Still and sparkling

21 December 2017


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 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.

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