De Saint Gall Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne 2002
For a sizeable party, this may be a bit of a burden on the wallet, although for more intimate gatherings it would fit the bill. Aged on its lees for between 4 and 5 years, this is focussed and mineral with a slight clotted cream edge supplying some breadth. There’s good balance and an attractive weight of fruit that polish off what is a tasty, highly drinkable Champagne.
Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay Brut Reserva, Limari Valley, Chile NV
Casillero’s first foray into sparkling will go down as a success. This displays fine structure, supporting ripe apple and lime-tinged fruit. The palate is well-judged and balanced with a crisp and refreshing finish. Very enjoyable.
The Co-operative, Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile 2008
Both tropical and grassy, this has plenty going for it with substantial doses of fleshy, exotic fruit and a polished, seamless palate. It’s almost evocative of a New Zealand Sauvignon although with more concentration considering the price.
Château Saint-Jean-des-Graves, Graves, France 2007
Nicely-styled, slightly superior party wine which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. There’s plenty of ripe fruit on show countered by some crisp, freshly cut grass notes. A leesy quality adds depth and weight.
d’Arenberg, Hermit Crab, McLaren Vale, Australia 2007
This delicately handled wine is a restrained, attractive offering, leaving you with the impression that polishing off two or more glasses would be an easier task than it is with other Aussie whites. Nutty and pure with honey-kissed apricot fruit, it also boasts pleasing minerality and a gentle, clean finish
Castillo la Paz Tempranillo-Syrah, La Mancha, Spain 2007
This is guaranteed to go down well with your peers. It’s perfumed and even elegant, with a raspberry-kissed palate and chocolaty undertones. Good complexity for the price and plenty of freshness as well.
Leon de Oro, Cachapoal Valley, Chile 2006
An almost equal blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this boasts buckets of juicy Chilean character with vibrant, accessible black fruits from start to finish. It’s not a simplistic fruit bomb, however, with dashes of spice and good structure.
Cave St Pierre, Preference Vacqueyras 2006
From a lesser-known region in the southern Rhône, Vacqueyras produce good value, fine wines in a Chateauneuf-du-Pape style. This example is full of rich, perfumed raspberry and cherry fruit, and delivers a nice kick via some liquorice-tinged Christmas spices.
Quinta de la Rosa, Aguia, Douro 2006
From a highly respected producer of both table wines and port, this is another wine with real soul and sense of place. The nose is laden with figs and chocolate, but is given real zip by the crisp red fruits that punch through. The palate, while serious and intense, follows similar lines and is a finely balanced, vibrant piece of work. Now-3
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 12 year-old Amontillado
It wouldn’t be a Christmas party without a drop of Sherry somewhere. This is comfortably one of the best value on the market, showing plenty of bite and lift with alluring, nutty and citrus peel notes.