Wines for the Christmas table where turkey isn’t the star attraction
John Wilson’s pick of sparkling wines, plus reds and whites if you’re not having turkey
Leave whites outside over night before drinking, and reds at room temperature
We eat and drink with our eyes, so sitting down to a nicely laid table puts us in a good mood and stimulates the taste buds. It is definitely worth making an effort. It is quite possible to make the most ordinary wine look and taste a lot better by taking a little care in how you present it.
Dust off your decanter collection and use them for both red and white wine. Bring out those wine coasters for any bottles that do reach the table. Good large tulip-shaped glasses from companies such as Riedel can certainly make a wine taste better.
Most of us serve white wine too cold and red wine too warm; leave your white outdoors the night before you want to drink it and the reds in an unheated room.
I have been covering Christmas wines from supermarkets online over the past few weeks, and made a few medium-priced suggestions last Saturday. This week, wines for those of you looking for something extra special to enjoy on Christmas day.
There is nothing better than a glass of fizz to get festivities started and while there are plenty of inexpensive options, this is one area where you will definitely taste the difference.
If you must have Prosecco, the Ca’ dei Zago 2018, Valdobbiadene Frizzante (€24, Sheridans and independents) is spectacularly good. O’Briens has the Rizzardi Prosecco Spumante (€17.95) and Frizzante (€14.71), but I would much prefer the excellent Canals Nadal Cava (€24.55), a complex sparkling wine at a very keen price.
Whelehan’s has one of my favourites Champagnes, the Bénard-Pitois Brut Réserve 1er cru, for €34. If you intend spoiling yourself, I have tasted Krug Grande Cuvée (€215), Dom Perignon 2010 (€210) and Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires (€168) this year; all are excellent but expensive, making the Jacquesson 743 Extra Brut featured here look like a bargain.
Mitchell & Son, which stocks an admirable selection of Champagnes, also has the superb Leclerc Briant Extra Brut Millésime 2013 for €68.95.
For a special white, the Clos Bortier featured here is superb, but even better is the sumptuous Meursault Les Grands Charrons 2018, Pierre Girardin (80, Ely, Blackrock Cellar, wineonline). Alternatively, O’Briens has the sophisticated Rully ‘Montmorin’ 2017, Jean Chartron (€27.95).
I covered turkey last week, so today some suggestions for goose or beef. If your tastes are Italian, any of the Nebbiolos I featured in October would be great, as would the superb Massolino Barolo featured here, or the fragrant, soft Barolo Cannubi 2015, Rinaldi (€65, Whelehan’s). From Bordeaux, Mitchell & Son has the spicy, medium-bodied Clos des Templiers 2016 (€28.95), O’Briens, Jus de Vine and Searsons are all offering the charming, smooth Château Mauvesin Barton 2015 (€25-30), while O’Briens also has the excellent but youthful Chateau Gloria 2016 (€63). One to decant before serving with roast goose, or ideally, rare roast beef.
Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée 743, Extra-Brut, NV
From one of the finest small producers in Champagne, a supremely elegant refined, bone-dry Champagne with a fine mousse, subtle notes of toasted almonds, candied fruit and brioche. Drink it with cheese biscuits before dinner, or with oysters or smoked salmon.
Stockists: Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Sheridans Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; SIYPS.com.
Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard, Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes Clos Bortier 2018 (Biodynamic)
13.5%, € 41.99
A superb wine with pure crystalline fruits, green apples and orange peel, subtle toasted nuts, good acidity and a fine, lingering finish. Perfect with any white meat, your finest salmon, crab, or scallops.
Stockists: Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, D3, clontarfwines.ie; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork,cinnamoncottage.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Manning’s, Bantry, Co Cork, manningsemporium.ie; Redmonds, Dublin 6, redmonds.ie; Lucey’s, The Good Food Shop, Mallow, Co Cork, luceysgoodfood.com; wineonline.ie.
Two Paddocks, The Fusilier Pinot Noir 2017, Central Otago, New Zealand
A fragrant, structured, powerful Pinot with concentrated red cherry fruits, a lively mineral streak, and some fine tannins on the finish. This would be good with turkey, but even better with goose or beef.
Stockists: The Wine House, Trim, Co Meath; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Eldons, Clonmel, Co Tipperary; Pembroke Wines, Dublin 4, rolysbistro.ie.
Massolino, Barolo 2016
14.5%, € 55.99
An exceptional wine from a great vintage. Gently floral with perfectly formed dark cherry and damson fruits. It is full-bodied, muscular, dry and tannic, so decant before serving with beef or goose.
Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule, Co Dublin, 64wine.com; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, Co Kildare, elywinebar.ie; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2, fallonandbyrne.com; Fresh Outlets, freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie; La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Wineoinline.ie; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie