LIZ SAGUES looks at the highlights of a great year for wine buffs
If your tastes in wine are anything like mine – and if you re reading this column, there s a reasonable chance that they are – this is the time for treats. It s the moment to share, on paper at least, some of the bottles I ve particularly enjoyed over rec
If your tastes in wine are anything like mine - and if you're reading this column, there's a reasonable chance that they are - this is the time for treats. It's the moment to share, on paper at least, some of the bottles I've particularly enjoyed over recent months and send you off to buy them for your own festive feasting.
Fizz first: nothing but champagne... or anything but champagne? Both, please, especially if the champagne is Louis Roederer Brut Premier (maximum £30.50, Majestic, Waitrose and department stores), which is elegant, fresh and sublimely classy, or Fleury Père et Fils Brut
non-vintage (£23, Waitrose),
a lovely pure-fruited,
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long-flavoured wine from organic grapes.
I've been seduced by cava, too, notably Codorníu Reserva Raventós (£8, Majestic, £5 if you buy two or more, £7, Oddbins), which has fine bubbles, serious fruit and a complexity rarely seen at this price bracket.
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For a white without bubbles, Spain's Montsant region is the source of delicately delicious Malondro blanc 2005 (£10, discounts on six-plus, Wine Of Course, 020-8347 9006). It is made from the viura grape and has appealing minerality both on the grassy, meadow-flower nose and the clean, crisp, apple-fruity palate. Match it with appropriately light but fine fish, shellfish or white meats.
In exuberant contrast is The Ned sauvignon blanc 2006 from river valley terraces New Zealand's Marlborough region (£6.70 until January 7 at Waitrose). It has all the character of great Kiwi sauvignon, without too much pungency, which makes it good value at the usual £10 price and a remarkable festive bargain now.
Across to Italy for two Chiantis which are warmly, wonderfully different from the thin acidic liquid which poured from raffia-clad carafes in the best-forgotten past. Fonterutoli, long my favourite (£18, Harrods, The Wine Society, Swig), and Casaloste (£15, Jeroboams) have the richness, concentration and complexity which the Chianti Classico Consortium is working hard to make widespread throughout the denomination, without losing the bitter-cherry edge which is special to the sangiovese grape.
Both these bottles are from the superb 2004 vintage, and Casalote is another wine from organic grapes. Either would outshine a battery Christmas turkey - they're worthy of nothing less than the best bronze-feathered free-ranger.
And for spiced-up leftovers on Boxing Day? What better than a German riesling smartly balancing bright acidity and soft residual sweetness. Ayler Kupp kabinett 2005 from Margarethenhof (£6, Majestic) won a deserved gold medal in this year's International Wine Challenge and marvellously partners Thai flavours especially.
Full-on sweetness is one approach with the pud, and Camilo Castilla Capricho de Goya moscatel vin de licor (37.5cl £9.50, Moreno,
020-7286 0678), listed in this column two weeks ago, merits more description. From its walnut brown colour through a nutty nose into its spicy dried fruit palate, it's simply superb, richly sweet yet still fresh on the finish.
You can steer a more traditional course with Sauternes, and Château Haut-Bergeron (37.5cl £9.60, Asda) ticks all the right boxes of marmalade-y scents and flavours but avoids over-stickiness.
Or surprise, and delight, all ages in the family with the softly grapey fizz of Arione moscato (£4.25, Waitrose). At just 6.5 per cent alcohol, you'll still be sitting round the table rather than under it.