Good wine this festive season doesn't have to cost a fortune. We've picked out 10 Christmas crackers that represent great value and taste absolutely delicious!
10. Forrest Heart of Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Produced by renowned NZ winemaker Forrest Estate, this is JN's most popular Sauvignon. The wine is sourced from grapes grown in several distinctly different sites within Marlborough. Here the vines struggle for survival in ancient riverbed stones and gravel. the resultant crop amounting to only a habdful of intensely flavoured grapes per vine. This is a vibrant wine with flavours of blackberry, gooseberry and passionfruit underscored by appetising, crisp acidity which produces a refreshing finish. Heart of Stone will partner white fish and salads to perfection.
9. Biberius Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo 2011
New to JN (August 2012) this great-value wine from Spain's prestigious Ribera del Duero region. Biberius is rapidly attracting the admiring attention of wine commentators and was recently picked by Jane MacQuitty as one of her top 5 red wines for summer under £10: This fantastic, fat, oaky, 14% alc, intensly fruity tempranillo from the mighty Ribera del Duero, is a Spanish gem. It is a polished tempranillo named after a wine-loving Roman emporer, dubbed Biberius. Beef Carpaccio served with this classy, complex, full-frontal red that is thick with fruit and seasoned with mocha spices would make a simple yet swanky summer treat. (Jane MacQuitty, Times, 28 July 2012).
"A crowd-pleasing wine with broad, rich, sweet cassis fruits, a touch of spice and a nice smooth finish. A great all-rounder to drink with most red meat dishes." (John Wilson, Irish Times, 29 Sept 2012).
8. JN Sparkling NV
A high proportion of Chenin Blanc lends this sparkler a lovely richness and lots of ripe apple and white floral flavours with a hint of honey - yum. One of our favourite wedding welcomers.
7. Grapillon D'Or Merlot 2010
The vineyard which produces the fruit for this wine is situated about 3 kilometers from Gigondas and the soil is clayish-limestone. Grapes (Merlot and Caladoc) are harvested by hand. After fermentation the wines are kept in vats for 6 to 12 months before being bottled. It has a beautiful purple colour with intense aromas of wild red fruits and liquorice. In the mouth it is fruity and refreshing with soft tannins. This wine is perfect with grilled meat, salad, pizza, summer dishes and cheese. It can be served slightly chilled or at cool room temperature if preferred.
A firm JN staff favourite, this is a lively, fruity wine for everyday drinking at a price that represents great value for money. It is perfect with grilled meat, salad, pizza, summer dishes and cheese. Drink now and over the next two years.
6. Lascaux Domaine Cavalier Blanc 2011
Domaine Cavalier is situated within the Chateau de Lascaux vineyards and is certified as organic. The wine is a blend of predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with smaller quantities of Roussanne and Marsanne. Citrus fruits and grapefruit on the nose are followed on the palate by a fresh, aromatic mouthfeel unrepinned by tingling acidity. Drink this wine within 2 years and accompany with sushi, macaroons or shellfish.
5. Quinta Do Mouro Alento Red 2009
Luis Louro represents the Region of Alentejo with an atypical freshness and breadth of fruit in this wine. Blended from two indigenous Portuguese grapes,Trincadeira (40%) and Aragones (40%), with a little Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) to add structure. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats with controlled temperature. Sweet, pure and quite lush on the nose, the palate is juicy, pure and vibrant with sweet bramble and berry fruit. This wine is best drunk in its youth. The perfect accompaniment to a lamb casserole.
4. Sartarelli Verdicchio Classico 2010
Verdicchio is a high quality grape from the the Marche region of Italy with good body and faintly spicy flavours. Antonio Galliano of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate extols the virtues of Sartarelli's Verdicchios: These whites from Sartarelli were among the most thrilling, complete wines I tasted this year. The two entry-level Verdicchios also happen to be two of the best values in Italy for whites that offer noble class and pedigree at what are very fair prices. (Antonio Galliano, eRobertParker.com, April 2009).
3. Secateurs Red Blend 2010
A A Badenhorst Family Wines received a 5-star rating in the influential and highly respected Platter's Guide to S African Wines, 2013 edition. The family took over an ancient winery in the up and coming Perdeberg area that had been built in the 1800s and had last been used in the 1930s. This meant fashionable concrete tanks and, according to the 2009 Platter Guide, a sizeable bat population. More importantly, they acquired 35 hectares of mature, dry-farmed bushvines, which clearly deliver great quality and complexity.
"The red partner to the Secateurs Chenin, this is a Cape take on the Southern Rhône blending Shiraz, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon. Like a superior Côtes du Rhône, it combines ample red and black berry fruit with a hint of pepper and some savoury depths and a fairly sturdy structure. Great for a meaty mid-week casserole. 89 pts." (thewinegang.com, May 2011).
"Tasty, with plum cake, braised fig and mulled cherry notes all woven with a lacing of sweet tobacco. Rounded, open-knit finish. Shiraz, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre. Drink now." (Wine Spectator Daily Pick, 14 April 2012).
2. Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap White 2011
Boekenhoutskloof was awarded 2012 Winery of the Year by the prestigious Platter's Guide to South African Wine Guide. The Wolftrap white was also accorded Superquaffer of the Year status in the Guide.
The Wolftrap White is taking the world by storm. With only the third vintage bottled it has become a rising star of the JN portfolio. The Viognier grapes are sourced from a dryland vineyard in Malmesbury, the Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch and the Grenache Blanc from the Piekenierskloof near Citrusdal. Blended and aged in French oak these components deliver a wine of outstanding quality oddering complex flavours of fruit blossom, dried fruit and spice and a rich, creamy texture with some minerality and elegant oak nuances. The balanced natural acidity allied to the concentrated flavours make for a wine that lingers on the palate.
1. Bodegas Paco Garcia Rioja Seis 2011
Bodegas Paco Garcia is a new winery in the DO Rioja, focused on producing high quality wines, which respects the most deeply rooted traditions of Rioja in tandem with the most modern winemaking techniques. The Rioja Seis spends 6 months in French oak barrels (seis being Spanish for six). This young wine with retains the fruitiness and freshness of the Tempranillo grapes. It displays powerful aromatics and a velvety mouthfeel. In the glass, it is a youthful blackberry and ruby red colour, clean and bright. The nose is an aromatic eruption of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and violets. On the palate, it is round, full and expressive with tons of fresh red fruit, floral tones and sweetness. The wine would be an ideal companion for light cheeses, salads, white meats and fish. It is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, indeed anyone who enjoys a full-flavoured glass of wine.