With Christmas only weeks away, it is never too early to start considering the perfect wine for the festivities. Having recently been awarded best Specialist Retailer for Organic and Biodynamic wines by the prestigious Decanter magazine, The Good Wine Shop puts the spotlight on some of these wines and how they can compliment and elevate your festive food.
Family gatherings usually require an “all-rounder” Champagne – but that should never mean average! Varnier Fanniere’s Extra Brut Esprit de Craie Grand Cru Chardonnay from Avize offers richer texture of creamy depth buttressed by a nice line of acidity and a crisp finish.
For true indulgence, Champagne Agrapart, Grand Cru Extra-Brut Terroirs NV is memorable, rich and sumptuous with buttery and brioche notes on the palate with hints of menthol and liquorice, with an amazingly long finish.
If “Rabbit’s friends and relations” are coming over on Boxing Day then Crémant is a great plan – for your finances and taste buds.
Made in the same way as Champagne but all around France, our own weakness is for Crémant de Bourgogne – from Lucie Thieblemont. Lucie’s is Brut Zero – no sugar added at all, naturally made – super creamy and rich, but bone dry.
For traditional Christmas turkey, the perfect match is either a rich but fresh white, or a red with enough fruit and cut to square up to everything from Brussel sprouts, chestnut stuffing and the uniquely mouth-coating properties of bread sauce.
While the obvious white choice is white Burgundy like Domaine Pernot-Belicard, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrieres 2017, the recipe is just as successfully replicated by a Californian alternative like Chanin Wine Company, Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 with all the presence on the table and the palate for the occasion.
Reds for Turkey need good fruit and acidity – but they don’t need to be really full on. Sangiovese works very well – a richer style of Chianti or Vino Nobile, or for a real treat Piombaia’s Brunello. Lighter Nebbiolo based reds like Barbaresco, or the forgotten parts of Piemonte like Reverdito and Lessona also work beautifully. Save your Barolos for beef!
Pinot Noir works too but it needs concentration. Hannes Storm’s Hemel-en-Aarde Pinots would do the trick. And of course mature traditional Rioja is always a great match.
The unsung hero is Grenache – oodles of concentrated silky red fruit, tame tannins and a spicy lift, it’s deliciously versatile. Try wines like a Gigondas from Domaine Monirius or Domaine du Traginer and their Collioure Cuvee d’Octobre 2016.
If numbers justify a magnum, then Usseglio’s ‘Creation‘ has Christmas lunch all over it. Don’t be deterred by having a “Vin de France” grace your table – that’s just French bureaucracy, and in this case it’s a stunning looking bottle anyway. This one is 100% organic and biodynamic old vine Grenache, part from Châteauneuf and part from Lirac across the river – quite possibly the loveliest red I’ve drunk this year and the one most likely to make a repeat appearance this Christmas…
For the Beef Brigade I would wheel out the Bordeaux, Barolo and the really big reds… So think a wonderful, powerful Gran Reserva Rioja like Bodegas Montecillo 2011 ’22 Barricas’, an elegant Right Bank Bordeaux – Lassegue’s Saint-Emilion 2015 or La Fleur de Gay’s Pomerol 2009.
Italy is also a go-to with the likes of Fabio Motta’s gorgeous Bolgheri Superiore ‘le Gonnare’ or Cavallotto’s impressive Barolo.
Malbec lovers could take a walk on the French side and try Chateau Le Cedre’s top offering “Le Cedre” from their oldest vines in Cahors, or the wonderful ‘Vina 124‘ centenarian Malbec from De Angeles in Argentina. For something completely different try some of Moritz Hailde’s Blaufrankisch from Germany, locally known as Lemberger. Fruit, tannin structure and a fresh acidity- what’s not to like and certainly opens up new experiences.
Puds bring their own issues. Trifle is a slam-dunk for Sauternes such as Chateau Rieussec 2014, Late Harvest Rieslings and Tokaj Aszu 5 Puttonyos. And Sauternes is also a perfect match for blue cheese.
Christmas pud is much better with something fortified that will cut through the sticky, concentrated richness of dried fruits – and whatever alcohol you soaked the fruit in. While Port springs to mind first, there are other deliciously different options.
The D’Oliveiras’ 10yo Medium Sweet or Medium Dry Madeiras are extraordinary. Aged Tawny Ports, like Barao de Vilar 40yo, provide the same spectrum of oxidative flavours – dried fruit, candied peel, roasted nuts, burnt caramel. A wild card, new to our shelves this year, is an aged Moscatel de Setubal fortified with Cognac – I’m in! I tend to think of these wines as “Christmas pud in a glass” – my preferred way of consuming is after a rich lunch.
Boxing Day dawns – the cold cuts beckon – or maybe a great fish pie or possibly Roast Gammon… Whatever your Boxing Day brings, we all look forward to fresher wines to wash down lunch. It’s time for Riesling and Albarino, and light, flavoursome and juicy Beaujolais, Chinon and Mencia…
Katharina Wechsler’s Reislings and Pazo Pondal’s Mina Vida would be just perfect with the richness of a fish pie or the saltiness of gammon.
Cold cuts of beef, turkey and ham find their match in the fruity crunch of Beaujolais, Chinon or youthful Pinot. Domaine de Noire’s ‘Elegance’ Chinon drunk cellar cool provides all the refreshingly light red fruit flavours you need, as would any Cru Beaujolais like Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py, or one of the single parcels Mencías from Raul Perez’s La Vizcaina range.
Whatever you plan to drink this festive season, the most important thing is the shared pleasure of friends and family, great food and fine wine.
The Good Wine Shop
Contact: Bastian Fischer on email@example.com