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Wines to Grace Any Feast

Christmas is our last feast day so lunchtime wine needs careful thought but here are nine great candidates - from £10 to £20.

I am often asked about ideal wines for Christmas lunch but, obviously, so much depends on the exact food being served (or, with turkey, what the main accompaniments are).

Here is a list of contenders for various situations – all with good pedigrees, but feel free to use its contents for inspiration  and to choose the precise wines yourself.

Look out for my final pre-Christmas post on Monday with sparkling wine and champagne aplenty for this festive season.

A shellfish starter?

drinkmonger-samuel-billaud-chablisIf subtle forms of seafood (especially shellfish) will be on your Christmas lunch table, then Chablis –  chardonnay at its most delicate – is always a good choice.

For a version with depth and complexity, seek out 2015 Samuel Billaud Les Grands Terroirs Chablis (£20.95 at www.drinkmonger.com ) with its high quality combination of ripe peach fruit and background nuttiness – all turbo-charged with zesty apple, lemon and lime acidity.

Or something slightly weightier

oddbins-first-creek-chardonnayWith creamy sauces or more substantial fish dishes slightly more robust versions of chardonnay are needed – and here is a great one from Australia’s Hunter Valley.

While 2015 First Creek Chardonnay (£14.50 at Oddbins) does have a certain delicacy, there is also a slowly evolving vanilla and caramel imbued viscosity which is then nicely offset by lively orange, grapefruit and mango fruit and a toasty finish.

Or being really radical

yapps-schleret-pinot-grisA rising star, however, from both New Zealand and Alsace is pinot grigio’s alter ego – pinot gris – which is not only serious food wine but can give a delightful exotic twist to Christmas fare.

An excellent example is the bright and opulent 2007 Charles Schléret Alsace Pinot Gris(£16.70 at Yapp – www.yapp.co.uk) with sufficient bottle age to allow honey, coconut and mango components to emerge yet still deliver citrus acidity and creamy, nectarine texture.

Christmas pinot is mandatory for some 

josef-chromy-pinot-noirMoving on to reds, pinot noir is an ever present at many Yuletide lunch tables but my selection this year is a cool climate Tasmanian, rather than one from Burgundy – and from a winery Matthew Jukes described as producing “one of the most succulent, shiny and buoyant pinots in the world”.

Luxuriate then in the fresh and floral 2015 Josef Chromy, Pinot Noir (£19 equivalent bottle price at www.thefinewinecompany.co.uk) with a cocktail of flavours that include pepper, liquorice and cocoa which embellish the wine’s savoury, textured cherry and raspberry fruit and its bold acidity.

Or perhaps gamay for a change

chateau-jacques-morgonThe Old World does, however, provide a red with Burgundian elements yet with sturdiness too; it is from an increasingly impressive corner of Beaujolais.

Floral and rounded 2013 Chateau des Jacques Morgon (£14.99 at www.thebottleneck.co.uk) has juicy cherry and raspberry fruit with gentle tannin and a hint of sweetness but still provides deceptively firm depth and power.

The gentler face of the Barossa

ms-ebenezer-seppeltsfield-shirazAlthough we usually expect power to increase substantially when we turn to shiraz from Australia’s Barossa Valley, the one I have selected is actually more medium bodied in style – and is the more versatile for being so.

Clove-infused, bramble, sour cherry and loganberry fruit provide the centre-piece to 2014 Ebenezer & Seppeltsfield Shiraz (£15 at M&S) but that is skilfully complemented by nippy acidity, limited tannin and savoury depth.

Now we get traditional

wine-society-imperial-reserva-2010Horsepower does, however, increase when we drop back to Europe and head for one of the most reliable producers in Rioja – to find a wine for lamb based Christmas food.

Balance is the keynote with 2010 CVNE Imperial Reserva, Rioja (£20 at The Wine Society) where elderberry, bramble and chocolate flavours wrap themselves around a dense, graphite base yet still allow room for cinnamon, cigar box and fig influences with modest and measured tannin.

Or yet more traditional perhaps

booths-ch-ricaudClaret enthusiasts looking for a nicely made but inexpensive version to enjoy over Christmas would do well to seek out, say, a Bordeaux Superieur from one of the less well known areas – this one is a merlot-led blend from Cadillac.

With surprisingly dark colours and depth 2012 Chateau de Ricaud (£9.99 from Booths) has cedar influenced elderberry and prune fruit with a smoky, graphite, savoury background, firm tannin – but judiciously balanced by good acidity – and touches of nutmeg, mint and black pepper.

But if lunch is firmly beef centred

rude-wines-show-cabernet-sauvignon-2012Finally, lovers of beef may be able to see no further than cabernet sauvignon and few areas effortlessly marry the two better than California.

So, seek out the full, dense and complex 2012 The Show Cabernet Sauvignon (£10.39 – instead of £12.99 until 31 January – at Rude Wines – www.rudewines.co.uk) with its blackcurrant and elderberry fruit, suggestions of clove, cocoa and eucalyptus to support it. and well integrated acidity and tannin.




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