Calibre Christmas Wine Guide

What do you buy for the person who has everything? The latest gadget that will become obsolete by early 2019? A fashion accessory that is destined to become quickly unfashionable? No, the answer lies in the world of fine and rare wine.

However, the mega-expensive end of the market is not the only place to look for wine that is a cut above. Expensive bottles can often disappoint, while consumers overlook tremendous value wines such as Languedoc reds and vintage, yes vintage Champagne. The following collection is a mixture of the affordable, wines that over deliver and those decadent indulgences for when nothing else will do.

 Bubbly 

Vintage Champagne

Vintage Champagne remains a tiny, and indeed shrinking part of the region's total production. But what value they offer – Pol Roger's vintage Champagne is rarely anything less than magnificent, and usually priced below £70. The quality is typically only slightly below the deluxe cuvees – Dom Perignon, for example – but the price is nowhere near. The list below offers value and pleasure in spades.



Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012

Is there a better value vintage Champagne? Moet & Chandon's 2012 Grand Vintage answers in the negative – the complex, structured palate and long, elegant finish speaks for itself.  A memorable gift for the discerning sybarite.

 Where to buy: www.hedonism.co.uk – £51.90

Taittinger Brut 2012

Setting the standard that others have since attempted to follow, Taittinger's vintage Champagnes are always a very safe bet. Gorgeous aromas of honeysuckle blossom and citrus fill the flute, while the palate is both fresh and complex. One for Christmas Day.

Where to buy: www.winedirect.co.uk/taittinger-brut-millesime-2012 – £51.95



Veuve Clicquot Brut 2008 

Everyone loves Veuve's famous orange label NV Champagne, but only discerning connoisseurs realise that their vintage offering is much better value. This is a 'serious' fizz, with its lively, luxurious palate, a wonderful freshness and intense, brioche and biscuity flavours.  

Where to buy: Sainsbury's– £50.00 

Indulgent fizz 

 

Lanson's Noble Cuvee 2002 

This is something very special. The justly lauded 2002 vintage has produced a Champagne of remarkable depth and complexity, yet one feels that the Noble Cuvee will develop so many dimensions as it ages. A rich, luscious mouth feel gives way to lemony biscuit, brioche and a multitude of flowery scents. Agile and powerful in the same breath, this deserves a special accompaniment. 

Where to buy: Champagne Direct www.champagnedirect.co.uk- £115 



Comtes de Champagne 2007 

The prestige offering from Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne never, ever lets you down. It has long commanded a cult following amongst the cultural elite; Marion Cotillard, and Charles Aznavour are now committed devotees. So with its growing fan base and historical pedigree, it's a sensible choice for serious festive pleasure. 

Where to buy: https://www.majestic.co.uk – £153.00



Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas François 2006 

This exceptional fizz is the prestige offering from venerable house Billecart-Salmon. It was created in 1964 as a tribute to the House’s founder. It results from the blending of grands crus from the classified Cote des Blancs vineyards (Chardonnay) and the Montagne de Reims (Pinot Noir). Its vinification, partially in traditional oak casks, underpins the generous character of this fine, elegant and rich wine. Moreish and impossible to resit, Nicolas François rarely hits a wrong note. 

Where to buy: www.champagnedirect.co.uk - £135 

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV 

One of my favourite houses, this remarkable property undoubtedly crafts Champagne's best value non-vintage offering – the Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. And now they've gone one better, with their new NV Blanc de Blancs.  Benefiting from the extensive stocks of reserve wines held at Charles Heidsieck, built up over the years by legendary cellar master Daniel Thibault, the wine is utterly remarkable: toasty, rich, complex and yet extremely elegant.  

Where to buy: www.leaandsandeman.co.uk – £69.95 

Bruno Paillard Zero Dosage 

Bruno Paillard produce a racy, fruity and elegant range of Champagnes, this latest release is sugar-free and sublimely elegant. It seduces you with its mineral, citrus fruit and full bodied palate.  

Where to buy: Hedonism Wines – £49.80

Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Chouilly, 'Mag 14' AR Lenoble NV 

Exquisite be thy name. This grower Champagne from exceptional house AR Lenoble is really quite exceptional – force and finesse merge with spectacular results. Fresh and vital on the palate, this is a very fruity yet dry and vivacious cuvee with a tight structure and good grip in the finish. Divine!

Where to buy: www.vincognito.co.uk  - £44.00 

Black Chalk Classic

Black Chalk is undoubtedly one of the best new faces in the English sparkling wine scene. The Black Chalk Classic is sublime: offering complex layers of coffee, toast, orange peel and Chinese spices on the nose. The palate is equally as impressive, the finish long - a real treat for fizz lovers. 

Where to buy: Corkage - £35.00 

Jaume Codorniu Ars Collecta 2013 

Spain's top class bubbly from leading producer Codorniu, the Jaume Codorniu is a wonderful alternative from Champagne this Christmas, offering lovely flavours of peach and apricot, supported by caressingly soft texture. Beautifully balanced, this is proof indeed that Cava is not sub £6 level supermarket fizzy plonk. 

Where to buy:www.vinissimus.co.uk – £26.09 

Great value white & red 



Hunter's Chardonnay 2016 

Another winner from New Zealand, Hunter's Chardonnay is arguably one of the best produced in the country today - rich, intense flavours of citrus, tropical fruit and butterscotch are finely balanced out by textbook acidity. 

Where to buy: https://www.laithwaites.co.uk – £15.99 



Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 

Delicious, velvety and not expensive, this Australian Cabernet from leading outfit Moss Wood is certain to keep everyone happy. Even the teetotallers.

Where to buy: www.frazierswine.co.uk – £28.99 

Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2015

To survive the onslaught of distant relatives on Boxing Day, you're going to need something pretty special to get you through the day. We suggest starting with a glass of this exquisite red from NZ's Villa Maria.  It's my favourite of the Kiwi Bordeaux blends, a very complex and elegant red much more akin to claret than anything made in California.  

Where to buy: https://thenewzealandcellar.co.uk – £22.90

Chateau Argadens 2017 

For the naysayers who insist that good Bordeaux is always overpriced, I give you Chateau Argadens Blanc. A zesty, racy white, this delicious wine punches above its price point, and then some! The Bordeaux steal of the year. 

Where to buy: Davy's Wine Merchants - £12.50

Chateau Lassegue 1998 

Another Bordeaux bargain, Chateau Lassegue delivers a lot of wine for the money. 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. Delicious. 

Where to buy: www.farehamwinecellar.co.uk – £22.99 

Fine & Rare – for when only the best will do 

Fattoria Le Pupille: Saffredi 2015 

Quite possibly the best vintage of Saffredi to date, this prestigious winery is one of Tuscany's finest. According to leading critic Monica Larner: “The 2015 Saffredi is a sultry and velvety wine from the Tuscan Coast. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot that sees 18 months in new and neutral oak. The textural richness is of the highest caliber, and the bouquet produces a long succession of black fruit, exotic spice and savory tobacco flavors.” I'm sold. 

Where to buy: www.bbr.com - £200 (Magnum) 

Sena 2014 

Please don't let the fact that Sena is from Chile bias you – this is a blockbuster, and make no mistake. A project initiated by Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick, Sena was intended to prove that the wines of Chile could easily rival their more expensive cousins in Bordeaux. The 2014 is another standout example: expect an intense nose of black fruits, plum and spice, with ripe blackcurrant, blackberry and mocha on the palate. 

Where to buy: Crump, Richmond & Shaw Fine Wines £162.00 (Magnum)

Chateau Latour 1990 

It needs no introduction - Chateau Latour is one of the most magnificent red wines in the world. The 1990 is currently at its peak, an outstandingly complex and elegant wine, that effortlessly merges force and finesse.  It may not have quite the status of Lafite, but it is every bit the equal in quality. Some would say superior. 

Where to buy: https://www.harveynichols.com £1,175.00

Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet 2011

While the fine wine world is undoubtedly predominately obsessed with the colour red, the Chardonnay vineyards of Chevalier Montrachet are virtually priceless and in massive demand. This is white wine on another level – strong, perfumed, intense, luscious and utterly moreish. 

Where to buy:  https://www.harveynichols.com £475.00

 Author James Lawrence

 
Posted in Food & Drink

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