Wine Selection for Christmas
Our esteemed editor tells me this is the copy for November and December which means it’s the Christmas issue – apologies to those of you who are reading this in November if it seems a little premature. This will be Prohibition Wines’ third Christmas and what we have learned so far is that as much as people want quirky, artisan, foot stomped wines from obscure regions the rest of the year, come December, what really flies of the shelves is from France: Claret, Burgundy, Champagne, Sauternes, Port (well OK that’s not from France). So why not try something different this year and say Feliz Navidad to some of the fantastic festive Spanish wines out there?
There’s a real sense of adventure and confidence about Spain, with some supremely talented young, and not so young, winemakers producing premium quality wines at non premium quality prices. And what better time to go exploring than Christmas?
Quality Spanish sparkling wine abounds as more and more premium sparklers from the Penedès region are finding their way onto a welcoming and inquisitive UK market. Brut nature and vintage Cavas make an attractive alternative to Champagne – the depth and complexity are there but at a much more attractive price. Last week (mid-October in real time) we were visited by Gramona (from 30km South of Barcelona) and had the opportunity to try some of their wonderful Cavas. We grabbed six of their very limited Brut Nature III Lustros Gran Reserva 2006 (Xarel-lo, Macabeo) that has spent seven years on its lees, is hand riddled and hand disgorged. It’s rich, aged and great as a slow aperitif or with anything gamey (£38.60).
If you’re looking for a full bodied white to pair with your turkey, a barrel-aged white Rioja will make a great swap for white Burgundy. The days of oxidised, over-oaked, desiccated white Riojas are past: welcome to subtle, savoury, creamy whites with great lift such as Finca Allende Rioja Blanco 2011 (£21.15).
If beef is your Christmas meat, why not take a look at some old vine Grenache from around Madrid, to liven up lunch as an alternative to Burgundy or Bordeaux? Young, Grenache obsessed winemakers such as Daniel Landi and Fernando García make some beautifully elegant, fresh, expressive Grenache from vines grown at high altitude on granite soils. Their Commando G collaborations, such as El Hombre Bala (£21.60) take some beating.
If you want to finish off with something sweet, there’s plenty of choice, from Monastrel to Moscatel and of course figgy, spicy, luscious Pedro Ximénez – try Fernando de Castilla Classic PX (£17.95). If you’ve no room left for Christmas pudding or cheese you can just pour it on your ice cream. Salud!