Magnum Charter

POSTED ON 12/12/2015

Science tells us that wine in magnums is superior to a 75 cl bottle, but you don’t need rocket science to see how impressive a magnum can be at Christmas. So what better way to get the festive juices flowing than with a magnum of the 2010 Chéreau-Carré Cuvée des Ceps Centenaires, Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine, £22, The Wine Society, a lipsmacking bone dry white with an appley tang that beats many a Chablis.

For a classy apéritif before Christmas lunch, West Sussex’ magnificent 2009 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, £67.99, selected Majestic, Fortnums, Wine Pantry, Harvey Nichols, with its rich Cox’s apple mousse and winey, bone dry tang is one of the wonders of English sparkling wine, a magnum force explosion of festive fizz. With its seductive foaming crème fraiche mousse and appley bite, Sussex’ 2000 Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs, £75, Marks & Spencer, will also surprise anyone who hasn’t yet cottoned on to the brilliance of English fizz.

A top red in the recently published Rioja Top 100 selection was the remarkable 2007 Contino Gran Reserva Rioja, £115, Berry Bros. & Rudd, not merely fragrant with vanilla oak but at its drinking peak with seductive melt-in-the-mouth, opulent blackberry fruitiness. From neighbouring Ribera, Peter Sisseck’s 2011 PSI from, £50, Corney & Barrow, is a fragrant mouthful of voluptuous strawberry fruit and vigour. If either are over budget, the 2010 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva, £30, multibuy £22.49, Majestic, £25, Great Western Wine, is sweetly charry in traditional Rioja mould with liquid cherry and gamey fruitiness.

Could there be a more festive red at Christmas than the 2012 Villalta Amarone della Valpolicella, £45, Marks & Spencer (£25 for the bottle)? It’s a richly concentrated red for cold meats or hard cheeses from Italy’s Veneto whose liquid cherry and raisined fruit comes from the drying of the grapes on straw mats to concentrate both fruit quality and freshness. Another delicious red in magnum is the 2010 Château Saint Valery Saint Emilion Grand Cru, £31, Christmas flash sale, £10 delivery, all smooth cassis-rich fruit, drinking perfectly. What was that about small is beautiful?

Something for the Weekend 12 December 2015

Night In

2014 Clare-Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 10.

A blend of cabernet sauvignon from two very different South Australia wine regions, this Aussie red is mint and herbal scented and follows the aromatics with juicy blackcurrant fruitiness satisfyingly enveloped by a balanced and firm-textured freshness. £9.99, Aldi.

Dinner Party

2013 Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard Savigny-Lès-Beaune

A fragrant sniff of red berry and vanilla brings to mind winter’s game, duck, and goose, an impression reinforced by the pinot noir’s seductive raspberry and mulberry fruitiness and behind it a vigorous, mellow textured , savoury elegance. £19.79, Waitrose.

Splash Out

2004 / 2005 La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva

Back-to-back vintages of classic Rioja: an unenviable choice between the rich, mellow, gamey and savoury 2004, £35.99, Booths, and the camphor-spicy, youthfully cherried 2005, £28 - £39.99, Divine Fine Wines, Wine Society, Lay & Wheeler, Handford.

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