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Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Wines

Well, that time of year is approaching (fast!), so I have been putting a lot of thought into what would be nice to have on the table to accompany Christmas dinner. Last year we enjoyed a wonderful bottle of Veritas Petit Verdot Monticello 2007 from Virginia, a really classy wine, just perfect for the occasion.

Veritas Petit Verdot Monticello 2007
Various stickies were available to go with the pudding and the cheese and biscuits. I think I plumped for a glass of Madeira (Malmsey), and this year will be no exception!

So what to enjoy for 2010? I've given it a lot of thought, and chosen what I hope is a nice selection - something for everyone to enjoy, whatever their preference.

For an aperitif I think most people appreciate a glass of fizz before lunch, if you haven't already enjoyed a glass or two (with or without added OJ) during the morning! This year I would love to have some English sparkling wine, and will plump for a bottle or two of Chapel Down NV Reserve, available from a range of good wine retailers (e.g. Waitrose, £16.99).

If you opt for white wine this year, either to go with a starter or just to drink with the bird I would thoroughly recommend a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or South Africa. I've got a few bottles of Small and Small 2010 Marlborough SB from NZ (Naked Wines, £10.99 (£7.33 for cashback customers)) - it's a wonderfully complex and fruity example of this varietal, not too sharp and grassy like SBs can be, it's well-balanced, crisp and shouldn't overpower the meat. This is Bill and Claudia Small's first vintage bottling their own wine, and I think it's a triumph!

For red I think I'll choose a lighter wine this year, and as I'm a big fan of this grape in general I am going with Pinot Noir, again from New Zealand. I love to try as many PNs as possible from different parts of the world, and I'm always impressed by the delicate character that the New Zealand climate and terroir elucidates from the grape. I'm going to try Grasshopper Rock, 2008 from the Earnsclough Estate, Alexandra, Central Otago. This is a gold medal winning wine, recommended by Tim Atkin. Unfortunately it's sold out now at Naked Wines, but was selling for £17.49 a bottle - not cheap, but it's Christmas, so it's worth spending a little more isn't it?

Anyway - since it's out of stock, a delicious alternative (and a bargain too!) would be a Chilean PN, from Constanza Schwaderer and Felipe Garcia. Their Kimbao (named after their pet labrador) 2010 Pinot Noir is delicious, well-rounded and perfect for Christmas dinner. It's just £10.99 (£7.33 for cashback customers) from Naked Wines.

To accompany your Christmas pud, or whatever you choose to have after the main event, you need something special to wash it all down, and this year I've put aside a couple of bottles (375ml) of Seifried "Sweet Agnes" Riesling (2009) from Nelson, New Zealand. It's absolutely gorgeous, just like the wonderful woman it is named after. Agnes Seifried is the co-founder of the Seifried estate and I was privileged enough to meet her at the London International Wine Fair back in May, in fact she poured me a glass of this golden nectar. This wine is widely available in the UK (Waitrose, Naked Wines, and the various Direct Wines brands all sell it) and you can pick it up from £13.29 a bottle (case purchase from Waitrose Wine Direct).

Finally, if you fancy something a little stronger, and warming as you conk out in a comfortable armchair (certainly part of my plan!), why not try a glass or two of Madeira? I'm planning to savour a bottle of Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Malmsey (widely available, from around £16.99). You can find 15 or 20 year old versions of the same, but be prepared to pay quite a bit more.

I hope you've enjoyed this little selection of wines to enjoy over the festive season. Last year was all about Virginia for me, this year I suppose it's mostly about New Zealand. Whatever you decide to drink this year, please enjoy responsibly (i.e. lose the car keys!) and above all have a wonderful time with friends and/or family. Compliments of the season, and many thanks for reading.

Happy Holidays!