2000 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart, Champagne
Pale gold, fine bubbles, beautifully developed aromas and flavours of honey, biscuit and toast, candied orange and grapefruit and a hint of exotic spice. Supple texture supported all the way by a core of fine, lively acidity. Mature and delicious.
£78–£79.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, Jeroboams, Roberson
2011 Paparuda Pinot Noir, Timisoara, Romania
Pinot noir bargain of the year. Aromatic, fresh, juicy, cherry and strawberry fruit; clean, soft and more or less tannin-free; Beaujolais-esque. A good wine for boxing day and a good party red. 13.5%. There’s a Paparuda pinot grigio, too, which is not in the same league, but it’s good value, has some character and makes a useful party wine or aperitif.
£6.50, Tanners (Wine Rack and Adnams are currently out of stock online, but you might be lucky and find the odd bottle in a shop).
Berry Bros & Rudd has a terrific range of 2011s. I’ve highlighted just a handful below, The L C Desvignes Morgon Côte de Py really deserves to be kept another two years for the densely packed exotic black fruit, savoury mineral notes and firm tannins to unfold. The first three are all delicious now but could be kept at least three years – even the Chatoux if you wanted to.
2011 Alain Chatoux Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes, 12.5%. £10.95
2011 Château Grange Cochard Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 13%. £13.95
2011 Domaine Julien Sunier Fleurie, 12.5%. £19.50
2011 Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon Côte de Py, 13%. £17.25
In contrast to the youngsters above:
2009 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly, Les Griottes de Bulhie
Griottes by name, griottes (cherries) by flavour and burgundian in style. Rich, ripe, velvety Beaujolais that has develeoped a red burgundy sweetness and savoury flavour as it has matured – and it still has three or four years in it. 12.5%.
£16, The Wine Society
2009 Churchill’s Estates Douro, Portugal
Stylish, oak-matured red from port producer Churchill’s. A nose of violets and black fruits and a full, rounded, very silky palate with vanilla-framed fruit underpinned by classic Douro mineral notes. Could be one for Christmas goose. 14%.
2010 Tanners Douro Red, Portugal
A smart move by Tanners – an own-label Douro red made for it by Duorum, a joint venture between João-Portugal Ramos and José Maria Soares Franco. Medium-bodied with a fresh, smoky aroma, flavours of blueberry, liquorice and cocoa and soft tannins.
2008 Miguel Torres Cordillera Carignan Reserva Privada, Maule, Chile
Fruit from carignan vines up to 80 years old blended with a little merlot and syrah. Concentrated, ripe and peppery with ripe black fruit, a rich texture, and velvety tannins lifted by fresh acidity on the finish. 14%.
£12.95, Amps Fine Wines
2007 Torres Mas La Plana, Penedès, Spain
Very young, but an excellent Mas La Plana and a benchmark cabernet sauvignon. A rigorous but fine-boned structure and polished oak underscoring deep cassis fruit, liquorice, spice and sweet cigar-box flavours. Great ageing potential. 14%.
£30, Majestic (fine wine range)
2010 La Báscula Turret Fields Monastrell & Syrah, Jumilla, Spain
Warm, full and fleshy, oak-aged red with blueberry fruit, vanilla, peppery spice and very soft tannins. What makes this stand out from the big-bold-ripe crowd is its definition and freshness. La Bascula is a Spanish collaboration between Bruce Jack from South Africa and Ed Adams, a British Master of Wine. 14.5%.
£9.95, The Old Bridge Wine Shop
There’s a white, too, which is just as good, again combining flesh with freshness: 2011 La Bascula Catalan Eagle Garnacha Blanca Viognier from Catalunya (13%), £9.99, Noel Young Wines.
2009 Las Moras Viognier, San Juan, Argentina
Very fresh, lightly honeyed sweet wine with succulent apricot and peach fruit and zesty orange acidity. Good with sweet (but not too sharp) apple desserts, fruit salad and fruit-and-meringue combinations. 11.5%.
£9.99 for 50cl, Virgin Wines