Posted on December 11th, 2011
So, it’s Christmas. What wine should you be drinking?
Sherry, of course. And probably Port too. Talking to some wine merchants, and this is the only time they sell any of the stuff. If I were to pick one, I’d go for a Sherry. The great thing about Sherry is that you can go from bone dry to sweet, it’s literally a world of discovery. I’d go with a dry Puerto Fino sherry, perfect as an aperatif and available just about everywhere from independent wine shop to supermarket. Look out for Lustau.
Bubbles must make an appearance. There’s plenty to choose from. Tattinger has been walking out the door at Tesco where they have it down to €25, sometimes back to €60, then back to €30. That’s a bit of a bargin. But even at €25, you can get two bottles, almost. of Jacob’s Creek Sparkling. Blanc de Blancs is the ultimate crowd pleaser and perfect for parties.
Hosting a party?
For a ridiculously drinkable red, La Mano from Mencia (the grape) grown in a place called Bierzo in northern Spain. Not massive on the wine scene here, so you’ll pick up some novelty points. It got the brambly fruit and the rustic spice which will appeal to Cotes du Rhone lovers too. At €7.50 it’s also the wine to replenish your cellar with after the seasonal depletion.
If there’s still a deal on (and even if there isn’t), try the Shiraz or The Fergus (a blend) from Tim Adams from Tesco. He’s a top bloke and makes great wine. See the interview I did with him last year.
For the white, I’m a fan of Le Courlis Sauvignon Blanc from The Corkscrew. There’s an interesting story behind this one. The winemaker and owner, Aynard, sent me some samples about two years ago now while I writing for the Tribune. He was looking for an Irish importer so I brought the bottle over to the lads and we tried it together. It has been continuously selling out since then. If I’d just become that importer, I’d be doing quite alright now.
As for fizz, look no further than the above Jacob’s Creek. Available in most convenience stores and supermarkets.
What to drink with the big bird?
For starters, whatever it is, it must be paired with Gavin Quinney’s Chateau Bauduc Bordeaux Blanc Sec. Austerity used to be a good word before the recession hijacked it. The French were the best at it, keeping overly generous tropical flavours in check in favour of elegance and complexity. While the French were at that, along came an Englishman and began to show them what’s what. A really stunning Sauvignon Blanc, quite unlike any of the new world styles we’ve grown accustomed to. Favoured amongst Gordon Ramsey, Rick Stein and TV’s Oz Clarke. This is a million miles from Oyster Bay and it’s all the better for it too. Down to €11 at the moment.
Onto the main event. I find it a challenge matching the turkey, trimmings and a wine. Classic matches are Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, but they can get crowded out by the brussels sprouts, chestnuts, cranberry sauce and whatever you’re having yourself.
I like something a little more robust and my wine of the year has to be Mas de Daumas Gassac. At €38, it’s expensive, but Michael Broadbent has been placed it in his top ten wines of the world. That’s good enough for me. I met the affable winemaker, Samuel Guibert. He’s a regular visitor to Ireland too, so it’s definitely buying local!
From not too far away, two other reds I love are from the same stable. First, the little brother, Les Orbiers de La Peira. It was my wine of the year last year and the 2009 is arguably better. For €20, it’s hard to find better. That’s not all folks, it has a big brother, La Peira Las Flors 2008. Both hail from the little known Terrasses du Larzac appellation, uncovered for us by Gary Gubbins who has an uncanny knack of seeking out amazing wines from the Languedoc. He’s like a pig with truffles! They’re both listed here on rednosewine.com.
That’s the old world taken care of. What about the new world? I was bowled over recently by three from South Australia’s Langmeil. They have some of the oldest vines in the world.
Typically, it’s Shiraz and in particular their Valley Floor and Orphan Bank. The Valley Floor really sings and at €17 you’ve got serious quality going on. Very polished wine. A step up in price at €36 and history is the Orphan Bank.
The vines were planted in the mid 1800′s and were to be torn out to make way for property. That was until Langmeil stepped in and transplanted them to a safe place where they continue to make great wines.
Worth mentioning too, the grandfather of both is the Freedom Shiraz from Langmeil. I tried it back in May at the Wine Australia tasting. Barack Obama was in town that day and this is a wine fit for a president. At €63 (down from €70) it’s a wine only our recently retired politicians on big pensions can afford to be drinking. It would be wasted on them too, tut!
For the classic fans, I’d go straight for Mischief and Mayhem’s basic Chardonnay available from The Corkscrew. At €19.95 it’s a glimpse into Meursault, toasty, minerals, creamy. Beautiful.
Meditative reds for later
A red by the fire and a good book. The book is probably on the Kindle, but the wine is still in the glass. Not for long if it’s Zenato’s Ripassa. Normally around €20, you’ll find it in some places on offer at €15. Silky smooth. Available in Next Door off-licences and good wine shops nationwide.
The Mulley’d Wine
Most wines mentioned were samples. I paid for those from The Corkscrew. Disclosure: I work on the The Corkscrew’s website.