Festive cheer: The 12 bottles of Christmas - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

Festive cheer: The 12 bottles of Christmas

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From sparklers to the dessert wines, Terry Kirby reveals the drinks that will get you in the festive spirit...

SPARKLERS

Knightor Brut NV

In deep midwinter, what better to be reminded of the Cornish countryside in spring, contained in every mouthful of this sparkler made from traditional champagne varieties plus Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner, grown on the sunny slopes around Portscatho and Looe. Effervescent, invigorating, simply delightfully English. £25.10, wineincornwall.co.uk; £26.99, ewwines.co.uk

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs

For that special celebration or a Christmas gift, this is as good as it gets in the top echelon of champagne. Supremely sophisticated and ethereal, with subtle flavours of brioche and lemon zest. The Majestic price is a steal. £80 (as part of a purchase of six mixed bottles; normally £100), selected Majestic stores; £120, cellarviewines.com

Taltarni Taché Rosé 2010

Wonderfully different sparkler from southern Australia, the colour coming from a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes added to the normal champagne mix. Slightly richer, more rounded and definitely drier than most New World rosé fizz, this would be excellent for parties and to accompany nibbles or tapas. £18, winetrust100.co.uk

WHITES

Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc 2008

Made in California's Napa Valley but designed to taste like fine Bordeaux white – Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris grapes aged with stunning results: creamy, complex, rich, balanced with fine acidity and with a long finish. For your finest crustacea and prime white fish. £31, cellarviewines.com

Yealands Estate Black Label Gruner Veltliner 2013

Austria's finest grape gets the Kiwi make-over here with a predictably fine outcome – this is full-bodied, dry, with touches of pepper, smoke and pears that linger long and cleanly on the palate. Best with scallops with black pudding, lightly spiced Asian seafood or roast chicken. £11.95, winedirect.co.uk; £12.75, greatwesternwine.co.uk

Caruso e Minini Grecanico 2012

An excellent addition to M&S's range of budget-priced whites, this Sicilian wine made from the grape used for Soave is ideal for seasonal gatherings, good to drink with or without food. Refreshingly zesty and tangy, with some floral overtones, but remaining dry and crisp. £6.99, Marks & Spencer

REDS

Dominio de Cair 2009

Red wines in winter must be robust and warming, bringing summer sun into cold days, so taste the heat of Spain in this rich Tempranillo. Dark fruits, chocolate, touches of herbs and spices make for an enticing mix to accompany rich dishes such as roast goose or cocido madrileño, a Spanish festive alternative. £22, harperwells.com; £22.95, halifaxwinecompany.com

Château La Liquière Faugères Les Amandiers, 2012

Wines from Faugères are usually at the heavier end of the scale but this Carignan/Syrah/Grenache blend is a revelation – still fulsome, but supple, lots of bright, berry-fruit flavours and incredibly moreish. Very food-friendly, particularly for lighter game or poultry. £10.35, hhandc.co.uk

Caliterra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010/2011

Every festive season requires a versatile red, and this Chilean fits the bill. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes get a touch of Malbec and Shiraz for complexity and there are masses of brambly fruits to the fore, with some sweetish spice in the background. £8.23, thedrinkshop.com; £8.99, elliescellar.com

DESSERT

Yalumba Museum 21-year-old Antique Tawny

Australia's fine fortified wines should be more celebrated over the festive season and this is a perfect "sticky" for rich, sweet puddings. An exotic mix of grapes, including Shiraz and Touriga Nacional, deliver complex, smooth flavours of caramel, honey and dried fruits. £26.99, simplywinesdirect.com; £32.50, fortnumandmason.com

Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Saint Albert 2011

For those who find some dessert wines too sweet. Unfortified, made from late-harvest Gascony grapes such as Gros Manseng; amazing vanilla and apricot aromas lead to lovely citric freshness on the palate. The locals drink it with foie gras, so try chicken-liver pâté, or it's terrific with lighter, fruity puddings. £13.95, corneyandbarrow.com

Quinta Do Noval Late Bottled Vintage 2007

From a pioneer of the late-bottled vintage style, an unfiltered, layered, almost rustic port, which fills the mouth with massive unrestrained flavours of rich, dark and dried fruits, with chocolate and leather somewhere in the mix. Classic accompaniment to Christmas pudding and blue cheeses. £19, ocado.com; £19.95, finecheese.co.uk

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