Wine O'Clock by Giles Luckett
It’s Christmas…! Alright it isn’t, but judging from my doormat and the welter of wine lists adorned with baubles and bottles of fizz you’d be forgiven for thinking it was. Yes, the season to be jolly (with a bottle of Bolly…?) will soon be here and to help you get the festive fizz this year, here’s my run down of some of the best champagnes around at the moment.
First up, Waitrose Non-Vintage (Waitrose £19.99). This won the International Wine Challenge Great Value Sparking Wine 2016. Apparently. Gongs aside, this is great stuff. So much non-vintage champagne - wine made from grapes from several years - is frankly awful and you’d be much better off with a decent sparkling wine like South Africa’s Graham Beck (£13 Majestic) or Australia’s Pelorus (Sainsbury’s £22). This though is lovely. Creamy, rich and with loads of ripe apple and peach fruit, it’s a classy wine that will doubtless be on offer in the run up to Christmas.
Next up, a rosé. Now it’s very easy to spend a lot of money rosé champagne and not get that much extra for your money as anyone whose tasted Krug Rosé (£230 a bottle versus around £150 for the white) will tell you. The reason it’s generally more expensive is that it’s harder to make well as proper ones use the saignee method which is where the red grape skins ‘bleed’ their colour into the white wine which can be tricky to control. Anyway, if you want a great glassful then try the Adnams Rosé (£25.99). Delicate, yet with a lovely depth of red berry fruits and just a touch of yeastiness, this a really well-made wine.
Stepping up a level, let’s look at a vintage wine. This is a wine made from a single year’s harvest and (should!) only be made in exceptional years. The wines get longer in bottle before release and can age for years. These wines always have a premium attached and you do get what you pay for. One of my favourites is the Veuve Clicquot (Tesco £47). Weighty, yet balanced, this is a serious wine that offers layer upon layer of white and red berry fruits, touches of spice and a lovely nutty note to the finish.
Lastly, and ramping up the price and the weight, the Bollinger 2007 (£67 Majestic). This is a serious wine; one that owing to the high proportion of the black Pinot Noir grape variety in it, needs time to show its class. Right now, this is a massive, stone fruit, melon and raspberry tinted titan of a wine. Give it another five years and it will be rich, creamy and honeyed and a decade after that it will be mellow, sumptuous and loaded with baked apple and raisin fruit.
Well, all that talk of festive jolliness has given me craving for a mince pie and a glass of fizz.
So, until next time, happy Christmas!