Grape Expectations’ Christmas Fair had to be rescheduled because of very wintery conditions back on 2nd December but the line up duly appeared at The Lights theatre, Andover, on Monday 13th. It became the event for what would have been Andover Wine Friends’ regular monthly tasting – the new date was a happy accident and it has to be said that the wine club does not normally offer a choice of a 100 wines, port and ales! This write up will feature ten wines I enjoyed – it’s no more scientific than that – and will be followed by a separate post of one of the suppliers present. As this is a personal selection, readers of this website will hardly need to be told that France and Italy will feature heavily in it.
Ten wines to enjoy this Christmas
1. Sestiere Prosecco ‘Castello 4357’, Fabiano, Italy, £10.
Most Prosecco is pretty lifeless stuff, probably best turned into a cocktail. By contrast, this would make rather classy party fizz, with characteristic pear flavours, crisp and refreshing. It would also be good when fizz is required but Champagne is over the top or not appreciated.
2. Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV, £30
For a real treat, this a spendid combination of Chardonnay and Pinor Noir, toasty, lovely yeast notes, refined. Despite being the entry level wine, it contains 20% reserve wines which give it class. Genuinely special – as Champagne should be.
3. Champagne Henriot Rosé NV £41.50
Am I allowed two Champagnes in the list? I don’t know – you make the rules, David. This is a beautifully done rosé, with plenty of raspberry and strawberry fruit, but subtle and elegant – definitely one for a very special and relaxed moment.
4. Domaine Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois 2009, £9 or Menetou Salon Moronges, Domaine H Pelle 2008, £13.40 – well that is one way of getting an extra wine into the list. Two Sauvignon Blancs from inland Loire, one a baby Sancerre but with real quality, the other from a nearby less famous appellation but a beautifully made, very finely textured wine. Either would make good aperitif wines or accompany chicken or fish dishes.
5. K-naia Verdejo 2009, £9
For a more assertive style of white, you could do a lot worse than this characterful wine from north west Spain. The native Verdejo grape is helped along by a bit of Sauvignon Blanc to produce this quite exotic, peachy blend. Nice texture too.
6. Poggio Argentiera Morellino di Scansano (no price), Tuscany
Not actually on the list but this is an old favourite from the Tuscan coast (see last month’s tasting). This is an excellent example of the lively, red cherry to plum fruit, of Sangiovese but from a warm area. A great red to go with robust cooking.
After planting endless Cabernet Sauvignon, Chilean wine makers have now begun to produce great results from Syrah. This is a cracking example with text-book combination of red fruit flavours and black pepper. Plus the richness you would hope for a premium example.
8. Any red from Ian Steel’s ‘For the love of wine’ table – see next post
We don’t see many quality reds from the heel of Italy in this country – but Ian Steel is trying to change all that. He brought a great range of wines made from Negroamaro, Primitivo and Uva di Troia from Puglia – but much more about this in the next article. But do try these wines for great quality and individuality at a very fair price.
9. Dr Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese 2006 £10
If Christmas is a time of sheer indulgence, you can’t really do better than this style of Riesling made from selected, botrytis-affected berries – layers of sweetness, marmalade and oatmeal, and the fruit of Riesling. It’s a tiny bottle – but an affordable way to enjoy a great luxury. And you didn’t really want to share it with more than one person, did you?
10. Krohn Colheita 2000 Port £12.50
There were four ports from Krohn on offer, all of them good, all of them exceptional value. The dilemma is something like this: if you buy Ruby it is inexpensive and good but has no complexity through ageing; if you buy vintage, which is aged in bottles, you need to wait for decades for it to get to its optimum. But if you buy Colheita, you get a single vintage wine but aged in oak which accelerates the process and adds oak notes. This is amazingly good – a brilliantly complex combination of ripe fruit, with lovely caramel and balsamic notes. And it is such good value, you could contemplate sharing it!