Angela Mount's Top Wines For Christmas Day
There are lots of fantastic wines out there for the festive season, and I’ve written about many of them in my recent pieces. But what do you choose for Christmas Day itself? Here are a few ideas:
Don’t bring your most serious bottles of wine out, they won’t be appreciated amongst all the excitement of the festivities; instead, find wines that have rich flavours, and great character.
A glass of Bucks Fizz is always a great way to start the day, but hold on the Champagne until later. I’d suggest Prosecco, which is also a great wine to serve if you’re inviting neighbours in for morning drinks. Two of my favourites are Proseccos I’ve reviewed before: Waitrose Prosecco and Tesco Finest Prosecco.
Moving onto Champagne – again, I wouldn’t go wild with hugely expensive, luxe Champagne, this is all about a glass or two of indulgent, feel-good Champagne, to get the celebrations going. Once again, Tesco and Waitrose got my top votes for their own brand champagne and you won’t go wrong with either of these two award winning wines: Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne NV, and Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Champagne NV.
It’s easy to think of white wines as the introduction to the Christmas feast, but in making your choice this year, it’s also worth considering that some people will want to continue drinking white wine, rather than red, with the turkey or goose, therefore you need whites that have character and are bold enough to cope with all the rich food; and of course you need a couple of classics in there too.
Tesco Finest Chablis 2011
Yet another worthy award winner from Tesco, who continue to impress with their range of Finest wines. From one of the top producers in the region, it’s got real character, and lots of style. With its trademark, glinting green-gold colour, it’s full of aromas and flavours of baked apples, ripe pears, a touch of apple blossom, and lots of creamy, gentle flavours; it has a hint of honey, to add to its ripeness, and a good weight and ripeness. It’s elegant, and well-crafted, with the warm, autumnal, creamy fruit character, tempered by the classic Chablis streak of bone dry flintiness. Great with smoked salmon, but characterful enough to stand up to the main course.
Flagstone Noon Gun Chenin Viognier Sauvignon Blanc
This is a brilliant wine to go with roast goose, or turkey, with cranberry, or other fruity and spiced stuffings. A blend of aromatic grapes, it’s a real fruitbomb of a wine, which is simply brimming over with rich, nectarine, apricot and russet apple character. It’s dry, and gloriously fruity, with bold, vibrant flavours, and a seam of zesty, freshly-squeezed lime zing. I love Chenin Blanc for its versatility, and blended with the heady scents and flavours of Viognier and the crisp, tropical bite of Sauvignon, the blend works a treat. Also great with smoked fish, and if you have any left over, it’s a great wine for coronation turkey on Boxing Day.
Let the feast begin! If you’re having goose, then I’d suggest you stick with fruity whites, or gentle, soft reds, such as the Tesco Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir, or the sumptuous Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir that I’ve recommended before. For turkey you need, ripe, fleshy, full-flavoured reds, with real character to cope with all the rich flavours of the turkey feast; either go for classic Bordeaux, such as the superb Waitrose Saint Emilion, rich styles of Pinot Noir, or food friendly Italian and Spanish classics. Here are just a few suggestions:
Tesco Finest Bolgheri
Hats off to Tesco for finding this new gem from the coastal hills of Tuscany. The bottle in itself would make a showy centrepiece on the Christmas Day dining table – winning no awards for lightweighting, it is however, an impressive vision, with its classic, gold embossed label, and imposing presence. It’s made from a blend of Bordeaux grape varieties, rather than classic Italian ones, but has an inherent Tuscan feel to it, with its bold, black cherry and ripe fig fruit, hints of mocha, wild herbs, and a rich, dense, chewy, bitter chocolate and toasty oak finish. Lengthy, complex and impressive, it’s an incredibly intense glass of wine for the price, looks wonderful, and is perfect for those who like big, rich reds, either with the turkey, with cheese, or if you’re being alternative, look no further for the best wine with roast beef.
Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2004
Rioja is always a classic at Christmas. If you want to splash out a little, indulge in this International Wine Challenge gold medal winning classic, and it’s better value if you buy 2 or more. From one of Rioja’s oldest family wine producers, and from the exalted Rioja region of La Rioja Alta, it’s a sumptuous feast of its own. Rich, velvety and indulgent, weaved through with silky, gentle vanilla oak. Polished and poised, with velvety power and concentration, it would be a worthy treat on this special day.
Morrisons Signature Lussac St Emilion 2010
I was delighted to find this stylish, silky claret as part of the new Morrisons Signature range. From one of my favourite Bordeaux wine merchants, the family-owned Sichel, this is elegant both in terms of packaging and what’s in the bottle. And at an incredible price for such a gloriously ripe, and well-crafted wine. Lussac is a small village close to Saint Emilion; the wines are similar in style to their more famous neighbour, but frequently offer far better value. It’s an absolute classic for Christmas day, with its rich, soft, blackberry and juicy plum fruit, overlaid with dark chocolate, and truffles. It’s an absolute bargain, with its ripeness, richness, and smooth, elegance. Very impressive.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a god-given gift for rich turkey, as it’s gentle, silky sweetness, and low tannins work well with all the richness of the stuffings and all the trimmings. The Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir is a much-loved, multi-award winning wine, which would be a perfect match. It has indolent, perfumed aromas of ripe plums, and crushed raspberries, with a heady, waft of violets. It’s not a shy Pinot Noir, but rather a rich, full-flavoured one, sumptuous, velvety and eminently satisfying, with soft tannins, and a glorious medley of rich, red berry, freshly crushed raspberry and fresh, wild herbs on the palate. You’ll smile and relax when you taste this wine.
Dessert Wines And Port
Christmas is the time to bring out the sweet wines and the Port, and probably the only time in the year that many of you will try them. But, please do, as Christmas is all about indulgence, and there’s nothing better than relaxing after all the frenzy of presents and cooking, than with a glass of dessert wine or Port, with a mince pie, warm Christmas pudding, or a slice of Christmas cake or Yule log. Two of my top choices would be wines that I’ve written about before, both luscious in their richly, decadent flavours, Morrisons Signature Pedro Ximenez, and Waitrose LBV Port. Here are two more suggestions:
Waitrose Seriously Plummy Maury Dessert Wine
This half bottle is just the right size for a glass each on Christmas Day, as long as you haven’t got more than 8 there! Sweet red wines aren’t very well known and often underrated, so I urge you to try this: a very indulgent treat. Produced in the South of France, near Roussillon, it’s from the fruity Grenache grape, which has been fortified and sweetened. It’s rich, intense, and with a lusciously sweet, opulent, licorice and dried fig flavours, with hints of mocha coursing through it. It’s about as close to the wine version of Christmas pud as you can get, and it’s deep, raisin richness, and chocolatey and raisiny warmth are a delight.
Tesco Finest Vintage Port 1994
If there’s only one day a year that you indulge in a bottle of Port, it has to be this one. Decanter gave this one a silver award in its international awards this year, and it’s easy to see why. From the Symington Family estates, one of the best in the Douro, this Port has been carefully crafted, nurtured and matured for almost 20 years. The wine swirls and clings to the sides of the glass – deep and purply. It’s rich and has a luscious blueberry and blackberry syrup edge on nose and palate, yet with a restrained edge of dry spices and black pepper. Showing remarkable youthfulness for its age, it’s powerful and structured, with flavours of dense dried raisins and figs, with an elegant violet edge.
*This article is showing the prices and stock available on 16/12/2013. Delivery fees may apply.