Want to make Christmas Day extra-special this year? You’ll be needing the best wines for Christmas 2020, as recommended by a local expert here in Cornwall!
It’s worth putting a little effort into sourcing some really great wines for the Christmas table. After all, it is the most important meal of the whole year…
We asked Cornish wine aficionado Elly Owen, newly appointed Wine Director of The Old Garage, to share her top tips.
The Old Garage has just opened a second site at Nansledan near Newquay, so you can shop there, at the original store on The Roseland, or place an order for local delivery if any (or all!) of these sound tempting…
Breakfast on Christmas Day: To wine, or not to wine?
Christmas really is the only day that it’s acceptable to start with some booze, and what better than something light and fizzy like a Bellini?
You can make a really great Bellini without breaking the budget, and you can use nearly any soft fruit (think seasonal, e.g. figs, pears, clementines) or a bottled version like the one we have; they are simple to make and a nice way to start the celebrations.
- Ruggeri Argeo, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy, NV / £14 (pear, cream and notes of banana).
- Van Nahmen, White Peach Nectar / £3 (all the fruit you need for a perfect, classic Bellini).
Bets on a white Christmas this year?
Choosing wine for Christmas is all about versatility – with so many flavours and textures going on, what you really need are wines which go well with lots of things without being too overpowering.
Whites that have a little softness to them are perfect, and a little oak can really help (lots of oaked wines are made in a much more sympathetic style these days, and the oak tends to be subtle).
Wines with vanilla and stone fruit will be fantastic (think white Rioja, Southern Burgundy, Tasmania Chardonnay). One that I’m looking forward to this Crimbo is the Vieille Mule created by the epic wine producer, Jeff Carrel.
Vieille Mule Blanc by Jeff Carrel, Catalanes, 2018/ £15(100% Macabeu. Grape and peach on the nose, plus extra ripe fruit notes. Made from old vines so plenty of body and exquisite depth).
HO, HO, ROsé?
Rosé is not just for summer, however style-wise it might be better to go for something a little more weighty at this time of year.
There are even some Provence rosés which fall into this category, but the trick is to look out for rosés which are much redder in appearance. Some great Aussie rosé wines fit the bill, and the Rhone Tavels are another great option.
One of my all-time rosé favourites is the Clos Cibonne, Cuvee Traditional from Provence made with the grape Tiboren. It’s so tasty, silky, smooth and delicious! We also stock the ultimate Decanter award-winning rosé by this producer in very limited amounts; Chateau Cibon – it’s a seriously good wine!
- Cibonne, Tradition Rosé, Côtes de Provence, 2018 / £28 ( peach, orange and just the most amazing texture for a rosé, divine).
- Chateau Cibon, Cru Classe, 2017 / £52 (won the best Provençal rose in the Decanter awards, this is a proper job Rosé of the highest order!)
Red, Red Wine…
Christmas is not only about one big meal; the best times are often those moments before and after – cooking together or catching up with loved ones. These moments call for a red that comforts and warms, without making you fall into a red wine stupor!
Think lighter reds but ones that are going to make you feel a little special. Pinot Noir can be a great Christmas grape no doubt, and Christmas is the perfect time to treat ourselves to something a little extra special.
However, if you’re looking for something a little off-piste some wines that I have been really enjoying this year are Sicilian reds and more specifically those from the Etna region, often made with a grape called Nero Mascalese.
These wines have lovely graphite and bright red fruit. Minerally and earthy, they can be really amazing. At The Old Garage we have a wine from the producer I Custodi, which hails from vineyards around 400m up on Mount Etna.
I Custodi Pistus Etna Rosso, Sicily, 2017 / £26(earthy minerality, red and black fruits, cherries. Harmonic!)
The main event
With all the effort that goes into the Christmas meal, do it justice by selecting something extra special to drink with it.
Red wines that I think typify Christmas are the ones that you open with the meal but also savour afterwards. A weighty, rich red like an Amarone, Ripasso (ripassimento) is a good choice, and wines from Puglia in Southern Italy can often be lovely and rich.
However, Founder of the Old Garage, Lucy Chenoweth, will be enjoying Kaesler ‘Old Bastard’ Shiraz. Made from old vine shiraz from the Barossa in Australia, this wine is stunning – rich, heady, and has Christmas written all over it!
Old Bastard, Kaesler, Old Vine Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Aus , 2017 / £98(a unique clone of Shiraz now lost in France but here in fine form, makes this wine unique and delicious).
Anyone that knows me will appreciate how much I love Madeira, anytime, anywhere! But of course Christmas is a great time for cracking open a beautiful Madeira – anything from D’Oliveiras, who have a great selection of really old Madeiras will be perfect.
Also, is Christmas even Christmas without Port? Look out for LBV Port – these tend to be a step up from Ruby Port but also offer great value.
Finally, we have a fantastic Banyuls by the producer Domaine Du Traginer which has flavours and aromas of cherries, chocolate and toffee. This would be great with Christmas pudding or for sipping later in the evening, as you make a start on that box of chocolates…
Domaine Du Traginer, Banyuls, France, 2018 500ml / £32 ( Dark cherry, mocha, and toffee. A right red beauty).
Thank you to Elly Owen for sharing those tips – we think we all deserve a treat on Christmas Day, 2020!
Now for some food inspiration, check out our blog on the local producers who can fulfill your every wish this Christmas here.