The Star of the Show: Wines to throw the Spotlight on your Christmas Turkey this year
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
There is no real consensus as to what wine goes best with roast turkey, Some people advocate white wine with white meat, and it can work well if the white wine is robust enough. I would suggest a white Rhone which are great value, or a big gutsy white Australian or Californian Chardonnay.
But for me, the roasting of the bird, with all that crispy skin, maybe covered with bacon, meaty giblet gravy, roasted potatoes and parsnips, calls for a bright juicy red wine.
Think how well cranberry sauce goes with Turkey, well a juicy light red with some bright acidity really works well in the same way.
My favourite wines for Christmas turkey are Pinot Noirs from various parts of the World including Burgundy, or as there are some fabulous wines coming from Southern Burgundy, I love good Village Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape.
To start with ideal Pinot Noir, you might be surprised with my first recommendation being from Germany. The German consumer has always hankered after good red wines, being primarily producers of great whites. They have always imported big reds from further south, France, Spain and particularly Italy, and any German reds were very light. But a little bit of warming climate, and picking some nice warm planting sites, has meant there are now some great red wines being produced, particularly from the Pinot Noir, which the Germans call Blauburgunder.
Waitrose have a delicious wine from Nierstein, The Louis Guntrum Pinot Noir for £14.99.
Pinot thrives in cooler climates, retaining freshness, so the next two recommendations are from South Island New Zealand, where they are making beautiful wines, and also from Oregon in the northern United States.
Marks and Spencer have a Marlborough Pinot Noir 2020, No. 38 in their M&S Classics range. A lovely fresh wine with lots of wild cherry and plum flavours and a great deal at £10.
Majestic Wines have several good NZ Pinots, the best for me are from the cooler Central Otago region of South Island. I like the Mt. Difficulty "Roaring Meg" 2019 Pinot Noir for its intense fruitiness, lots of slightly spicy raspberry and cherry intensity. £18.99 per bottle.
If you prefer a slightly gutsier Pinot, Majestic's other Central Otago wine is their Parcel Series 2019, which is a bit more oaky, and the fruits darker berry flavours, blackberry and dark plum, only £13.99 for a mixed six bottles.
From Oregon, Majestic have an excellent Pinot from Erath, the 2019 from the top vineyard area south of Portland, the Dundee Hills. Complex spicy wine with lots of Raspberry and Cherry fruit. £17.99 for a mixed six bottles.
So to the home of Pinot Noir, Burgundy. Majestic have a lovely Morey Saint Denise, 2018. One of the great villages of the Cotes d'Or, between the more famous and bigger communes of Gevrey Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny from Remi Seguin.
Top class Burgundy with lots of red fruit but also wonderful complexity and elegance. Burgundy is expensive, but as a treat this is worth the £34.99 for a mixed six price tag. The same wine, from the 2017 vintage is in Waitrose discounted from £39 to £33 per bottle. Not quite as fruity, but with the complexity of an extra year.
Waitrose also have two excellent Red Burgundies from the top producer Maison Joseph Drouhin, their Rully and Chorey le Beaune, both for £19.99.
I have to declare an interest here, as I used to work for Drouhin back in the 1990's, but I can vouch for the elegance and charm of these two both 2018, but moreover the typicity and individuality of each commune, if interested, try the pair alongside one another. They are worth way more than the £20 price tag.
At Laithwaites, they also have another excellent Drouhin Wine, the Givry 2018. £18.90 for a mixed case of six bottles.
Many of the top Cotes d'Or producers are realising how in the South of Burgundy there are some great sites and the gamay grape makes wonderful Village Beaujolais. So there has been a lot of investment.
Top class Beaujolais goes wonderfully with Turkey, Chicken, Pork, and it's vibrant fruit and fragrant aromas. Duboeuf, who was aptly named "the King of Beaujolais" as he was instrumental in popularising the region back in the 1970's and since. His wines are still easy to find under the "flower" label, and are good, but there are now many serious competitors.
For more mature wines, rather than the fresh "Nouveau" which is still "raced " over at the end November after vintage and winemaking, I like the Villages of Morgon and Moulin a Vent. These wines are more structured and even though a different grape, more like their "cousins" in the north of Burgundy.
For lovely aromatic, floral wines I love Julienas and the aptly named Fleurie.
And for fruity juicy wines, go no further than Brouilly, a good Beaujolais Villages or Chiroubles. Again for those interested, tasting the individuality of the different villages is fascinating.
For Christmas Turkey, why not try a young Morgon or Moulin a Vent from Laithwaites. Domaine Lucien Lardy 2019 Morgon, Cote du Py £14.99, and Lardy's Moulin a Vent 2019 again £14.99.
For more floral lighter wine, Tescos have Duboeuf's Fleurie for £10. Waitrose also have a great value juicy fruity Blue Print Villages for £7.99. Waitrose also have a wine from the famous House of Louis Jadot the Beaujolais Quincie, 2020, which is packed with ripe soft berry fruit.
My pick from Waitrose however is The Morgon, La Chanaise from Dominique Piron 2018. This is lovely fruity wine with some structure and yet elegant. £14.99 per bottle.
Enjoy your Christmas and follow your own taste whether white or red, gutsy or gentle, fruity or aged and complex. Wine is such a wonderful opportunity to experiment a bit.
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