Wine: Roll on the festivities

With Christmas less than two weeks away, Christine Austin selects wines for the big occasion.

Try the white Rioja made by Luis Valentin and Carmen Encieso,

Now that my neighbour has once again decorated his house with snowmen, flashing coloured lights and a very adventurous Santa on a sleigh who darts across the wall and climbs the chimney, I have been forced to acknowledge that Christmas really is less than two weeks away. This is a neighbour who is ready for Christmas and probably has all the presents wrapped, food ordered and the white wine chilling in the fridge. If, like me, you are not quite so well prepared here are my top 20 wines for Christmas.


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Waitrose Fruity and Refreshing Australian Dry White, £4.99.

What a bargain this is at Waitrose! It is a well-made refreshing white that can cope with a roomful of neighbours without looking embarrassed.

Tesco Finest Sauvignon Furmint 2012, Slovenia, £7.99.

A fresh style of wine from a revitalised Slovenia. Crisp with light, herbaceous Sauvignon fruit then it shows its minerality as the Furmint shines through. Enjoy this as an aperitif but then pour it alongside salad starters, fish and even roast pork, especially if there is applesauce on the plate.

Basa Rueda Blanco Telmo Rodriguez 2012, Spain, Bon Coeur Fine Wines , Masham, £8.99.

If Sauvignon is a bit too crisp and Chardonnay a bit too fat, then try this Rueda. Made from the Verdejo grape by one of Spain’s most talented winemakers, this has floral aromas and is fresh tasting and citrusy with enough weight to accompany canapés and the starter.

Taste the Difference Coolwater Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, New Zealand, Sainsbury’s, £10.29.

Bursting with fresh-cut grass aromas and gooseberry zest, this makes a great aperitif wine or to liven up the tastebuds during the festive overload.

Jordan Unwooded Chardonnay 
2012, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Harrogate Fine Wine (01423 522270) £11.99.

Good melon and lime fruit with a rounded, food-friendly texture, and no oak clouding the flavour.

Organic Chablis Brocard 2011, France, Marks & Spencer, £14.99.

A classic Chablis with oaty, yeasty aromas, shot through with lemon and backed by the minerally taste of a crunchy gravel path.

Heimbourg Gewürztraminer 2008, Zind Humbrecht, 
Alsace, Majestic £14.99 on multibuy.

Christmas is time of the year when the food on the plate can match the spice of the Gewürztraminer grape. Team this gorgeous, lively, rose-petal and spice-cupboard wine with a spiced prawn starter, a creamy leek quiche or smoked salmon canapés.

Valenciso Rioja Blanco 2012, Rioja, Spain, Latitude, Leeds, £16.99.

Earlier this year I visited Valenciso, run by Luis Valentin and Carmen Encieso and was impressed by the silky, creamy elegance of their wines. This white Rioja will accompany the turkey with ease, but will also be good with a smoked salmon starter.

Saskia 2011, Miles Mossop, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Roberts and Speight £17.99.

Named after the winemaker’s daughter, this is a clever blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Clairette giving a wine with a floral approach, then apricot and light honeyed almond notes. Good with seafood, and lightly spiced dishes.

Meursault, Yves Boyer Martenot 2011 Bon Coeur Fine Wines, Masham 01765 688200, £24.99.

A serious white Burgundy with apple and nutty richness and a touch of oatmeal across the palate. It will accompany the main event with ease and if you buy too much it won’t come to any harm for the next year or two.


Morrisons Beaujolais 2011, France, £4.79.

At this price you can afford to let the itinerant students drink it, but make sure they leave you some. Its bright, breezy, juicy raspberry fruit will see you through from Christmas present wrapping to the cold turkey leftovers.

Rioja Reserva Vendimia Seleccionada 2008, Spain, Bodegas Muriel, Majestic £9.99, down to £7.49 on multibuy.

Take advantage of the multibuy and stock up with this smooth, silky, polished Rioja. It has gentle red fruits, dusted with herbs and is the classic partner to lamb.

MadBay Shiraz 2010, Western Australia, Tesco £7.99.

Grown in the cool breezes of Western Australia this has the spice and fruit you expect from Shiraz but it is juicy, fresh-tasting and balanced.

Taste the Difference Douro 2011, Portugal, Sainsbury, £8.49.

Sourced from the upmarket Quinta do Crasto , this has all the warmth and blackberry spice flavour of the Douro, moderated by freshness, good acidity and a long, elegant finish. Match this with goose.

Domaine de la Porte du Paradis, St Amour, Le Cru des Amoureux 2011 Latitude, Leeds (0113 245 3393) £10.99.

Lovely crushed raspberry fruit with a smooth, ripe, juicy palate. Perfect with a Boxing Day cold turkey sandwich, and, since it is from St Amour, you should share it with someone you love.

Willunga 100 Grenache 2010, McLaren Vale, Roberts and Speight, Beverley (01482 87071), £10.99.

A real rollercoaster of a wine, packed with black cherries, herbs and strawberry fruit and just a lick of vanilla. There are so many flavours on a Christmas plate and this will go with them all.

Old Vines Carignan 2010, Maule Valley, Chile, Marks & Spencer £11.99.

Fabulous, mulberry, spice and liquorice notes in this concentrated, dark chewy wine. Made from 60 year old bush vines, grown at altitude in Chile.

Ch. Sénéjac 2009, Haut-Médoc, France, Co-op, £13.99.

All Christmas tables need a good claret and this one is impressive with ripe blackberry and cassis notes and good complexity. Ready now and it will be good with the main event but if you buy a few extra bottles it will be even better next Christmas.

Domaine Terres Georges Quintessence Minervois 2009, Hoults Wine Merchant, Huddersfield (01484 510700), £14.99.

Ripe, spicy red fruits with layers of fig and prune, then earthy notes and a long finish. Perfect with any winter casserole or roast.

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2011, South Africa, Harrogate Fine Wine (01423 522270), £18.99.

Full of dark, plum fruit, with chocolate and spice. A big, meaty wine that grows and gets even better in the glass. This price is cheaper than the major supermarkets can manage, so go visit your local wine shop.