Christmas wines 2018 – six favourites
As for my selection criteria for Christmas 2018, they have to be versatile; excellent with food or at a party. I’ve tried to mix the selection up a little too, including wines that are excellent value and not necessarily “mainstream”. Finally, every wine included here I buy with my own money.
These are all available in the UK, so buy them for yourself or give them to loved ones as prezzies. If you do try them, please let me know what you think!
Without further ado, here they are, with prices and stockists, natch.
Christmas 2018 Fizz
Cave de Lugny, Crémant de Bourgogne AOC, Blanc de Blancs, Mâconnais, France. Brut NV 11.5%
This year I wanted to find a fizz with versatility. Inexpensive enough for a party yet tasting good too. It’s not an easy trick to pull off. It’s good to see French crémant enjoying a resurgence this year. I’ve chosen one made by the Caves de Lugny. I know this Burgundy coop well, and their ultra-reliable Crémants fit the bill. This one is 100% Chardonnay and a good example of the style. Crémant uses the traditional method but has less gas pressure than Champagne. It has a lightness of touch, citrus flavours and persistent bubbles. That makes it a great apéritif or ideal with shellfish. Why not go retro at Christmas by serving it with Prawn Cocktail? Meanwhile, for those that tire of Christmassy fare, this is smashing with fish and chips. Oddbins, £14.75
Christmas 2018 Budget White
Kellerai Eisacktaler, Adler Sylvaner, Alto Adige/Südtirol DOC, Italy 2017. 13.5%
This Sylvaner grows in the far north of the Alto Adige. It’s in the Valle Isarco, up near the mountainous Austrian Border. This example is by the excellent Eisacktaler (Cantina Valle Isarco) cooperative. Sylvaner is a much-maligned Germanic grape variety. However, the alpine terroir, careful handling and lower yields make a crisp and fresh dry white wine. One with subtle peach and apricot flavours. Distinctively alpine in style, it’s an excellent aperitivo, or with food go for salads and savoury pastries. Cracking value, Lidl, £7.99
Christmas 2018 Centrepiece White
Tiefenbrunner, Müller-Thurgau, Feldmarschall von Fenner zu Fennberg, Alto Adige/Südtirol DOC, Italy 2011. 13%
Feldmarschall is one of the most distinctive wines in the Alto Adige. It’s probably the best Müller-Thurgau varietal wine in the entire world. Grown at 1,000 metres, the highest in Europe, yet the grapes are super-ripe. Greenish colour. Initially flint, apricots and white pepper. As it opens up, apples, peach and jasmine. With nerve and tension, it has all the elegance you could ever want. Huge length. Spell-binding and glorious, perfect with all types of seafood, including Oysters. Armit Wines, £24.14
Christmas 2018 Budget Red
Palladino, Biferno Rosso Riserva, DOC. Molise, Italy. 2013, 13%
Molise is the youngest region in Italy and probably the least well known. It’s on the Adriatic coast, sandwiched between Abruzzo and Puglia. The Molise wines are even more obscure. Consequently, it’s still possible to find excellent terroir-based wines that sell for a song. And so it is with this excellent Biferno Rosso DOC, made by Camilio de Lellis and labelled Palladino. This example is a typical traditional blend, being 70% Montepulciano, 15% Aglianico and 15% white Trebbiano Toscano. Being a Riserva, this must have a minimum of three years ageing. This gets more; with 18 months in large old oak barrels and then a further 18 months in stainless steel. Velvety, with plum and herb aromatics. Damson on the palate and a little bit of bacon, smoke and leather in the background.
Stupidly good value, combining aged mellowness with a lightness of touch. Perfect for Boxing Day leftovers and jaded palates. The Wine Society, £7.95
Christmas 2018 Centrepiece Red
Perticaia, Montefalco Sagrantino secco, DOCG. Umbria, Italy. 2013, 14.5%
For Christmas Day Dinner. This wine matures in untoasted French oak barriques for 12 months, then in stainless steel vats for 12 months. Finally, it gets 12 months in the bottle. Impenetrable ruby coloured, this has scents of blackberry and cinnamon. There’s also a menthol note, perhaps eucalyptus. The plummy palate has an attractive sun-dried tomato flavour mixed in. Long length and, with fresh acidity balancing all that power. Stellar drinking and one of my favourite examples of this wine, which will match any roast meats and all the trimmings. Find out more about Montefalco Sagrantino here. La Vino, Halifax £29.50
Christmas 2018 Sweet
Graham’s, Quinta dos Malvedos Port, Portugal. 2005, 20%
Malvedos is a Single Quinta (SQV) wine, the estate being in the Cima Corgo sub-region of the Duoro. 2005 was an unusually hot and dry year. It’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela. Deep red, with a hint of garnet on the rim, showing a little age. It’s one of the most opulent Ports. There’s an intense palate of blackberry, cherry and plum. A finale of mint and eucalyptus is typical of this Quinta. If you’d like to find out more about Port and its various styles, then check out my article here. Decanting is essential. One for chocolate desserts, Christmas pud, mince pies, blue cheese, or simply conversation. This wine is fairly widely available, including Latitude, Leeds £35.00
And my Wine of the Year 2018? Well, I’ll share that with you on the first of January 2019!
Wishing you a Happy Christmas, wherever you are.