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Selfridges Wine Tasting – Christmas delights

Selfridges Xmas Wines

On top of the hamper, which you can read about here, Selfridges very kindly offered us to choose a couple of wines which I deemed suitable for Xmas hosting and feasting, and I’ll admit, ones that I was really eager to try myself. Perfect for different occasions throughout the day, these wines should give you some ideas of what to have with your Xmas lunch, pudding and beyond. Don’t make them stick to Christmas events only either. Wine is for every time of the year. In particular I mean that for the sweet Sherry which is all too often, like Port, relegated to an Xmas drink. If you like it, drink it more and don’t restrict yourself!

The Bubble Sparkling wine - £12.99

Sparkling Gruner Veltliner isn’t something you see every day. But that, and the fact it comes as a bauble made it a must-try. Gruner is a significant Austrian grape, usually paired in a similar mindset to Riesling but distinctly different and with a signature white pepper flavour if grown in a suitable climate. Sparkling however I had never seen, and it lived up to the interest.

The nose was extremely pleasant with windfall apple (reminding me a little of a fino sherry), hazelnut and brioche notes coming through strongly. Toast was also very strong thanks to a good chunk of lees ageing whilst citrus fruit supported the rest. It had all the hallmarks of quality Champagne and Sparkling.

The taste was incredibly good too. These aromas came to the palate, again with the windfall apple and yeasty notes keeping the sherry essence alive, however, whilst a sherry like that would taste bone dry, this one had honeyed notes and candied fruits which brought an element of sweetness to the flavour and added some lovely complexity. It even has Gruner's signature white pepper note which was particularly pleasing. The Drink Me on the label could not have been more enticing.

Gonzalez Byass Nectar, Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherry - £23.99

Sherry is sadly not very fashionable despite being the genuine best value wines in the world. You can get 30 year old sherries for a mere £25 or less. Imagine if that was a wine! Not only that, but Sherry producers are in it for the love. It is laborious, time-consuming and requires patience with each step, much more so than standard winemaking, making you know that every Sherry has passion behind it. Sherry is also so impressively varied, from bone dry to luscious and thick sweet syrup and anything in between. You're bound to like a style of Sherry, you may have just not got round to trying the right variant yet. Still, as it was Christmas, Selfridges' sweet, sticky Sherry options were on the menu for me. Enter the Gonzalez Byass Nectar, from possibly the most famous name in Sherry. This style of Sherry is made by shriveling grapes in the sun, which concentrates the sugar as the water evaporates making the style so sweet.

The nose was exactly what I expected, and wanted. Molasses, treacle, raisin, dried fig, toffee, toffee apple, caramel, coffee, liquorice and chocolate all stand out and work harmoniously. A good touch of walnut and a spiced note followed these adding further to the complexity.

As with any good wine, the nose should inform the palate. And this did not disappoint. All the flavours of the nose were there and the spice on the end became a gentle cinnamon. It even has a little bit of grapey flavour to it, something that is fascinatingly absent in almost all wine. And, as with any Sherry like this, the mouthfeel and sugar is key. First, you'll find out why they call these stickies when you try this. It rolls around in a thick, treacly manner and exudes sweet indulgence. It is not the sweetest PX I have tried but it is still sweet indeed. All this sugar might sound too much for some, but this Sherry is kept in incredible balance by high acidity. You'd have no idea it was there without a little wine training, but it is the reason this is drinkable. Otherwise, it would be on the point of unpleasantly sweet. However, this wine is well made and therefore this is not to fear in the least! Nectar indeed.

So, a fantastic sherry which matched very well with my Selfridges Christmas pud from the hamper. It's a wine made for dessert so make sure you don't miss out on a sweet treat of this quality and incredible value this year!

Chapel Down, Kit’s Koty Bacchus 2021 - £30.99

I was very excited for this one. Kit's Coty is Chapel Down's "Finest Vineyard" and a multi-award winning range with a host of fantastic still and sparklings. It is some of the best English wine you can get your hands on.

The nose was very aromatic indeed, with finely ground elderflower, fragrant nettle, and fresh-cut grass really hammering this home. On the fruitier side came some tropical notes like lime zest and guava giving a ripe feel to the wine. Green apple and lemon were also well entwined here. Finally, there was a subtle smoky hint which Pouilly Fume lovers will enjoy the most.

The first thing on the palate that I spotted was the weight and richness to the wine despite these otherwise lighter, aromatic aromas. Evidence of barrel use through toasty, smoky notes added to this. Lemon and lime zest, green apple, peach and lychee contributed to the fruit in a very emphatic manner, giving the wine real character and flavour intensity. A long, zippy finish caps off the classic Bacchus grape acidity. This wine is certainly complex and, dare I say, the best Bacchus there is, or at least that I’ve tried.

Secateurs Chenin Blanc - £13.99

These next two are from South African producer A.A. Badenhorst based in Swartland. The Secateurs duo are aptly named after the grape pickers primary tool, harking right at the importance of the vineyard.

Starting with the Chenin, it was very oaky where lathers of vanilla and butterscotch shone thanks to this. There was also a great combo of honey and cream working in unison which added to the decadence nicely. The fruits mainly consisted of orange rind and ripe apple giving a nice ripe feel to the wine.

Oak influence is also clear on the palate but in a more elegant way than the nose. That just hit you square on and shouted South African winemaking (in a good way!). It is still creamy, vanilla is there strongly too, but very well integrated with the honeyed element. The fruit has more prominence allowing it to match up to the oak with ripe apple, lemon curd and peachy notes. The body has Chenin’s lovely oily character and richness with some grip from the phenols (grape skin bits) as well as necessary acidity to cut through the beefy oak. Delicious.

Secateurs Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsault - £14.99

The second of the Secateurs duo was a red blend of Shiraz, Grenache & Cinsault, perfect for Rhone lovers. It definitely had the aroma of excellent Rhone with meaty, savoury and charred wood characteristics right off the bat. Liquorice, black pepper, a herbaceous element of violet, redcurrant, cranberry and red plum. As you can see, there was plenty there!

On the palate, it was a nice medium to full bodied wine with powerful red fruit notes of bramble and redcurrant with herbaceous and oak undertones. The spice from the oak was most prominent on finish giving it a flavoursome send off. For all the flavours and intensity you get on this wine, it is excellent value for money.

 Selfridges Secateurs Selfridges Gonzalex Byass Nectar

David Andrews, DipWSET

David Andrews, DipWSET

David brings great enthusiasm to the wine industry, starting with Majestic Wine in 2019 and now joining us at Winesdirect in 2023. He has completed his WSET Diploma qualification and looking forward to share his expert knowledge and tidbits of the wine world.

As an industry enthusiast and expert, David also writes a regular blog on instagram. Check it out here @oinosattheoikos

Read more articles by: David Andrews

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