CHRISTMAS and New Year are two great excuses for opening a bottle or two of sparkling wine, and for many of us this year it will be a bottle of Prosecco. Some months ago, I forecast that there was going to be a serious shortage of this wine. It seems, however, that I have misled you all; the ever pragmatic Italians have discovered an everlasting source from which this wine flows. As a result, it is that warhorse which leads the battle for our drinks money on the high street.
These are all wines that I have seen on my store visits, but availability is often a matter of luck over the Christmas season.
My local Co-op branch has no fewer than four different Proseccos on its shelves; of these, I would pick the Adeletto, at £6.99*. At the top end of the Prosecco hierarchy come wines with the Superiore classification: Waitrose has the Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene at £13.49, reduced to £8.99, and Sainsbury’s has magnums of the Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano for £15.50 (reduced from £20).
I must admit that I am very partial to magnums, and they do add a certain something to festal tables. If you are still looking for some sparkle, and Champagne takes your fancy, here are two wines in magnums which are different. Aldi has magnums of Philizot Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs for £39.99, which is made just from Chardonnay, and Sainsbury’s is offering its own label Blancs de Noirs Brut at £35 (reduced from £40), which includes no Chardonnay whatsoever.
Here are some suggestions for still wines in magnums. First, two reds from Spain: Conde de Cron, a non-vintage, non-region-specific wine made from the Tempranillo grape, which I am currently enjoying (£12.99 or £77.94 for six from Averys.com/Christmas) and the heavyweight, mature Carta Roja Gran Reserva Jumilla 2010 (Sainsbury’s, £11).
I also would much enjoy the Lebanese Château Musar 2006 (Waitrose, £45). If you are looking for a white wine in magnum to accompany your turkey, Waitrose has a Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2012 for £34.99, and, for rosé wine-lovers, Barton & Guestier Côtes de Provence 2016 for £16.99 (reduced from £19.99). Sainsbury’s also offers a range of House Wines in magnums at £8.50, which includes three whites: a Hock from Germany, a Soave and Pinot Grigio from Italy, and a red Spanish Merlot.
For those preferring to rely on the standard 75cl. bottle, here is a range of suggestions for dry white wine to look out for. From Tesco: Picpoul de Pinet Finest 2016 (£7); from Sainsbury’s, Errazuriz Casablanca Chardonnay 2016 from Chile (£10, reduced from £12), and Yalumba Y Viognier 2016 from Australia (£8); from Waitrose, Louis Moreau Chablis 2016 (£11.99, reduced from £17.99), and one of my favourite Spanish wines, Albariño de Fefiñanes 2015 (£15.99); from Marks & Spencer, the Costa Fresca Sauvignon Blanc 2016, from the cool San Antonio Valley in Chile (£9); from ASDA, for those seeking a wine low in alcohol, the German Dr. L. Riesling 2016 (£6.50, reduced from £7.98), with just 8.5 per cent; from Lidl, a German Pinot Gris 2016 from Baden, and a spicy Italian Gewürztraminer 2016, from the Sudtirol (£8.99), and, finally, Peter Yealands New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2016, from the Co-op (£8.99).
For red wines, make your choice from: Argentina’s Malbec 2017 Finca las Moras (Tesco, £6), Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Chilean Carménère 2016 (£8), Lidl’s Gold Medal-winning St Émilion Grand Cru 2015 (£10.99), Aldi’s Portuguese Animus Douro 2015 (£4.99), and the German Stepp Pinot Noir 2016 from the Palatinate (£15) at Marks & Spencer.
To finish any meal, I am spoilt for choice with Lidl’s Vin Santo del Chianti (£9.99, 50cls.), and Pillitteri Vidal Icewine from Canada (£14.99, 37.5cls.), while Aldi has, from Australia, De Bortoli’s Rich Pudding wine (£8.99, 37.5cls.), St Stephen’s Crown Aszu Tokaji 2013, from Hungary (£14.99, 50cls.), and Maynard’s 40-year-old Tawny Port (£29.99).
Here’s hoping that you find the ideal bottles (or magnums) for your festivities, that contribute to a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
*Prices correct when going to press.