So… How much have you sipped this yuletide? A little? A lot? Not enough?! If you’re still up for some top recommendations, look no further as I have some tempting treats that will see you into New Year and beyond.
If you’re looking fo fizz, Berry Brothers & Rudd have a vivacious South African sparkler on their shelves. Anthonij Rupert L’Ormarins Blanc de Blanc Brut (Berry Brothers & Rudd £19.95) is from the Western Cape and is a real. stunner. It’s fresh, zesty and mineral and ends with biscuity roundness. It’s well balanced and delicious. Great for your New Year’s Eve party. As is their English Sparkling Rosé by Hambledon (Berry Brothers & Rudd £27.95) which is bright and exciting. Vibrant redcurrants dominate this exciting fizz. And at under £30, it’s a great price for a good English sparkler.
You know I get excited about English sparklers – So I’m going to do a quick shout out to some of my current favourites:Exton Park in Hampshire have a couple of fab fizzes worth a sip: Their Blanc de Noirs (Around £30) made from 100% Pinot Noir has great body due to the fact that the wine has been lees aged for three years. It’s fruity but has a saline, almost umami quality, which makes it perfect for having with nibbles. Their Brut Reserve (Around £27.95) is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It has a fresh, sherbet lemon drop quality to start, which develops into a more rounded, yeasty finish. extonparkvineyard.com
Relatively new Hampshire vineyard Raimes are doing some great things since they first planted vines in 2011. Raimes Classic (Around £30) is a fabulously rounded tuti-fruity option. There’s a baked apple quality to the flavour, with warm biscuits on the finish. It’s got a beautiful fizz but it’s not just crisp, the fruity palate just keeps giving. Visit raimes.co.uk
And I have to mention the fabulous Nyetimber vineyard. Year on year, they make a range of fantastic sparkling wines. Currently, their Blanc de Blancs 2013 (£45.99) is incredible. It has a toasted almond nose, worthy of Champagne. On the palate, it’s fruity and toasty too. The savoury notes are reminiscent of brioche and it has a nice umami finish. With this in your fridge, it’s well worth putting your Champagne away and sharing the love of this Sussex beauty. nyetimber.com
If you want easy to sip whites for your party, Marks & Spencer have a couple of low-priced beauties for you. There’s a new Picpoul in town! Les Figuerettes Picpoul de Pinet (£8 M&S) is a bit of a crowd-pleaser. Its nose is like smelling a ripe pear with a sprinkling of white pepper. Lemony fresh salinity progresses into green melon roundness on the palate. It’s got great balance of freshness with a rounded richness too. Now, I need to declare my love of Muscadet with a shout-out to. Marks & Spencer’s Loire Muscadet (£6 M&S). It’s got a nose reminiscent of Galia melon and on the palate there are delicate apple and pear hints. Yes, it’s lemony fresh on the finish, but unlike some leaner Muscadets, there’s more to it than that. It’s well rounded and tastes more expensive than 6 quid!
The lovely people at Co-Op have a great one for all your festive needs. Their Irresistable Gavi(£8.50 Co-Op) is fresh, frisky and laced with ripe pear and green apple. Some Gavis on supermarket shelves are a bit wishy-washy, but this one, made by respected winemaking family, Broglia is the bottle you’ll want to share.
If, like me, you like to cook a turkey pie between Christmas and new year, a buttery Chardonnay will be the bottle for you. Bread & Butter Chardonnay 2018 (Majestic £10.99 on the mix six deal) is great. This Californian wine is full-on and has the right texture and rich peach flavour to go with a creamy pie filling and rich pastry. While. The B&B definitely needs food to get the best of it, Majestic also have a range of other fab Chardonnays on the shelves including a couple from Burgundy. Mâcon-Villages Élodie Duprés 2017and Les Pierres Blanches Cave de Lugny 2017 (Both £8.99 on the mix six deal in Majestic) give typical Burgundian elegance in a rounded but less oaky style to the B&B.
On to food-friendly reds… A roast-loving crowd-pleaser from Majestic is an Italian offering. Primo Rosso Appassimento 2018 (Majestic £8.99 on the mix six deal) is from Puglia and is as ripe and juicy as you’d expect from a wine from here. Juicy cherry and hedgerow berries are dowsed in black pepper and spices. It’s deep ruby red and tobaccoey on the finish. It’s got that mouth-watering tannic, squeaky-on-the-teeth finish, which is particularly satisfying.
Marks & Spencer have a delicious new Côtes du Rhône in their range which I think you’ll love. I agree with M&S Wine Buyer who says “The Rhône Valley is a go-to region for me, a fail-safe at all price levels. If in doubt, the Rhône will sort you out”. Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu 2018 £9 M&S) shows bright summer berries accompanied by cherries to start, followed by spicier tones. There’s also a twist of black pepper on the finish. It’s youthful and fun, with a mellow side too. Perfect for sipping on its own or with food.
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, go for a South African red made by one of my favourite winemakers Sue Daniels. A ridiculous bargain, Daniel’s Drift Cabernet Shiraz 2019 (£5.50 M&S) is one for those who. Like the spicier side of the red wine spectrum. It’s got a savoury, tobaccoey nose. On. The palate, it’s got that chewy, leathery texture and taste I often associate with Pinotage. There are cherries and spice on the palate too. It’s fresh but it’s full-on. There are balanced tannins here with these bold NW flavours. And I have to say here that the Daniel’s Drift Chenin Blanc is also an incredible bargain at the same price. If you’re having a New Year’s Eve Party, you’d be bonkers not to get it in for the hoards!
If your New Year’s Eve supper requires a delicious red, Berry Brothers & Rudd have something for you. Their Camins del Priorat 2018 (£23.50) has a delightfully menthol nose with a hint of spiced plum. And when you sip… Wow! There’s intense fruit, blackcurrants with cassis followed by a twist pleasing twist of black pepper on the finish.
And another top tip of mine?… Don’t give up alcohol in January. Why would you make the dullest month of the year even duller?