I READ that some people have money to spend because they are paying less on their mortgage, while those on fixed pensions, or dividends, are finding it hard. In a bid to help the latter, I set myself the target of finding five wines for Christmas, aiming at a notional budget of £30. In each case, I have tried to find a bottle of sparkling wine, a dry white, a red, a dessert wine, and something to sit in front of the fire with. Here, then, are my selections.
Co-op: sparkling — Australian Sparkling Brut, £4.99; dry white — Fairtrade Argentine Torrontés-Chardonnay 2009, £4.49 (a wonderfully spicy wine); red — Viña Albalí Reserva 2001 Valdepeñas, (for those who like soft, mature Tempranillo), £4.49; dessert wine — Monbazillac Alard 2005, £5.99 (half-bottle); and for snuggling down with — Chamarré Jurançon Tradition 2003, £9.99. Total: £29.95.
Tesco: Marqués de Monistrol Cava Rosado, £5.49; Jacob’s Creek Australian Riesling 2008 (as a great representative of a grape that is making a serious comeback), £6.78; and then two representatives from the Rhône Valley — the hearty Tautavel, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2005, £7.99; and the silky smooth Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, £5.53 (half-bottle); and what might almost be described as a return-from-the-dead wine, Garibaldi Marsala Superiore Dolce, £6.99. Total: £32.78.
Waitrose: SanLeo Nerello Mascales Prosecco Rosé, £7.99; Inycon Fiano 2008 (this rare grape gives wines with nutty, stone-fruit flavours — a good match for turkey), £5.99; Cono Sur Chilean Pinot Noir 2008 (a wonderful mixture of fruit flavours), £6.99; one of the classic sweet wines, Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora, £6.69 (half-bottle); and, finally, a wonderful sweet sherry, Lustau East India Solera Rich Oloroso, £8.99 (50 cl.). Total: £35.95.
Majestic: a crisp Chilean sparkling wine, Undurraga Brut NV, £8.99; followed by a steely Austrian Grüner Veltliner Weingarten Weissenkirchen Wachau 2008, £7.99; and the rugged Esperanza Malbec 2008 from Argentina, £4.99. Back to Chile and the Maule Valley for Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2007, £5.99 (half-bottle); and, to finish, Blandy’s Duke of Clarence Madeira, £7.99 (50 cl.). Total: £35.95.
At Christmas, we are all allowed to dream a little; so I have chosen for myself, from the Berry Bros. & Rudd list: Gosset Grande Reserve Champagne, £37.95; Alsace Riesling, Clos Windsbuhl, Domaine Zind Humbrecht 2006, £33.20; and red Burgundy 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Tradition Domaine Alain Burguet 2005, £29.95; then a sweetie from Germany, Forster Ungeheuer Auslese 2007, Reichsrat von Buhl, £17.05 (half-bottle); and, to fall asleep over, Berrys’ William Pickering 20-year-old Tawny Port, £23.50. Total: £141.65.
Finally, I owe an apology to Spencer Tunick. In my last column (6 November), I said I thought it improbable that he could achieve a work of art from 800 naked bodies in a vineyard. Having seen photographs, I take back my words.