Six of the best wines for the Christmas table
Wine columnist Matthew Jukes presents the top festive tipples
2019 Siepi, Mazzei, Toscana, Italy
The best red
I have followed the wines from Castello di Fonterutoli for decades, and I am convinced that this is the finest Siepi to date. Perched on a hillside in Castellina, overlooking Siena, this 50% sangiovese and 50% merlot super-Tuscan, really does live up to the “super” moniker. With stunning French oak detail and massive richness, this is a worthy challenger to Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Masetto, but it wears a much more affordable price tag. The balance is exceptional, which means you can appreciate its epic quality right now.
2019 Blanc Fumé de Pouilly, Barre à Mine, Michel Redde & Fils, Loire, France
The best sauvignon blanc
I gave the 2017 vintage of this wine a perfect 20/20 score, declaring it the finest sauvignon blanc I had ever tasted, and this wine is every bit as exciting and even more forward. With a generosity of fruit and approachability that flatter the senses, this is another shockingly grand wine from Redde. Tiny quantities are available in the UK, and while you must buy a six pack from Cru, this price is unlikely to be beaten, so I suggest you move fast. There are moments of exoticism and plushness on the nose, and the palate and finish are redolent of the label – a man using a crowbar to plant vines in an old flint quarry. No wine on earth tastes like this, and if you love sauvignon blanc, then this is an essential purchase.
2019 Pernand-Vergelesses, Domaine Pavelot, Burgundy, France
The best Burgundy
Prices for white Burgundy climb as every year passes and allocations seemingly shrink at an alarming rate, so it is so life affirming to find a hugely impressive chardonnay from a fabulous domaine, and it is priced so keenly I nearly dropped my glass when I tasted it. I was cruising through a line-up of posh white Burgundies, and this wine jumped out at me with its magical aroma and silky smooth palate. Under this sits the dramatic minerality of the village of Pernand, and there is even an echo of Corton-Charlemagne, such is the grandeur in this cosmic wine.
2018 Coteaux du Layon, 1er Cru Chaume, Domaine des Forges, Loire, France
The best sweetie
This is the finest-value sweet wine of the year and, for around a tenner, this exquisite chenin blanc will enchant your senses and cast the most wonderful, magical spell over your taste buds. The sweet wines of the Loire are perpetually undervalued, which is a cause for celebration for us, but we need to show them our support. One sip of this golden elixir will make you a fan for life, so please load up with this sweetie, not least because you can drink it this year and for a further ten years with ease, too
NV La Gitana, Vermut, Bodegas Hidalgo, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain
The best sherry
This insanely delicious vermut is made using a 19th-century Hidalgo family recipe. It employs oloroso faraon and pedro ximénez triana, both of which have been aged for 12 years in 100-year-old casks. This is then blended and infused with aromatic herbs for a further six months. Served over ice with a splash of soda water, this is a mind-boggling aperitif – sensational and a total bargain too.
2006 Billecart-Salmon, Le Clos Saint Hilaire Brut, Champagne, France
The best Champagne
I was fortunate to be invited to a tasting of every vintage of Le Clos Saint Hilaire since the inaugural 1995, and it was an eye-popping event. This tasting inspired a volley of perfect scores and a few mighty 19s, too, such is the quality of this epic wine. At 20-25 years of age, this wine starts to blossom and grow, and so this 2006, which was launched on 1 December, is still closed and relatively youthful. The reason for including it in this year’s Christmas bonanza is that only 6,500 bottles were made and our allocation in the UK is likely to disappear swiftly. So, if you have a temperature-controlled cellar, a penchant for staggeringly profound Champagne, and a desire to own a genuinely rare wine, then get on the blower now.