IT LOOKS as though buying wine for Christmas could have a different flavour this year, because, in the same week, Majestic announced that it would no longer have a six-bottle purchase rule, and Tesco has abandoned its 50-per-cent-off offers for lower overall pricing on its wines.
When Majestic first opened, it achieved the highest average customer spend of any wine retailer by having a 12-bottle minimum buy. That was reduced to six, and now to one.
When one sees the sales figures for wines on special offer, it seems odd that Tesco should now leave the “Buy one, get one free” field. Tesco says that it has learnt a lesson from Aldi and Lidl, and that lower prices will not mean lower quality.
It is at Christmas that two great price-wars tend to be fought: one is over fortified wines (ports and sherries), and the other is over sparkling wines (Champagnes, Cava and Prosecco). I suggest that it is worth while waiting before making your purchase, because prices tend to fall the closer we get to Christmas.
Here are my suggestions for Christmas drinking. Majestic has secured a parcel of wonderful Mosel wines from the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium estate: Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Kabinett 2008, Spätlese 2008, and Auslese 2008, all at £9.99* the bottle. Low in alcohol (8.5%-9%) and in varying degrees of sweetness, they are ideal for social drinking without food.
Some white wines that should go well with your turkey include an Alsace Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes 2014 from the Co-operative Cellar of Bennwihr (Lidl, £5.99); Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Dry Riesling 2014 (Majestic, £10.65); and the Stepp Pfalz Riesling S 2014 (Marks & Spencer, £15). If you would like a Chardonnay with rich opulence, I would suggest, from Chile, the Errazuriz Wild Ferment 2014 (Majestic £12.99); the less flamboyant Californian Saintsbury Carneros 2012 (Majestic, £19.99, “Mix Six” offer); or the Australian Robert Oatley 6285 Margaret River 2014 (Marks & Spencer, £13).
For lovers of white Burgundy, I would suggest the Montagny 1er cru “Les Millières” 2013, at £12.99 (Majestic); and, at my local Waitrose, the Domaine Monnier Meursault 2013 is reduced to £24.99.
As for red wines, I make no secret of the fact that I am a Pinot Noir fan, and here the field is widening out. One of my favourites is the Chilean Secano Leyda Valley 2013, at Marks & Spencer (£13). More reasonably priced is the Romanian Incanta 2014 (Majestic, £8.99); and, in a corner of a bottom shelf at Sainsbury’s, I found a remnant of Cono Sur Bicicleta 2013 from Chile at £5.25.
Among the other reds that have caught my eye are Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Carménère 2013 (£8); the hearty Chateau Tanunda Barossa Cabernet-Merlot 2013 (Sainsbury’s, £10); and Château Recougne from Bordeaux (Majestic, £10.49). For those having big family parties, I can recommend two wines in magnums from Majestic: Ch. Simard, St. Emilion 2000 £41.99, and Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2010 (£30).
*All prices correct as we went to press.