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Christmas is Coming

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Here we are, locked down again, but still wanting to get ready for whatever festivities we can manage over the next couple of months. One thing’s certain, the events and the food we’ll be enjoying will need to be accompanied by suitably festive drinks.

So here are some of my suggestions, including classic favourites from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire and Rioja. Some of the wines have a little age on them too – they’ve mellowed so that we can do the same.

We thought we might need fortifying as well, so there are some sherries, ports & a madeira to help.

Needless to say, at the team tasting we thought all the wines we picked were excellent, but I have some particular favourites to recommend.

To wake you up:

· Gutierrez Colosia Fino Sherry, Puerto de Santa Maria - a piercingly crisp perker-upper with a distinct hint of a sea breeze.

For the main event:

· Chateau des Joualles 2010 - astoundingly good value for a cracking 10 year old claret, drinking beautifully now.

· Urbina 2006 Reserva Especial Rioja – while the 2009 Crianza is a perfect example of a good value Rioja, do consider pushing the boat out and try the 2006 Reserva Especial – as one of our tasting team said, "You'd pay just to smell it!" . Tim Atkin MW agrees:

“If you love mature, traditionally made Rioja, this will put a smile on your face and a song on your lips. Made from Tempranillo plus 5% Graciano and Mazuelo, it has the freshness and elegance that you’d expect from the cooler Cuzcurrita zone, spicy French and American oak, fine grained tannins and palate-caressing strawberry sweetness.”

96 Points: Drink 2019 – 2026 – Tim Atkin MW Special Rioja Report 2019

To finish off:

· Krohn Colheita Port 2007 – delicious, wood aged, rich, and a real talking point. A Colheita is a tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage. This one was aged in wood until its bottling in 2018. Colheitas sadly are quite rare, which is a shame as they combine the sweet fruit and nuttiness of an old tawny with the particular character of a single vintage.

It’s worth a word on Madeira I think as it’s not on everyone’s “must have” list, but is definitely worth putting there.

We’ve picked the Barbeito Rainwater Reserva. Rainwater gets its name from the (possibly apochryphal) story of some Madeira casks that were left out in the rain before shipping. The rain was eventually absorbed into the wood and contributed a distinct taste to the style.

As with all Madeiras it will keep for months once opened.....but I've never seen that happen. This ability to last stems from the combination of the ageing and heating process that Madeira goes through. The ageing is in cask, for five years in this case but often more, so what oxidation is going to happen takes place there. Couple that with the wines being intentionally stored in very warm conditions and you end up with a bullet-proof wine.

The Rainwater is heated using the Canteiro method in which the barrels are stacked on beams (the "canteiro") under the rafters in warm roof spaces, exposed to natural heating from the sun on the roof. Barbeito uses different locations to achieve specific styles of wine. You’ll find more details here:

And the result? When we tasted, we said: “Medium-dry, golden in colour, it has a delicate nose hinting of spicy honey. The taste suggests caramel, candied fruit and nuts.” Its freshness makes it a perfect aperitif, or to complement typical tapas - nuts, olives, cheeses. Serve it cool rather than chilled.

Let’s make the most of lockdown!

John Scholes November 2020

Wine Society Team

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1 Comment

Jerry Berry
Jerry Berry
Nov 20, 2020

Thank you John for the first piece on Christmas I have read this year. I would just like to add one thing, for now, on our selection. Fergus Henderson, founder of the St John restaurant, recommends Madeira to accompany Mince Pies. I can’t think of anything more seasonally scrumptious. Why wait until Christmas?

Another related observation, if negroni is your cocktail of choice, as it is mine, St John offers their own pre-bottled version (available online) named after their founder; the FERGRONI. This is not offered through the West Meon Wine Society, but has my stamp of approval.


Wine Society Team

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