Wishful drinking

From party bubbles to relaxing reds, Anthony Rose is on the case to see you through the festivities
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Get the party started

2000 Saint Gall Grand Cru Champagne, £17.99, Marks & Spencer

The Saint Gall range offers some of the best champagnes to be found on supermarket shelves; this pure chardonnay vintage version stands out for its creamy, expansive richness, its full, toasty flavours and honeycomb aftertaste. Factor in a discount of £5, and it doesn't get much more outstanding than this.

The classic sherry

Valdespino Solera 1842 Oloroso VOS Sherry, half-bottle, £11.99, Waitrose

A sensational sherry for the connoisseur, this has nutty, smoky aromatic characters derived from a minimum ageing of 20 years. A dollop of the treacly Pedro Ximénez grape adds a smoky, crème brûlée touch to the concentrated richness and complex, dry finish. A little of this goes a long way.

The crowdpleaser: white

2004 Chablis Alain Geoffroy, £9.99, Oddbins

Chablis was first to inspire the unoaked style of chardonnay, and the pure, appley fruit of this wine bears the unmistakeable imprint of its cool, Burgundian location and the clean, elegant lines of the 2004 vintage. Equally at home accompanying seafood or being enjoyed on its own.

The crowdpleaser: red

2004 Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina, £9.99, Waitrose, selected stores (limited availability)

A candidate for best red under £10 anywhere, the new vintage of super-consultant Michel Rolland's malbec-based Argentinian baby combines concentrated plum and damson juiciness with subtle oak spice and the finesse of supple, rounded tannins. Buy now before the price goes up to £10.99.

The quiet quaffer: white

2004 Carmen Nativa Chardonnay, £7.99, Oddbins, Booths

There's substance and flavour in abundance in this peachy, rich, dry Chilean white whose pineappley acidity offers a suitable counterweight to its powerful body. At just £1 more, Carmen's opulent, burgundian-style 2003 Winemaker's Reserve Chardonnay (from Waitrose) is equally impressive.

The quiet quaffer: red

2003 Sassaiolo Rosso Piceno Superiore, Monte Schiavo, £5.99, Majestic

A typical Adriatic blend of sangiovese and montepulciano, this rosso from the Marche is not just a cheaper alternative to chianti - it's as good as many pricier wines, with a surfeit of ripe cherryish fruit and crisp damsony aftertaste gently rounded by subtle oak treatment.

The big lunch, part I: apéritif

1999 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, £22.49, Majestic, £21.99, Waitrose

No need to be patriotic for the sake of it with this English beaut in a flute. It not only looks the business but tastes it too: a magnificent blend of the champagne grapes, intense from the moment the bubbles hit your nose, its sumptuous mousse, rich briochey flavours and tangy bite add up to a world-class fizz.

The big lunch, part II: white

2002 Meursault Louis Jadot, £18.99, Waitrose; £24.99, or £16.66 each if you buy three, Wine Rack

An impressive white burgundy from a favourite appellation, this dry white from a fine vintage is classic in style with lightly smoky, beautifully crafted, subtle yet richly flavoured fruit, a hint of New World pineapple, but a restrained, typically nutty aftertaste.

The big lunch, part II: red

2001 The Vergelegen Red, £19.99, Tesco, selected stores

A classic blend of cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc from one of the Cape's best exponents of the Bordeaux style. A veneer of toasty oak is the framework for rich cassis flavours and supple tannins in a powerful yet balanced fine wine. A coup to get this prestigious Cape red into the bigger stores.

The big lunch, part III: dessert wine

2000 Gewürztraminer Zotzenberg, Vendange Tardive, Domaine André & Lucas Rieffel, £17.50 or £15.75 per bottle in a case, Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900430, www.bbr.com)

Alsace Gewürz can make a beguiling pudding wine when, as here, a rosewater aroma suffuses the fruit to make a scented, Turkish Delight of a sweet white. Richness is sliced through by acidity for a dry, balanced aftertaste.

The big lunch, part IV: say cheese

1996 Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port, £22.41, Tesco, Waitrose

Pruney, nutty and hauntingly rich, this is a super fruitcake of a vintage port from a vineyard that's now just coming into its own after nearly a decade. Taylor's didn't declare 1996 a vintage year, making this cheaper, single quinta vintage port instead. Stand and decant.

The Boxing Day blockbuster

2003 Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz, around £15.95, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Bacchus Fine Wines ( www.bacchus.co.uk), Villeneuve Wines ( www.villeneuvewines.com)

A luxurious, Australian, sumptuously spicy red shows the elegance of its cool-climate origins. Intense mulberry richness with texture, lightly spiced oak and savoury acidity - a winning combination for cold meats and game.

12 smart buys for bargain hunters

Get the party started

Cristalino Brut Cava, £3.99, Morrisons

This zingy, crystal-sparkly Spanish cava, with its refreshingly crisp appley bite and citrusy flavour, took the under- £10 sparkling trophy at this month's Spanish top 100 awards. With 20 per cent off until tomorrow, get your skates on and you'll need no excuse to crack open the fizz.

The classic sherry

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference 12 Year Old Amontillado, £6.99, half-bottle, Lustau

From the premium sherry house of Lustau, this was the winner of a clutch of gold medals at this year's International Wine Challenge. It's a superb dry amontillado whose intense, coffee-like aromas lead into a nutty wine tinged with a bitter twist of dried-orange-peel richness.

The crowdpleaser: white

2004 Sileni Unoaked Chardonnay, £8.99 or £5.99 each when you buy three, Wine Rack, selected Threshers.

Fermentation in stainless steel allows the clean, fruity richness of this full-frontal chardonnay from New Zealand's Hawkes Bay to speak for itself without the trappings of oak. The flavours, though, are remarkably intense for a wine at this price, never mind the three-for-two discount.

The crowdpleaser: red

2004 Côtes du Rhône, Chapoutier, £6.49, Waitrose

"Chapeau!" to Chapoutier - hats off to the dapper Michel who's pulled it off with this sweetly perfumed, vibrantly spicy ripe blend of grenache and syrah, in which the syrah grape adds a discreet pepperiness and character to a red that surpasses Chapoutier's previous best.

The quiet quaffer: white

2005 Marks & Spencer Argentina Pinot Grigio, Finca La Celia, £3.99, down from £4.99, until 29 November

With its crisp zip and zing, this pinot grigio contains a small proportion of chardonnay and chenin blanc to add appley freshness and crisp bite to a peachy dry Andean white. Keep some in the fridge for quiet moments - or, at this price, you could stock up for unexpected visitors.

The quiet quaffer: red

2004 Peter Lehmann Wildcard Reserve Shiraz, £3.99, Co-op, from Monday until 4 December

Maybe it's a case of surplus wine sloshing around, but it's hard to argue with a terrific deal like this, sourced by the Co-op from one of the Barossa Valley's leading producers, when the fruit is so vibrant, spicy and blackberryish. The bottle looks expensive too.

The big lunch, part I: apéritif

2005 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés Cafayate, £5.99, Majestic

Bored with chardonnay and fizz? Then why not offer guests and family something irresistibly different, such as this fragrantly scented, refreshing Argentinian dry white, which is muskily tasty enough to sip on its own and powerful enough to go with spicy little nibbles of finger food.

The big lunch, part II: white

2004 Bourgogne Chardonnay, £6.99, Marks & Spencer

This affordable white burgundy is an appealing buttery, rich style from the Côtes de Beaune with depth of flavour and attractive but not overwhelming oak spice; an appetising dry white for seafood courses but rich enough to accompany the turkey if you prefer white to red.

The big lunch, part II: red

2003 Bourgogne Epineuil, £5.99, Majestic

Super-fragrant and supercharged, this aromatically raspberryish pinot noir from the hot 2003 vintage bursts from the glass with ripe cherry fruitiness, crisp acidity and a plump, fleshy quality that belies the normally more bony wines of northern burgundy's Epineuil. Special enough to be the highlight of a sumptuous meaty feast.

The big lunch, part III: dessert wine

2002 Tesco Finest Botrytis Semillon, half-bottle, £5.49

This little Aussie honey, made from the sauternes grape by the people who brought you Yellow Tail, is fresh, zesty and full-flavoured with a citrusy, marmalade-like richness and tang that makes a delightful confection, especially at such an affordable price. Just the thing to offset the richness of a fruit-packed pudding.

The big lunch, part IV: say cheese

M&S Reserve Port, organic, £9.99, Marks & Spencer

This organic port from the house of Fonseca blends port grapes from the Douro Valley in an aromatic sweet red whose youthful and vibrant berry fruit will blend in nicely with the savoury match of a Stilton or Fourme d'Ambert. But you'll find plenty of other excuses to pass it around.

The Boxing Day blockbuster

2004 Papa Luna, Calatayud, £8.99, or £5.99 each when you buy three, Wine Rack, selected Threshers

A blend of mainly grenache with tempranillo, mourvèdre and syrah, this is a powerful Spanish answer to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, only considerably more affordable. Just the thing to wash down honey-roast ham or cold turkey on Boxing Day.

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