Tis the season and all that so here is a blog post all about Christmas wines. Some of you will have seen that we recently held a Christmas tasting event. It was great fun, but we only got to show a handful of the wines that that would go well with your Christmas dinner. I thought I would share with you all the full range of wines here at Bottle & Jug Dept. that would be perfect for your Christmas table.
Drinking well at Christmas is all about quality and perhaps buying something that you normally wouldn’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more, but being adventurous and getting something that is perhaps outside your normal comfort zone is always exciting. Classic wines are always popular at Christmas and the big French names are a winner. However, for those feeling a little adventurous and wanting to branch the world of wine has many options that can hold their own with the classics.
DRINK NATURALLY AT CHRISTMAS
Obviously, I am an advocate of natural and minimal intervention wines and at Christmas these wines come into their own. The quality they offer is unparalleled. If you are hosting friends or going to a get together, they are also sure to be a talking point. Something to impress your guests/hosts with as these wines often have an interesting story to tell that commercial produced wines only create through marketing speak.
With Christmas being a time of overindulgence, it is also nice to know you are drinking a wine that has not been unnecessarily swamped with chemicals and god knows what. You will also be supporting a small family run producer who looks after their land, grows and produces sustainably with as little impact on the environment as possible. What more could you want from your Christmas wine.
Kicking things off with some fizz
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without fizz. My morning is always punctuated by pop of corks, and the clinking of toasting glasses. With that in mind lets start things off in the same way with some Christmas fizz recommendations.
Goustan Brut Nature, Champagne Val Frison – £49.95
For some it is just not Christmas without Champagne. This Blanc de Noirs offering from Val Frison is rich and expressive with fruit notes of white cherry with a wonderfully savoury lip-smacking note. This is all framed by a persistent Chablis like minerality and acidity that keeps everything in harmony. Blanc de Noirs is a champagne that goes well with food as the pinot gives it a bit more body and red fruit notes so can be served as an aperitif or even with your starter.
Food Pairing: Perfect aperitif, with canapes or light fish dishes.
Blanc de Blancs, Albourne Estate – £29.95
Sussex and South East England has been beating Champagne at its own game recently. This Blanc de Blancs from Albourne is all about crisp elegant acidity with subtle notes of almonds, baked bread and citrus fruit. This “white of whites” is made from selected hand-picked Chardonnay grapes using the highest quality cuvée to create a sparkling wine which is all about elegance, finesse and subtle complexity.
Food pairing: perfect aperitif, crab salad or other light fish dish.
Ridgeview Blanc de Noirs – £49.95
This has been my “go to” Christmas fizz on numerous occasions. This Sussex producer has recently been named international winemaker of the year. Only made in the best vintages, this Pinot dominant sparkling wine is full, rich and complex and would be easily able to handle food.
Food pairing: as an aperitif, pate or seafood.
La Jara Prosecco – £15.95
Prosecco has taken over this country this past few years which has resulted in a flood of mass produced shite that is barely worth using in a bucks fizz. If you want to remember what makes prosecco such a fresh and crisp sparkling wine then give this a go. This fully-sparkling example of Prosecco is pure and bone dry with gentle yet enticing orchard fruit aromas. The palate has a lovely soft, full texture with a touch of peach on the finish and great balance.
Food pairing: As an apperitif, breakfast, canapes
Fitz – £22.95
Finally why not keep things super local with a bottle of Fitz from my own yard of East Worthing. This was the first sparkling wine made in this country using the Charmat/Martinelli method of production. It is created in the same way as prosecco resulting in a crisp and dry wine that is an instant crown pleaser. Made using grapes sourced from Kent, Surrey and Sussex this local delight has been going down a treat thanks to its fresher, more approachable, fruit driven style.
Food pairing: Smoked salmon, caviar
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
I cannot get enough of white wine, I love it. White wine offers such elegant nuances of flavour and delicate notes that no Christmas table would be complete without a few bottles of quality white. Below are some top picks for Christmas whites that you should seriously consider for your festive table.Colette Gros Chablis, Domaine Alain Gautheron – £19.95
When it comes to Chardonnay you do not get much more classic than a Chablis. This Burgundian icon is a clear, light, golden colour, glinting with emerald green. In the mouth the wine is apple dry and steely with perhaps just a delicate hint of violets and mint. Well balanced with lively acidity, the mouth presents notes of hazelnut and biscuits which add a certain charm and length to the finish.
Food Pairing: Perfect for any seafood starter or fresh fish main
Achillée Riesling – £23.95
Possibly my absolute favourite style of white, Riesling is a wine style that everyone needs in their life. This is a certified organic and biodynamic dry style Riesling from the Alsace which is deeply coloured, with silvery flourishes. Subtle hints of lemon and lime with enhanced by notes of white flowers.
Food pairing: Seafood, ham and vegetable dishes
2015 Poulliy Fume, Domaine du Bouchot – £24.95
The most famous and elegant of Sauvignon Blanc wines and one that would make any Christmas table complete. Grapefruit, a hint of quince, greengage and a touch of pineapple on the nose – it’s lovely, managing to be both exotic and restrained with candied lemon peel and a bit of flinty smoke. The palate is divine: luscious pineapple and grapefruit with a bit of gooseberry and granite.
Food pairing: Turkey, poultry and seafood dishes
One Ball Chardonnay, BK Wines – £24.95
Oh no not an oaked Aussie Chardonnay I hear you say. Well this one will make you eat your words. Flavours of Nectarine, white Peach and grapefruit line the pallet and a subtle hint of creaminess from the oak is barely noticeable. Lovely bright acidity on the finish. A new world Chardonnay with all the elegance and intrigue of Europe’s finest.
Food pairing: Perfect for any seafood starter, Lobster or shellfish
Toru, TWR – £19.95
These guys have been my top discovery of the year and I have thoroughly enjoyed all their wines. This Toru offering is a blend of the most noble of grapes Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The aromatic qualities of these grapes are balanced beautifully leaving a wine that is both floral and fresh at the same time. A proper festive white that can hold its own with the strong flavours of Christmas.
Food pairing: Ham, Turkey, Christmas with all the trimmings
Rudolf’s nose is red for a reason
Winter is a time for red wine. Big bold spicy wines that taste of Christmas spice and can warm you on the chilliest of evenings. Whilst this statement is true, the food we eat is not always geared towards this style of wine. Delicate white meats call for something a little more restrained, although all the other accoutrements do allow for something big bold and bloody wonderful. Here are my top red picks for the Christmas table.
Autrement, Chateau Lamery – £24.95
We are starting in yet another world-renowned wine region, Bordeaux. This wine harks back to a more elegant time, very beautiful nose, complex and subtle with dried fruit and mineral tones. This iconic cuvee knocks most big Bordeaux wines out of the water, but due to French wine law he can only bottle it under the Vin De France label. This low sulphite and biodynamically farmed natural wine is about as good as it comes from this region. A wine that really comes into its own with food.
Food pairings: Christmas roast, shoulder of lamb or game birds.
2014 Vacqueyras, Domaine La Garrigue – £20.95
Step aside Chateauneuf-du-Pape, this is a ‘take-no-prisoners’ southern Rhône that is out to take the crown of this region. The strong, rich palate is finely structured, the tannins are powerful yet well integrated, the fruit is brandied cherries and a firm rasp of pepper seasons the palate. This one will turn anyone’s nose red and shiny.
Food pairing: Roast beef or game
2016 Pinot Noir Rot Murlé Sans Soufre, Domaine Pierre Frick – £29.95
The quintessential turkey pairing. Pinot Noir is the ideal wine for Christmas dinner. Bright red in colour, aromas of black cherries and black berries entice you closer. On the palate, warm and rich with fresh and soft tannins. Notes of black cherry, blackcurrants and sweet spices on a long finish. This is a no added sulphur from the Alsace, a wine that will be on my table this Christmas.
Food pairing: Roast turkey with all the trimmings
AA Badenhorst, Family Red Blend – £27.95
This wine is the signature blend from one of the stars of the ground-breaking natural wine movement in South Africa. The aromas are brooding but with complex notes of pepper, liquorice, perfume and black cherries. The palate entry is quite dense with lavender and dark berry fruit. The finish is dry with well spread tannins ending with savoury and currant flavours.
Food Pairing: Roast meats, Ham or veggie roast.
Aymeric Paillard, St Joseph Petit Pere 2014 – £34.95
I first tasted this wine back in May and have been waiting for Christmas to stock it. The wine is held together by a big tannic structure, with ripe fruit and a finely balanced level of acidity. Concentrated, but not overly so, fresh and mineral, with taut compact fruit. This Northern Rhone Syrah is a very elegant wine from an appellation that is often overlooked. Stunning.
Food pairing: Lamb, poultry or veggie roasts
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, L’or du Line – £36.95
The quintessential Christmas day red, this organic Chateauneuf is a quality example of this historic region. There are flavours of white flowers, spicy notes of laurel, garrique herbs, the aromas of earth after the rain and of resin mixed with kirsch, red berries, bilberries and blueberries. It is a wine that is at the same time powerful and elegant, with a beautiful intensity, supple tannins, long finish. It can be drunk young, and you can enjoy berry notes and it can be easily be kept a decade in a good cellar.
Food pairing: Roasts all the way, also just on its own in a comfy chair.
Sweet dreams are made of these
Mmm….sweet wines. What a delight. We do not drink enough sweet wine in this country as far as I’m concerned. That luscious quality with floral and citrus peel notes is made for Christmas. Sweet wines are underappreciated and I want to change that. Pick up one of these beauties this Christmas and have your life changed for the better.
Cruz Del Mar Cream Sherry, Caesar Florido – £18.95
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of cream sherry, this is no Harvey’s Bristol Cream nonsense. Caesar Florido has been family run since the 18th century they are one of the oldest producers in the entire region. Cruz del Mar is a traditional wine made by blending 75% dry Oloroso with 25% sweet Moscatel (Muscat) from Chipiona followed by oxidative ageing in oak barrels using the traditional solera system of the region. The resultant wine is full bodied, dark, slightly sweet with notes of dried fruits and toffee.
Food pairing: Perfect with your Christmas cheese board or lighter desserts.
2010 Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina, Fattoria Lavacchio – £24.95
If you ask an Italian what wine should be on the Christmas table it will be this, it’s even nearly called Vin Santa! A very pronounced amber colour. Intense, fine and pleasant on the nose with notes of raisins and candid fruit followed by honey, vanilla and dry fig aromas with hints of walnut and coffee. Christmas should always include a sweet wine, this one’s a belter.
Food Pairing: Christmas pudding, Christmas cake & a warm fireplace.
Moscatel Dorado, Caesar Florido – £19.95
Sweet Jesus this stuff is truly the nectar of the Gods. Aged for an average of 15 years with two in oak this is honeysuckle, fragrant orange and citrus in a glass with an almost honey-like lusciousness. There are nutty notes and a slight fresh bitterness in the finish. I am putting one of these on the table this Christmas and will have to stop myself from draining the whole bottle.
Food Pairing: Fruity desserts
So that completes my round up of festive wines. I hope that this has helped you choose what you would like to have on your Christmas table. These are just some suggestions, there are plenty more superb wines that will suit all tastes and budget in the Bottle & Jug Dept.
I want to thank everyone who has supported the shop in 2018, from those who helped create the space through to each and every customer who has come through the door and hopefully enjoyed their shopping experience. We hope to see everyone one in the years to come and many more new faces. We will keep doing what we are doing as long as people keep coming.
Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and a very happy New Year. See you all in 2019!!!