It is all going to be a bit different this year. Whatever the ‘rules’, wine merchant Bruce Evans hopes there is a chance for us to celebrate the traditional feast of Christmas and mark the end of a terrible year in some style. Here he tells us what his family will be drinking on Christmas Day
I tend to spend my year collecting, in my head, my favourite wines of the year. Then inevitably they come out again over the festivities. So this is what I will be looking forward to most.
The day always starts with bubbles at breakfast and a glass or two of my current favourite champagne, Billecart-Salmon NV (£42), classy balanced and a bit too drinkable, so the cooking will almost certainly suffer.
Then a plethora of wines on the table, as the whole family have individual tastes. A good Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire is always a winner with my son. Wines like Domiane Renaudat Reuilly 2019 (£16.50) have the refined acidity without the pungent fruit of a New Zealand sauvignon. However my daughter tends to enjoy heavier reds, possibly a chunky Priorat from northern Spain, Amapola (£12), will work. It will destroy the lunch, flavourwise, but it is always best to drink what you like rather than what fits the food (and she designed the label, talented lady that she is).
Sarah, my lovely wife, isn’t from Essex, but loves a big bold Chardonnay, so the Payten & Jones Yarra Valley Chardonnay should work, a refined modern Aussie style with integrated oak and beautiful textured fruit (£20). For me a South African Pinot Noir, Jayne’s 2014, is quite simply a stunner and, at £30, so much better value than a decent red Burgundy.
Christmas is also a great excuse to have some fortifieds and the odd winter warmer. How about a glass of portish stuff at the end of the meal, gout anyone? Portal’s LBV 2013, (£22). Dark, brooding, extremely long and savoury but also wonderfully fresh, yum yum. Great for a siesta.
Then if that is not quite enough, I tend to have a gentle foray into spirits, maybe a beautiful Cognac ABK06, the world’s best VSOP allegedly, (£45), or an aged Calvados from Hubert. The 2009 is a snip at £32. After that lot I will be putting the recycling out in the dark, all in black.
Finally a little plea, the small shops need you this year, please use them if you want them around next year.
You can buy all these wines at Bruce’s shop, Grape & Grain Wine Merchants at 130 High Street, Crediton, EX17 4LQ