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  • Natalie Shelley

It’s Christmas – the most wine-derful time of the year…

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

It’s that time of year again when we start our Christmas shopping and begin to plan what we are going to eat and drink over the festive season. So it was with great appreciation that we welcomed guest Paul Stratford from Old Butcher’s Wine Cellar in Cookham, to help us with the job and share with us his suggestions for wines to liven up our Christmas celebrations. He brought with him a selection of wines from his shop – ones that were good value and ideal to serve at parties, ones that are good to drink on their own and ones perfect to have when tucking into our Christmas dinner.

Wine 1

The evening kicked off with a bubbly in the shape of a zingy, refreshing Prosecco by Molmenti & Celot. Any doubters of Prosecco, possibly because of the market being flooded with Proseccos of sub-standard quality, surely had to be won over by this example brought by Paul. With an unusually significant nose for a sparkling wine, there were aromas of citrus, peach and green apple. This extra dry wine (slightly sweeter in style than a brut) showed a nice balance of the sugar and acidity, echoing the aromas on the palate. A pleasant way to start Christmas celebrations with this simple citrusy, light, zippy fizz.

Wine: Molmenti & Celot Prosecco; Grape(s): Glera; Geography: Fruili, Italy; Producer: Molmenti & Celot; Year: NV; ABV: 11%; Price: £13.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 2

Languedoc, possibly the best grape growing region in France in terms of climate and geography, is home to Domain Daurion, the producer of the second wine of the evening. This virtually sulphur-free Chardonnay is a blend of mostly unoaked wine with a 5-10% addition of French oaked wine for that touch of complexity. Toasty, buttery with peach aromas on the nose and good acidity, this wine is ideal to serve at a party particularly in view of its price tag of under a tenner.

Wine: Domain Daurion Chardonnay; Grape(s): Chardonnay; Geography: Languedoc Roussillon, France; Producer: Domaine Daurion; Year: 2017; ABV: 13%; Price: £9.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 3

A Grand Cru by the Alsace region grower Julian Schaal, wine 3 displayed exceptional qualities of the Riesling grape to produce this delicious wine, well received by the members who almost unanimously voted in favour of having it again. Organically grown, with just a touch of sulphur added at the bottling stage, this wine opens up better on decanting to give fresh light fruits and honey on the nose and a long, elegant well-balanced finish. Would be good served with fish or a soft cheese such as brie.

Wine: Julien Schaal Grand Cru; Grape(s): Riesling; Geography: Alsace, France; Producer: Julien Schaal; Year: 2018; ABV: 13%; Price: £23.00; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 4

A Provence rosé with the popular very pale blush colour, but with a striking nose reminiscent of pear drops and a great depth of flavour. A well-balanced smooth wine with a long peachy finish. A great option for those rosé lovers to sup at Christmas get-togethers.

Wine: St Jean Pimayon Rosé; Grape(s): Grenache Syrah; Geography: Provence, France; Producer: Chateau St Jean; Year: 2018; ABV: 13%; Price: £15.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 5

With vineyards near Verona on the shores of Lake Garda, Bardolino is neighbour to the more well-known Valpolicella and good value with a bottle selling at £9.99. A light to medium bodied red wine, it would be great for easy drinking at parties. Soft summer fruits on the nose with beetroot and slight vegetal undertones, this wine has very little tannin and would go well with spicy foods or even chilled for summer drinking.

Wine: Torres Dei Vescovi Bardolino; Grape(s): Cordina, Rondinella; Geography: Veneto, Italy; Producer: Torres dei Vescovi; Year: 2018; ABV: 12%; Price: £9.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 6

This red was Paul’s favourite wine at a wine industry speed- tasting event he attended where there were 1,200 wines on offer. The smoky, bacon-like flavour of this wine filled with rich ripe cherries is a lot lighter bodied than expected by the dense, dark appearance of the wine. It would be an excellent accompaniment to the Christmas turkey.

Wine: Chateau Prieure des Mourgues Grand Reserve ; Grape(s): Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre ; Geography: Saint Chinian ; Producer: Ch. Prieure des Mourgues ; Year: 2015 ; ABV: 14.5%; Price: £17.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 7

Wine 7 breaks the mould of monotonous Argentinian Malbecs with loads of smoke, pepper, tobacco and rich blackberries on the nose giving way to a structured, dense, rich feel in the mouth. A great accompaniment to most meaty, savoury dishes.

Wine: La Consulta Malbec; Grape(s): Malbec; Geography: Argentina; Producer: Vina Las Perdices; Year: 2017; ABV: 14.7%; Price: £22.00; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

Wine 8

An almost orange coloured fortified wine, Domaine Schistes Muscat is produced organically in a vinery just outside Perignan by Domaines de Schistes, which hand makes all its wines in small productions. A sensational almost Cointreau-like nose, it is sweet and apricotty on the palate but without the usual syrupiness of a lot of dessert wines. The price of £19.99 is for a 75cl bottle and would go with virtually whatever you served at the end of a meal.

Wine: Domaine Schistes Muscat; Grape(s): Muscat Petit Grains; Geography: Muscat de Rivesaltes, Languedoc; Producer: Domaine Des Schistes; Year: 2015; ABV: 15.5%; Price: £19.99; Source: Old Butcher's Wine Cellar

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