The best festive tipples

Wine critic Matthew Jukes picks five of the best wines for Christmas, and the best Champagne.

2005 Saumur-Champigny, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Filliatreau, Loire, France

(£29.50, magnum, Yapp Brothers Ltd: 01747-860 423; ).


The 75cl helping of this legendary wine is now on the 2007 vintage, and it's a beauty. Thankfully, the magnums have lagged behind a touch (as they tend to), so the fastest-fingered of you can dial Yapp now and secure some of these rich, brooding monster bottles. Fred Filliatreau has a magical touch with his ancient vines. The result is a cabernet franc of the noblest form. In warm vintages like 2005, Loire reds can resemble some of the great Bordeaux in their shape, size and impact. This is one of the finest red Loires I've ever tasted. To think it costs less than £30 for a magnum is staggering. Drink it with what you please every dish tastes great with this wine in your glass.

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2007 Tempranillo, Mas Oliveras, Catalonia, Spain

(£6.50, Corney & Barrow: 020-7265 2400; ).


Mas Oliveras uses the superb rioja grape, tempranillo, to devastating effect with its mouth-watering strawberry and vanilla notes. This is a brilliant, budget wine for Christmas feasts, particularly if you love chipolatas, cranberry sauce, elaborate stuffings and devils on horseback; tempranillo laps up fruitiness, gravy, herbs and stodge with alacrity. Load up with a case or two today because this is one wine that will take care of all of your festive entertaining in one fell swoop without troubling the credit card at all.

2003 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal

(£11.99, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Waitrose).


The 2003 vintage was a warm one. Accordingly, this indomitable port is stuffed with more monstrous fruit and power than usual. Every year, I taste all the offerings from the top port houses, searching for the best LBV, the top Single Quinta and the top vintage wines of the year. This season, Graham's has taken the crown from Taylor's, for the first time in a few years. They have nailed a double hit in my notes, with my recommended wine and also the superb 1998 Graham's Single Quinta Malvedos (£24.99, Sainsbury's). LBV is the best-value style of port to go for at Christmas in terms of sheer bang for your buck, and 2003 Graham's is the winner in this category by a furlong this year. In fact, if this bottle had been accidentally put in the 'vintage port' pile, I would still have given it a mighty score, such is its sheer bloody brilliance.

1990 Lustau, Aada Rich Oloroso Sherry, Spain

(£16.99, selected Waitrose; ).


This is probably the ultimate fortified wine of the year. Huge power and beauty combine to make the most beguiling combination imaginable of fig, toffee, roasted nut and plum. It's dry and refreshing too. Take the plunge and reward all your senses with this amazing creation. Chilled and served before dinner in dainty glasses, this wine will signal to your guests that you are the commander of an intergalactic fleet of culinary wizards and that they are privileged to be in your gastronomic aura. Served 'cool' after dinner with salted caramels from, you are assured of an instant knighthood.

2007 Penfolds, Reserve Bin 07A Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

(£28.00, Majestic Fine Wine Stores, Harrods, Selfridges, Hailsham Cellars).


I recently judged the National Wine Show of Australia in Canberra. This wine won gold. The 08A, as yet unreleased, won the trophy; the 06A and 05A also won golds. This is unprecedented. These wines are utterly mesmerising. At the same sort of price as a village meursault from a half-hearted producer, you can drink Australia's finest chardonnay, which in flavour terms ranks with the great Burgundian Premier Crus for class and elegance. The fact that four vintages in a row all got scores of over 18.5/20 on average against all of the other great Australian chardonnays is gobsmacking. For a winery perhaps more famous for its reds, this achievement will be remembered for years to come. I know the unassuming team that makes these wines, and they are some of the most talented and perceptive people in the whole world of wine. They have my unending respect. This wine is the chardonnay of the year.

And the best Champagne

1998 Billecart-Salmon, Cuve Nicolas-Franois, Champagne, France

(£65 for a single bottle or £58.50 if you order by the case, Berry Bros & Rudd. Tel: 0800-2802 440).


In June 2007, I wrote this wine up as a super-scoop in MoneyWeek. The 2000 vintage has now hit the shelves and it is a delicious creature, but there are still a few bottles of this absolutely incredible '98 still around. You simply must track them down because it is drinking so well right now. With every bit as much, if not more, integrity, complexity and longevity as any one of the mega-cuves you will see in gift packs littering every department store this season (that cost a small fortune), this wine is the real deal at a real price. Once bitten by Billecart, you are never quite the same. This house has a fanatical fan base and there is always room for a few more acolytes. You are also safe in the knowledge that you are a cut above the riff-raff of wine-drinking when you quaff this one.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year.

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.