This has been a year like no other, so I am sure you are looking forward to enjoying Christmas and hoping that next year will be less stressful.
There are several stunning, inexpensive wines among my collection, but this is also a time for splashing out, so there are tempting bottles at all prices for you to reward your palate and those of your friends.
As always, as soon as my list is printed there is a rush to buy the wines, so don’t delay.
While some of the merchants might not be local to you, they all deliver nationwide and if you take advantage of case prices and other deals noted here, you can save plenty of cash.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Christmas Eve Sparkling
2018 Specially Selected Crémant du Jura (left), France £8.49, Aldi I have been writing about this wine for ten years and while the price has risen by £2.50 over that time it is still a bargain. Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, the sleek, finely tuned sparkler has enough class to accompany canapés and lighter dishes, too. NV Taste the Difference Crémant de Loire, Mlle Ladubay (right), France £11.50, reduced to £9 until Jan 1, Sainsbury’s. Made from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay by a top-flight winery, this Champagne method sparkler is a joy. Whether you like the label or not, the wine is a triumph — fine, bone-dry and piercingly fresh
2017 Beacon Down (left), Blanc de Noirs, Sussex, England £28.99, 22 branches and waitrosecellar.com. Another wine made by a top-class producer (Simon Roberts of Ridgeview) and it contains 100 per cent Pinot Noir. Mellow, soothing and with wild raspberry tones, this fizz has undeniable class and will charm your senses with its perfume and poise. NV Hattingley Valley (right), Classic Reserve, England £35, hattingleyvalley.com; £30, Waitrose; £29, Tesco; £33, greatwine.co.uk. Award-winning winemaker Emma Rice puts this classic sparkler together with skill, and a touch of Burgundy barrel fermentation brings depth. This non-vintage wine gives the impression of being a pricier, vintage creation, with toastiness and a long, even finish
Christmas Eve Whites
2019 Mitravelas (left), White on Grey Moschofilero, Greece £7.95, thewinesociety.com Floral, light, refreshing and delicate, this is one of the most exciting and invigorating white wines of the year. There is a cool, grapey freshness here which hints at exotic fruit notes but it is kept in check with lively citrus acidity. 2019 Savoie (right), Cruet, Vieille Vigne, Domaine de l’Idylle, France £13.50, yapp.co.uk. A beautiful white wine, from the mountainous Savoie region of France, it is made of rare Jacquère grapes, which adore the chilly foothills of the Alps. Delicate and fresh with honeysuckle and apricot notes, it is perfection as a palate-cleansing aperitif or paired with raclette or fondue
2018 Saint-Véran (left), Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France £16, Tesco. Jadot is a legendary winery in Burgundy and I am sure that you will recognise their famous label. This delicious Chardonnay sees no oak but it gathers intensity and depth by virtue of its superb vineyards and also the ripe 2018 vintage. This wine is on top form right now and is talented enough to step up to main course dishes. 2019 Orvieto Classico, Campogrande (right), Santa Cristina, Umbria, Italy £10, selected Co-ops. I am a huge fan of Orvieto and this cucumber-fresh style of light white is what classy Romans have been drinking for aeons. Made by the famous Antinori family, Campogrande uses a mix of indigenous Italian grapes, which ensures it comes alive in the glass
2018 Morrisons The Best English Dry White (left), Lyme Bay £14, Morrisons. This complicated white includes Reichensteiner, Seyval Blanc, Bacchus and Pinot Blanc grapes, which is why it is such a star. Silky and with lovely floral tones, it is made by the brilliant Lyme Bay Winery in Devon from fruit grown locally and in Dorset, Hereford and Kent. A perfect match for smoked salmon and seafood dishes. 2019 Tesco finest * Pinot Grigio (right), Terre di Monteforte, Veneto, Italy £8, Tesco. The key to the success of so many of the wines in this collection is that they are made by expert wineries and in this instance, the Cantina di Monteforte is a first-class cooperative with access to amazing, handpicked raw materials. The result is a Pinot Grigio with a super-smooth texture and a wonderful floral bouquet
Christmas Eve Reds
2019 Porta 6, Lisbon (left), Portugal £8, Co-op; £7.50, Tesco. This is a star performer, not only because the value is superb, but also because it is such a fine interpretation of the modern Portuguese red wine scene in just one wine. Bright, plummy, easy and smooth, this is one for those who don’t fancy anything too heavy or rich. You don’t even need to match it to food to enjoy its seamless charms. Enjoy. 2018 Taste the Difference Marzemino, Trentino, Italy £8.50, Sainsbury’s (right). This Italian beauty is made from the little-known Marzemino grape and comes from the cool mountainous climes of Trentino. This chilly climate imbues freshness and crunch in this silky, mulberry and plum-kissed wine. Drink it with spicy Indian or Asian-influenced cooking and you will not believe just how well the flavours, fruit and herb notes of this cheeky wine lift the dish
2018 Mad Fish, Shiraz, Western Australia £9, Tesco (left). Spicy, cracked black pepper notes and discreet bouquet garni details, coupled with a deep blackberry juice core, make this a very impressive number and one that punches way above its price tag. Drink with rich veggie dishes, juicy burgers or steaks. 2019 Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Shiraz (right), Clare Valley, South Australia £11, down to £10 until Jan 1, selected Co-ops. Coming from one of the most revered estates in Australia, this deep, powerful, inky Shiraz is packed with blue and black fruit notes. You must decant this wine as it needs to breathe and then wallow in its heady fruit with a hearty pie or stew
2019 Côtes du Rhône, Domaine de Verquière, France £11.70, reduced to £10.40 each by the case, hhandc.co.uk (left). This is another red which seems to be mispriced given its beautiful perfume and flavour. Perhaps the chic label might give away the class inside, but it is the palate which sounds the trumpets on your senses. Luxurious, dark and with liquorice, black olive and blackberry notes, it is so smooth it glistens in the glass. Serve with cheese. 2018 Sancerre Rouge, Terre de Maimbray, Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy, Loire France £10.70, half bottles, reduced to £9.70 each by the case, hhandc.co.uk (right). You might not always feel like drinking a full bottle and so here is a top-class, half-sized Pinot Noir which will enchant your senses. Reverdy’s red wines are rare but incredible and this is a flavour that I never tire of. With hauntingly pure red cherry fruit and a gossamer feel, this is a veritable couture creation
Christmas Eve Sweet and Fortified
NV La Gitana (left), Manzanilla, Bodegas Hidalgo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain £8, 50cl bottle, Sainsbury’s; £12.50, 75cl, amazon.co.uk; £9.99, reduced to £7.99 50cl bottle in a Mix Six, majestic.co.uk. I love the dinky half-litre bottle of this bone dry Manzanilla, even though I honestly prefer the ‘full’ 75cl format! Racy, salty, lemony and alive with energy, this is a stunning aperitif wine and it goes with every single canapé and tapas you can dream up. Cheers. NV Waitrose No1 Rich Cream Sherry (right), Jerez, Spain £11.99, Waitrose. By contrast to La Gitana, this sherry is at the very opposite end of the dry-sweet spectrum. A perennial winner, this wine, chilled a touch, is beautiful with every cake in every cake shop imaginable and it is as delicious with afternoon tea as much as it performs miracles with after-dinner chocolates
NV Blandy’s, Duke of Clarence (left), Rich Madeira, Portugal £12.49, Waitrose, Morrisons, ocado.com; £13, Co-op. While technically sweet, this wine is perfectly named because it is, in truth, very rich and also balanced with neat acidity which gives it freshness, too. There are caramel, ginger, fig and nut notes here and so this wine is stupendous with mince pies, Christmas pud and steamed puddings. It is about as Christmassy as wine gets. 2017 Château La Rame, Sainte- Croix-du-Mont, Bordeaux, France £14.99, half bottle, reduced to £12.99 in a Mix Six, majestic.co.uk (right). This is not an inexpensive wine, but it certainly makes an impact on the nose and palate. Wines of this class are sipped not gulped, so even though it is a half bottle, it goes a long way. Light and faintly honeyed with orange zest notes, this sweetie goes with fresh, fruity puddings, fragrant, delicate tarts and crème brûlée, as well as lighter blue cheeses
Christmas Day Fizz
NV Jansz, Premium Cuvée, Tasmania, Australia £17.99, reduced to £14.39 until Jan 3, Waitrose With a world-class flavour, richness and depth rare at this price, Jansz is a superstar estate and this is a winner. Made in the same way as Champagne and with the same grapes, it’s as vital as the very best found Down Under. 2006 Claude Carré, Cuvée Passion, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France £25, Sainsbury’s Made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, this has an extra dimension of ripeness and flair. It is a fine example of a small estate performing like a big brand, but at a far lower price!
2017 Oxney Organic, Classic, Single Estate, East Sussex £37, oxney estate.com Oxney is one of the finest UK wineries and this sparkler is sublime. The nose has delicate lime curd and brioche notes, while the palate is perfectly crisp. 2008 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Grands Crus Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France £145, thechampagne company.com; £150, dorsetwine.co.uk If you want to buy just one stellar prestige cuvée Champagne this season, make it this example of vinous perfection. ‘Can you taste the quality?’ is the question on everyone’s lips. ‘Yes, you can!’ is my answer
Christmas Day Whites
2019 Las Colinas del Ebro, Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta, Spain £9.95, down to £9.45 each if you buy six bottles, stonevine.co.uk This wine’s flavour has been stuck in my brain ever since I first tasted it, and I have resisted the urge to write it up so I could save it as my aperitif white choice for Christmas Day. Slender, herbal, green apple and pear-kissed and mineral-soaked, this is quirky, yet thoroughly engaging. It is also under a tenner! 2018 Château Paul Mas, Parcelle Belluguette, Languedoc, France £15.99, reduced to £13.99 in a Mix Six, Majestic This is a firework of a wine with a huge explosion of flavour on the palate. Made of 45 per cent Grenache Blanc, 30 per cent Vermentino, 15 per cent Roussanne and 10 per cent Viognier, there is French and American oak employed here to give this wine masses of power. Rich, indulgent and classy, it is perfect with turkey
2018 Viré-Clessé, Vieilles Vignes, Christophe Cordier, Burgundy, France £16.99, reduced to £14.99 in a Mix Six, Majestic If you prefer to find a wine with elite turkey-matching abilities but are not going to go overboard on the traditional meatier accompaniments, then this wine is for you. If you stick to fish, this is also your go-to white. Made from old Chardonnay vines, there is great intensity here, but this is not an overbearing wine and so it manages to balance depth and also freshness with consummate ease. 2019 Love by Léoube Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France £15.99, daylesford.com; £17.95, greatwine.co.uk I have sneaked in a feather-light rosé because this works well with smoked salmon, and we always have blinis on Christmas Day. Organically grown, with 13 per cent alcohol, it is light and silky with a faint salty tang and long, smooth finish
2019 Tenuta di Salviano, Grechetto, Umbria, Italy £16.95, reduced to £14.95 each by the case, leaandsandeman.co.uk Grechetto is usually an angular, edgy white grape, but Salviano’s version is positively majestic. With stunning poise and precision — plus a serene, mouthwatering finish — this is an amazing find. Not something you would stumble across every day, so I do hope you are moved to seek out this wine, as it is a genuine slice of genius. 2020 Silver Lining, Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, South Australia £19.75, reduced to £17.78 each by the case, greatwine.co.uk This elite Sauvignon Blanc arrived in the UK only a few days ago. Winemaker Marty Edwards was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2012, and sales of his scintillating wines contribute to Parkinson’s research. Top class in every respect, this wine is shaped like a fine Sancerre
Christmas Day Reds
2018 Robert Oatley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia Approx £62.89 for six (£10.49 each), Costco; £11.76; cambridgewine.com The value here is bonkers given that the winemaker, the flavour, the region and the vintage are all top class. Larry Cherubino crafts blackcurrant-soaked Cabernet and this 2018 is one of the finest he has ever made. Drink in place of a red Bordeaux. 2018 Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, La Source, Yannick Amirault, Loire, France £17.95, down to £15.95 each by the case, leaandsandeman.co.uk Dark, deep and brooding, this is amazingly intense for a red from the cooler climes of the Loire Valley. It will match game dishes, stews, rich gravies and, most importantly, fine cheeseboards, such is the gravitas and power contained within the sleek, black cherry-soaked wine
2016 Edmeades, Zinfandel, Mendocino County, California £15.95, pauladamsfinewines.co.uk; £18.70, drinkfinder.co.uk; £18.99, wineunlimited.co.uk; £17.99, simplywinesdirect.uk The Zinfandel grape is tailor-made for a Christmas feast. While this is a rich, decadently spiced, deeply rewarding red wine with glossy fruit and a luxurious texture, it is the breadth of flavour which really catches one’s interest. Cinnamon spice, cloves and cranberries can be found, along with redcurrants, blueberries, darker berries and plums. There is smoky oak too, and this all adds up to a flavour cacophony only Zin can deliver. 2016 Rudera, Syrah, Western Cape, South Africa £21.25, wildvines.shop Rudera is an elite Cape winery and the wines are exceptionally rare, so it was exciting to hear that this wine and the rest of the portfolio have found a permanent UK home at South Africa specialist Wild Vines. There is wondrous intensity here, coupled with genuine drama and class, and the pepper and black fruit notes are at the top of their game in this four-year-old wine. A massive treat for hedonists and collectors alike. This is one of the finest wines of the season
2018 Berry Bros & Rudd Bourgogne Côte d’Or Pinot Noir by Benjamin Leroux, France £18.95, bbr.com Made by the brilliant Ben Leroux and already drinking perfectly thanks to its silky, ripe, fleshy fruit and pure red cherry theme, this is another brilliant turkey wine which treads more lightly than my other red selections and suits palates which prefer sensitive red flavours over more bombastic creations
Christmas Day Sweet and Fortified
NV Gran Barquero, Pedro Ximénez, Montilla-Moriles, Spain £9.99, 50cl, Waitrose Gran Barquero is a classic version of this immensely sweet, fig, treacle and walnut-scented wine. You can find a large range in this style at the moment as it goes with every Christmas dessert, and this one hits the ‘sweet’ spot in terms of value for money and sheer class. You only need a teeny glass to make a huge impact. NV Curatolo Arini, Marsala Sweet Superiore, Sicily, Italy £11.99, reduced to £8.99 until Jan 3, Waitrose With a flavour that summons up orange peel, figs, sultanas and honey, this wine is brilliant with a great deal of puddings from fruit tarts all the way up to Christmas pud. The price noted is for a 75cl bottle so the value here is extraordinary, bearing in mind this comes from one of the top Marsala estates
2018 Bousquet, Fortified Malbec Dulce, Mendoza, Argentina £14.95, 50cl, davywine.co.uk This is a total and utter oddity given that Malbec from Argentina is usually red and dry, not red and sweet. Like a Port crossed with a ripe red wine, and perfumed with mulberries, plums and espresso beans, this is wickedly delicious and goes perfectly with dark chocolate and after-dinner coffee. 2017 Berry Bros & Rudd, Sauternes by Climens, Bordeaux, France £14.95, half bottle.bbr.com Château Climens is one of the greatest sweet wine-making estates on Earth and this Sauternes, which is specially selected by Berry Bros, is nothing short of sublime. Slightly tangy with lime zest and orange peel under the silky honeyed bonnet, this is refreshing but deeply decadent
NV Quinta do Noval, 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal £24.99, reduced to £19.99 until Jan 3, Waitrose; £19.95, reduced to £17.95, masterofmalt.com This flavour-packed, sophisticated Tawny has so much length on the finish it is extraordinary. Noval manages to retain a lot of impact in its aged Tawnies and this is what makes this wine perfect after a huge feast