Sants’s little red helpers
The world seems to divide into those who put their tree up as the first sniff of December and those who take a more relaxed approach to Christmas trees, leaving the whole tinsel and bauble experience to the last few days.
To be honest, I fall into the latter category, and each year there is the debate as to whether the slightly tatty angel made by our first-born at playschool should once again adorn the top of the tree. Given that she is now a high-earning lawyer, maybe it is time to consign this relic to the bin, but she (angel) and she (daughter) are so used to the routine, I fear the consequences of change.
However, there is every reason to ring the changes when it comes to wine. The same old wines you have been drinking all year need a breath of fresh air and revitalisation to bring out all the flavours of Christmas. So while you are struggling with the tree, the lights and your own playschool angel, here are a few suggestions for red wines to tide you over the Christmas period.
£6 and under
Tesco Beaujolais 2011, France, Tesco, £4.49: A bright, juicy, full-of-fruit wine that will go with all kinds of foods from a turkey sandwich to a simple supper.
Les Jamelles Reserve Mourvèdre 2011, France, Co-op, down from £6.99 to £5.49 until January 1: Chunky and full of dark, plummy fruit, sprinkled with spice, but with a lift of cherries and herbs on the finish. Winner of a Trophy in the Decanter Awards, this is just the kind of wine to pour for the returning students.
Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2010, South Africa, Waitrose, down from £7.99 to £5.99 until January 2: This wine is so popular that many readers ask me to email them when it goes on offer. Full of ripe damson fruit with a layer of peppery spice. Perfect with meaty dishes.
La Consulta Malbec 2012, Argentina, Morrisons, down from £8.99 to £5.99 until January 6: Full of deep, brambly fruit and soft, supple tannins. Almost too good for the returning students, but cheap enough to keep them away from the rest of your wine rack.
Hacienda Lopez de Haro Tempranillo 2011 Rioja, Spain, Chez Vin, Otley, (01943 466143) £6.99:
Classic, well-made, young Rioja with fruit to the fore and nice red fruits and liquorice adding complexity.
Bodegas Borsao Selección Tinto 2011, Campo de Borja, Aragon, Spain, Halifax Wine Co. (01422 256333) £7.45: Mainly Grenache with a splash of Cabernet and Tempranillo, this is packed with juicy cherry fruit and floral notes.
Viñalba Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot, Argentina, Sainsbury, down from £9.99 to £7.99 until January 1: I have been a fan of wines from this producer for some time, and this particular blend brings ripe, black fruit flavours with chocolate and smoky complexity. Team it with red meat or hard cheeses.
Ch Grivière 2004, Médoc, France, Majestic down from £11.99 to £7.99 until February 4: Fantastic value in this soft, jammy, Merlot-dominated wine with enough flavour to take on roast lamb.
Crasto Douro Red 2010, Quinta do Crasto, Douro, Portugal, Majestic, down from £9.99 to £8.49 on multibuy until February 4: Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Douro, this quinta makes terrific wines, including this juicy, raspberry and blackberry, savoury, herb-sprinkled blend of local grapes.
Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Coonawarra, Australia, Waitrose, down from £11.99 to £8.99 until January 1: Full of smooth, elegant, cassis fruit with supple tannins and a smoky long finish.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011, Gran Sasso, Italy, Martinez, Ilkley (01943 600000), £9.49: This wine bowled me away at a recent tasting. Fabulous blackberry fruit overlaid with truffle complexity, it will go with game and cheese.
Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, Waitrose, down from £12.49 to £9.36 until January 2: Elegant, deep, red fruits with supple tannins and hints of sweet spice.
Meerlust Red 2010, South Africa, Roberts and Speight (01482 870717), £10.99: Made from younger vines and from casks that don’t quite make the main wine, this Cabernet Merlot blend gives exceptional flavour for money. Full-flavoured and juicy with ripe cassis notes and a lift of leafy green aromas.
Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2010, Australia, Flourish and Prosper (01430 430006), £10.99: It is good to see how Tempranillo develops in the cool-climate McLaren Vale. Crunchy raspberry fruit with blackberries and smooth tannins. It would be perfect for Christmas lunch with enough power to balance all the flavours on the plate without dominating proceedings.
The Edge Escarpment 2010 Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand, Field and Fawcett (01904 489073), £12.20: It was good to see Larry McKenna in Yorkshire this autumn and his wines are consistently good. This is full of fresh, bright, pure cherry fruit with ripe silky tannins.
Enjoy it with lamb or even a well-flavoured fish dish. While it’s 20p above my price band, I suggest buy two bottles and negotiate!
Moueix Saint Emilion 2009, France, Marks and Spencer, £13.99: I wrote “great value” alongside this wine when I tasted it. Pure St Emilion style with concentration, a ripe but firm structure and a finish that will just keep on getting better. Good enough for the main event.
Cune Imperial Rioja Reserva, 2004, Spain, Co-op, £14.99: A delightful wine, full of elegant, refined, silky plummy fruit with a touch of cigar box and spice. This is an exceptional price, but I suspect stocks are limited.
Domaine Terres Georges, Quintessence 2009, Minervois, France, Hoults (01484 510700), £14.99:
Packed with cherry and figgy fruit, layered with leather and a hint of mint, this is a chunky wine with attitude. Team it with a hearty winter casserole.
Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits Villages Rouges 2009 Michel Gros, Harrogate Fine Wine (01423 522270), £21.99: Top notch Burgundy, drinking beautifully right now. Ripe and elegant fruit with a faint hint of game, but also with a nice bit of backbone and structure.
Réserve de Léoville Barton 2004, St Julien, Bordeaux, Bon Coeur Fine Wine (01765 688200), £25.99: Ignore “off” vintages at your peril. This is drinking wonderfully right now with cedar-box and cassis notes and elegant, refined tannins.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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