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The best festive wines

By Anthony Rose

Published 24/12/2011

<b>3. Blancs de Blancs Champagne</b>
A pure chardonnay-based champagne from Duval-Leroy, showing the rich honeyed aromas of the grape underpinned by toasty, rich flavours and an intensely creamy, biscuity mousse that's textured and appetizingly dry. Irresistible.
<b>Where:</b> Sainsbury's, until 3 January
<b>How much:</b> £13.99, reduced from £20.99
3. Blancs de Blancs Champagne A pure chardonnay-based champagne from Duval-Leroy, showing the rich honeyed aromas of the grape underpinned by toasty, rich flavours and an intensely creamy, biscuity mousse that's textured and appetizingly dry. Irresistible. Where: Sainsbury's, until 3 January How much: £13.99, reduced from £20.99
4. Tintos de Mar 2009 There's always room for taking on board a new grape variety so hands up who's come across caiño? I hadn't until I tasted this distinctive Atlantic coast red. It's spicy, peppery and cherryish with an earthy undertone and lively bite. Where: Caviste, How much: £29
5. Taste the Difference Sauvignon Blanc 2011
From the ultra-steady Errázuriz winery, this Chilean sauvignon blanc has all the desired hallmarks at the price: intensely herbal aromas, zingy fresh ripe apple fruitiness with elderflower and passion fruit undertones and a lively citrus-zesty bite. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £5.99
6. Taste the Difference 12-year-old Amontillado
Seductive caramel and coffee fudge aromas promise sweetness but deliver a sophisticated, dry-salted caramel fruitiness that's utterly, nuttily delicious in its own sherryish right. Austere for the newbie perhaps, but not if you know your Full Monty. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £7.99, 50 cl
7. Sancerre Roc de l'Abbaye 2010
A classy, delicate sancerre with the authentically flinty character off its Loire Valley location. Bright herbal, lemon and gooseberry scents combine with a dry yet rich gooseberry flavour and a mouthwatering mineral aftertaste. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £15.99
8. Franck Bonville Grand Cru
From the Grand Cru of Avize, a fresh appley, yeasty nose and a creamy textured mousse holds a quintessence of chalky chardonnay flavours in this champagne. Fine concentration, style and finesse, finishing refreshingly nutty with a satisfyingly sherberty tang. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £38
9. Sloane's Dry Gin
Fresh gin with a complex mix of 10 powerfully aromatic botanicals, including juniper berries from Italy, coriander from Morocco, angelica root and liquorice root from India and vanilla beans from Madagascar. You can add tonic if you really must. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £22.99
10. Zarcillo Gewürztraminer 2011
Delightfully fresh and fragrant, the pink-skinned gewürztraminer grape of Alsace offers exotic flavours of Turkish delight and lychee – but in Chile. One of the stand-out hits of The Wine Gang's Vinopolis wine fair in London, it's super value in anyone's book. Where: The Wine Society How much: £6.25
11. Tahbilk Cellar 2008
There's a truckload of Victorian value in this dry white from Tahbilk, one of Australia's first families of wine, based in Goulburn Valley. Floral aromas in a honeysuckle vein, apricoty ripe fruit and cleansing citrusy acidity add up to a distinctive white. Where: Tesco How much: £9.99
12. Mâcon Vergisson 2008
Fine, fresh, nutty aromas with a vibrant, concentrated apple and honey chardonnay quality; a superbly-crafted white burgundy with classic savoury, fresh acidity and a zesty twist of citrusy freshness on the finish. Where: Lea & Sandeman, How much: £15.95
13. Drappier Rosé Brut Nature
From Urville-based Drappier in the Aube, this ultra-dry salmon pink champagne with its bracingly fresh redcurrant aromas is characterised by an invigorating raspberryish mousse of verve and tang. Serve with smoked salmon to bring out the sensual dry finish. Where: How much: £31.99
14. Belvedere Pink Grapefruit
Fabulously fresh essence of grapefruit made from pure, fresh fruit blended with spirit in a maceration process resulting in an intensely fresh and zesty spirit with an undertone of ginger spice and lemon zest; a base for a champagne cocktail pick-me-up. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £32.99
16. Jacob's Creek Reserve 2009
Not just any Jacob's Creek but a dry Aussie white with complex aromas made in an intensely flavoured style with the added complexity of delicate, toasty oak, tangy lime-zesty freshness and a nutty aftertaste. Try finding white burgundy at this price. Where: Sainsbury's How much: £9.99
17. Land of Hope Reserve 2010
This stylish barrel-fermented, old vine chenin blanc from the Cape is exotically concentrated and rich with a blend of honeyed fruit and nutty characters contained in a framework of zingy freshness. Land of Hope and Glory indeed. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £14.99
18. Saint Aubin 1er Cru 2008
Lovely, intense fresh oatmeal lees and citrus fruit character with fine mineral streak, finishing bone dry with a lively, nutty quality that's mouthwateringly citrusy and dry. Where: Lea & Sandeman, How much: £29.95, or £27.50 as part of a case
19. Neige Cidre de Glace Récolte d'Hiver 2008
This bronze-gold ice cider from La Face Cachée de la Pomme smells of woodsmoke and oozes on to the palate with a liquid toffee apple viscosity and refreshingly trenchant bite. Deserves its own appellation. Where: Harrods, How much: Around £50, half-bottle
22. Château de Gaure 2010
A welcome appearance in the UK for this superbly crafted Languedoc blend of chardonnay, mauzac and chenin blanc, barrel-fermented for a nutty, intensely flavoured dry white whose powerful stonefruit flavours retain an elegant balance. Where: How much: £17.60
24. Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2001
Sweetly scented, this is a vintage port with rich and smooth damson sweet fruit and liquid fruitcake notes of nuttiness and glacé cherry; deliciously full-flavoured and only coming together after 10 years of maturity. Where: Majestic How much: £28, special offer £25
25. Luscombe's Hot Ginger Beer
This organic non-alcoholic pop reeks of fresh ginger and the flavours combine ginger with a refreshing lemony twist that prevents it from cloying. Its peppery twist makes it the ideal non-alcoholic alternative to drink alongside mince pies. Where: Abel and Cole, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods How much: From £1.50
26. Taste the Difference Priorat 2008
A swirl of sweet damson and prune assails the nostrils and strawberry jam hits the palate; a powerful blend of mazuelo and grenache, whose tongue-tugging tannins are tempered by the region's high-altitude, cool climate freshness. Where: Sainsbury's, until 3 January How much: £7.49, down from £9.99
28. Shaw and Smith M3 2009
There's a sweet vanilla and delicately smoky character to the aromas of this sumptuous Aussie chardonnay, whose peachy fruitiness is suffused with a creaminess of texture, savoury yeast lees-derived flavours and a seamless, nuttily dry aftertaste. Where: Majestic, How much: Around £24
31. Château Moncontour Vouvray Brut 2009
There's a lively, appley quality to this dry, refreshingly crisp chenin blanc with a tangy wake-up call of lemon mousse and honeyed undertones, tempered by the verve and crisp, dry bite of the central Loire Valley grape. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £10.99
32. Nipozzano Chianti Rufina 2008
Intense, vivid and pure sangiovese aromas, deliciously rich and concentrated, with intense sour cherry fruit flavours, voluptuously rounded by spicy oak and enlivened by savoury, fresh acidity. An authentic Tuscan rosso proudly displaying its savoury Rufina hillside acidity. Where: Majestic How much: £18.99, or two for £14.99 each
33. Gavi di Gavi 2010
Intense and refreshingly aromatic, this is a seductively zingy, finely wrought Italian dry white. Crisp apple and peachy fruit richness is set against refreshingly zesty, trenchant acidity thanks to the cortese grape in its north-west Italian habitat. Where:, How much: £21.99 - £22.50
34. Felsina Berardenga 2001
The original amber nectar, malvasia, trebbiano and sangiovese aged in oak for seven years with aromas of caramel toffee and coconut, oozing intense toffee fudge and dried apricots, a delicate nutty whiff and amazing freshness. Where: How much: £29.99, half-bottle
35. Asda Extra Special Dao 2010
This impressively turned-out Portuguese blend of touriga nacional, tinta roriz and jaen from Falua displays a vivid, bright, full-bodied damson-rich fruit quality, lively freshness and balance. Bring on the honey roast ham. Where: Asda How much: £6.49
37. Julienas Vielles Vignes 2009
From the aptly named M.Santé, this is a fragrant, fresh gamay-based red with ripe raspberry and cherryish succulence and bite. A country mile away from beaujolais nouveau, it's utterly moreish and hugely versatile with hot or cold meats. Where: Stone, Vine & Sun stonevine How much: £14.75
38. The Laddie 10, Bruichladdich
The first batch of malt whisky distilled for 10 years from the restored Bruichladdich distillery, saved by a consortium including Mark Reynier. A classic Islay malt with all the sea-salty, peat-smoked, iodiney purity and mellow sweetness you could hope for. Check out its green status: Where: Tesco How much: £33
40. Castillo Ygay Tinto Gran Reserva Especial 2004
Wonderfully scented, this tempranillo/mazuelo blend is quite magical, showing intense red fruits with delicate, smoky undertones, an immense opulence and the silkiest tannins imaginable; the extra special something about this Rioja more than justifies the asking price. Where: Majestic How much: £35
41. Domaine de Villemajou Corbières 2009
Bright, vivid and spicy-scented, this is one of ex-rugby star Gérard Bertrand's best southern French blends, concentrated dark berry fruitiness, finishing firm. Like Gérard, this punches above its weight. Where: Majestic How much: £14.99
42. Château Batailley 2004
From an underrated Bordeaux vintage, hence the value, this is a stylishly cedary and supple red-fruited classic Pauillac cru classé with the complexity of flavour and textured pedigree of a nicely weighted, mature claret, for drinking this Christmas. Where: Majestic, Goedhuis & Co How much: £30-£31
43. Camel Valley Atlantic Dry 2010
A blend of the bacchus, reichensteiner and chardonnay grapes from the award-winning Cornish winery, this is a tangy English dry white with a zesty purity and crisp lime-like quality that's dry riesling-like, yet with an Englishness all its own. Where: The Wine Society How much: £13.95
44. Washington Hill 2008
Forget Sideways. From Washington state's Columbia Valley region, this is an engagingly aromatic red with plenty of juicy cherry and strawberry jam fruit, spliced with spicy oak and finishing nicely balanced. A great value, all-purpose red for roasts and parties. Where: The Co-operative How much: £6.99
45. Barbaresco Cascina Morassino 2007
Vanilla spice, voluptuously concentrated nebbiolo fruit quality and cherryish intensity that's almost red burgundian in style, yet with grippy tannins and lively, fresh, savoury acidity that are the hallmark of this classic Piedmontese grape variety. Turkey, goose or duck will do nicely. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £27
46. Mercurey Rouge 2009
From Fabrice Lesne of the Domaine de la Grangerie, this succulent red burgundy displays a fresh fragrance and the raspberryish fruit quality of pinot noir with silky tannins and a fresh streak of acidity; rather delicious bourgogne rouge at an attractive price. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £12.99
47. Ostler Caroline's Pinot Noir 2009
Sensual, sensational Kiwi pinot noir from an obscure region based on limestone soils between central Otago and Christchurch, it's intensely fragrant with a mulberry and raspberry fruitiness that's seriously opulent, spicy and textured, but never jammy or cloying. Where: Berry Bros. & Rudd, How much: £27
48. Darting Estate Scheurebe Eiswein 2009
Exotically scented with a lusciously rich grapefruit fruit quality, wonderfully offset by a tangy fresh citrus zesty, marmaladey acidity that's really distinctive, setting it apart from just about any other sweet wine on earth. Where: Marks & Spencer How much: £18, half-bottle
49. Quercus Pinot Noir 2008
This Aussie pinot from former airline pilot John Ellis in Victoria's remote Gippsland region displays a pure, red berry fragrance with a light, smoky veneer, over juicy raspberry and cherryish fruit in a silky-textured framework and real clarity of flavour. Where: How much: £19.80
50. 2010 Domaine Le Gouberts
More like high-flying Condrieu than humble Côtes du Rhône, this pure viognier from the Atlantic-cooled hills of Limoux is fragrantly floral with a creamy apricot fruitiness and the saving grace of vibrant zip. Where: Roberson, How much: £14.50, £156 a case

From fine champagne to the perfect party plonk and a few cheeky spirits, Anthony Rose selects his festive favourites


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