Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without being able to look forward to an exciting bottle of wine or two. So whether you want a red or a white to go with your turkey, something a little sweeter to serve with the pudding or some bubbles to get the party started, here is a selection of fine festival wines that will hit the spot.
Sparkling wines for apéritifs and starters
BEST SPARKLER: BERRYS’ UNITED KINGDOM CUVÉE, BLANC DE BLANCS, GRAND CRU, LE MESNIL CHAMPAGNE, £31.95 (BERRY BROS & RUDD)
Lots of fruity aromas on the nose, with red apples, quinces and pears shining through on the palate. Rounded, with a buttery mouthfeel and flavours of brioche and toast. Berrys’ cuvee – which is made for the wine merchant by renowned producer Le Mesnil – spends two years ageing in bottles and is made from only Chardonnay grapes. This was a really impressive bit of fizz and stood out among the crowd.
CHAMPAGNE JACQUART BLANC DE BLANCS 2006, £40 (TESCO)
Fruit-driven Champagne with plenty of crisp and refreshing acidity and some buttery notes. Lots of complex fruit notes, with green and red apples joined by quince and pears.
CHAMPAGNE DELAMOTTE BRUT, £27.50 (CORNEY & BARROW)
Aromas of hot buttered toast on the nose lead into green and red apple flavours on the palate and a delicate mousse. The Champagne house, which dates back to 1760, uses Chardonnay grapes from grand cru vineyards and blends them with a little Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
CHAMPAGNE MARQUIS DE BELRIVE, £25.49 (SPAR)
A silver medal winner at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, this Champagne has plenty of acidity and a rounded feel in the mouth, with some butter notes and a bit of a savoury finish.
RIDGEVIEW BLOOMSBURY BRUT 2011, £24.99 (WAITROSE)
The nose is laden with aromas of red and green apples, cider, pear and quince, with the sharp, fruit flavours carrying on through to the palate. The bubbles are quite fine and short but the fruity finish is long.
PASCAL DOQUET HORIZON BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT CHAMPAGNE, £24.15 (JUSTERINI & BROOKS)
Although it’s still ‘Brut’ – which means dry – this Champagne has a little more residual sugar in it, creating a richer feel in the mouth. There’s a good balance between the acidity and the fruit, with aromas of apples and pears being joined by bready notes on the palate.
BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT CHAMPAGNE, £22.50 (SAINSBURY’S)
There’s a rich nose full of quince, red apple and bruised pear, with buttery and bready notes coming through on the palate. Good body and a lively mousse combine to make this good value for money.
LES PIONNIERS CHAMPAGNE, £16.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
The Co-op has won a shelf-full of awards for its range of Champagnes and with this non-vintage examples it’s easy to see why. It’s fruity, with green apple flavours and crisp and refreshing acidity.
CHANDON ROSÉ ARGENTINA, £13.99 (MAJESTIC)
Champagne house Moet & Chandon’s operation in Argentina launched its sparkling wines in the UK earlier this year, with its Brut featuring in my blog, The Grape & The Grain, back in June. I prefer the rosé, which has strawberries and cranberries on the nose and then apple and strawberry flavours on the palate.
L’ATZAR CAVA 2011, £13.49/£9.99 (NAKED WINES)
Naked Wines has a fantastic system for supporting winemakers that shines through in every glass. This Cava from Jordi Masdeu Catala ticks all the boxes, with a fuller body and a more-rounded mouthfeel than many of its rivals. Lovely fruity green apple and pear flavours.
ALLAN SCOTT SPARKLING SAUVIGNON, £11.99 (GREAT GROG)
And now for something completely different – New Zealand’s flagship white grape, Sauvignon Blanc, in sparkling form. I’ve been a fan of Allan Scott since Richard Meadows at Great Grog introduced me to his wines and this has all the gooseberry and asparagus flavours you would expect.
LE DOLCI COLLINE PROSECCO, £9.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
So much Prosecco can be bland and boring but this award-winning Prosecco made by Claudio Manera is bursting with green apple aromas and flavours, plus touches of peach.
WINE SELECTION ASTI SPUMANTE, £5.25 (ASDA)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without something that little bit sweeter and this Asti from Asda hits the spot, with peach and lemon sherbet aromas and enough acidity to balance the residual sugar. Sweet fun.
ARESTEL CAVA BRUT, £4.99 (LIDL)
Discount supermarket chain Lidl has won itself a good reputation for its wines and this Spanish sparkler is one of my favourites, with refreshing acidity plus green apple and mineral notes.
White wines for turkey
BEST WHITE FOR TURKEY: RETRO OBSESSIVE EXTRACTION SCOTT PETERSON SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2012, £20.99/£12.99 (NAKED WINES)
The complex nose reminds me of hot buttered toast, along with tinned peaches and dried apricots. Lots of body and depths, with flavours of vanilla and cream and enough acidity coming through. Lemons and peaches on palate.
DOMAINE JEAN-YVES DEVEVEY LA CHAUME RULLY BLANC 2011, £18.50 (BERRY BROS & RUDD)
Complex nose, with lemons, limes, honeysuckle and jasmine. Crisp and fresh acidity but balanced against the floral flavours and lemon sharpness. Good food match.
CLOS BELLANE ‘LES ECHALAS’ COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES VALREAS BLANC 2011, £17 (ODDBINS)
The Cotes du Rhone in southern France might be better known for its red wines but this white strikes a good balance between the creamy buttery flavours and the lemon fruit.
MACON BUSSIERE VERGET 2012, £16.50 (ODDBINS)
A hint of smoke on the nose, along with lemons, limes and tangerines, leading into subtle buttery and vanilla notes on the palate. Really well-integrated oak.
TRULY IRRESISTIBLE CHABLIS PREMIER CRU 2012, £14.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
Red apple, pear and lemon rind aromas followed by a blast of the crisp minerality you expect from Chablis. Lemon flavours dominate on the palate.
MULE MCLAREN VALE VIOGNIER 2011, £14 (MARKS & SPENCER)
A refreshing white with a good balance between the fruity green apple, peach and lime notes on the palate and the zingy acidity. A rounded mouthfeel from the barrel fermentation.
CHÂTEAU CURSON CROZES HERMITAGE BLANC 2009, £13.96 (JUSTERINI & BROOKS)
Sweet notes on the nose, still tasting young and fresh, with lemon and peach flavours. Rounded mouthfeel but not oaky. Smooth and rich.
MOERBEI WHITE GOLD CHARDONNAY/SEMILLON 2013, £12.99/£9.49 (NAKED WINES)
Peaches and cream aromas. Lovely rounded mouthfeel, with peaches, honey and a touch of creaminess. Good fruit/acid balance. Not oaky, just rounded.
MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CHARDONNAY 2012, £11.99 (TESCO)
Notes of butter and nutty on the nose. Lemons, and peaches on the palate. Oaked but not overly oaky. Well made and well rounded.
DEMORGENZON DMZ CHARDONNAY 2013, £10.49 (GREAT GROG)
Pears and apples on the nose, then crisp refreshing acidity on the tongue. The finish is rounder and fuller, with a touch of a buttery note and more of a white peach flavour. Crisp and delicious.
FINEST POUILLY FUME 2012, £9.99 (TESCO)
Classic Pouilly Fume flavours of asparagus, with gooseberry and apricot notes. Plenty of acidity, but it’s fruity, not austere.
DOMAINE MABY LA FERMADE LIRAC BLANC 2013, £9.50 (WINE SOCIETY)
Bright and refreshing acidity balanced by pear and apple flavours. Rounded but crisp.
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE LANGUEDOC BLANC, £9 (SAINSBURY’S)
An interesting blend of Grenache, Marsanne and Vermentino from south west France. Floral and lemon nose, with peaches and lemons coming through on the palate. More body than the nose would suggest and plenty of acidity to match food.
VIGNOBLES FONCALIEU MONTAGNE NOIRE MARSANNE 2012, £7.38 (ENOTRIA)
Touches of oak on the nose. Rounded buttery mouthfeel but still plenty of acidity for food. Some pineapple and mango flavours.
VILLEMARIN PICPOUL DE PINET 2013, £6.74 (MAJESTIC)
Picpoul translates as ‘lip stinger’ thanks to its normally sharp acidity but this tasty version is much more balanced, with lemon, apricot and peach flavours and a more rounded mouthfeel.
CIMAROSA NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, £5.89 (LIDL)
Sauvignon Blanc in the bright and zingy style for which New Zealand has become famous. Lots of asparagus aromas and flavours.
EXTRA SPECIAL VIOGNIER 2013, £5 (ASDA)
Aromatic honeysuckle notes. Plenty of acidity for food. Touches of peach and apricot. Good value.
Red wines for turkey
BEST RED FOR TURKEY: BERNARD HUBER SPATBURGUNDER ALTE REBEN 2011, £24.46 (JUSTERINI & BROOKS)
A cut above the rest, with a complex nose ranging from red cherries and raspberry jam through to wood smoke and dry leaves. Flavours of strawberries, herbs and even white pepper come through on the palate. Good fruit/acid balance for food. Impressive.
DOMAINE GIRAUD PREMICES CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2010, £21.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
Lots of cloves and nutmeg aromas on the nose, mixed in with the strawberries and blackberries. Dry on the palate, with a rich and velvety feel in the mouth. A warm and spicy finish.
FINCA ALLENDE RIOJA TINTO 2007, £21 (BERRY BROS & RUDD)
Blackberries, vanilla and cinnamon on the nose, joined by hot white pepper, and fruitier blackcurrants on the palate. Dry but smooth and rich, with well integrated tannins and bright acidity for its age.
LAY OF THE LAND BEN MORVEN FARM PINOT NOIR MARLBOROUGH 2013, £18.99/£12.99 (NAKED WINES)
Fresh raspberries and strawberries on the nose, with a touch of sweeter strawberry jam and boiled sweets. Good levels of acidity to match food and velvety tannins adding weight. Fruit-driven, sunshine-filled New World Pinot Noir.
WALNUT BLOCK MARLBOROUGH SINGLE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2008, £15.99 (VIRGIN)
Bursting with strawberries, raspberries and red cherries, with a spicy white pepper finish. Smooth and velvety, but with a weightier mouthfeel than your normal Pinot Noir.
VERUM PINOT NOIR PATAGONIA 2012, £15 (GREAT GROG)
Don’t let the pale colour fool you – this is full of juicy strawberry and sweet red cherry flavours. Good balance between the fruit and the acidity, which would balance nicely against the meat.
DOMAINE LATHUILIERE GRAVALLON MORGON CORCELETTE 2013, £12.25 (CORNEY & BARROW)
Velvety and smooth, with flavours of red cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Weightier mouthfeel than others, but with plenty of acidity to help cut through food.
FAMILLE CATTIN ALSACE PINOT NOIR 2013, £12 (ODDBINS)
Light in colour but deep in flavour, with raspberries, red cherries and candyfloss on the nose, being joined by strawberries on the tongue. Bright acidity to match food plus a long fruity finish.
BRANCOTT ESTATE MARLBOROUGH PINOT NOIR 2013, £11.49 (TESCO)
Previously known as Montana, Brancott is one of New Zealand’s biggest wine producers. Its Pinot Noir is a reliable old favourite in the bright acidic New World style. Loads of jammy strawberry aromas and flavours.
LOUIS JADOT COMBE AUX-JACQUES BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES 2012, £10.99 (WAITROSE)
Bright and fresh, with raspberries and strawberries shining through. Crisp acidity makes it a good match for food, with gentle tannins and a slightly spicy finish adding interest.
CHATEAU HAUT-CORNEAU GRAVES 2010, £10, (ODDBINS)
Blackcurrants joined by meaty and smoky aromas on the nose. Silky and smooth on the palate, with fine tannins and meaty flavours of blackcurrants and peppery notes. Dry finish.
URSA MAIOR RIOJA RESERVA, £9.99 (SPAR)
Dry, but with well-balanced acidity and tannins. Red cherry, blackcurrant and vanilla flavours with a long finish.
MCMANIS FAMILY PETITE SIRAH 2012, £9.95 (THE WINE SOCIETY)
Gorgeous blaeberry and blackcurrant jam aromas on the nose, with a long fruity finish. Not for the fainthearted with tonnes of fruit flavours. Deep, luscious and very smooth.
CLOS DU BOIS PINOT NOIR CALIFORNIA 2012, £9.74 (MAJESTIC)
Deep strawberry jam and damp leaf aromas on the nose, then a punch of acidity to match food. A fruity finish with plenty of strawberries but also some more mature meaty and even gamey notes.
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE RIOJA CRIANZA, £8 (SAINSBURY’S)
Blackcurrant and woody notes on the nose leading onto bramble and vanilla flavours in the mouth. Very smooth and silky, with well-integrated tannins.
TRULY IRRESISTIBLE 30º PINOT NOIR CASABLANCA VALLEY 2012, £7.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
Cooler climate Pinot Noir, with aromas of strawberry leaves and damp earth on the nose. Sharper strawberry flavours on the tongue, with a hint of mint and then white pepper on the finish. Something different and an interesting talking point to go with the turkey.
FINEST VIN DE PAYS MALBEC, £7.49 (TESCO)
Argentina may have become famous for its Malbec, but France is the traditional home of the grape. Here, it’s showing off its fruit-driven style, with blackcurrants, blackberries and red cherries balanced by chewy tannins and bright acidity to match food.
MARQUIS DE ST VINCENT MEDOC, £6.99 (LIDL)
Surprisingly well-structured for the price. Grippy tannins to pair with food and a long fruity finish.
FINEST OLD VINES TEMPRANILLO, £6.99 (TESCO)
Full bodied, with lots of tannin to match food. Bright acidity and lots of fruity blackcurrant and strawberry flavours.
CEPA LEBREL RIOJA RESERVA, £5.99 (LIDL)
Lots of spicy cinnamon, vanilla and white pepper notes on the nose, but it’s the blackcurrant flavour that shines through on the palate. A dry yet fruity finish.
LE MANOIR DU BARON PINOT NOIR 2013, £4.98 (ASDA)
Don’t be put off by the stewed fruit and candyfloss notes on the nose. The palate is softer with fresher strawberry and raspberry flavours. Good balance between fruit and acidity.
VIGNOBLES ROUSSELLET PINOT NOIR, £4.39 (ALDI)
Good value French table wine, with bright red cherry and strawberry flavours and plenty of acidity to cut through richer foods. There are sweeter strawberry jam notes on the finish that bring back memories of childhood sweets.
BEST FOR TURKEY CURRY: CAVE DE TURCKHEIM GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012, £10.49 (WAITROSE)
All the classic floral and peach aromas on the nose and then a kick of off-dry sweetness on the palate make this a fun match for curries, whether they be using up the leftover turkey or creating a nutty vegetarian version.
White wines for goose
BEST WHITE FOR GOOSE: MCGUIGAN THE SHORTLIST EDEN VALLEY RIESLING 2012, £15 (TESCO.COM)
This has all the acidity you could want to take on rich food, but with enough fruity flavours to provide balance. A heady, complex nose full of lemons, limes, honey, sherbet, petrol and honeysuckle leads into fresher lime, lemon and mint notes on the tongue, with touches of honey. A stunner.
GERD STEPP RIESLING 2013, £17.99/£11.99 (NAKED WINES)
Lemons and limes on the nose, with a touch of lemon sherbet coming through on the tongue. Dry, with plenty of acidity to cut through food. Crisp and fresh, with the lemons carrying through to the long finish.
TRIMBACH GEWURZTRAMINER 2012, £12.50 (WINE SOCIETY)
Floral and fruity, with rose, lemon and Turkish delight on the nose. Off-dry. Lots of lemon flavours on the tongue – refreshing, not cloying. Good balance of acidity and fruit.
SCHLOSS SCHONBORN RHEINGAU RIESLING 2011, £11.75 (CORNEY & BARROW)
Perfumed nose, with lime and petrol notes. Off-dry, with lemon and peach notes on the palate. Plenty of acidity for food. Light and refreshing. Not cloying.
DOMAINE BIEVILLE CHABLIS 2012, £10.99 (SPAR)
A slightly more mature style of Chablis, with sweeter red apples on the nose and some bready notes. Plenty of acidity and a nicely rounded mouthfeel. Flavours of apple and pear, with some lemon notes.
CHABLIS 2013, £9.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
It may not give a lot away on the nose but this Chablis is packed with the acidity for which the wine is famous. Green apple and pear flavours are well balanced with the refreshing acidity.
LES GRANDS CHEMINS MARSANNE VIOGNIER 2013, £8.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
Floral Viognier aromas and pineapple and white peach from Marsanne. It’s the white peach that dominates on the palate but plenty of acidity to match food. Well structured.
WAITROSE FOUNDATION CHENIN BLANC, £8.99 (WAITROSE)
A young and fresh style of Chenin Blanc full of white peach and bright pear aromas, with the white peach flavours dominating on the palate. There’s bright acidity to match food and a long fruity finish.
LOUIS GUNTRUM DRY RIESLING 2012, £8.95 (WINE SOCIETY)
Fresh lemons and some subtle honeysuckle aromas. Dry, with crisp acidity to match food. Lemons and mineral notes on the tongue, leaving a refreshing finish. Also a good match for fish.
SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE CHENIN BLANC, £5.99 (SPAR)
The deep lemon colour hints at this more aged style of Chenin Blanc, The lime and honeysuckle aromas are more reminiscent of Riesling than Chenin Blanc but the flavours on the palate are the classic ripe peach and honey notes. There’s a twist of lime-based acidity that keeps the wine fresh all the way through its long finish.
Red wines for goose
BEST RED FOR GOOSE: CATHERINE MARSHALL AMATRA ELGIN VALLEY MERLOT 2012, £14 (GREAT GROG)
Rich and smooth Merlot, with the brambles, blackberry, mint and chocolate from the complex nose all following through to the palate. Velvety and rounded in the mouth, with a long fruity finish. Dry but well integrated tannins. Moreish.
CHATEAU CANTEMERLE HAUT-MEDOC 2008, £29 (BERRY BROS & RUDD)
Complex nose, with wood smoke, vanilla and rich mulberry and bramble. Dry, with plenty of acidity to match food and cherry tannins to take on beef or goose. Blackcurrants, red cherries and meaty notes on the finish.
BRISE CALLOUX MATTIEU BARRET CORNAS 2012, £27.96 (JUSTERINI & BROOKS)
A rich purple colour, with the Syrah producing aromas of blueberries and violets. On the palate, the acidity is nice balanced against the blueberry flavours, with hints of palma violets coming through. Rich and velvety.
JONATHAN MALTUS LE LASTAU SAINT EMILION GRAND CRU 2012, £24.99/£16.99 (NAKED WINES)
Really well-balanced fruit and tannins. Fruit lasting all the way to the finish. Bright and lively, with a complex nose. Fruit on palate.
SAINT JOSEPH ROUGE SOULANE 2012, £20.40/£14.49 (NAKED WINES)
Rich and deep, with blackcurrants and brambles on the nose following through onto the palate. Rounded and smooth, with plenty of acidity to match food and well-integrated tannins.
JEAN-JACQUES GIRARED SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE 2011, £18.99 (WAITROSE)
A rich and complex nose showing strawberry jam and red cherry aromas. Velvety and smooth on the palate with fine tannins, rich strawberry and red cherry fruit and well-balanced acidity.
ERADUS PINOT NOIR MARLBOROUGH 2013, £16.25 (CORNEY & BARROW)
A fresh, fruit-driven Pinot Noir with plenty of body and a silky smooth mouthfeel. Raspberry jam and hot spicy white pepper finish. I had this wine with grouse at Ballathie House Hotel in Perthshire but it would go just as well with goose.
MCGUIGAN THE SHORTLIST CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, £15 (TESCO.COM)
A really well balanced Australian red, with loads of bramble and blackberry fruit and smooth, well-integrated tannins. Fresh acidity and notes of mint and vanilla.
MOULIN DES CHÊNES LIRAC 2011, £12.50 (ODDBINS)
Very meaty aromas on the nose, which hint at the rich flavours to be found on the palate. Blackcurrants and red cherries are matched by nutmeg and spicy white pepper. Beautifully integrated tannins and bright acidity.
MASI CAMPOFIORIM 2010, £12.49 (WAITROSE)
Full-bodied Italian reds really lend themselves to Christmas, with their rich, deep flavours and affinity for food. This offering from Masi is no exception, with bright, cheery aromas and flavours combining with powerful tannins to make it fruity but full bodied enough to take on rich dishes.
NORTON WINEMAKER’S RESERVE MALBEC, LUJÁN DE CUYO 2011, £10.99 (WAITROSE)
Argentina’s Malbec red grape at its powerful best, with lots of red cherry and bramble fruits on the nose, along with vanilla and wood smoke. On the palate, there are plenty of dark brambles, blackcurrants and red cherries, plus vanilla and a spicy white pepper finish. Long and fruity.
EXTRA SPECIAL RIOJA GRAN RESERVA, £10 (ASDA)
Christmas in a glass, with cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and blackberries on the nose. Chocolate and coffee notes developing on the palate, with lots of acidity still, a decade after the grapes were harvested. A long and complex finish. Dry, with some redcurrant and cranberry notes.
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE BARBARESCO £10 (SAINSBURY’S)
Cherries, cherries and more cherries on this dry Italian red, with bright fruit and a good level of acidity to match food.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA, £8.99 (ALDI)
Classic dry Italian red wine, with lots of acidity and well-defined tannins to match food. Bright red cherry fruit and a distinctive sweeter chocolate note. Impressive for the price.
VINALBA RESERVADO MALBEC 2012, £8.66 (MAJESTIC)
Deep, rich and fruity, with redcurrants joining the red cherries and plums on the nose. Velvety and smooth on the palate, well rounded. Dry with lots of cherries and plums and a spicy finish.
WISHBONE PINOT NOIR MARLBOROUGH 2012, £8.48, (ASDA)
Meaty and leathery notes on the nose joining the familiar Pinot Noir strawberries and red cherries. Well balanced with plenty of red fruit and richer strawberry jam notes playing against the fresh acidity. Ready, willing and able to match food.
BEAU MOULIN FITOU 2012, £8 (MARKS & SPENCER)
Bright and enticing redcurrant and strawberry aromas on the nose, leading to more red fruit flavours on the palate. A spicy and slightly herby finish, with forward acidity and well-integrated tannins.
TRULY IRRESISTIBLE BARBERA D’ASTI 2012, £6.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
From the Co-op’s aptly named ‘Truly Irresistible’ range, this Italian red has all the black cherry and plum flavours you’d expect from Barbera, all wrapped up in smooth, finely grained tannins and warming 14.5 per cent alcohol. Rich and dark yet still retaining a long fruity finish.
Wines for puddings
BEST SWEET WINE: JEN PFEIFFER THE DIAMOND RUTHERGLEN MUSCAT, £17.99/£12.99 (NAKED WINES)
I had the pleasure of meeting Jen Pfeiffer during this summer’s Naked Wines tasting in Edinburgh and her enthusiasm is infectious. Here, Australia’s former young winemaker of the year has produced an outstanding sweet wine with complex flavours of spun sugar, toffee, honey, strawberry and peach. It has a beautifully rounded taste, with a weighty feel in the mouth.
BERRYS’ WILLIAM PICKERING, 20-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT, £26.95 (BERRY BROS & RUDD)
Full of Christmas spices like cinnamon and cloves, this port is a cut above the rest, with a luscious and smooth mouthfeel. Made for Berry Bros by Quinta do Noval, which is owned by French insurance giant AXA.
PEDRO’S ALMACENISTA PALO CORTADO, £14.99, (MAJESTIC)
This sweet sherry strikes a good balance between the fruit and the acidity, with pronounced aromas of prunes and raisins mixed with caramel and vanilla.
PAUL CLUVER NOBLE LATE HARVEST RIESLING 2012, £14.99, (MARKS & SPENCER)
Riesling can make some delicious sweet wines and Paul Cluver Wines at Elgin is one of the shining stars of South African winemaking. This is full of sweet candied lemon and lime marmalade flavours, cut by refreshing acidity to stop if being cloying.
MONTARIA RUBY PORT RESERVA, £14.99/£11.25 (NAKED WINES)
A delicious ruby port, which is simple and approachable. Sweet and fruity, with plenty of black cherry and blackcurrant flavours a touch of sweeter spices on the finish.
10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT, £13.99 (THE CO-OPERATIVE)
Even spicier notes from this tawny port, with complex fruit flavours of redcurrants and strawberries. Some herby notes and a warming mouthfeel from the alcohol.
FONSECA BIN 27 FINE RESERVE, £13.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
Virgin Wines tells us that this is the world’s best-selling port, and that’s no surprise given the bright red and black cherry flavours that come shining through.
BENJAMIN DARNAULT MONTAHUC 2011, £13.99/£10.49 (NAKED WINES)
This is a richer and more developed style of Muscat, with riper banana and peach fruity flavours and touches of toffee apple. Winemaker Benjamin Darnault is another one of Naked Wine’s stars.
CAMPBELLS RUTHERGLEN MUSCAT, £12.49 (WAITROSE)
Lots of lighter fruity flavours like peaches and strawberries, combined with sweeter notes on the nose, including caramel and toffee. The nose reminds me of bonfire night, with sweet cinnamon notes.
LA MORANDINA, MOSCATO D’ASTI, £12.46 (JUSTERINI & BROOKS)
Sweet peaches and honey on the nose lead into a big hit of sweetness on the palate. Luscious mouthfeel but enough acidity to stop it being cloying. Delicious.
THE SOCIETY’S EXHIBITION MATURE MEDIUM SWEET OLOROSO BLEND, £11.50 (THE WINE SOCIETY)
The rich, dark brown colour hints at the sweet Demerara sugar flavours intertwined with the fruiter prune and raisin notes. A sweeter type of sherry but still with enough acidity to add balance.
MERY PINEAU DES CHARENTES, £11, (GREAT GROG)
Made by bringing together lightly fermented grapes and fruit brandy from Cognac, this French aperitif also makes an excellent match for puddings. The grape flavours come through, along with banana, vanilla and oak notes. It’s fresher than many other pudding wines, with a good balance between the acidity and the fruit.
PANTELLERIA PASSITO MOSCATO 2011, £10.75 (ODDBINS)
Made on the island of Pantelleria, this is Italy’s most southerly-made wine and it’s full of apricot and peach flavours, with caramel and spun sugar. It’s rich and has a really rounded flavour.
STRAWBERRY WINE, £7.35 (CAIRN O’ MOHR)
Cairn O’ Mohr’s strawberry wine jumped out at me during a tasting at the Ballathie House Hotel in Perthshire and has stuck in my mind as a good match for Christmas pudding. Lots of strawberry aromas but also some marshmallow and burnt sugar notes that should pair well with the pudding.
SAMOS VIN DOUX 2011, £6.75 (ODDBINS)
And now for something completely different from Greece. Luscious and fruity, coating the mouth with flavours of bananas, peaches, caramel and toffee.
ARMILAR 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT, £6.29 (LIDL)
Light and fruity, with sweet complex fruit flavours of cherries and strawberries. There are spicier white pepper notes on the finish and some touches of herbs too.
PLAIMONT PRODUCTEURS DUC DE TERMES 2011, £5.99 (TESCO)
Lots of banana and toffee flavours, with hints of hazelnut. A great balance between the fruit and the acidity, which prevents the wine from becoming too cloying.
WINEMAKERS’ SELECTION MUSCAT DE ST JEAN DE MINERVOIS, £5 (SAINSBURY’S)
A rich and fruity pudding wine, with peach, apricot and sherbet lemon flavours. Luscious and smooth with a velvety texture.