It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas wines.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Aberdeen for wine merchants tastings so I’ve enjoyed making the most of them to bring you a selection of wines which I hope will take you through the festive period.
It is the time of year when we tend to buy wine styles that don’t always grace the wine rack but really do add something special to festive foods, so bring on the Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala!
But first, every festivity should begin with a sparkle.
If only Champagne will do then try Taittinger Prelude Grand Cru NV. With Pinot Noir sourced from Grand Cru villages in the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from Grand Cru villages in the Cotes de Blancs, the result is intensely fragrant with toasted brioche notes and concentrated, complex lingering orchard fruit flavours. Fountainhall Wines, Aberdeen and Stonehaven. Save £20, currently on offer at £29.99.
Ferghettina Rose Brut NV, a traditional method sparkling wine from Franciacorta in Italy also stood out. It’s crisp and dry with really tangy raspberry, redcurrant and apple flavours. £24.95 Wine Raks Aberdeen, www.wineraks.com
A smoked salmon starter always features in our household on Christmas day and I use it as an excuse to open a bottle of good white burgundy. I love the lingering complexity of Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet Les Charmes 2014. It has savoury and mineral notes with ripe apple and stone fruit. Majestic Wine, £31.50, until January 30.
Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2014 is lightly toasty and savoury with peach touches and finely tuned oak, it’s well balanced. Fountainhall Wines. Save £5, currently on offer at £17.99.
Both wines will also see you through the turkey if you prefer white but at this point, I switch to red wine to take on the multitude of full flavoured trimmings.
New Zealand Pinot Noir works well with its ripe red fruit notes and I like Rhone blends too, either the classics such as Chateauneuf du Pape or a New World take on the Rhone style.
Colombo & Fille Chateauneuf Du Pape 2012 is a Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend with red berry salad scents. It’s rich, ripe and full bodied and concentrated with integrated oak. Fountainhall Wines, save £6, currently on offer at £19.99.
Parcel Series Pinot Noir 2015 Central Otago, New Zealand. Think blueberry and spice with juicy, mid-weight cherry and dark berry flavours and a fresh lift of acidity. Not only would it be a friend to your turkey but would be delicious with duck and pheasant too. £9.99, Majestic Wines.
I’m a big sweet wine fan and continue on my mission to convert wine lovers to the delights of this style of wine at tastings and courses. The general rule is to make sure the wine is at least as sweet as or sweeter than the dessert it’s matched with, so go for lighter styles such as frothy Moscato d’Asti with panettone or simple meringues and save full bodied wines like Tokay from Hungary for sticky toffee or Christmas pudding.
De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon Vat Series 5 2009 from Australia would also be a good Christmas pudding match. Expressive with barley sugar, dried apricot and tangy grapefruit and lime zest scents and flavours, the sweetness is balanced by a fresh acidity. Ring the changes with this style by serving alongside a rich pate or foie gras, it contrasts the way a chutney does.
The sweetness alongside a salty blue cheese is also a winner. £9 from Oddbins.
Moving on to fortified wines, I do like a tawny Port with a cheese board. Churchills 10-year-old Tawny Port is fragrant with almond and has both sweet and savoury tones with milk chocolate and caramelised nuts. Oddbins, £17.
Finally, if you are wondering what to serve with that tray of just out of the oven mince pies then try these fortified gems.
Martinez Marsala Riserva Dolce 5-year-old. Marsala is an often overlooked wine style and I can’t remember the last time that I tried one. Think treacle toffee and spice with savoury hits of coffee and walnut. It’s complex, lingering and really sweet yet with a savoury edge and kick of acidity. £7 (37.5cl) M&S.
Gonzalez Byass PX Nectar Sherry. ‘PX’ is short for the grape Pedro Ximenez and this super sweet, lusciously syrupy textured wine is made from sundried grapes hence the ultra-intensity. Nutty notes of walnut mingle with dried fruit, caramel and spice. Oddbins £14.
Lustau PX Sherry smells and tastes like Christmas cake in a glass. It’s full bodied, luscious and very sweet and would also marry well with a dark chocolate torte. Wine Raks £18.95. If you don’t have mince pies or cake, then pour PX over vanilla ice cream!
Wishing you all very happy and healthy festive season, cheers!
Carol has a range of wine courses and workshops planned for Aberdeen in the New Year and gift vouchers are available. Visit: www.wine-education-service.co.uk