laurent-Perrier Rosé and Bollinger Rosé. The pros and cons of Burgundy and Bordeaux are discussed over the Christmas lunch, mainly framed by bottles bought by the individual family member – no one wants to admit to bringing the wrong wine. I attempt to throw in a “New World” equivalent and don’t tell anyone until after confessions of liking the wine – last year a Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir was “the best Burgundy” on the table, only my brother and I were amused. Cheese and wine matching rules go are forgotten, as the decanted Port is brought out after dessert to be consumed with every cheese on the board. A perfectly imperfect day of wine and food that I couldn’t imagine any other way.

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