Jonathan Ray Jonathan Ray

Bottles from Honest Grapes to ward off Christmas Affected Doom


My annual bout of CADDAD (Christmas Affected Doom, Depression and Despondency) struck early this year. It’s a terrible affliction about which I’ve written many times before and it knocked me flat in late September, just as the first mince pies and Christmas puddings appeared in the supermarkets. Stoicism being my middle name, I dug deep and vowed to carry on, only to be felled again outside Fortnum & Mason at the end of October, assailed by their ridiculously premature festive decorations and jaunty carols played on a loudspeaker outside their store. In October! For heaven’s sake.

Mrs Ray and I have already had our first festive row about the bloody tree and I can only applaud and envy the chap I saw only yesterday chucking his tree – gaudy baubles and all – into the council recycling area and stomping off. Oh to have such inner strength!  What I do have, though, is a thirst, and I’ll be slaking it regularly over the coming weeks, helped by the following bottles from our partners Honest Grapes.

Citrusy, peachy and sprightly, it makes a fine aperitif and is spot on with a plate of festive oysters

We’ve offered some wonderful still white burgundies from this producer before, but the Domaine du Bicheron Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs NV (1) is the first sparkler of theirs that we’ve offered, and it’s a gem. Produced in the traditional method from 100 per cent Chardonnay, it’s fresh, lively and ever so slightly toasty. More than acceptable on its own, it’s perfect as the base of many a festive cocktail and is far better value than those dreary BOGOF champagnes you see in the supermarket at this ghastly time of year. £16.70 per down from £17.70.

Bouza do Rei, a federation of five local vineyard owners established in 1984, is one of the top producers in Rías Baixas, north-west Spain, and their 2022 Bouza do Rei Albariño (2) is as decent an example of this hugely popular grape as I’ve had.

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