It’s already started — the festive flood of shoddy champagne on BOGOF deals in the supermarkets. Well, BOGOF indeed. Such fizz might bear the magical name of champagne, but all too often these wines will have been made from the second or even third pressing of inferior fruit from the less good plots, and aged for the bare legal minimum of 15 months rather than the more usual four or five years.
If I can’t have or can’t afford Pol or Bol or something similar, then I’d far rather stick to the 2013 Blanquette de Limoux, ‘Saint-Hilaire’, Aimery, a wonderful sparkler made by the champagne method in the Languedoc and offered here by the wise old Wine Company. They were making sparkling wine there a full century before they worked out how to do it in Champagne, and this blend of Blanquette (aka Mauzac), Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc is spot-on. It’s dry with fine acidity and, having aged on its lees, has plenty of weighty white peach and pear fruit with a nice touch of ripeness. It’s perfect for the Boxing Day party on its own or as part of a reviving Buck’s Fizz or Black Velvet. £11 down from £12.99.
The 2014 Gavi di Gavi, Manfredi, is a charming white made from 100 per cent Cortese in the south-east of Piedmont in northern Italy. It’s fresh, fruity and crisp with ample body and teasing hints of lemon and herbs. Enjoy with the Christmas smoked eel, salmon or oysters. £10.25 down from £11.49.
Our two reds are ideal for a canny Christmas. The 2013 Pic St-Loup ‘Sélection’ Seigneur de Lauret from the Languedoc is a robust blend of 80 per cent Syrah and 20 per cent Grenache brimming with concentrated ripe red and black fruit, liquorice and spice. There is some tannin but you won’t notice this with grub, and I reckon it would be a great partner to the roast turkey or baked ham. £9.75 down from £10.99.
The 2013 Malbec, Piedra Negra, is a perfect example of Mendoza Malbec produced by François Lurton, scion of the famed family of Bordelais vignerons. I’ve interviewed François in Argentina and remember him telling me how bowled over he was when he realised what vibrant colour and great depth of flavour he could achieve with Malbec there. Violet-scented and soft, smooth and intense on the palate, it’s supremely drinkable and ideal with a Christmas rib of beef or even Boxing Day cold roast beef sandwiches. £10.50 down from £12.49.
There’s a sample case with three of each bottle and delivery, as ever, is free.