TOP RED WINES FOR SERVING AT CHRISTMAS
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 15 December 2019
Lisbon, Portugal: CASA DO LAGO GRANDE RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£8.99 reduced from £10.99 Rude Wines
One of the brilliant Portuguese red bargains I recently unearthed. This is soft juicy and succulent, so approachable in style, but with a serious welter of blackcurrant fruits: a good budget buy for the Christmas roast. It reminds me of the soft easy-drinking Chilean Cabernets we used to get. Made by Lisbon legend Jose Neiva Correira who is widely credited with helping create the current Portuguese red wine revolution.
Central Otago, New Zealand: OUTLOOK BAY PINOT NOIR 2016 (13%)
Hard to find Central Otago Pinot under £10 anywhere these days. Starts sweet with ripe succulent blackcherry fruits on the palate, then it turns smoky savoury and peppery. A lightweight compared to most Kiwi Pinot Noirs, but a great price. A good match for a mushroom stroganoff or vegetarian option.
Rioja, Spain: THE SOCIETY’S EXHIBITION RIOJA RESERVA 2011 La Rioja Alta (13.5%)
£15.50 The Wine Society
Looking for well-priced Rioja to serve with turkey – this is the one. Smooth mature savoury mellow version made, unusually, from 100% Tempranillo (Rioja is often a blend with Garnacha) with two years in cask and further bottle age. I enjoyed the fresh palate acidity, herby undertones and smooth silky texture, but it definitely benefited from decanting an hour before serving. Made by one of my favourite bodegas, La Rioja Alta in Haro.
Tuscany, Italy: SARACOSA GOVERNO ROSSO 2016 Barbenera (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
This succulent peppery Tuscan red was very popular with our tasters, who loved its beautiful bouquet, sweet richness and juicy flavours. Winemaker Sofia Barbanera used an old C14 method called ‘governo’ to add richness to this Sangiovese / Merlot blend. Some grapes were left to dry for three weeks to help add concentration, dried fruit notes and glycerol to the wine. Delicious with roast beef or game.
Burgundy, France: RULLY EN ROSEY 2016 Chanzy (13%)
£15.99/£17.99 Majestic Wine
Pretty Pinot Noir with bright cherry fruits from one of my favourite Burgundy villages, Rully in Cotes Chalonnaise. This rural tranquil village produces great value examples of both red and white – but is so often overlooked by those heading to the big names in the Cote d’Or. Popular with tasters for its smooth structure and intriguing herby notes. Serve with game or roast turkey.
Thracian Lowlands, Bulgaria: COLINE D’ENIRA 2014 Domaine Bessa Valley (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
A surprise find in our Christmas line-up. Loved the cedary sweet tobacco aromas, soft silky velvet smooth texture and fresh acidity. This intriguing blend of Bulgarian-grown Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot was given five star oak treatment by a Bordelais, so it is no wonder it tastes like fine old claret. One of Bessa’s owners is Stephan von Niepperg, owner of St Emilion-based Canon La Gaffeliere – and his winemaker Mark Dworkin is also ex-Bordeaux. Delicious with roast duck or turkey.
Tuscany, Italy: ROSSO DI MONTEPULCIANO 2015 Poderi Sanguineto (14%)
£18.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh
If you normally buy Chianti Classico, you will love this bold-structured blend of Sangiovese with local Tuscan grapes Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo. This Rosso di Montepulciano is the junior appellation within this famous hilltop village, but this has all the hallmarks of top quality Tuscan red with its herb and tealeaf aromas, rich cherry fruits and firm ripe tannins. Serve with roast beef or venison.
Central Otago, New Zealand: LOWBURN FERRY HOME BLOCK PINOT NOIR 2015 (13.5%)
£29 www.winetrust100.co.uk; St Andrews Wine Co
Central Otago’s short intense growing season and high UV light creates intense black plummy, cassis-fruited Pinots. When I first discovered Lowburn Ferry, named after the historic ferry crossing of Clutha River used by early settlers, it was owned by enterprising soil scientists Jean and Roger Gibson; now it has been sold to Aotearoa Estate run by fellow Master of Wine, Steve Smith. Deep dense pure fruited Pinot Noir; delicious with roast venison or duck.
Aconcagua, Chile: OUTER LIMITS BY MONTES ZAPALLAR SYRAH 2017 (14%)
£22.99 Henderson Wines; Cornelius Wines; Aitken Wines
Chile is showing potential with this red Rhone grape. This comes from a tiny planting of just one hectare in coastal Zapallar vineyard in Aconcagua Valley 7 km from the Pacific. Made by celebrated Montes winery into a softly oaked smoky blackberry fruited Syrah. If you normally like Cotes du Rhone with your turkey, try this alternative.
Valdepenas, Spain: PALACIO DE IBOR GRAN RESERVA 1998 (13.5%)
£24.99 Virgin Wines
If you normally buy Rioja, try aged Valdepenas made from the same grape, Tempranillo. Black cherry and liquorice flavours with smoky and spicy undertones from its year in oak and two decades in bottle. Valdepenas wines on our shelves are often much older than Rioja bottlings and at better prices. Serve with turkey and trimmings.
Burgundy, France: BEAUNE PREMIER CRU CLOS DU ROI 2010 Domaine Lucien Camus-Bruchon (13.5%)
£36.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh
If you like serving Pinot Noir with roast turkey, here is a lush soft mature red Burgundy with fine red fruit bouquet and subtle fine texture from one of the most famous Premier Cru vineyards which overlook the pretty town of Beaune. It gained its regal title from King Louis XI who appropriated it on the Duke of Burgundy’s death. Today small family Camus domaine, now run by Guillaume, own a plot of 60 year old vines in the vineyard.
Dao, Portugal: TOURIGA NACIONAL 2015 Quinta dos Roques (13.5%)
£40 www.bottleapostle.com; www.raymondreynolds.co.uk
My favourite Dao red on our Portuguese trip. Serious intense and brooding example of Touriga Nacional, the grape always at the heart of all red Dao but often blended with other native grapes. Here it stands proudly alone making superb blackfruited deep dense red ideal for serving with roast beef or turkey and its trimmings.
California, US: OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2013 Seghesio (14.8%) ***STAR BUY***
£37 Fine Wine Musselburgh
Sumptuous plummy aromas, black cherry, dried fruit, herb and licquorice notes: a powerful red to match with grilled steak or roast venison. Deliciously dense blend of two Sonoma regions: Dry Creek and Alexander Valley from 70 year old vines. Make sure you buy Seghesio’s Old Vine Zinfandel, not the cheaper Sonoma County Zinfandel.
Join Rose’s Rioja v Ribera del Duero Wine Tasting at The Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh on Thursday 7 February : £45 www.rosemurraybrown.com
The perfect gift for the wine enthusiast in the family. Rose does In-person tastings too.
Rose does cellar valuations for private clients, valuations for insurers & bespoke portfolio management.
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