We’re often asked, as wine merchants, what we drank on Christmas Day ourselves. We spend most of November and December every year recommending what are our customers should be drinking for this most special family meal so maybe it is time to spill the beans and tell all.
For us, it is an occasion when old bottles from private collections are dusted down and carefully decanted so this blog may not turn out to be a wonderful exercise in marketing current wines but here goes anyway –
Nigel – “Being a bit of a philistine when it comes to Champagne I kicked off with a glass of La Gitana Manzanilla while everybody else got stuck into the ever dependable Renard Barnier NV. We then progressed to Logan Weemala Pinot Gris (gentle peach flavours and a touch of perfumed oil) and followed that with the stunning Logan Orange Chardonnay (fantastic dry extract, racy and minerally, the best Chardonnay I have drunk this year, a bit like Meursault on steroids). With the turkey; La Lagune 1996 for my end of the table and the succulently sexy Mas D’ Auzieres “les Eclats” for the “kids” worked a dream. The rest is a blur but it did involve some Quinta do Noval and (unfortunately) homemade Blackberry gin.”
The harassed chef and his son-in-law were excused church and so were able to get a sneaky glass of the Berry Bros Dry Oloroso whilst all were on their knees: full and nutty with just a trace of raisiny sweetness on the edge. Having highly recommended the Billecarte Salmon NV Brut to one of our regular customers just before Christmas I thought we had better try it just to make sure; lighter than I expected but in a good way it was fresh and sparkled with a fine concentrated fruit that offset the dryness beautifully. My colleagues having remarked how well the 2008 Chablis, 1er Cru Montmains, Simonnet-Febvre was showing at our Wine Fair, we cracked a bottle to chase down the Morecambe Bay potted shrimps and what a good choice that was; buggered if I can remember any suitable Loganesque adjectival bollocks but everybody gave it the thumbs up. A bottle of Domaine Bachelet Gevrey Chambertin 2002, to tackle the rib of home reared Dexter, was a little dumber than I had hoped, still a tad young perhaps? The afternoon faded to black over a fabulous bottle of Taylor’s 1980 which ticked all the boxes, sweet, perfumed and fresh as a daisy. There might have been a bottle of claret in their somewhere as well. I remember both the Brane Cantenac 2004 and the La Tour de Mons 2005 both showing very well at some stage over the hostilities but it was hard to tell the days apart.
Our Christmas Day is a pretty traditional affair, with fairly traditional wines! I have to keep an eye on my Dad as he is a little unsteady on his feet these days (purely medical reasons, you understand) so we take if slow and steady. We kicked off with the Renard Barnier NV with the canapes. Nigel calls it 'ever dependable' and I agree, but I would also add that its key selling point for me is the richness it achieves by extra time in the cellar before release which enhanced the smoked salmon nibbles marvellously!
The Crossroads Gewurztraminer (NZ) was very interesting against a smooth chicken liver parfait with sultanas previously soaked in a 5 Punt Tokay. Lovely scented fruit with enough acidity to cut the richness of the parfait. I cooked the turkey a bit differently this year and the resultant soft and moist breast meat, alongside slow-cooked dark leg meat was a revelation. I also cooked the best stuffing I have made in years, rich with chestnuts and pistachios. I had a couple of bottles of decent claret in the wings, but opted for a beautifully crafted Armador Syrah from the Odfjell winery in Maipo Valley in Chile. Smooth and relaxed drinking through the rest of the evening for me! We packed Dad off to the lounge for a snooze at that point, so I enjoyed the rest of the bottle myself while Helen moved onto some Italian liqueurs!