More Festive Drinks
Christmas is a time for celebratory drinks, whether fine reds to share with the family over Christmas dinner, a special prosecco with spouse on Christmas Eve before the fray commences, or a warming hot spiced cider or mulled wine to keep the chill off after a long bracing walk. The few wines below are all guaranteed to please and impress.
For the centrepiece of a special meal, bring out a really decent Bordeaux. I highly recommend Blaye Grand Reserve 2010 from Chateau Monconseil Gazin, a 500-year old chateau on the Gironde Estuary. The wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, and is dark in colour – deep red with a purple tint. The nose is also rich and deep, with ripe woodland fruits, plums, damsons and a waft of sweetness. On the palate the sweetness obvious on the nose marries beautifully with the darkness and bite of black brambles and berry fruits, but there is also a decent quantity of dry leather, tar and ash and a warming glow on the aftertaste of pepper and spices, with a bite of chilli. A full, bodied, rich and decadent wine; really rather superb. It comes with an RRP of £9.02 from 3D Wines Experience (www.3dwinesexperience.com), which offers not just excellent wines at good prices, but also a rent-a-row-of-vines programme in ten top vineyards in France, with benefits including bottles of wine from your vines, an impressive welcome pack, and the opportunity to visit your row of vines and meet the winemakers. Other 3D Wines initiatives include exclusive wine tasting and gourmet events in France, Italy and the UK (such as truffle hunting, champagne blending or picnics in the vineyards).
A 2012 Fleurie, from Domaine de la Madone (adjacent to a famous Chapel of the Madonna), is also available from 3D Wines. This Beaujolais comes from vines over seventy years old, and is light in colour, with a pinkish hue and a nose of high, red, and some sweet, fruits. The taste is darker and drier than one expects from the nose; fairly light-bodied, and full of slightly tart red currants and a bite of spice. (RRP £8.62)
Of my two recommended whites, one comes from Wine Barn, as mentioned in my previous column. This is the Urban Riesling 2012 from the Mosel region of Germany. It is described as “a contemporary wine with traditional roots” and this certainly rings true. Very pale in colour, Urban Riesling has a nose immediately vivid and alive with mineral and floral elements. The taste bears these immediate impressions out – a slight effervescence lends the wine tremendous vivacity and energy; there’s plenty of mineral (mainly slate) and lots of flowers – elegant delicate white blossoms, but also a good dash of spice – white pepper and a hint of chilli, which lend a bite at the finish. It’s a very fresh and crunchy, punchy wine. Really rather gorgeous. £10.90 from http://thewinebarn.co.uk.
For a more traditional white we can return to 3D Wines for their Sancerre 2014 from Domaine du Carroir Perrin in the Loire Valley. Lemon predominates in this wine: the colour is lemony; and the nose is of lemons, grapefruit, some tropical flowers, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is very dry and refined. We find oodles of lemon and grapefruit with a little greengage, oak, and floral elements, and a lovely warming glow on the finish. Classically elegant. (RRP £12.21)
Finally, for those who still have a little time to mull a few batches of their own wine and ciders, I would like to recommend Steenbergs mulled wine and cider sachets. These actually come in hardy and attractive little tins. The organic mulled wine spices are little linen bags full of cinnamon, orange peel, ginger, cloves and allspice and work fabulously well to impart a thick, rich, spicy hit to mulled wine. The organic mulled cider spices likewise are extremely effective, full of cinnamon, star anise, cloves and orange peel. But for an added hit of spicy and fruity sweetness, try the little tin of Fruity Mulled Spices – loose pieces of crystallised ginger, crystallised pineapple, sweetened cranberries, coriander, cardamom, orange peel and cinnamon. A lovely addition to any warm alcoholic drink. (At RRP £3.95 each from www.steenbergs.co.uk, these are excellent value!)
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Em Marshall-Luck is QR’s Food and Wine Critic