It’s a terrible cliché yet an undeniable fact: vintage Champagne, top end Bordeaux and fine Burgundy make the ideal Christmas gift. Moreover, unlike the latest gadget, great vintages from the world’s most exclusive vineyards are in short supply, guaranteeing the lucky recipient a very memorable Christmas present.
That being said, there are plenty of gems to be found in California, New Zealand and beyond, and it would be sacrilege to suggest that Europe holds the monopoly on fine wine. And so without further ado, Calibre presents its Christmas gift guide 2017, from the reassuringly expensive to the amazingly affordable.
Champagne Jacques Selosse Brut Initial NV, £175
A living legend, Jacques Selosse continues to produce some of the most exquisite, exciting grower Champagne today. Fermented in individual Burgundian barrels, the Brut Initial is more like a still wine than a Champagne, with its powerful, rich oxidative style and immense depth of flavour.
Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 2002, £240
The final prestige cuvee to be released from the iconic 2002 vintage in Champagne, Bruno Paillard’s N.P.U. is utterly exquisite, and in short supply. Just 6,200 bottles and 300 magnums – each of which are individually numbered – of N.P.U. 2002 have been made.
Deutz 2012 vintage, £59.95
The latest vintage to be released from respected Champagne house Deutz, the 2012 is utterly exquisite, and a relative bargain at under £60.00. Aromas of brioche, baked apple, vanilla and white flowers dance across your flute, while the palate is full-bodied and beautifully textured. The ideal Champagne gift for any wine lover.
Taittinger Prestige Rose, NV £50.00
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect aperitif than this elegant, salmon pink coloured rose from Taittinger. A lighter rose style which seduces you with its soft scented strawberry, raspberry and citrus aromas and flavours.
Harrods Rose NV, £35.00
It is always a rare treat to find high quality, great value rose Champagne but this example from Harrods really fits the bill. A moreish alternative to the more famous brands out there, the Champagne offers penetrating aromas of strawberry and cream, raspberry and red cherry. It slips down too easily I find, so you may need a few bottles.
Villa Maria Ngakirikiri Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, £82.50
Villa Maria’s flagship Bordeaux blend from the legendary Gimblett Gravels terroir in New Zealand is simply outstanding; a complex, elegant wine brimming with cassis, plum, floral and cedar flavours and aromas. Proof indeed that Bordeaux does not have the monopoly on outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac St-Emillion 2007, £22.00
This lovely St-Emilion from Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac offers a lot and asks for relatively little. Indeed, for under £30.00 Bordeaux lovers can savour this elegant, charming claret, the equal of many wines that cost 5 times as much. The veritable bargain of the season.
Cune Rioja Reserva 2013, £15.55
Delicious, velvety and not expensive, this Rioja from historic outfit CVNE is certain to keep everyone happy. Even the teetotallers.
Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, £18.75
For the naysayers who insist that good Bordeaux is always overpriced, I give you Kendall Jackson’s superlative Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Beguiling aromas of cassis, leather, vanilla and violets fill your glass, at a fraction of the cost of more famous names like Lafite and Margaux.
Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2014, £125.00
An equal of top white Burgundy in every sense, Penfold’s legendary Yattarna Chardonnay is considered one of Australia’s finest wines. The 2014 vintage, made in small quantities, is a white wine on another level – strong, perfumed, intense, luscious and utterly more-ish.
Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2015, £17.00
For something really special to enjoy with your Christmas day lunch, try this 2015 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse from Burgundy, France’s most famous home of Chardonnay. It is the epitome of great Chardonnay grown in the Mâconnais region south of the Cote d’Or: broad, intense flavours of citrus, oatmeal and toast are finely balanced out with a crisp minerality.
Quinta Do Noval Colheita 2003, £50.00
Quinta Do Noval is a highly respected and historic name in port, their 2003 Colheita sets the standard for others to follow in this price bracket with its lively, luxurious palate, a wonderful freshness and intense, black fruit, roasted pine nuts and spice flavours. They have always been one of my favourite port producers, and this bottle is an incredible steal at under £60,00 for such a wonderful wine.
Williams & Humbert Collection 12yo Oloroso, £8.79
Sherry remains to this day the wine world’s biggest steal. For less than a tenner you’re getting a delicious, complex and age-worthy fine wine, ideal for pairing with mince pies and blue cheeses.