Seasonal Wines

Well, if its not Christmas coming round again. That’s the first time I’ve mentioned the ‘C’ word this year by the way.

It is however a time for the weird, wonderful and traditional all combining for a magical time for gatherings of friends and families and this of course is a green ticket to open a bottle or two of the good stuff.

If I had a pound for every time a customer has asked me “what wine should I have with our Christmas Dinner”, I would not be writing this from my desk in Yorkshire but from afar, on a dessert island of soft golden sand, surrounded by warm, clear turquoise water sorry, got lost there.

So, my answer to that question as from any good salesperson starts with a question or two:

How many courses are you serving?

Canapes, starter, main, cheese, pudding (of which there will no doubt be many including Christmas pudding)

What are you eating? Turkey, Rib of Beef, Goose, Duck, Lamb, Venison, Nut Loaf, or Pot Noodle?

Getting an answer to the above doesn’t always help. Let’s take the average Christmas Lunch and assume Turkey is taking center stage.

Roast spuds, parsnips, and carrots, your root vegetables.

Bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stuffings pork and/or sage and onion, your strange but necessary accompaniments.

A lovely meaty gravy to bring it all together into a magnificent confusion of flavours and textures.

Do you see where I am having issues advising my friends and customers on how best to pair a wine with Christmas dinner?

So, in a nutshell, drink whatever you like.

However, as a person working in the wine trade, I feel I should really have a go at helping you so, here are a few suggestions which will more than likely find their way in to my house for the festive period:

Ployez Jacquemart Extra Quality Brut from Ludes, Champagne

I will always recommend this Champagne over any Grand Marque. Quite simply, its much, much better in my mind.

A lovely Champagne displaying balance and freshness. A low dosage of sugar (approximately 5 gr/L only) also gives greater expression to all the flavours of the Extra Quality Brut. Featuring an elegant mousse, this Champagne reveals a nice golden colour, with a nose ripe with notes of honey, and a rich palate with beautiful length.

Perfect as a simple aperitif, or with classy canapes that have depth of flavour and spice.

As with tradition, we will be having smoked salmon as a starter and for that I will go to the King of grapes, the Chardonnay. But which one?

For me, it has to have a hint of a buttery texture which will complement the texture of the salmon. It will also require a bit of weight to stand up to the strong flavour. Now don’t feel you have to go crazy expensive here because there are wines which fit under this umbrella that won’t break the bank:

House of Townend White Burgundy, Bourgogne Chardonnay – I can’t recommend this wine enough.

It’s been a huge success story for us and for under £14, its no surprise. The nose is ripe and forward, grapefruit and mango apparent whilst the palate exhibits lush white stone fruits, citrus and a faint touch of butter. There is a lovely texture and body, rounded, appealing and generous, supported by a steely minerality. Your guests will not be disappointed.

Under £10 leads me straight to the Les Argelières Chardonnay from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Shimmering gold in the glass, aromas of ripe apples and dainty hints of vanilla and nuts with a buttery note. Dense and velvety on the palate but ever so fresh with a long finish.

The Wine maker, Marilyn Lasserre is a genuine pioneer. Since her return to France in 2008, she has significantly contributed to the renewed success of Languedoc’s wines. Bringing her feminine touch to traditionally strong, rustic and full-bodied wines, Marilyn succeeded in improving quality and taste with a rigorous selection in the vineyards and perfect control of the winemaking process.

Since its Christmas, and I like a treat now and again, this year I am going to plump for one of California’s most awarded wine estates, Jordan. The Jordan Chardonnay is often mistaken for a white Burgundy. Not a typical California Chardonnay, it is the combination of night-harvested Russian River Valley grapes, French oak aging and old-world winemaking techniques which has created a balanced white wine defined by purity of stone, fruit flavors, vibrant acidity and a succulent finish. A historic vintage, 2019 marks both the 40th anniversary of Jordan Chardonnay and Maggie Kruse’s first vintage as head winemaker.

Vivid aromas of citrus blossom, white flowers, lemon curd and pears invite the first sip. Flavors of kumquats, Gravenstein apples and Meyer lemon peel dance with a harmonious frame of creaminess, juicy acidity and oak barrel notes, making it very versatile at the dinner table. Hints of tangerine peel and subtle green apple laced in oak linger on the succulent finish. More expressive in its youth than previous vintages. Enjoy now or cellar through 2026.

Now for the Main event.

You can go one of two ways here. If you always feel overwhelmed by the mountain of richness and flavour facing you then either go light with a Pinot Noir or perhaps a chilled Frapatto or, if you’re up for the battle and you want to challenge the dish to a combative pairing, then once again, tradition states (for me at least) a Bordeaux is the answer.

On the lighter side, try a Pinot Noir from Romania. The Lautarul Pinot Noir will be a wonderful pairing and will keep all your guests smiling. I call this a friendly wine as its so easy to drink. It’s packed with the flavour one expects in a good Pinot. Light sweet fruit and the front end with hints of savoury tobacco and mushroom and a pleasing finish with the lightest flirt of tannins.

I tasted a wine recently which really grabbed me. Pinot Noir 2020 Scotchmans Hill is a fantastic Pinot from the Geelong Peninsula in Australia. FYI, Rated 96 Points in James Halliday Wine Companion,”this is World Class cool climate Pinot Noir”.

Deep garnet in appearance with a bright hue, the bouquet is ripe and perfumed with an array of scents ranging from dark cherries and plums to spice. I think t will be a great wine with Christmas Dinner.

For those who want the full flavour behavior and a good wine to have with the main event, I am going to suggest Château de Malleret 2020, Haut-Médoc. Why? I had it last year and it just worked.

The 2020, although young, has super ripe black fruits and is dripping with ripeness yet there is an excellent balancing freshness and beautifully singing tannins.

Had enough? Not Quite?

Well, a Port I have had on my table for as long as I can remember has to be a 10 yr old Tawny. Quite simply, it is Christmas in a bottle.

Porto Poças 10 Year Old Tawny, served chilled will go very well as a dessert wine, wine with cheese or a lovely drop to sip by the fire after a rather heafty meal.

So, there we have it. My suggestions to help you through Christmas day. Now I just need to think about the party on the 23rd, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, when the other rellies arrive on the 27th, the New Years Eve-Eve drinks party for the neighbours, New Years Eve…………………..Merry Christmas, Johnny!

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