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Cost of Living

The Cost of Living Crisis Case, Festive Season 2022

I hope you like my Christmas card! Everyone knows we’re in a cost-of-living crisis, so this situation has affected my wine recommendations for the festive season. We all want to celebrate and enjoy ourselves, but in a cost-conscious way. What is a wine-lover to do?

A real price cap

Hence, for my recommendations this year, the maximum bottle cost has been capped at £12.00 each—twelve quid tops. While cost is a focus, there’s no compromise on excellence, matching seasonal fare, or sustainability. I didn’t say cheap; it’s about value. It’s not about “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Instead, here are thoughtful wines of excellent quality and value from producers that care about their impact on the environment and their stakeholders.

There are two sparkling wines, three white, two rosé, three red and a final couple for desserts. The retail prices shown are regular, not seasonal discounts or deals.


Bodegas Enguera,  ‘Enguera in a Bubble’  Organic Brut Nature Cava DO,  València,  Spain,  NV.  11.5%

costWhile 90% of Cava is made in Catalonia, the rest comes from other Spanish regions. And so it is with Enguera in a Bubble. You might think València would be too hot for sparkling wine, but the high altitudes inland mean white grapes such as Macabeo (Viura) and Chardonnay thrive. Enguera is organic and made by the Traditional Method. Brut Nature means this has been made naturally dry, requiring no added sugar. As a result, there are long-lasting bubbles, a creamy texture and plenty of apples and citrus fruit on a yeasty backdrop. Drink as an aperitivo or with fish and seafood starters. Vinceremos, Leeds, £11.99


Antech, Cuvée Réserve Brut Millésimé,  AoP Blanquette de Limoux,  Languedoc Roussillon,  France,  2019.  12%

costAntech is a significant fizz producer from the birthplace of sparkling wine and has “Terre Vitis” accreditation for sustainability. This is bone dry, super fresh fizz, tasting of Granny Smith’s. It is made with 90% Mauzac grape (locally known as Blanquette). In addition, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Chenin blanc add acidity and refinement. With old vines, the Traditional Method and 18 months on the lees, the result is smoked salmon and gravadlax heaven. The Wine Society£11.50


Fasoli Gino,  Borgoletto,  Soave DOCG,  Veneto,  Italy,  2020.  12.5%

costThis is from a favourite producer with biodynamic vineyards and a zero-emission winery near Verona. Borgoletto is made from 100% old-vine Garganega using only stainless steel. It’s a classic Soave in colour, aroma, texture and flavour. Bright yellow with attractive floral aromas, a crisp, fresh, dry yet slippery texture, subtle apple fruit, and a long almond finish. Hugely versatile with fish and chicken. Vintage Roots £10.99



Villa Maria,  Earth Garden,  Sauvignon Blanc,  Marlborough,  New Zealand,  2021.  13.5%

Villa Maria is a brand known for quality, and this wine is one of their new range of four BioGro-certified organic wines. This is a fascinating Marlborough Sauvie, made in a subtle and sophisticated style that stands out from the crowd. Passionfruit and lime, elegant silken texture, good intensity and length. Pair with salads and seafood. Scallops are a particular treat. Booth’s £11.50 



Thymiopoulos,  Atma White (Xinamavro/Malagouzia),  PGI Náoussa,  Greece,  2021.  12%

Thymiopoulos make Atma White in Náoussa, northern Greece. Their wine growing is biodynamic and sustainable; you can read the full details here. A blend of two Greek grapes, 70% is Xinomavro, vinified white, and the other 30% comes from the once-rare Malagouzia white grape variety with a distinctive scent. An almost water-white colour, the magic starts with the powerful aromas of jasmine, with traces of rose and bergamot. Crisp acidity is to the fore, and it’s bone dry. There’s a slightly oily texture, where lemon and peach appear before a long, saline finish. Pair with sardines and other fried food such as calamari or zucchini. As the festive period is usually when thoughts turn to future holidays, a glass of this will get you in the right mood. Booth’s, £11.00


Domaine des Tourelles,  Rosé,  Bekaa Valley,  Lebanon,  2021.  12.5%

Domaine des Tourelles is one of the best wineries in Lebanon. And it’s a country known for its French grapes and wine-growing traditions. Hence a rosé containing 40% Cinsault and 30% Syrah isn’t unusual, but including 30% Spanish Tempranillo certainly is! So this is an organic rosé to break preconceptions. A deeper reddish-pink has zippy acidity, a mass of strawberry and apple fruit, a moreish savoury edge, and a black pepper finish. And while you may rightly imagine it’s right at home with a summer BBQ, it’s surprisingly suited to winter thanks to a rare richness and depth. Classic food pairings are middle-eastern dishes, but instead, try pairing it with all those Boxing Day leftovers. Hercules Wines, £11.95


Torres,  Viña Esmerelda Rosado,  Catalunya DO,  Spain,  2020.  12.5%

Torres is one of Spain’s best-known wineries and a founder member of the IWCA – the International Wineries for Climate Action. This is an ideal rosé for food, being nicely dry. It’s made from red Garnacha grapes by fermenting them in stainless steel and bleeding off pink juice. A surprisingly light pink colour, as is fashionable, with aromas of roses and strawberries. The alcohol is in balance with crisp acidity and strawberry/raspberry fruit. Orange peel appears on the dry finish. One for opening presents with on Christmas Day. VINVM £9.55


Lyrarakis,  Kotsifali,  PGI Crete,  Greece,  2020.  13.5%

Lyrarakis is a small organic estate on the Greek island of Crete, dedicated to sustainability throughout the wine process and growing rare and native grape varieties. Established in 1966, and since 2015 the vineyards have been certified organic, with some extra biodynamic practices. They are up at 500 metres in the mountains south of Heraklion. Kotsifali is a native red grape of Crete and is widely grown on the island. It has a distinctive flavour profile. A pale red has a mellow richness, while sufficient acidity avoids flabbiness. There are aromas and tastes of sour cherries and garrigue. Softly textured with a spicy finish, ideal for those wanting to try something more unusual with Turkey or Goose. Field and Fawcett, York, £10.95

Nicosia, Lenza di Munti,  Etna Rosso DOC,  Sicily,  Italy,  2018.  13%

This classic Etna Rosso blend is 85% Nerello Mascalese and 15% Nerello Capuccio. The vines are high up on lava terraces at 720 metres altitude. Deep cherry-coloured, it offers a wild ride, firstly of red berries, violets and underbrush, before complex flavours of sour cherry, brown spices, olives and herbs. A burst of minerality appears on the long finish from deep within. Elegant, thanks to the balance between bright acidity and silken tannins. I had this down at nearly double the price, so this outstanding wine is also a terrific bargain, especially as it won Tre Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso. If, like me, you’ll be eating Porchetta during the holiday season, this wine is a great match. Booth’s, £10.75

Santa Venere,  Cirò Rosso DOC,  Calabria,  Italy,  2020. 13.5%

Santa Venere Cirò

Calabria is Italy’s “toe”, where the most well-known Calabrian wine is Cirò DOC. The native Gaglioppo grape variety, one of Italy’s oldest, is the staple of its red and rosé wines. The Scala family are pioneers of the Calabrian wine renaissance, running a mixed organic farm called Santa Venere. This example is made only with Gaglioppo and sees no oak. It’s a deep garnet-coloured wine characterised by small red berries on the nose and palate, while the citrus acidity and soft tannins ensure refreshment. As it opens up, underbrush and leather notes appear. This elegant wine is ideal for any traditional Christmas dinner, where it will easily cope with all the trimmings. Alternatively, Calabria is the largest producer of Italian Porcini mushrooms, and those make an excellent food match. The Wine Society £10.50


Dessert Wines

Châteaux Bastor-Lamontagne,  So,  AoP Sauternes,  Bordeaux,  France,  2017.  13.5%

SoAn organic producer and a famous name in Sauternes. The 2017 harvest was small because of bad frosts, but as compensation, there was a good level of essential Noble Rot at harvest time. Made with 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, “So” is a cuvée in a modern (lighter and younger-drinking) style appealing to those less familiar with sweet wines, with an attractive price. Nevertheless, there’s typicity with a lush tone, balancing acidity and enough Botrytis to show the complexity of exotic fruits, honey, ginger, and candied peel. Crème Brûlée and blue cheese heaven, pass the Roquefort. A half (375 ml) bottle is £9.99 at Waitrose Cellar.


Domaine Pouderoux,  AoP Maury Grande Reserve,  Languedoc-Roussillon,  France,  NV.  15.5%

Domaine Pouderoux is in the foothills of the Pyrénées, and Vin Doux Naturel wines such as Maury are their speciality par excellence. They make this example from old Grenache Noir vines between 30 and 50 years old, certified organic. Their fermentation ceases early by mutage, which is the addition of pure alcohol. This kills the yeast by suddenly raising the alcohol content, leaving the wine sweet, the same process used for Port.

This fiery new wine is then tamed by long maturation, in this case, six years. It uses a mixture of wooden barrels and glass demijohns, some of which are kept outdoors to oxidise in the sun. This ageing gradually transforms a blackish-red wine into a lustrous mahogany colour. The aromatics are stunning, with tobacco, gingerbread, orange and vanilla. On the palate, new complexities appear, like prunes, raisins, coffee and toast. Drink this with everything from Christmas cake to Christmas pudding and Chocolate. Or with creamier blue cheeses like Stilton. Put some in your bedtime hot cocoa! A 500 ml bottle is £11.49 at Waitrose Cellar.

And finally

So now all that remains is to wish you a merry and warm Christmas and a more prosperous New Year.

And please don’t forget your yuleholeAccording to the Scottish National Dictionary, this is an extra hole in the waist belt to “allow for repletion after the feasting” at Christmas. So now you know.


I’ll be back as usual at the New Year with my WOTY (Wine of the Year). Until then,

Happy Christmas

Buon Natale


Joyeux Noël

Feliz Navidad

Frohe Weihnachten

Nollaig Shona


Feliz Natal

God Jul

Zalig Kerstfeest

Meri Kirihimete

Yuletide drinking – a dozen wines for Christmas 2023

Would you like to see recommendations from previous years? Here are 2021, 2020, 2019,  2018,  2017 and 2016. Less focus on cost, cost, cost, cost. Still value!

And now there’s 2023.

And have you tried Passive Cooking to save energy, carbon emissions and money?

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