What I’ll be Drinking this Christmas

1 December 2018 by Richard

The festive spirit only really comes alive in our house in mid-December, the day after my wife’s birthday… but I think I may have snaffled a record this year by consuming my first mince pies as early as September. Does that seem wrong? Listen up: my daughter’s year-round breakfast consists of a HOT CROSS BUN – now that does seem wrong to me. Surely, you should have them for high tea?! But at least you can only buy mince pies for 5 months of the year, not all year round! Like seasonal fruit and vegetables, they are so much tastier and I feel a little bit smug. I am sure I am not alone in thinking Christmas should be like the first unforced asparagus of the season. It should be a special season of indulgence, a once-a-year banquet with exceptional wine in the company of your nearest and dearest, right?
RisleusAt home, we start with some celebratory Champagne, toast our health and happiness and attempt to sing happy birthday to Jesus. This year, we will pop the Hubert Paulet Risleus 1er Cru 2002 – the flavours of ripe baked pears and apples, freshly-baked bread, buttery croissants and crushed sea-shells are super expressive and a joy to sip. All this is topped off with the London Philharmonic playing Handel’s Messiah in the background – Hosanna in the highest.
Sat down, cross-armed, we will all pull crackers, don the hats and read the jokes. Why did the turkey cross the road twice? To prove he wasn’t a chicken! Urggh, the old ones are best, aren’t they?
Speaking of the turkey, it is a misconception that I just grab a number of random bottles when locking-up the shop on Christmas Eve. No, no, my festive wines have been in the planning stage much longer than that. So, about 5 minutes before close, I will line up some options. I pick two for the turkey. What shall I have? Doah, the red Burgundy of course. Pinot Noir works wonderfully with turkey (or goose) and Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux’s Vosne-Romanee Les Chaumes Premier Cru 2008 has dark berry fruit and striking truffle and undergrowth notes. Or, should I really splurge on Roberto Voerzio’s Cerequio Barolo 2009, which is a stunner, having captivating me previously with its generous, inviting fruit and seductive personality. With the hands of the Christmas Eve wine o’clock tick-tocking down, I decide to take both.Vosne
Heading for the door, I remember the fromage wine – Stilton is a must on our cheese board and demands a sweet wine so, without hesitation, I grab Paul Meunier’s Maury with both hands. This lightly fortified, sweet yet fuzzy, port-like wine is made from old Grenache vines organically grown on a remote and windswept vineyard on rocky black schist in the Roussillon. It is a mesmerizing match.
Relieved that I have survived another Christmas in wine retail, I lob the shop keys into the foot well of my car and make a mental note to look out my Zalto Mystique decanter and Zalto Burgundy glasses so that the wines rock, along with Christmas itself.
Maury SmallBy the late afternoon of Christmas Day, replete but with my stomach now bigger than my eyes were, I get to gorge on a luxury, 12-month matured Christmas pudding. I will sneak a glass of ‘Antique’ Pedro Ximenez, aka PX, by Fernando de Castilla and (don’t tell anyone) another, later, with a mince pie. This Sherry is 20 years old and its luscious sweetness is tempered by an amazing array of complex flavours – coffee, fig, liquorice, tea and raisins. I am in heaven as all my Christmas sugar hits have landed in one stupendous smash.
Merry Christmas everyone.