Well, it’s almost upon us, the strangest of Christmases. Thrust into our ridiculous bubbles, some folk are stuck seeing the people they don’t want to see and other folk are stuck not seeing the people they do want to see. It’s all going to be very odd and not a little challenging.
The key to a passable Christmas, though, remains the same: wine and plenty of it. It’s more important to drink well than to drink heavily, of course, and with this very toothsome selection from Honest Grapes — Decanter’s Outstanding Wine Retailer of the Year 2020 — you can do just that. Drink well, that is. And if you take advantage of the very special Santa’s Selection you will drink very well indeed. What? Oh for heaven’s sake don’t panic, of course it’s got gin in it and, yes, yes, drinking heavily does indeed remain an option.
We start, though, with the 2019 Ch. Haut-Rian Blanc (1). I’m not usually a fan of dry white Bordeaux but this 60 per cent Sémillon, 40 per cent Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Entre-Deux-Mers quite turned my head. Crisp, clean and lemon-fresh with grassy notes and herbs, it makes an invigorating apéritif. £12.20 down from £13.20.
The 2019 Ch. Pesquié Terrasses Blanc (2) from the slopes of Mont Ventoux in Provence is right up my street. A blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Clairette, it’s fresh yet weighty and beautifully textured. It’s teasingly aromatic with plenty of peach, apricot and spring blossom. I love wines like this. £14.40 down from £15.40.
The 2019 Domaine de l’Ostal Rosé (3) from the heart of the Languedoc boasts impeccable pedigree, owned as it is by the fabled Cazes family, proprietors of mighty Ch. Lynch-Bages. An equal blend of Grenache and Syrah, it has plenty of weighty ripe, sweet fruit in the mouth and finishes perfectly dry. You’re having smoked salmon right? Then this is the ideal match. £12.40 down from £13.40.
A powerful blend of Syrah (mainly) and Carignan, the 2018 Ch. de l’Herbe Sainte ‘Tradition’ (4) is typical Minervois fare. With rich, dark fruit and plenty of spice, liquorice and scented scrub and herbs, it’s complex and satisfying, making a great match for roast rib of beef. £12 down from £13.
The 2018 Domaine André Colonge Fleurie (5) could hardly be more different, being delicately perfumed, soft, silky and almost indecently succulent, crammed as it is with luscious red and black fruit. Beaujolais as fine as this is such a great pleasure. £16 down from £17.
You would be hard-pressed to get a better--value festive Pinot Noir than the 2018 Albert Bichot ‘Secret de Famille’ (6). Made from 100 per cent Côtes de Nuits fruit, it’s extremely approachable and gratifyingly grown up with plummy fruit and a savoury finish. It’s that rarity: fine Burgundy at a fair price. £22 down from £23.
But, wait, don’t go, there’s more! All we want to do at the Spectator Wine Club is bring you joy and make you happy, and those crafty, wine-loving elves at Honest Grapes, Tom and Nathan, have come up with the perfect festive add-on of six essentials for Christmas.
Santa’s Selection (8) contains one bottle each of the following: the multi-award-winning, jaw-droppingly fine English fizz Wiston Estate Brut NV from West Sussex; the wild strawberry-laden grower champagne Pol Couronne Brut Rosé NV; the crisp, bone-dry, appetite-inducing Maestro Sierra Fino Sherry; the nutty, raisiny and gloriously complex Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port; the rich, dark and inviting 2015 Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage Port and, finally, the delicately pink-hued, wonderfully aromatic Chapel Down Pinot Noir Gin from Kent. I can’t think of a better way of getting you though the festivities. Happy Christmas!
The mixed case has two bottles each of wines 1-6 and delivery, as ever, is free.