Hello you lovely people! Happy Christmas!
It’s been a busy year here at Clarke / O’Shea HQ with me working in the USA, all the subsequent hard work the team and I are doing to get the series on air, as well as Alan’s new job… So I haven’t had a huge amount of time to devote to my Christmas drinks selection post. But never fear, I have been devoting a lot of sipping research to my festive favourites! (Obvs!)
So, anyway, before this sounds like a round-robin update you’d expect in a Christmas card, let’s get to the important stuff. What’s good to sip throughout the party season? See below and have a bloody good Christmas and New Year!
Asda’s Extra Special Louis Bernard Champagne Premier Cru is a full bodied and biscuit sip. It’s bubbles are light and there’s a dash of sweetness on the finish. It’s £19 and great for the price. Also at Asda, their 24Ct Pinot Noir rosé fizz is a burst of strawberry fun. Lively and dry on the finish, it’s a good low cost option with smoked salmon. It’s £10.98… And don’t be put off by the shiny pink bottle. It’s a bit too bling for my liking!
While on the subject of pink fizz, Finest Clement de Limoux 1531 from Tesco is another good option. This rosé is pale and delicate. It has soft bubbles although isn’t particularly berry like, it is pleasant nonetheless. And if you want Champagne, Lidl’s Veuve Monsigny Pink Champagne is a good foody fizz. It’s quite saline to start with, then you get red currants in the finish. The salty freshness will go well with all your salty nibbles. And at £15.99, you can’t go wrong.
But what about New Year? If you’re having friends over and you don’t want to break the bank, I am always keen that you upgrade the average Prosecco that you usually go to and go for something a bit different. Les Dauphins Blanc de Blancs (£9.49 down from £12.99) is from France’s Rhône Valley and is fun and really pleasant on the palate. It’s dry but dash of sweetness, which means you wont get bored of it. But my big tip for low price fizz that you can open at anytime is Aldi’s Exquisite Crement du Jura from the same part of France as that magnificent cheese fort we filmed for “James Martin’s French Adventure”. At £7.99 it’s lovely! Crisp and dry with pleasant apply fruit flavour.
Ooh, and befoe I forget, Majestic Wine Warehouse have a brilliantly low priced bottle of fizz with their Nicolas Courtin Brut Champagne. It’s fun, savoury and gently fizzy and at only £14.99 on the mix 6 deal.
With your turkey, I think a Chardonnay is going to be your best bet. M&S have a divine Californian Chardonnay for you. Hames Creek Chardonnay is an elegant offering from the beautiful Monterey Bay. It has a Peachy nose and is instantly smooth on the palate. It has a creamy stone fruit character but with bright exciting tang. On it’s own, it might be a bit heavy, but with your meat, stuffing and gravy, it’s prefect! And at £12.99, it’s not a huge price to pay for your Christmas lunch bottle.
If you want a brighter, zestier sip, I love Chablis. Booths do a great one for £13. Booths Chablis is tangy and rounded. Great with turkey, or on it’s own. And if you really want to push the boat out, Simonnet-Febvra Premier Cru Vaillons Chablis is pretty special. It’s fresh, light, delicate, very mineral with a wicked bitter twist of white pepper at the end. It’s 27.99 from Whole Foods Market and Campbell Moore.
But what about your buffet and leftovers? This year, I’ve been very impressed with the offerings from Berry Brothers &Rudd, the wonderful family run wine Merchant who have been selling good drops since 1698. They also have a branch in Basingstoke and offer an online service too. If you are doing a turkey curry or furnishing your turkey cold cuts with piccalilli, their Mosel Riesling Kabinet (£10.95) from Germany is an exquisite match. Off dry with a gentle sweetness, it has an oily character that is incredibly satisfying. Light lemon hints too. Just lovely. Also, in a similar style, Tesco are offering a great sip with their Finest Waipara Valley South Island Riesling from New Zealand. This one has a slight spritz and is also off dry. Good fruity nose. It’s around the same price.
Lidl have a brilliant food friendly wine in the form of their Falanghina. It’s only £6.99 and gives so much fruity flavour. IT’s a real gem. It’s zesty lemon and herbaceous nose is really inviting. It has a slight spritz on the palate with a pear drop character. It’s fresh and floral. Great on its own or with Mediterranean fish or turkey left overs. Don’t be put off by the colour!.. It’s quite yellow but tastes fresh as a daisy. And the Clara Hills Albariño that’s on the shelves at Asda is a delight! It’s crisp, full bodies, peachy and lush! I can’t believe it’s only £6.28! Nothing more needs to be said! On a similar note, Berry Bros Reserve White is fresh peachy floral nose. This blend from the Pyrenees is dry with stone fruit sweetness and a great dry balance. It also has a fresh, mineral finish.
This winter I’ve been so lucky as I’ve tasted some great reds. And luckily, turkey and all the trimmings can stand up to a lot of these reds because of that savoury gravy, herbaceous stuffing and all those pigs in blankets! Majestic Wine Warehouse have a great sip from California under their own label range. Definition Zinfandel Lodi (From £8.99) is laced with licorice and dark plums, but it’s creamy and exerts freshness too. It’s just lovely! Naked Wines have a fabulous bottle from Bulgaria. IT’s called Starosel Mavrud and is available from £8.49. On the nose, there’s blackcurrant jam, which is followed on the palate. There are flavours of blackcurrant and black pepper, spiced plum and lengthy hot end! Ooh matron!
Majestic have a couple of other lovely red treats too! Nero Oro Appassimento from Sicily (From £8.99), is a super sunny offering. It has subtle woody Italian notes with gentle, velvety tannins. It’s juicy with a ripe berry quality and is great with beef or steak. And if you’re a fan of Portuguese wine, Vinhas da Silvado Tinto (From £5.99) is a beautifully fresh red wine with a serious edge. It’s not light but it’s not heavy either. This medium-bodied examples has a cherry sherbet character to it with a saline finish. It’s fab!
If beef is on your menu, Asda as selling DOT Malbec. It’s plummy, but fresh and a little tobaccoey with a black pepper finish which is long. There are balanced tannins on the finish which are slightly umami. It’s a very pleasing bottle of wine. And at £7.98, it’s a steal!
Now, M&S have some superb reds on the shelves. Pass Robles Shiraz (£10) is a lot of Californian red for the money! It’s ripe, rich and robust. The warming nose has a menthol hint. It’s spicy dark red fruit turns savoury and then leads into a peppery finish. Very gentle tannins means it’s roast friendly!
Their Rocca Pagliara from Puglia in Italy has peppery violets on the nose, and is soft and gentle on the palate. It’s warming at the back of the throat and is full of juicy fruit. It’s also £10 per bottle. M&S also have a nice bit of French charm with their Chateau Fontarèche. It’s a classy bottle of wine with a blackcurrant nose. This follows in the mouth. It’s creamy, with a peppery end. It’s classy and just bloody good! It doesn’t need food but great with a roast or cold beef on the buffet. And finally from the M&S camp, Levantine by Chateau Musar, from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon is a must. It has fresh, hedgerow fruit on nose and is pretty intense when you taste it. There are blackberries and black pepper with a dash of sweetness. This is great with cured meats and cheese. It’s £16.50 a bottle.
If lamb is on the menu, Berry Bros have the lush Bodegas Amézola de la Mora Rioja Crianza which is £11.50. It has a sweet oaky nose, which is both warming and spicy. It’s smooth and spicy in the palate and incredibly velvety. It’s like a hug next to a real wood fire. There’s also a long black pepper finish balanced with a bit of vanilla oak. But my favourite drop from Berry Bros is their Chilean Merlot. It’s just AMAZING! Fun, vibrant and spicy, if I had to only drink one red wine fort the next year, it would be this one. And how great that it’s only £9.50.
And you know how much I love Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat, but this year I felt I needed to change the record!… So De Bortoli Sumptuosly Rich Pudding Wine (£8.99), also from Australia, is my top tip this year. Dripping with raisins and dates, it’s ideal for mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pud!
Right, I’m off to do my last minute shop now!… Wish me luck!