Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

The 50 Best wines for Christmas

Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco
sainsburys.co.uk, £7.32 (until 11 December)
Not as sweet or citric as some, this prosecco has lovely fine bubbles and a delicate peaches and cream flavour.
Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco sainsburys.co.uk, £7.32 (until 11 December) Not as sweet or citric as some, this prosecco has lovely fine bubbles and a delicate peaches and cream flavour.
Canard-Duchêne Authentic Green oddbins.com, £28 The first organic vintage from this reliable producer is the perfect Christmas morning tipple. Light, delicate and highly enlivening.
Phillipe Michel Cremant Du Jura aldi.co.uk, £6.99 Stunning value. The quality of this apple-scented sparkler from Jura near the Franco-Swiss border would normally command twice the price.
Marks Oudinot Rose NV marksandspencer.com, £21 (until 1 January) Terrific pink sparkler specially made for M&S by Oudinot. Red berry fruit tastes make it ideal as an apertif, but it's also perfect with seafood canapés.
Bolney Estate Blanc de Blancs winepantry.co.uk, £31 The best of English sparkling wine-making. A fresh, creamy, 100 per cent chardonnay wine. Think of spring hedgerows and a lightly toasted brioche.
Four Sisters Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ocado.com, £11.99 A terrific alternative to conventional sparkling wines. Zingy and vibrant, full of exotic tropical fruit flavours. Great value too.
Wyfold Sparkling Brut 2009 laithwaites.co.uk, £24.99 Traditional champagne varieties grown in the Chilterns. Surprisingly deep, rich toasty flavours, closer to vintage champers.
Nyetimber Demi Sec NV harveynichols.com, £34 The extra sugar added to the chardonnay grapes delivers rich, complex fruit sweetness, counterbalanced by fine acidity.
Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose NV majestic.co.uk, £47 (as part of a minimum mixed six-bottle purchase) Supremely top-notch pink champagne from a great name in a lovely, elegant bottle.
Jenkyn Place Rosé 2008 bbr.com, £24.95 Jenkyn Place is based on the north downs in Hampshire. This sublime rose has zesty raspberry and strawberry flavours, crisp acidity and yeasty aromas to remember.
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2011 majestic.co.uk, £8.99 (each if two bought as part of minimum six-bottle purchase) Full-bodied and with classical tropical fruit and buttery tastes. A good match for roast poultry or lighter pork dishes.
Costeggiola Soave Classico DOP 2011 fortnumandmason.com, £14.99 Oak ageing delivers complex and surprisingly full herbal flavours with an austere finish. An excellent choice for a shellfish or smoked salmon starter.
The Society's Verdicchio Castelli Di Jesi Classico thewinesociety.com, £6.25 Fabulously easy-drinking, flavourful, bone dry number from the Marche, chosen by the Society for its high-quality, low-price, bargain range.
Virgile Joly Grenache Blanc Pays d'Oc IGP vintageroots.co.uk, £7.99 Organically made in the Languedoc, this is a fuller flavoured, fruity, with a hint of spice white, but with a vibrant minerality underpinning the fruit. Great with poultry.
Clarence River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 jascots.co.uk, £9.90 Stands out from the crowd with intense floral aromas, crisp flavours of apples, kiwi and gooseberry and a thrilling, palate-tingling finish.
Tesco Finest Alsace Reisling 2007 tesco.com, £7.99 Exceptionally good value French reisling. Gorgeous sherbet and floral aromas but dry, with lime and apple notes. Good with fine crustacea.
Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2011 slurp.co.uk, £15.50 Full-bodied and richer than most: think honeysuckle, apricot and tropical fruit flavours with a zippy, citric edge.
Quercus Pinot Bianco 2011 marksandspencer.com, £8.99 A gorgeous very dry white from Slovenia, using grapes from hillsides by the Adriatic. Sea-breeze fresh tastes of lychees, lemons and pears.
Les Hauts de Bergelle Saint Mont 2010 majestic.co.uk, £6.49 (each for two, in a six-bottle purchase) Tangy flavours of nuts and pears, with a touch of citrus. Ideal as an aperitif or with soft goats cheeses.
Astley Veritas 2010 winepantry.co.uk, £16 A one-off. From a small vineyard in Worcestershire using the hitherto unregarded kerner grape. Smoky, spicy, aromatic and almost viognier-like. Impressive.
Albariño Martin Codax 2011 Rias Baixas majestic.co.uk, £9.99 (each for two bottles as part of a minimum six-bottle purchase) Aromatic on the nose, light, refreshing and lemony on the palate, with herbs and honey.
Taste the Difference Pouilly Fumé 2010 sainsburys.co.uk, £11.49 Assertively fruity and fullsome for those accustomed to bone dry, flinty, Loire wines, closer in style to a New World sauvignon blanc.
Semeli Mantinia Nassiakos thewinesociety.com, £10.95 Greek wines are getting their act together. Complex and interesting, this has distinct rose petal aromas followed by citric and lemongrass flavours.
Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2009 slurp.co.uk, £19.95 Benchmark Chablis. Intense but elegantly restrained, fabulously clean and mineral, with a long, satisfying finish.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2009 waitrosedirect.com, £7.99 Intense aromas of peaches, apricots and melons, spicy and smoky flavours and crisp on the palate. Excellent with lightly spiced Asian foods.
Chateau Ksara Clos St Alphonse 2009 marksandspencer.com, £9.49 A French-style blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Spicy and vegetal, red fruits and a touch of oak but decent acidity.
The Olive Branch Grenache 2009 sainsburys.co.uk, £9.99 Spain's reliable grenache gets a New World makeover. Big, intense and very pure red and dark fruit flavours, underpinned with fairly restrained oak. Beware the 14.5 per cent abv.
Baron De Ley Varietales Graciano 2009 tesco.com, £9.99 Rioja, not the traditional tempranillo grape but the less well known graciano. Vibrant, cherries-and-chocolate tastes, also gets a touch of oak here. A good red for fish.
Mas d'Intras Cuvee Ferdinand 2009 chixandbuck.com, £12 An absolute stunner from the Ardeche. Packed with seriously warming and powerful flavours of baked and dried fruits with touches of leather and chocolate.
Voyager Estate Shiraz 2009 hailshamcellars.com, £17.95 Big, bold shiraz. Huge brambly flavours, violets and coffee on the nose and a big presence on the palate. Pair with big meaty casseroles or game. Decant hours before drinking.
Beronia Colección Tempranillo 2010 ocado.com, £11.99 Rich fruit and nut chocolate in a bottle, with a little mocha thrown in and touches of vanilla and toasty, oaky complexity.
The Society's Cotes-du-Rhone thewinesociety.com, £6.25 A perfect festivewine. Medium bodied, succulent and drinkable enough for parties, and it wouldn't disgrace the dinner table.
Duorum Duoro Colheita 2010 tanners-wines.co.uk, £11.40 Modern Portuguese wine at its best. Oak-aged, full-bodied, gorgeous black fruits like damsons, deeply satisfying and good with cheese.
Vina Ventisquero Queulat Gran Reserva Carmenère 2009 slurp.co.uk, £10.40 Luscious, velvety textures overlaid with bitter chocolate, black coffee and ripe cherry flavours. Perfect for turkey.
Tesco Finest Teroldego 2009 tesco.com, £7.99 This unregarded grape from Italy's Trentino region is worth getting to know: dark and richly delicious, with a fresh vibrancy. Very moreish.
Calcarole Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico 2006 coefinewine.wordpress.com, £43 A big buy, but worth it. Made only when the conditions are just right. Concentrated raisin-like flavours. Savour slowly.
Montpierre Reserve Fitou Red 2010 sainsburys.co.uk, £9.99 Rustic, robust approachable, with brambly fruit flavours, a touch of spice and a smidgeon of herbs. A very satisfying, all-purpose bottle.
Trapiche Broquel Pinot Noir 2010 vintagemarque.com, £12.85 (minimum purchase six bottles) Mellow, enticing wine with sweetish flavours of red fruits and hints of dark chocolate.
Jean-Luc Colombo Terres Brulees Cornas 2008 waitrosedirect.com, £34.99 Impressive, rich, and power-packed, with dark fruits, seasonal spices and a long, lingering finish. Will keep.
Les Hauts De Median Petit Verdot Pays D'Oc IGP stonevine.co.uk, £7.75 This Languedoc is fantastic value: terrific dense fruits and a real sense of sun-baked southern French vineyards.
Taylor's 10-year-old Tawny port winerack.co.uk, £21.99 Strikes a balance between richer, younger ports and refined, tawnies. Mellow, warming, nutty and simply gorgeous with all desserts, fruit and hard cheeses.
Casa Silva Semillon Gewurztraminer 2011 barrelsandbottles.co.uk, £9.60 For those who find pudding wines too 'sticky'. Lighter, floral and approachable, full of autumnal flavours of oranges, hay, honey and ripe sweet pears. Drink chilled.
Duke of Clarence Rich Madeira waitrose.com, £9.60 Portugal's other dessert wine, made by the same company since 1881. Tastes of raisins and honey, smooth and fullsome. Ideal with mince pies and Christmas cake.
Tokaji Crown Estates 5 Puttonyos 2002 50cl masterofmalt.com, £24.88 One of the world's great dessert wines, with the Puttonyos scale of 1-6 denoting sweetness. A luscious combination of honey, demerara sugar, toffee and hints of marmalade.
De Bortoli Old Boys 21 years NV oddbins.com, £20 A great alternative to traditional tawny port, produced in similar fashion, but from New South Wales. A gorgeous mixture of treacle, toffee and dried fruit flavours.
Berrys' Fine Dry Oloroso Sanlucar de Barrameda bbr.com, £8.95 Proper sherry: dark, nutty and clean on the finish. One of the few wines to be a match for strong chocolate puddings.
Graham's LBV 2007 waitrose.com, £10.20 (until 2 January) Great for those who enjoy a glass or two of Christmas port. Ripe, mature, berry flavours and the right amount of sweetness. Perfect for Stilton.
Marsala Superiore Riserva 37.5cl marksandspencer.com, £6.49 Before nero d'avola, sweet marsala was the wine most associated with Sicily. Aged for at least five years: sweet, dark, rich and sensual flavours.
Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel 2011/2 majestic.co.uk, £4.99 (each for two if bought as part of minimum six-bottle purchase) Properly luscious pudding 'sticky' but from Chile and at a fraction of the price.
Tomas Abad Fino Sherry NV laithwaites.co.uk, £9.99 Fresh, dry, palate-cleansing and a very different kind of sherry. In Spain it is drunk as an aperitif, with salted almonds or tapas.

Looking for bargain bubbly, full-bodied reds, aromatic whites or the stickiest dessert wine? Terry Kirby has all you need to kickstart the festive season

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