Richard Household from Brompton Wines, one of our main suppliers, gives us a rundown of his favourite wines to enjoy this holiday season
Welcome to my wine blog for Create. With my glass in hand I will write about all sorts of trends, wine passions, things I like, things I really don’t like and so on – really whatever I’m thinking about as I taste wine. If you have any comments then please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter how I say this it is going to come across as clichéd, a bit emotional and soft … here we go – Christmas for me, is all about family, friends, good times and festive cheer. A time to forge new memories that will last a lifetime – not all of them good (you can’t choose your family)! Those of you who know me will appreciate that I’m really not a doe-eyed, Bambi-loving sort of chap – words that come out of my mouth are normally phrases like ‘character building’ and ‘pull yourself together’. However, the best wines are not always judged by the contents of the bottle but rather where and who you were with when you drank them. This is a much stronger way to remember wine than worrying too much about unimaginative and unhelpful wine descriptions like ‘it tastes of green apples’ or ‘strawberries and ice cream’. When I am confronted with a glass of something I don’t know or when a so-called friend is trying to catch me out with a blind taste test then I try to think when I last had that taste or smell. Generally what helps me is to remember where I was or who I was with when I had something similar. I find it really helpful.
So these next couple of weeks are perfect for enjoying wonderful wines with great food and in the company of people you want to be with (mostly!).
So, this is what I will be drinking and why.
To get things started on Christmas Eve I’ll crack open a good Fino or Manzanilla Sherry and no, I’m not 92 years old, although I will be doing a jigsaw!. Fino and Manzanilla have this wonderful elegance and saline quality that attacks the taste buds and starts the juices flowing. It’s a wake-up call for your palate and perfect preparation for the gourmet excesses to come over the next few days. It’s the ideal aperitif. There’s plenty of time for Champagne on Christmas Day.
We normally eat game on Christmas Eve, maybe mallard, pheasant and/or partridge, so that means Pinot Noir. You can choose a good Chilean Pinot Noir from Casablanca Valley maybe from a grower like Terra Noble who won Chilean Wine Producer of Year 2016 (yes, imported by us!) or a good Oregon Pinot Noir, or maybe a New Zealand Pinot from Central Otago. If you want to be old school then it has to be Burgundy. I will drink a bit of both – Terra Noble’s top Pinot Noir is called Kaykun and it is superb but I’ll drink it alongside a Nuits St Georges Premier Cru. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare.
For pudding we’ll drink something sweet and unctuous like Lions de Suduiraut. This is a wonderful and approachable Sauternes made by Pierre Montégut at the world renowned Château Suduiraut. His wines are majestic – elegance and finesse abound, with sweetness that is perfectly balanced by just the right amount of acidity.
Christmas morning starts with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon washed down with Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne. Clean, pure fruit and so delicate. A great way to clear the head and build up the energy needed to prepare the Christmas lunch. I might even do a quick park run … maybe. The Champagne will continue to flow and then we’ll move on to something from the Alsace – most likely the Grand Cru Riesling from Domaine Stentz Buecher. This is a superb wine, concentrated, beautifully structured, so clean and powerful. It happens to be an organic wine but they don’t make a song and dance about that and neither do I. The red will be claret. I have followed a grower/oenologist for many years on the Right Bank in Bordeaux called Christian Veyry. He has a tiny vineyard in Castillon and makes sublime wine. It is not at all expensive but just that perfect combination of fruit, terroirs and a bit of magic in the cellar. No one element overpowers the other but all the constituent parts help to bring out the best in them all. The saying ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is what this wine is all about and really does emphasis the need to focus on the grower rather than the brand. I’ll be drinking the 2010 – one of the great vintages in recent memory. It is still young but the flavours will be expressive and the goose will soften the tannins perfectly.
After the main course we will open the Pedro Ximénez and Rutherglen Muscat that accompany the Christmas pudding and trifle, and then move on to the Port. What a wonderful invention Port is, I love it. Port is fortified before fermentation has finished, which means there is residual natural sugar. The heady combination of sweet and savoury is delicious. We’ll decant a bottle of good vintage Port probably a 1985 or 1992 and nibble away at the truckle of unpasteurised Montgomery’s Cheddar. Then it’ll be time to take the dogs (and me) out for a good walk!
With more wine exams coming up in 2017 I’ll be tasting a range of other wines over the Christmas break – from Californian Cabernets to Spanish Tempranillos and from Piedmont Nebbiolo (I love them) to Loire Chenin Blanc and from English Sparkling Wines to the mountainous vineyards of La Liviniere in the Minervois all with a little help from family and friends.
Merry Christmas to you all and I wish you a very happy 2017!