Six festive tipples

NV Tanners Brut Extra Réserve Champagne, France

NV Tanners Brut Extra Réserve Champagne, France (£22.50 per bottle, three or more reduced to £44.95, £49.95 per magnum, Tanners 01743-234455,

The eternal quest to find decent, elegant, great value Champagne is a somewhat dull pastime, because these days, what with duty and VAT at all-time highs, most of the well-known Champagne brands are north of £30 and they taste just as dull as ever.

I resent paying £30 for lifeless, fishy, lacklustre Champagne, so I either trade up to a great wine (these days £50 is the new £30) or sniper wines like this one.

The fruit is delicate, bright and impressive and with a long, tingling finish and fine bubbles it is one of only a handful of Champagnes this year that have officially made the ‘great value without dropping my standards’ grade. Load up with magnums – Christmas is not Christmas without big bottles.

2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Tradition, Vignobles Gonnet, Southern Rhône, France

2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Tradition, Vignobles Gonnet, Southern Rhône, France (£26.50, Corney & Barrow 020-7265 2400).

2011 was a pretty weak vintage in Bordeaux, but the Rhône made some very attractive wines. This Châteauneuf, a new name to me, is very sexy indeed.

With a lustrous sheen and a swagger in its step, there is a mass of velvety, spicy, mulberry and plum-scented fruit here. I am mightily impressed with the balance, too.

You can and should drink this wine this Christmas, but you can also age it for five years, such is the nobility and energy under the bonnet.

NV El Candado, Pedro Ximénez, Valdespino, Sherry, Spain

NV El Candado, Pedro Ximénez, Valdespino, Sherry, Spain (£9.99 half bottle and £17.95 75cl bottle, Lea & Sandeman; The Butlers Wine Cellar 01273-698 724; Halifax Wine Co. 01422-256333; The Wine Chambers 0191-257 8362; Eton Vintners 01753-790188; Scarlet Wines 01736-753696; The Solent Cellar 01590-674852; Wined Up Here 020-8549 6622; Satchells Wines 01328-738272; Martinez Wines 01943-600000; New Forest Wines 01425-489771; Liquid Treasure 01773-825754; Henderson Wines 0131-337 4444).

There is little space for a write up of this bottle left here, because I wanted to include the details of all of these terrific stockists. Suffice to say, this is the finest, darkest, sweetest, most intoxicating PX I have ever tasted.

Valdespino is one of the ’100 most iconic wine estates’ in my book. It comes with a little padlock (candado) on the top – in memory of a Valdespino ancestor who once locked up a barrel of this wine because it was so good!

2007 Quinta do Noval, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal

2007 Quinta do Noval, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal (£15.79 75cl bottle,; Peckham & Rye 0141-445 4555; Cambridge Wines 01223-568993; Hanslope Wines 01908-510262; Hailsham Cellars 01323-846238; The General Wine Co. 01428-727744,

Suave and succulent with masses of depth and charm, this is a very serious LBV. It not only packs a porty punch, but also shows incredible detail.

There are potpourri notes, orange zest and pure redcurrant nuances to be found here in among the brooding power, and because this wine is unfiltered it has more crunch and seriousness on the finish than the others. Made from 100% estate fruit this is the best value port of the year!

2012 Touraine Les Sauterelles, Domaine de Pierre, Loire, France

2012 Touraine Les Sauterelles, Domaine de Pierre, Loire, France (£9.95, or £9.25 by the case, Lea & Sandeman 020-7244 0522,

Your session Sauvignon this season – if you want to load up on one wine that will perform every Christmas duty brilliantly, this is it.

Smoked salmon blinis on Christmas Day have never tasted as good as they will with this wine in your glass. Emergency white wine, for unexpected gatecrashers, has never been this elegant.

Brow-soothing, ice-cold white for the thirsty, mildly irritated chef has never been so calming. This is a Sancerre-annihilating wine with stunning citrus balance, breathtaking poise and unnerving vibrancy.

2011 Bourgogne Blanc, Les Femelottes, Domaine Chavy-Chouet, France

2011 Bourgogne Blanc, Les Femelottes, Domaine Chavy-Chouet, France (£14.95, Roberson Wine 020-7371 2121,

This is a thrilling white Burgundy at a wicked price. I wager the Roberson phone will be ringing off its hook by midday on 13 December.

Made by 22-year old Romaric Chavy from one parcel of vines just outside of the Puligny-Montrachet boundary, this is a staggeringly classy Chardonnay. Served blind I would have pinned a £30-plus price tag on this. It is drinking now and it’s a shimmering beauty in the glass. Burgundy fans look no further.

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