Wines for Christmas 2017 – six of the best
What are my Wines for Christmas 2017? ‘Tis the season. Last year I featured 12 wines, all of which I continue to recommend. This year I’m treating the topic a little differently. There are only six wines on my list. Reducing a long list down to only six is way harder than to twelve – less is more, right? If you’d like more recommendations, then please look at last year’s list as well.
As for my criteria for Christmas 2017, they have to be good with seasonal food or at a party. Then, every wine included here I buy for myself with my own money. And I wanted to add a few surprises too. 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 2017 Fizz – Lessini Durello
Us Brits love Prosecco. There’s a lot to like, but maybe it’s time for something different? Lessini Durello fizz is rapidly growing in popularity. It comes from the Veneto in Italy, close to Prosecco-land. Made from the Durella white grape, it’s Italy’s best-kept secret right now. Called Settecento33 Brut NV and produced by the Cantina di Soave, who are responsible for about 40% of all production. A white flower nose, flavours of pears and big green apples, all cut with lovely acidity and minerals. Start the party! Oddbins, £10.00
Christmas 2017 White – Soave Classico
Soave is perhaps Italy’s most a famous white wine region. Coffele Castel Cerino DOCG 2016 white is made only with the Garganega grape, without any oak, see my review. I never tire of it, a classic example from one of Soave’s best producers, and outstanding value too. What’s even better now is that it comes in Bag-In-Box! Don’t get sniffy; there’s no reason why such packaging has to contain duff wine. Admittedly, the Bag-in-Box concept does need an image makeover, starting with a more attractive name. Any suggestions? Anyhow, this 3-litre box for £27.00 works out at just £6.75 per bottle, at The Wine Society. I promise you it won’t last beyond Boxing day.
Christmas 2017 Lighter Red – Pinot Noir
For me, Christmas is unthinkable without a great Pinot Noir. Where to go? Touchstones for me are Burgundy (of course), New Zealand, South Africa and California. But there’s one more great place to go. Oregon. So try Cooper Mountain 2012 Pinot Noir. It’s from the Willamette Valley and is Biodynamic to boot. In their own words, “it’s for those seeking wines that have a soul and are reflective of each passing vintage”. That’ll be me then. It’s the excellent 2012, so it’s got some maturity to it and is at peak now; with scent, savouriness and real elegance. Wines With Attitude, £23.00
Christmas 2017 Centrepiece – Lambrusco
For your Christmas Day Dinner! What? Are you kidding? Lambrusco!! For Christmas!!! Forget the idea that all Lambrusco is only ever a nasty frothy sweetish wine of little merit. Top Lambrusco is one of the most refreshing drinks you can imagine. And they work brilliantly with food. Meanwhile, a smile on everyone’s face is its guarantee. What’s not to love? My pick is the one that kick-started the Lambrusco renaissance.
It’s Medici Ermete, Reggiano Lambrusco DOC Concerto 2016. Brilliantly made, an incredibly intense carmine colour and thoroughly dry fizzy style. The exuberant black cherry fruit copes with Turkey and all the trimmings. That’s what I’m having with my dinner on Christmas Day, so I hope you’ll try it out too. The 2016 vintage is at Valvona & Crolla, £15.49. Vintage 2015 is at Bat and Bottle at £12.76. Just do it.
Christmas 2017 Big Red – Carménère
How about a big romantic red to share with someone special? Inama is one of the best makers of Soave. Like some of their peers, they also make red wines. However, they concentrate on Bordeaux varietals from the virtually unknown Colli Berici. Carménère is a Bordeaux variety that famously found its home in Chile. Inama has the largest Carménère single vineyard in Europe, at Oratorio di San Lorenzo. The top wine from here is Carménère Riserva, Oratorio di San Lorenzo 2013 Colli Berici DOC.
Moreover, it’s the world’s best Carménère. In fact, it’s crushed velvet, already a heady mix of black fruits, cocoa and pepper. A big robust wine, yet with such finesse and complexity. There are decades of development ahead, but perfect drinking now. Uncorked £39.95
Christmas 2017 Sweet – Sherry
Dry sherries get most of the accolades, but please don’t neglect their sweet counterparts. Those bad old days of the ’70s, a time of overproduction and poor sweetening, mar their image. Let’s instead concentrate on the now. The best sherry I’ve had this year is Valdespino 1842 Oloroso Dulce VOS, shared with me by sherry-legend Beltran Domecq. While Dulce means sweet, this is only just sweet enough to balance out the old, dry and concentrated Oloroso wines. Those Oloroso wines used in the blend are at least 20 years old. 10% PX sweetens the mix.
So this wine does this lovely thing where it starts out sweetly concentrated yet finishes dry. Without that PX, the wine would be too austere and intense to drink. Subtly scented nose, then powerfully focused currants, caramel, coconut and walnuts. Not wine for heavy sweet desserts. Instead, this is an excellent apéritif, would be brilliant with cold cuts on Boxing Day, or with Blue Cheese. Mince Pies or Stollen are terrific with it too. It’s Christmas in a glass. Widely available, a half-bottle is £19.99 at Latitude in Leeds or £21.25 at Lea and Sandeman. A full-sized bottle will be about £35.00.
And my Wine of the Year 2017? That’s here.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas,