I CAN’T wait for Christmas Day; not for the presents, but the wine.
Even before I became a wine scribe – my face pinning the ramblings of a grape-besotted woman to the page – I’ve put as much thought into what to drink on The Big Day as The Big Meal itself.
Here’s some of them – and I’ve not yet had enough of talking about champers.
Champagne Jacquart, Brut Mosaïque NV is on offer at Majestic at £18 and it’s one of the nicest I’ve tasted for these few weeks of festive notes. It’s a balanced blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier sourced from exceptional terroirs in Champagne including Grands Crus in the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims.
My tasting notes simply say “crisp, crunchy, fruity red apples and bread dough proving in a warm country-comforts kitchen. Light, refreshing with bubbles abounding”. Serve with your starter as an indulgent treat. After all, its once a year.
If turkey is your choice of main, and a red is preference, try a pinot noir. First off, a big Christmas WOW to Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir 2007 , a sumptuous pinot from Marlborough New Zealand.
Complex, fruity but easy to drink, this had it all. Virgin Wines (www.virginwines.co.uk) are doing this at £19.99 a bottle so it’s not cheap. But if Christmas Day point-scoring comes before cost-consciousness then go for it.
Another delicious pinot noir from New Zealand is Lay of the Land Ben Morven Farm Pinot Noir 2011(£15.99 or £11.99 if you’re an investing Angel, www.nakedwines.com). It is made by Mike Paterson, former head winemaker at Jackson Estate in Marlborough. Naked invested £526k for Mike to make wines for them. This pinot has black cherries on the nose, with a hint of vanilla and to taste is smooth red fruit, rolled in black pepper.
Peter & Peter Pinot Noir 2011 (£45 a case, equivalent to £7.50 a bottle, at www.tesco.com) is earthy and foresty like some of the woodlands in its native Germany. Some of this light-medium bodied wine was matured in French barrels for six months adding smoky oak hints to spicy redcurrants. Easy drinking.
Whites. Yealands Estate Gruner Veltliner 2011 (£13.99) is available from Roberts and Henry Fine Wines in Queen Avenue, just off Castle Street, Liverpool, and would be perfect with your bird if, like me, you are planning a stuffing with lemon as the key note. This wine from New Zealand (another!) has heady clouds of honeysuckle with mango and peach stylishly flirting arm in juicy arm in each fruity mouthful.
Premier Cru Chablis Beauroy, Côte de Lechet, (M&S, reduced from £18 to £13) is a wine you’d probably want to pair with a classy seafood starter, but a touch of oak adds finesse and depth to the classic flavours of crisp green apples on a slate – which would help it stand up to the savoury main.
Le Manoir du Baron Chardonnay d’Oc (£5, Asda) is a creamily elegant southern French chardonnay with a nutty character and fresh minerality. It has honey and peaches too – very enjoyable and great value.
From Limoux comes a Burgundy-style white Les Bénédictins Chardonnay 2009 (£12.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk) which has toast and honey on the nose and vanilla custard to taste. Open it with a starter and keep it on the table with the bird.
Next week, the best bit: Cheeses and puds – and Boxing Day too.