Life
    Wine & Food

    Wines of the month: 6 of the best for Christmas

    19 December 2019

    2018 Alamos Uco Valley Malbec, 13.5%vol, (£6.99 if you mix 6; Majestic).

    From Mendoza’s Uco Valley, an easy-going Malbec that’s corking good value and disarmingly drinkable. Produced from vines planted at high altitude that enjoy plenty of sun but cool temperatures, it’s juicily ripe and blessed with racy freshness. With heady notes of violets and with damson, blackberry and plum-rich flavours, it will go down a treat with festive rib of beef.

    2017 Robert Oatley Signature Series Margaret River Chardonnay,12.5%vol, (£12; Co-op).

    Margaret River might only produce some 1 per cent of Australia’s wine but it produces 20 per cent of its premium wine and is a glorious spot, just a few hours south of Perth. Chardonnay performs particularly well here, and this from Robert Oatley is full of peachy white fruit that’s faintly honeyed, lightly oaked and extremely refreshing. 

    2017 Pillitteri Estates Riesling Icewine, 10%vol, (£13.99 per 37.5cl; Lidl).

    Canadian Icewine is a treat to be treasured and ooh-ed and ah-ed over. Produced in the Niagara Peninsula from grapes that have frozen on the vine (leading to great concentration), this multi-award-winner from Lidl is a cracker and better priced than any I’ve seen. Full of luscious tropical fruit and fine acidity, it’s richly sweet and light in alcohol and makes a fabulous end to any meal.

    2015 Torres Salmos, 14.5%vol, (£20; Waitrose).

    Nobody knows more about making wine in Spain than the Torres family. They’ve been enólogos since 1870 and have vineyards across the country (and in Chile and California too). This, from Priorat, in NE Spain, is sublime. An oak-aged blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Cariñena, it’s soft, smooth, richly flavoured with cassis, plums, chocolate, liquorice, herbs and spice. A Rhône or claret such quality would be half as much again.

    2017 Domaine Baptiste Guyot Beaune Blanc Clos du Foulot,13%vol, (£24.85; Private Cellar).

    White Beaune is something of a rarity, comprising less than 15 per cent of the appellation’s production, and white Beaune as toothsome as this for less than £25 a pop is even rarer. It’s magnificent and perfect for festive smoked salmon. 100 per cent Chardonnay (of course) from a single vineyard (le Clos du Foulot), it’s crisp and dry, yet rounded, buttery and generous too.

    2013 Ayala ‘Le Blanc de Blancs’ Champagne, 12%vol, (£55; Harvey Nichols).

    For some unfathomable reason Ayala doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Shame, as it’s one heck of a champagne house, founded in 1860 and owned by Bollinger since 2005. I love its fizz and this hot-off-the-press Blanc de Blancs is stunning and elegance incarnate. 100 per cent Chardonnay, aged for 6 years, it boasts a minimal dosage, fine mousse, honeyed, peachy fruit and a keen mineral core.