Christmas wines Part 4: Festive red wine to warm and hug you (if only it had arms)

red wine bauble festive red wines Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hold on to your Christmas hats! If you love red wines with a bit of heart, depth, richness and ripe fruits which can comfort and hug, then I’m here for you. I won’t dilly dally with these festive red wine choices, as there’s lots to get through.


Three festive red wine choices from France

It would be wrong not to head to Bordeaux with a couple of wines that say “food, food, food”. Grand Plessis, Médoc, 2015 (£11, Marks & Spencer) is a smooth and fruity claret. It’s classy and elegant on the palate like a good French wine should be, with a lovely floral nose. There are hints of spice and liquorice beneath the blackberry fruit flavours.

Calvet Reserve, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, 2016 (Waitrose £9.39) is a blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon and is ideal if roast beef is your Christmas Day roast of choice. But hey! This full-bodied red, lashed with dark fruits and pepper is also suitable for vegetarians so forget the beef and sip with your veggie option.

Where to go next? Well I’m spoilt for choice but I’ll stick with France because I Iove this wine Domaine Jones Fitou 2016 (£15.50, The Wine Society). I jealously guarded it when I was “tasting” it for your benefit. The challenges I face. It’s a blend of grenache, carignan and syrah and is full-bodied and rich and the essence of ripe, delicious, plummy dark and red fruits stunningly shine through. Main course? Yes. Cheese? Definitely.


… and now four more festive red wine choices 

I’m here waving a Christmas glass of Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier (RRP £8.79, Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda) and thinking it’s a good match for a plate of all the Christmas dinner goodies, from turkey to parsnips, from sprouts to roasties. Shiraz takes centre stage in this blend, which has notes of brambly hedgerow fruits and cherry.

If a Spanish Rioja is more to your festive liking, then  Marques De Caceres Gran Reserva 2009 (RRP £18.99, majestic.co.uk) will be a good choice. It has been aged for over two years in oak, a process which leaves a legacy of vanilla, coffee, spice and bold red fruits. It’s a powerpack of a red wine and the flavours just keep on giving.

Clos de los Siete (RRP £17, Sainsbury) hails from Argentina. The country’s signature wine grape malbec takes the lead in a five-grape blend including merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. The flavours of red fruits, plums and spices dance a tango in your mouth and then linger temptingly. Sip and watch the Christmas episode of Strictly for the full effect.

Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carmenere 2017
Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carmenere 2017

A final choice, as I hate to leave you with a wine dilemma, is Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carménère 2017 (£7) which is a new wine in Co-op stores and was two years in the planning between the Co-op team and winemaker Diego Covarrubias. You’ll enjoy an easy-drinking, any-day kind of wine, full of black cherries. More than anything, you’ll love the label.


Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 2: Six chardonnay wines 
Christmas 2018 wines Part 3: Six light, fruity, savoury, spicy reds


First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Christmas white wine to chink as you open the pressies (or just because you neeeeed)

Limestone Rise English Christmas white wine

I can’t wait for Christmas Day and my first glass of white! Here’s a Christmas white wine selection to suit all pockets which you can pour as the family arrives, right through to Dad sneaking the last roast potato onto his plate.

Extra Special French Chardonnay (13.5% abv, £5, ASDA) This Languedoc  chardonnay is lightly oaked which brings some creaminess to the apple and citrus flavours, but don’t worry it’s not one of those in-your-face oaky assaults. It’s easy drinking but has enough personality to sit happily next to a plate of turkey and sprouts.
Christmas white wine factor: Pour a glass when you’ve finished the shopping

Limestone Rise (11% abv, £7.99 The Co-op) This is an English white from the Co-op, which 15 years ago was the first retailer to sell English wine before it became the “in thing”. This blend of bacchus and ortega grapes has sherbert, elderflower, a spring breeze and a really nice little bite of citrus and acidity.
Christmas white wine factor: Something different for the Christmas table

La Altelana Gavi di Gavi 2015 (11.5% abv, £7.99, Aldi) The label looks classy, take a bottle to a party and wow your hosts. Or save it for yourself and it’ll breeze through the prawns and be very happy with the turkey and crisp vegetables. It’s an Italian white with hints of green in the glass, with fresh lemon aromas and subtle minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Refresh those taste buds after a long day eating

Fief des Pierres Blanches Quincy, 2015 (13.5 % abv, £8.99 Lidl) Mmmm … zesty! A great wine from the Loire Valley which is fresh and full of lemony aromas and tropical fruit flavours. If you’re a bit dulled from Santa’s Christmas Eve sherry this will really perk you up. Delicious.
Christmas white wine factor: Really fresh and great with seafood

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Chapel Down Bacchus (12% abv £9.99 from £12.99, Waitrose) Bacchus is the ancient Roman name for the classical god of wine. Who would have thought that my fascination with ancient history would have a nice link to my love of wine.  Bacchus is similar to sauvignon blanc – think grapefruit, elderflower and gooseberry with a zesty woosh alongside. The 2015 vintage won bronze at the Decanter awards.
Christmas white wine factor: How about English zing for the Boxing Day curry

Wm Morrison Chablis Premier Cru 2014 (13% abv, £15) Toast your Christmas Day guests with this terrific Chablis from Morrisons which has just won gold (again) at the latest International Wine Challenge awards. Chablis is perfect with a seafood starter as the vines grow on an ancient seabed. This wine has minerality, melon and grapefruit flavours, with a soft touch of vanilla.
Christmas white wine factor: An amazing white which always wins praise

Domaine de la Mandelière Robert Nicolle 2015 (12.5% abv,  £14.49 or £13.04 in a buy six deal at www.laithwaites.co.uk) This Chablis is from a small, family run estate on a ridge of limestone in the famous wine district. It is pale straw, with aromas of  crisp apple and a flash of citrus, which both appear on the palate with a signature wet stone minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Poached salmon? Yes please

The Society’s Exhibition Pouilly-Fuissé 2014 (13% abv, £18, www.thewinesociety.com) Love, love, love! The Wine Society’s Exhibition wines aim to be the best examples of wine from a particular region – this one a classic Burgundian white.  This has bright citrus but with creaminess, cushioned by vanilla and an upright flash of minerality.
Christmas white wine factor:  Perfect with turkey and all the trimmings

Fess Parker, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (14.2% abv, from £13.95 at The Wine Society and www.amathusdrinks.com) OMG. Which in this case stands for Orgasmic, Melony, Golden. This chardonnay is barrel-fermented, aged in French oak and it’s utter heaven. You could have it with your turkey. It’s full and rich enough to go with Christmas pud. But forget that. Sit. On your own. When the house is empty. And drink it with lashings of self-indulgence. Quality Street are made for sharing. This isn’t.
Christmas white wine factor:  It’s just a wow.

These wine reviews were first published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express