The best Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve wines: MATTHEW JUKES taste tests 40 of his favourite tipples for the holiday season
Boxing Day is the day for mopping up leftovers from the previous day’s legendary feast while trying to spend a little less time in the kitchen and a little more time on the sofa.
There is no need to open up your most prized wines today, so save any particularly special bottles and concentrate on my collection of smooth sparklers, lighter whites and fruitier reds to give your palate a rest.
Boxing Day is the day for mopping up leftovers from the previous day’s legendary feast. Pictured: Matthew Jukes
Boxing Day Sparkling
NV Roederer Estate Quartet Brut, Anderson Valley, California (left) £23.70, hedonism.co.uk; £25, thewinesociety.com; £29.99, reduced to £22.99 on a Mix Six, Majestic; £25.99, waitrosecellar.com. Made by the famous Louis Roederer Champagne house in California, this is a lovely, slightly richer style of sparkler with a biscuity note over an apple and pear-themed palate. 2018 Tesco finest 1531 Blanquette de Limoux, Languedoc (right), France £9.50, Tesco Keen, lively, effervescent and uplifting, this blend of Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay from the warmer climes of the South of France has a certain amount of silkiness that is guaranteed to soothe your senses.
NV Ridgeview, Cavendish Brut, England £30 (left), M&S Made predominantly from red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this is a wine with a magical scent and a rich mid-palate and its extra dimension of fruit is tempered with lovely, refreshing acidity. One of England’s top sparklers, Cavendish is classy enough not to require food to prop it up, such is the confidence that this wine exudes. 2012 Les Pionniers, Vintage, Champagne, France £27, (right) reduced to £25 until Jan 1, Co-op Les Pionniers is always a successful Champagne in non-vintage form, but this vintage release takes the brand to a new level. With 48 months of ageing, there is some ostentatiousness here which lets the drinker know they have chosen well
Boxing Day Whites
2020 Classics No.5 Workhorse Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, (left) South Africa £8, M&S Made by the most famous Chenin Blanc specialist in South Africa, Ken Forrester, this is a budgetpriced white with a grand presence. It is carefully balanced with pineapple chunk freshness and an even finish. 2019 Puiattino, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy £10, (right) Tesco Puiattino is a muchrespected brand and this Pinot Grigio is spot on with its green apple skin and pear juice freshness and neat, prim finish. A perfect aperitif, this is a wine to have sitting in the fridge, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice
2019 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie, (left) Le Grand Fief, Domaine de la Chauvinière, Loire, France £10.65, reduced to £9.40 each by the case, hhandc.co.uk I rarely get this excited about Muscadet, but I truly believe that this is the most thrilling example of this world-famous style of dry white wine that I have tasted in many, many years. Effortlessly elegant and ever so enjoyable, you will be amazed at the beauty on display in this glass. 2019 Gewurztraminer, Cave de Turckheim, Alsace, France £10.99, (right) reduced to £8.99 until Jan 3, Waitrose This is one of the most aromatic of all white wines in this collection, loading lychee, rose petal and fruit salad notes onto your palate. A brilliant, lush, exotic white which goes with spicy curries, pâtés, soft cheeses and rich quiche, this is also a great accompaniment to Coronation turkey
2019 Pouilly-Fumé, Les Chaumes, Jean-Jacques Bardin, Loire, France (left) £14, selected Co-ops Pouill y-Fumé is one of the most famous styles of Sauvignon Blanc and this sophisticated version shows sleek, citrus fruit with a dry finish. There are none of the tropical fruit notes associated with New Zealand Sauvignon nor is there the overt grassiness of many South African or Chilean examples. 2018 Louis Latour, Grand Ardèche Chardonnay, France (right) £13.99, reduced to £11.99 on a Mix Six until Dec 21 and then £9.99 each from Dec 22-31, Majestic; £10.99, bcfw.co.uk; £11.50. noblegreenwines.co.uk Latour is a famous Burgundy winery but it makes another style of Chardonnay in the Ardèche. Using less expensive and riper grapes, the wines under this label echo their Burgundian cousins but they tend to drink younger and cost less
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Boxing Day Reds
2019 Running with Bulls, Tempranillo, South Australia £9, (left) Co-op This is an ‘Aussie Rioja’ but without the medicinal oak, gritty finish and sunburnt fruit found in legions of Spanish versions of this style of wine. It is, by contrast, bright, stunningly juicy, pinpoint accurate and drinking now. It is also less than a tenner and that makes it one of the most professional and rewarding wines made from the Tempranillo grape on the High Street. 2019 Les Hautes de Saint Martin, Saint-Chinian, Languedoc, France £7.75 (right), Co-op This is one of the finest value southern French reds of the year. Made from Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre, it’s a spicy, meaty, berry-stuffed, earthy, perfectly balanced beauty
2019 La Cascata, Passivento, Puglia (left), Italy £9, M&S La Casc ata is an 80 per cent Negroamaro, 20 per cent Primitivo blend and while it is a touch youthful and firm on the finish, as long as you are tucking into a plate of pasta, this wine will sing. The red fruit is splendidly plush and spicy and the value for a wine of this complexity and richness is undeniable. 2018 Botham, 80 Series Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (right), South Australia £11, reduced to £8 until Jan 2, Tesco Sir Ian Botham is making impressive wines and this Cabernet Sauvignon, which comes from the stunning Coonawarra region, is one of the most rewarding. The red would love to spend a while in a decanter as there are wonderful spice, leather and earth notes here which need to be heard among the dark, blackcurrant and plum fruit
2018 Moss Wood Amy’s, Margaret River (left), Western Australia £16.95, jeroboams.co.uk, fieldandfawcett.co.uk; £16.49, waitrosecellar.com; £36.40, 2017 Magnum, goreywinecellar.com Moss Wood is a pioneering estate and its flagship Cabernet is much collected. Amy’s is the forward-drinking version of the Cabernet and is spectacular in the 2018 vintage. This is due to arrive this week, but if you fancy a rather decadent 150cl magnum of the 2017, then contact Gorey Wine Cellar. 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella, Villa Annaberta, Veneto, (right) Italy £18, Co-op There is no richer or bigger red wine style than Amarone, but with its intensity, you can be assured of juiciness and fruitiness, too, and this is what makes this kind of wine so attractive. Villa Annaberta is a great example of this raisiny, dark chocolate and spice-soaked wine and this is a great bottle to sip on the sofa while you are watching a Christmas blockbuster film
Boxing Day Sweet and Fortified
NV Moscatel de Alejandría (left), Jerez, Spain £6.49, 50cl bottle, reduced to £4.99 until Jan 3, Waitrose This is a very cute little wine with a jaunty air and a lovely lick of sweetness. There are few grapes that one uses the word ‘grapey’ as a fitting flavour description, but Moscatel is a dead ringer for drinking ice-cold grape juice with the accompanying freshness and also fruit sweetness. Light, pure, happygo- lucky and charming, this is a budget wine which will enchant your senses. NV Very Rare Palo Cortado Lustau (right), Jerez, Spain £6, half bottle, M&S Nutty, intense and very dry, with bitter orange rind highlights, drink this wine cool, not ice-cold, and you will find yourself entranced by the complex aroma and flavour. There is nothing better to get your juices flowing before a hearty meal than drinking a small glass of this wondrous elixir.
NV Graham’s Crusted Port (left), Portugal £20, reduced to £15 until Jan 1, Sainsbury’s Crusted Port is an unfiltered style of wine which I very much like and which you should try if you have never done so before. There is a lot of sediment or ‘crust’ in this bottle, so you need to carefully pour the wine into a decanter, leaving the sediment behind. The discarded crust has nourished this deep, dark Port, resulting in an extra power and intensity — and so for £15 you can experience a turbo-charged Port style like no other. NV Taylor’s, 10-Year-Old Tawny Port, (right) Portugal £22, reduced to £16 until Jan 1, Sainsbury’s Taylor’s makes the most famous Tawny of all and the style here is more redfruited and spicy than that of Noval. This makes it a style of port which goes miraculously well with Christmas cake, Christmas pud and mince pies. It is also sensational paired with mature Cheddar and other aged hard cheeses
New Year’s Eve Fizz
NV Prince Alexandre, Crémant de Loire Brut (left), France £12.99, reduced to £9.69 until Jan 3, Waitrose Made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and also red grape Cabernet Franc, this wine takes the essence of the Loire Valley and transforms it into a white-knuckle-ride of a sparkling wine. Prince Alexandre is a marvellous creation and a brilliant wine for use in sparkling wine cocktails. NV Tesco finest English Sparkling Rosé Brut. (right), Hush Heath, Kent £20, Tesco Al ongs ide the wild strawberry and cranberry notes on the nose, the palate is smooth and silky and the finish is rewardingly tangy and crisp. A great wine for drinking with canapés and nibbles, this is a terrific way to welcome in the New Year
NV Ellercombe English Sparkling (left) £24, reduced to £18 until Jan 1, Sainsbury’s I was impressed with this wine last year because it did very well in the Daily Mail Wine Awards — and this year it again stands out as an extremely professional creation, with a smooth style rather than an acidic one. It will therefore appeal to a wide range of palates. NV Larmandier- Bernier, (middle) Longitude Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 1er Cru, Champagne, France £42.95, reduced to £40.50 each by the case, leaandsandeman.co.uk I have chosen one elite Champagne for New Year’s Eve from hundreds of candidates. Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, the purity and energy of this awe-inspiring wine will rewire your palate in preparation for 2021. 2013 Wiston Estate Cuvée (right), England approx. £110 150cl magnum, wistonestate.com, bbr.com, leaandsandeman.co.uk This award-winning wine was highly praised in 2017 and has now been released in a limited number of magnums. It’s one of the most exciting flavours of the year. Made from 47 per cent Pinot Noir, 33 per cent Chardonnay and 20 per cent Pinot Meunier, use it to toast the New Year in style
New Year’s Eve Whites
2020 Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc, (left) Marlborough, New Zealand £7, Sainsbury’s; £9.50, Co-op; £10.99, reduced to £7.99, Majestic A new arrival in the UK, this 2020 vintage is brimming with explosive lemongrass and elderflower fruit. In terms of impact and pungency, the wine is at the opposite end of the spectrum to La Vieille Ferme (above) because it jumps out of the glass and captures your senses. 2019 La Vieille Ferme Blanc, Famille Perrin, (right) France £7.50, Tesco While the label on this wine is rather uninspiring, the flavour is anything but. The meadow flower perfume and gentle fruit notes are delightful and this delicacy and restraint make this a lovely white for mellow sipping. There is no need to cook up a storm with this wine, as it needs no help from food to woo your senses
2018 Vandenberg Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills (left), South Australia £11, selected Co-ops Vandenberg is a curvaceous and succulent Chardonnay — 25 per cent of the blend spends six months in oak barrels, which means it is full-flavoured and main course-shaped. There is a lot of wine here for the money and I note that the label says ‘fortune favours the brave’: Oli Crawford is a brave winemaker and the results are sensational. 2019 Cà di Maggio Gavi, (middle) Piemonte, Italy £12, M&S This is the most serene and controlled Italian white in the collection and it comes from a great Araldica winery. This is another delightful white which you can sip away at while you chat and cook — saving more forceful and flavoursome wines for food duties. Made from the Cortese grape, this is a posh Italian white for refined entertaining. 2018 Bellingham, The Bernard Series Chenin Blanc, (right) Coastal Region, South Africa £10, Tesco The Bernard Chenin is a big-boned, full-flavoured wine which is aged in French oak barrels of which half are new. This makes a big impact on the deportment of this powerful white and it means that it can handle all manner of main course dishes. Nutty, lemony, and indulgent this is a heroic and affordable white
New Year’s Eve Reds
2019 Morrisons, The Best Margaret River Shiraz (left), Western Australia £7.50, Morrisons Here is another great red wine and it has twice the intensity and power of the Rocca Alata Valpolicella (left). Dark, deep, black cherry-drenched and rather spicy, this is a muscular, brooding wine and it even manages to involve a whisper of oak in the mix, which is rather impressive at this price. 2018 Il Sarmento Nero di Troia, (middle) Puglia, Italy £5.75, Co-op My budget red this year is this cheeky little Nero di Troia. Packed with black fruit and spice, the label looks smart, the price is rock bottom and there is nothing but fun to be had with this wine on the palate. Of course, it loves Italian food but it’s also an accomplished. 2019 Valpolicella, (right) Rocca Alata, Cantina di Soave, Veneto, Italy £7, Tesco Valp ol encompasses every style of red wine from this little beauty, at the lighter end of the range, up to the Amarone mentioned in the Boxing Day selection. Rocca Alata is willowy, slender and easy to enjoy without food, or with lighter canapés up to medium-weight main courses. The red cherry notes and crisp finish make it a lively choice
2017 Wente Vineyards (left), Sandstone Merlot, Livermore Valley, California £16.49, baythorne wines.co.uk; £16.99, liquoricewine.co.uk; £13.99, reduced to £11.89, thegeneral wine.co.uk We rarely see greatvalue Californian Merlot here, as most have sky-rocketed in price. But Sandstone is unique, given that it crams in plummy, juicy, super-smooth fruit and manages to stay grounded pricewise. This big, rich red is also velvety smooth. 2018 Pazzia, Primitivo di Manduria, (right) Puglia, Italy £11.99, Waitrose Primitivo is a very powerful variety and this version is bristling with energy. Drink it with densely flavoured meaty dishes and be sure to decant it, too. A macho wine for lovers of big reds
New Year’s Eve Sweet and Fortified
NV Torres, Floralis Moscatel Oro (left), Spain £8.50, 50cl bottle, reduced to £7, Morrisons Or ange blossom and honey-scented, this goes with a wide range of desserts — especially chocolate puddings. Chill it down nice and cold and you will feel the juicy mandarin fruit balanced with cleansing acidity, which stops it from being cloying. NV Dow’s Trademark, (right) Finest Reserve Port, Portugal £10, reduced to £7, until Jan 1, Sainsbury’s This port is a great all-rounder with pliant red and black fruit and a little grip and tannin on the finish. Smooth and medium-weight, it is great for occasional port drinkers because it is not too forceful or strident on the finish
NV Bodegas Lustau (left), Pedro Ximénez, San Emilio, Solera Familiar, Jerez, Spain £11.95, half bottle, bbr.com Like many PXs, this is a deep, dark, absurdly sweet wine with so many coffee, mocha, prune and fig notes it is amazing. But what sets this wine apart is the length and persistence of its flavour, which is simply staggering. NV Fonseca, Bin (middle) 27 Finest Reserve Port, Portugal £14.99, reduced to £11.99 in a Mix Six, majestic.co.uk; £13.95, henningswine. co.uk A connoiss eur’s port with an even, controlled flavour and a heady, complex palate. Has more reserve than many of the overtly fruit-driven wines. A bottle will stay fresh for a week or so. 2017 Tokaji Aszú, 5 Puttonyos, Disznókó,(right) Hungary £19.99, half bottle, Waitrose This is one of the most intense and exciting sweeties of the year. It may be rather expensive but it will blow your mind. Honey is the overriding theme, but there are floral and stone-fruit notes.
Wine Gifts Perfect Presents
The finer things: This 2012 Veuve Clicquot Brut bottle and box designed by Yayoi Kusama will make your toasts extra special. £160, selfridges.com
Adopt a vine: Vines are given a medallion bearing the recipient’s name, a year later they’ll receive six bottles of their own vintage. From £140, cuvee-privee.co.uk
Stick your neck out: Push the neck down on this Eto decanter to keep wine fresh for weeks. £129, eto wine.com (left). Touch of glass: Aspiring sommeliers will love serving drinks in these celestial coupes. £10 each, johnlewis. com (right).
Merry feastmas: Treat the foodie in your life to a sleigh full of goodies from artisan producers. From £40, melrose and morgan. com
Wine Gifts Corkscrews
They’re grrreat: Perfect for a budding barman, this handy gadget has a built-in corkscrew, muddler, knife, zester and strainer. £24, notanotherbill.com
DI -Wine: DIY buffs will love this corkscrew attachment for Bosch’s IXO cordless screwdriver. £19.95, amazon.com
Handy man: When the evening calls for wine, this handsome Alessandro M corkscrew (left) is just the ticket. £59, uk.alessi.com. Corking solution: Coravin (right) can extract wine without removing the cork – ideal for sampling wines or to enjoy a single glass. From £249, selfridges.com
Inspector gadget: Joseph Joseph’s corkscrew packs the power of a full-sized lever corkscrew into a compact, drawerfriendly design. £45, selfridges.com
Say cheese: Pop open your favourite bottle and slice cheese with ease with this pocketknife set. £25, oliverbonas. com
Wine Gifts Non-alcoholic
Just the tonic: This beautiful book features 100 alcoholfree Seedlip cocktails with the same kick as spirits. £14.99, seedlipdrinks.com
Out of the box: For a balanced non-alcoholic drink for wine lovers, try this taster box by Jukes Cordialities. £38 for nine, jukescordialities.com
Like it neat: Named after the lyrebird, nature’s greatest mimic, Lyre’s American Malt (left) is smoky and bourbon-like. £23.50, lyres. co.uk. Marg my words: Derived from the same agave plant as Tequila, Mockingbird Spirit (right) gives you migraine-free margaritas. £29.99, mocking birdspirit.com
Christmas cheers: Distilled from seeds and herbs, Seedlip has a profile similar to gin and is good with tonic. Cracking. £8, johnlewis.com
Putting on the spritz Made with bitter orange, rosemary and a hint of rhubarb, serve Wilfred’s with ice and tonic for a non-alcoholic spritz. £18, wilfredsdrinks.com
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