The top festive tipples
MoneyWeek wine columnist Matthew Jukes rounds up the best wines for your Christmas meals.
NV Billecart-Salmon, Brut Sous Bois Magnum, En CoffretChampagne, France£180.00,champagnedirect.co.uk
I adore the portfolio of Champagnes from Billecart and at this time of year my mind naturally turns to larger formats. This year, the epic Sous Bois cuve is released in magnum format and it is packaged in a stunning wooden box. This is one of the most beautiful presents I have ever seen in the wine world and, of course, the wine itself is thrilling, too. Made from equal thirds of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and vinified in oak barrels (the label and the box too), this is a richer, more masterful style of Champagne and it will go with everything you can think of this Christmas, including the turkey itself.
2014 Tyrrell's, Single Vineyard HVD Semillon
Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia£23.99,seven branches of Waitrose; waitrosecellar.com
This monumental wine is made from sparse bunches of grapes harvested from vines planted in 1908! It comes from the Hunter Valley Distillery vineyard. The sandy soils here make wines with effortless beauty and no oak is used in the fermentation or maturation of this wine so it gathers its complexity from its vine age, the setting and the fact that it has spent five years slowly relaxing in the bottle. This is one of the most attractive and great-value elite wines of the year and it is the perfect way to ease yourself into your feast with a wine that will shock you with its poise and precision.
1989 Chteau de Millet, Bas ArmagnacFrance£59.00, Yapp Brothers, 01747-860423; yapp.co.uk
I rarely write up digestifs in my columns, but I allow myself a special pass at Christmas and this gives me a chance to feature the knockout bottle of the year. At 30 years old, with a stunning, charry, barrel-influenced palate and a superbly mellow finish, this is an Armagnac that will reward keen lovers of great brandies and the value affordedhere is nothing short of mind-blowing.
2013 Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert Paul Jaboulet AnNorthern Rhne, France£55.00,150cl magnum, The Wine Society, 01438 741177; thewinesociety.com
I was determined to find another magnum for this piece, but when I tasted a bottle of this wine (£26.00), and it was so impressive, it waltzed straight onto this page. Imagine my excitement when Wine Soc. told me they had mags in stock as well! So here you are an awesome, spicy, indulgent, mature Syrah from one of the most historic vineyards in the Rhne, which has been owned by Jaboulet since 1834, and made by the inspirational talent that is Caroline Frey. This is the definitive wintry red and it looks monumental in magnum form!
2013 Morey-Saint-Denis, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Lignier-MichelotBurgundy, France£42.95,reduced to £38.75 each for a case of 12, Lea & Sandeman, 020-7244 0522; leaandsandeman.co.uk
I first met Virgile Lignier back in the mid-1990s and I used to ship pallets of his stunning Burgundies back to London for my wine list at Bibendum Restaurant. Time has moved on and I do not see these wines as much as I would like, but I always keep an eye out as I love the lush fruit and stunning accuracy of his wines. With six years under its belt, this old vine Morey, which comes from three parcels in the village, is drinking perfectly. There is a fair slice of whole bunch fruit here and this adds spice and aromatic detail This is my pick of all red wines this year for your turkey feast.
2016 Spottswoode, Lyndenhurst Cabernet SauvignonSt Helena, Napa Valley, California£75.00, minimum purchase of any 12 bottles from Domaine Direct domainedirect.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org; 020-7404 9933.
Two critical strands of information need to be conflated to understand just how incredible this wine is. Spottswoode was one of the 100 wineries I chose to feature in a book I wrote, once upon a time, detailing the most sensational century of estates in the whole world. And, if this wine's score, in my notes, was slipped into any one of my annual Bordeaux En Primeur Reports it would be in the top 20 of all chteaux tasted. While the grand vin at Spottswoode is a trifling £220 per bottle and it is, admittedly, sublime, this second wine, Lyndenhurst, is every bit as epic and it is also forward-drinking. In fact, 2016 Lyndenhurst is finer and more profound than a vast majority of previous vintages of the aforementioned estate wine. I cannot recommend this enough!
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).