It’s always tricky picking wines for Christmas. In this guide, our head sommelier Gordon Lawrence puts together his selection of the best…
We all like to feel special at Christmas so what better way than with some festive bubbles.
There’s no point in comparing Champagne and Prosecco, they are 2 different things so enjoy them as such… When you want something rich, complex and engaging spend as much as you can on Champagne. We’ve had Louis Roederer as our house Champagne since we opened and I’m still in love with their wines. The Brut NV is fantastic with loads of the qualities you would wish for in good Champagne, brioche and biscuity complexity with fresh citrus and green apple… yummy. Ultimate bling but worth the money Cristal or Krug!
If you want light and frivolous but still delicious, open Prosecco. Most Prosecco is decent, light and floral with distinct elderflower notes. We use a Prosecco from Ruggeri every evening to start off our wine flight we sell to match with our tasting menu. It’s named after the Grandfather who founded the business in 1955 Giustino Bisol. Seek some advice from a professional. Please, please use your local independent wine merchant.
Lastly my dear old Mum loves to tip orange juice into anything with bubbles at Christmas. Please don’t do this with anything fancy. The sugar and acidity in orange juice will completely mask any nuance of the wine so don’t waste your money and nuke your lovely Champagne in this way.
White Burgundy … blah blah blah. Yes I absolutely love a great bottle of Chardonnay from the hallowed slopes of the Cote d’Or. Yes they are probably the greatest white wines on earth. Yes they are often perfect for this time of year when we want a white wine with some grunt. But let’s look a little bit beyond the obvious… This year we have sold a lot of Soave. There are some real gems to be had. My favourite producer is Pieropan. The entry level straight Soave represents seriously good value. The wine has a steely minerality at its core and bags of fresh citrus and stone fruit flavours. The family also make two top end single vineyard offerings. The Calvarino has not seen any oak and is the more steely of the two, sometimes mistaken for a Grand Cru Chablis. The La Rocca has spent some time in oak barrels and is richer and rounder, with fantastic body and structure.
Perfect for turkey!
Ok now for some serious reds. There is a load of rich food flying around at this time of year and at some stage you will definitely need a bottle or two. One wine I love with rich food is Brunello di Montalcino from Montalcino in Tuscany. Brunello is made with a clone of Sangiovese called Sangiovese Grosso. This is simply a larger berried version and this fact combined with the Southerly location of Montalcino itself combine to give a rich wine with structure and the characteristic high acidity of Sangiovese. That acidity is vital for food matching and will cut through rich and powerful flavours. I’m a huge fan of the Costanti Brunello we sell here. It is a Brunello cut in the classic style, very elegant with real presence.
Also you could think about an Amarone. This is a wine from the Veneto made with a grape called Corvina. To make Amarone the grapes are dried in a cool dry atmosphere for about four months before the wine is made. This drying can losen up to ⅓ of the weight of the fruit and leaves a very concentrated spectrum of flavours and potentially high alcohol in the final wine. The wine is what the Italians call a ‘vino di contemplazione’ which is a prosaic way of saying that this is a wine that grabs your attention. It is a tricky wine to categorise, you have a very big structure and loads of complex dried fruit flavours with sweet spice and cocoa powder. I think the Bertani Amarone Classico is a fabulous wine, it combines the huge range of flavours with real elegance.
Sweet and Sticky
Port is great but just too obvious for this time of year. I prefer a good Tawny Port to Ruby, I enjoy the combination of nutty complexity with Christmas pudding candied peel flavours. But if you want something equally seasonal try a Rutherglen Muscat from Australia. These are really sweet with enormous complex flavours of Christmas pudding fruit with toffee and caramel notes. One of the best I have tasted this year came from Yalumba in the Barossa Valley. Their Museum Reserve Muscat is really rich and complex and if you take into consideration the fact that the wine is aged for at least 7 years in oak barrels before release it represents great value.