December’s Booze News

Hopefully, you’ll be coming along to our Christmas wine and general grazing sessions on 9th (Staverton) and 10th (Yealmpton) – click here for details – but, if you have other plans, here’s a quick rundown of what’s on offer. I think Languedoc and the Rhone is where it’s at these days, particularly for rich, chunky, Christmas reds so that’s where we’ve concentrated our efforts but we’ve also some new wines from Australia and Chile.

Salvaje Syrah/Roussanne. An inspired take on the Cote Rotie Syrah/Viognier blend from Chilean wunder-winemaker Alvaro Espinoza. Made without any added sulphites or oak with a distinctly fresh, forest fruit edge, this will work with steaks and roasts. £13.99

Mas Gabriel, Clos des Lievres. Stunning Languedoc Syrah – full of spice, chocolate, black cherry and cassis. Good with roast lamb or beef and mature cheeses. £17.95.

Chateau Maris ‘la Touge’ Syrah. A serious, but friendly wine – dark fruits complemented by warm notes of pepper, aniseed, herbs and a dash of peppery olive oil. Unoaked but perfectly balanced. £12.99

Dandelion ‘Lionheart of Barossa’ Shiraz. Aussie Shiraz is recognised as a benchmark wine and this is as good as they come – and great value. Full bodied, oaked but perfectly balanced to partner rich meats and cheeses. £12.99

Domaine Begude Pinot Noir ‘Esprit’. Outstanding value ‘Burgundian’ style Pinot from the hills south of Carcassonne. Low sulphites, minimum intervention etc. Perfect with the turkey, goose, duck or pheasant. £14.99

Cien-y-Pico Garnacha. Made by Aussie/Bulgarian Dandelion Vineyards winemaker, Elena Brooks, in La Mancha Spain from old vine Grenache, this is a long-time favourite. I can’t do it justice but it was a well deserved Jancis Robinson wine of the week and wins endless prizes. Deliciously robust – perfect with a lamb stew. £11.95

Signos de Origen, Chardonnay/Roussanne/Marsanne/Viognier. Another, slightly off the wall, offering from Alvaro Espinoza. Rhone varietals given the New World treatment and it works a treat – surprisingly, even the oak. Lovely with ripe cheeses or slow roast pork. £12.99.

Domaine Begude, ‘L’Etoile’ Chardonnay. Top offering given high marks (17) by Jancis Robinson ‘…..really very sophisticated and definitely GV (good value)’. Notes of brioche, pear and apple – good with white meat and Alpine cheeses (Comte etc) £13.99

Chateau Rochecolombe Viognier. New wine for Christmas – Intensely rich 100% Viognier with floral aromas and peach, apricot and spice. Weighty full bodied palate with pleasant oily, fleshy mouthfeel. Perfect with white meats and most cheeses. £12.45.

Chateau la Canorgue Blanc. A classy blend of Rhone grapes – again a good match for most canapés and cheese. £13.75

Meinklang Gruner Veltliner; not particularly Christmassy but one of our favourites and on special offer because there is a small sediment of naturally occurring tartrate crystals. Completely harmless and a result of bottling a couple of weeks early and you save £2.50 on the normal price of £11.99 – now £9.49.

As a nation, we don’t drink a lot of pudding wine but come Christmas, it’s a must, and nothing goes better with the sweet citrus and spice combo than Pedro Ximenez sherry. Our Piedra Luenga PX (£11.45) is from neighbouring Montilla, equally good but often forgotten, where the tradition of fortified wine is as long, and strong, as Jerez. It’s delicious – like Xmas pud in a glass. In fact, If I had to choose, I’d pass on the pud. There’s also a lovely, light, Fino (£8.99) from the same place. Perfect to kick things off with the nuts etc. For localists, ever innovative Julian Temperley, of Somerset Cider Brandy offers something similar with his Kingston Aperitif (£9.99) and Somerset Pomona digestif (£10.49).

There’s also our range of wines, fizz, gins, port, craft beers and ciders etc. This year we’ve even got in some organic malt whiskies and Armagnac! But we’re definitely not getting in any of those silly Christmas craft ales. Why not? Because you never buy them. Good call.

Finally, remember; it’s always a good idea to open a bottle of wine to let it breath. If that doesn’t appear to be working, give it mouth to mouth resuscitation. Bo-boom!