A selection of wines for the festive season suggested by The Vineyard Hotel in Berkshire, the UK’s wine hotel, home to an award winning restaurant, 30,000 bottles of wine and a boutique spa. www.the-vineyard.co.uk
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley, 2010:
Schramsberg estate is owned by J. Davies Estate and was established back in 1862, it was one of the pioneering vineyards to produce a sparkling wine using the second fermentation in the bottle, such as Champagne. Blanc de Blancs means white from white and is made from Chardonnay grape. The wine shows a creamy foam and delicate bubbles, and is great to serve as an aperitif during the festive season. The nose has notes of ripe stone fruit, toast, fresh almond and citrus, the palate is creamy with a fresh finish.
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when President Nixon served the wine at the “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.
Nyetimber, Classic Cuvée, Brut, West Sussex, 2009:
Since its first vintage in 1992, Nyetimber has become one of the leading and most influential English producers of sparkling wines. This classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier has very fine and delicate bubbles. The nose brings tones of white flowers, lemon zest and apricot and the palate shows a toasty nuance with a hint of tropical fruits. This wine would be a great accompaniment for fresh oysters.
If you like richer wines, I heavily suggest trying the Demi-Sec.
Taittinger, Prestige Rosé, Brut, Champagne, NV:
Taittinger is a fairly recent house which, since 1932, has managed to take its place among the most prestigious estates. The high proportion of Chardonnay gives a lively acidity to this Champagne and brings elegance and delicacy. The Pinot Noir added to the blend gives it its lovely salmon orange colour.
The aromas are reminiscent of ripe strawberry, raspberry, fresh red cherry with a touch of yellow peach. The palate is full bodied, but remains very delicate and feminine. This wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif or throughout a meal. It would match gracefully with a baked fillet of salmon with cranberries and a touch of chilli.
Tio Pepe, Palomino Fino, Jerez, Spain, NV:
Unfortunately, sherry is not used enough in gastronomy, however it is an incredible style of wine because of its diversity and versatility with food. This light and dry Sherry made from Palomino grape is perfect for an aperitif due to its citrus aromas bringing a lively freshness. Its hint of nuttiness makes it well suited for veloutés and soups. Also, a richer style such as an Oloroso or a sweet Pedro Ximenez would work very well with cheese or a Christmas pudding.
Egon Müller, Riesling, Scharzhof, Mosel, Germany, 2009:
A great favourite, Egon Müller is often seen as being one of Germany’s finest winemakers. He is the fourth generation and officially took over in 1991,and since then his wines have always been highly acclaimed. This fresh Riesling has a great acidity giving the wine a good ageing potential. It shows aromas of lemon and lime peel, fresh green apple on the nose. The palate has an oily texture with a very good minerality and develops more tropical fruit such as ripe pineapple and mango. This wine will work particularly well with some pan fried scallops, mango and lemon dressing.
Peter Michael Winery, L’Après Midi, Knights Valley, 2013:
Sir Peter Michael long had a great interest for wine. He established his winery in Sonoma in 1982 and released his first wine in 1987.
L’Après Midi, the French for “the afternoon”, is a Sauvignon Blanc based wine blended with a touch of Sémillon, which was first produced in 1991. It undergoes its fermentation in oak barrels bringing to the wine a hint of smokiness and a rich texture. The wine develops aromas of ripe tropical fruit such as passion fruit and fresh mango with a touch of pink grapefruit. The palate has a lovely minerality, very well balanced with the oak character. This wine is very well suited for a poached salmon with a Hollandaise sauce
Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir Estate, Central Otago, New Zealand, 2010:
A fantastic example of Pinot Noir! This southern New Zealand wine shows a great concentration as well as lots of fruit. The estate was established in 1992 and encompasses some of the oldest vineyards in Central Otago. The style of this wine is richer than those from the Northern Island. The wine shows ripe dark cherry, cooked strawberry and black pepper. This juicy red would work greatly with some pan fried monkfish wrapped in pancetta and chicken jus.
Langhe, Poderi Colla, Bricco del Drago, Piedmont, Italy, 2008:
A wine made from a local grape called Nebbiolo is a very delicate and light coloured red wine. The Langhe is a very juicy wine full of plums, red cherry as well as a touch of violet petals. The palate is delicate and perfumed with soft and silky tannins. It shows more dark fruits such as blackcurrant and blackberry with a touch of pepper and leather. This wine is a more wintery wine and goes well with game such as a fillet of venison or cheese.
Rioja Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta, 904, Rioja, Spain, 2004:
A classic wine mainly made from Tempranillo, one of the main grape varieties from Rioja. This estate dates back to 1890 and produces a traditional style of wine. The 2004 vintage shows a great balance, some well integrated tannins and some spicy notes such as dark chocolate, coffee bean and pepper. The nose shows a delicate touch of rose and plums as well as some dry fruit like dry fig and nuts. This powerful wine would be a good match with roast turkey and cranberry.
Peter Michael Winery, Les Pavots, Knights Valley, CA, 2011:
The flagship wine from the Peter Michael Winery, Les Pavots is a Cabernet Sauvignon led wine blended with some Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The newly released vintage is already showing incredibly well. It has a fantastic concentration and some velvety tannins. The nose brings some cooked dark fruits such as blackberry and cassis as well as notes of dark chocolate, prune and violet. On the palate, it has a hint of smoke and some cinnamon and vanilla character. This wine shows a great balance and is aiming to age superbly well. This wine can be enjoyed with stronger flavoured dishes such as a wild boar stew.
Warre’s Vintage Port, Douro Valley, Portugal, 2003:
What better match than cheese and Port? I think that Port can be compared to Champagne in the fact that it is a very personal taste and, such as some would prefer Taittinger to Bollinger, it is down to your personal taste. Due to its regulation, a vintage Port will always show a great quality as it would be only produced during the best years. This old vintage 2003 vintage is showing very well but needs time to open and it would therefore be better to open the bottle in advance. The style would be rich, plummy and spicy and would age wonderfully. As a great investment, 2011 was a fantastic one!
Tokaji, Disznoko 5 Puttonyos, Tokaj, Hungary, 2007:
Since 1992, Disznoko has been part of Axa Millesime. This sweet wine is made in a very traditional way. It is produced from a local grape called Furmint. This great pudding wine develops aromas of cooked tropical fruit such as pineapple and mango as well as some acacia honey, and has a great acidity. The balance is great and the wine shows an amazing balance. This is a fantastic wine to have with Christmas pudding or a trifle.