Well, what a year.
From Friday 13th March to date seems to have lasted a lot longer than 8 months.
If ever we needed an excuse to treat ourselves at Christmas, this is the year to do it.
I’ve chosen 3 reds, 3 whites, a sparkler and a Champagne which should cover all eventualities over the festive period. Although as I write, no one knows what we’ll be allowed to do, who we’ll be allowed to visit or where we’ll be able to go.
Under more usual circumstances, we would always expect to have a few additional visitors throughout December, who knows what will happen his year, but, it is nice to have something that won’t break the bank on hand to offer. A sort of crowd pleaser that will hopefully elicit an “ooh, that’s rather good, what is it?” type of response.
In the fridge we’ll have a few bottles of Le Paradou Cépage Viognier. As everyone still seems to be drinking Sauvignon Blanc, we’d really like to show something completely different! Perfect as an apéritif with its exotic, citrus nose and fresh, balanced palate, this will suit perfectly. In addition it will also pair with a variety of seafood; like scallops or squid and will be an ideal match with hard cheeses as well as goats’ cheese.
On the red side we like something that is warming, with some spice and plenty of plummy fruit. Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red fits the bill nicely. From the brilliant Boekenhoutskloof winery, who produce the renowned Chocolate Block, this everyday red has a wonderful nose of exotic spice, herbs and ripe plums with an almost Christmas palate of fennel seed, orange peel, cloves and black pepper lingering on a juicy finish.
If it’s more of a treat type of wine, something to go with a nice dinner, then the following are some personal favourites.
From Quinta Soalheiro, their 100% Alvarinho is delicious. Ideal if paired with seafood or, if you’re having it, Turkey, this will deliver intense and tropical fruit; lychees, passionfruit, peaches & apricot balanced with mineral notes. Recently awarded 95 points by Decanter (Sarah Ahmed, Decanter, July 2020), this is a classy and hugely impressive wine. Also, it’s available in magnums, which certainly look very impressive.
On the red side, my all-time favourite, especially when weighing up the price to quality ratio, this wine really over-delivers. Dehesa la Granja from Alejandro Fernandez. Away from Alejandro’s legendary Pesquera vineyards in Ribera del Duero, Dehesa la Granja is produced on an 800 hectare estate devoted to livestock farming and different crops, of which 100 hectares are vineyards, beautifully situated on the banks of the River Guareña in Zamora, Castilla y León. Aged in the extensive caves, dug from the rock in the 18th century, the wine is matured in American oak for 24 months to produce
“A complex and concentrated Spanish red wine, filled with fruity, meaty, oaky and salty goodness. Bursting with flavors, it is quite complex and very balanced on the pungently ripe and fruity, warming side of things as we like and expect from Spain. 91 Points.” (Julian Miguel, Social Vignerons, March 2018)
The first, made using the Traditional Method, meaning a secondary fermentation in bottle (as in Champagne), is an ideal apéritif whilst also having enough body to go well with a good selection of dishes. If you’re after the ‘real thing’ then you can’t go far wrong with the small family producer Forget-Brimont.
Their Grand cru is an exceptional example of a 100% Chardonnay champagne at a very attractive price. Rich, ripe and full-bodied this is a real treat, either as an aperitif or with food. (A glass on Christmas morning won’t go amiss!).
Finally, if you really want to treat yourself, and you a have a few people to share with, then I would strongly recommend a magnum of Alejandro Fernandez Pesquera Reserva Especial 2003. This will be on our table on the 25th when we have a few members of the family over. Whilst it is a bit on the pricier side it really delivers, full-bodied, perfectly mature, superbly balanced and a long-lasting finish. If you’re looking to treat yourself this Christmas this is a really good option.