The Wine Advent: 7 December: Wines with Spice
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!
What are the things that come to mind when you think of Christmas? I guarantee spices like cinammon, star anise, warm mulling spice, and pepper may be amongst them. Adding a bit of spice to your festive season is one of the main reasons wines like Chateaneuf-du-Pape are such favourites. To enjoy something full bodied, depthful and intriguing in front of a fire or with family and friends is bliss.
Outside of mulled wine, there’s some delicious reds from the medium bodied to the full bodied styles that are full of complex, seductive spices. I’ve already mentioned Chateuneuf, and I’ve got to point out one in particular – Domaine de la Janasse Chateaneuf du Pape Tradition 2011 (£36.50, Great Western Wine). Its sour redcurrants turn into smooth, smoky full-bodied dark cherry and peppery spice. It’s mainly Grenache-based but it packs some weight and my god it’s luscious.
At the other end of the spectrum is Ara Pinot Noir 2014 (£11.99, Waitrose Cellar). Like most New Zealand Pinot Noirs there’s that trademark gamey nose, light cherry and dark raspberry fruit on the palette but a touch of spice. It’s the spice that sets the Ara apart from its competition, making the wine moreish and tantalising.
Spice also has the natural ability in wines of pairing with juicy red meats like beef and lamb like few other wines.
Two favourites are the Domaine des Escaravailles “La Ponce” Rasteau Cotes du Rhone 2012 (£16.49, The Tasting Room) and Catena Malbec 2013 (£12.99, Waitrose Cellar). The Rhone Valley produces some beautiful, smooth Syrah wines. This particular wine from The Tasting Room in Bath is one of my favourites. Unique, attractive and full-bodied it’s impossible not to love.
Cantena are one of Argentina’s best producers of Malbec. Their flagship single variety is mainly made of rich blackcurrants and soft plum. But again its the peppery, liquorice notes that make it beautiful. It should be your pick with roast beef.
Want something out of this world? You should try M. Chapoutier Chateaneuf-du-Pape Barbe 2010 (c. £69, wine-searcher.com). If you can find it you’ll be stunned. Kirsch liqueur, rich, toasty black cherries and spicy fruits like they’ve been marinated over night, this is a top quality red.