Wine: Pairing up your Christmas menu

Cru des C�tes du Rh�ne Vinsobres. Picture: Contributed

Cru des C�tes du Rh�ne Vinsobres. Picture: Contributed

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FISH or turkey, beef or goose, something from this list will hit the spot, writes Brian Elliott

The table is set, the turkey is cooking and all that’s left to do is open a bottle or two to get Christmas lunch off to a fine start. So, let me offer a few suggestions. Whatever the menu (fish or turkey, beef or goose) I am confident that something from this list will hit the spot.

Laroche is a name most associated with Chablis, but they have interests as far afield as Chile and South Africa. However, it is to their high-altitude vineyard at Peyroli in the south of France that I would call your attention. There the cool climate and mix of clay and limestone soil is ideal for chardonnay. The resulting 2012 Vignoble Peyroli Single Vineyard Chardonnay (£9.74 until 2 February at Majestic, where minimum purchase rules apply) is complex, intense and layered, with savoury and fresh greengage flavours, and a lemon-acidic tingle matched by vanilla on the nose and in the backdrop.

For an iconic New Zealand wine reliving some of its former glories, seek out 2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£21 at Sainsbury’s 231 stores with a Fine Wine range). Depth and elegance are on show here, with restrained gooseberry flavours and an orange texture that provides real substance and a nicely rounded mouth-feel.

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and two south of France varieties are all in the mix for 2012 Domaine Haut Gléon Vallée du Paradis (£13.49 at Inverarity One to One). The result is not only fresh and smooth with an attractive creamy consistency, but there is also a savoury edge to complement its apple and citrus components.

Rounding off the whites, the 2013 Wakefield St Andrews Chardonnay (£21.23 at www.farehamwinecellar.co.uk) is a thoroughly modern Oz Chardonnay with peach, nut and vanilla influences but all neatly balanced by lively citrus acidity. More importantly, weight, alcohol, oak and ripeness are under careful control without destroying that traditional smoothness and richness or the tastier of those classic tropical fruit components.

Moving to the main course brings us to a well-priced red from California – 2012 Edna Valley Pinot Noir (£8.99 at Majestic until 5 January). Let it breathe and it opens up beautifully to reveal floral aromas and raspberry flavours with a touch of cherry and vanilla. There’s sharp acidity too, but it is integrated well with earthy depth and a spicy backdrop.

The 2010 Domaine Grand Romane Gigondas (£23.30 at L’Art du Vin, Fife) shows why Decanter magazine hailed 2010 as one of the three best Rhône vintages in the past 40 years. Rich and smooth black cherry, bramble, vanilla and chocolate flavours steal the show here but are adroitly supplemented by firm tannins, a mineral edge and a balancing perky acidity.

Another classy contender is the 2009 Château de Chambert Malbec, Cahors Grand Vin (£26.95 at The Fine Wine Company, Musselburgh and Portobello), with its dark colour, cherry aromas and raspberry acidity. There’s substance and texture clearly in evidence here, alongside chewy tannins and concentrated nutty, minty and vanilla flavours that all eventually run into a long, smooth finish.

To accompany dessert, how about a declassified wine from a very famous vineyard indeed? 2010 Haut Charmes Sauternes (£15.95 for a half bottle at From Vineyards Direct) is an intense and opulent masterpiece, beautifully weighted and with orange-centred acidity to counterbalance its rich peach and other exotic fruit influences and thus create a brilliant sense of lightness.

Best buys

2013 Cru des Côtes du Rhône Vinsobres

France, 14 per cent

The “Cru” indicates that Vinsobres is one of Rhône’s top 16 “Villages”. This wine reflects that, with juicy and vibrant cherry and raspberry fruit, and touches of cinnamon, vanilla and pepper. It is medium-bodied with an appealing sweetish touch on the finish.

£12 at Sainsbury’s

2013 Tyrrell’s Old Winery Verdelho

Hunter Valley, Australia, 12 per cent

Tyrrell’s makes some of the best varietal Semillon in the world, but this is its take on a traditional Madeira grape. The result is a superb rounded, viscous, multi-layered white with zingy white peach and lime flavours, a long, lemon-centred finish and a touch of honey.

£10.99 at House of Menzies, Aberfeldy

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