The Wine Advent: 15 December: French Wines

The Wine Advent: 15 December: French Wines

The Wine Advent is a series of 25 posts in the run up to Christmas day where I will give you an insight into my favourite festive wines. Follow me on Twitter or Like my Facebook page to ensure you don’t miss opening up the advent!

I will maintain that, if you know what you’re buying, France is still the best quality wine producing nation in the world. But what does it have to offer us for the Christmas season?

Right up until Christmas you can get a bottle of Esprit des Trois Pierres Costieres di Nimes for just £5.99 (Waitrose Cellar). Incredible when you think of the wine’s quality. A classic Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre blend but with a surprisingly perfumed nose and a medium, supple body. This wine is very easy drinking and it’s an excellent partner with lamb or pasta. Give it a try!

Rhone reds for me are ideal choices for the festive season. I love the array of quality, full bodied spicy red wines you can get for such better value than the likes of Bordeaux or even much of the Californian red.

A particular favourite is Domaine des Escaravailles Rasteau “La Ponce” 2010 (£14.50, Lay and Wheeler). You can find the 2013 in The Tasting Room in Bath if you’re lucky as well, although it is a frightfully popular wine. It’s easy to see why: the wine’s in its pinnacle drinking period and bursting with black fruits that are laced with pepper, nutmeg and clove spice. The finish is full, smooth and the alcohol is well hidden. It really is a step above.

Outside of the Rhone Valley, the white wines of choice for me are those very dry, mineral Chablis whites from Burgundy or the smoky and creamy Chardonnays of Limoux. A particular stand-out Chablis for me is Cave des Vignerons de Chablis in Partnership with Waitrose (£11.99, Waitrose Cellar). It’s a bone dry white bursting with green apple fruit, so it’s the perfect match with fish dishes of similar acidity – especially grilled white fish and lemon.

For something extra special – and yes, we’re going back to red wine here (sorry white wine lovers!) – you could look to Margaux. These often expensive Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blends are a gamble. Many can sometimes be too tannic to drink when young, needing time for the fruit to break through into its own. Not so much with Chateau Mille Roses Margaux 2011 (£25.00, Great Western Wine). Not only is it a reasonably priced Margaux, but it’s also smooth, fruity and powerful. A contender even with the finest full-bodied Rhone wines alongside roast beef – and that’s saying something.

And if that wasn’t enough for you to be falling for the French style, then perhaps a sweet glass of 2006 Chateau Guiraud 1er Cru Classé de Sauternes (£22.00, Great Western Wine – 37.5cl) – awarded 92pts by Robert Parker. Or even going to the pinnacle of class with a bang and a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée NV (£40.00, Sainsbury’s)?

France’s potential to please is bottomless… so fill up your glasses with the good stuff and merry Christmas!