Christmas gifts for wine-lovers
Fine wines, ports and champagnes make excellent Christmas gifts for connoisseurs
The Week Wine Club
Choosing wines for Christmas is quite straightforward, says Bruce Palling, Editor of The Week’s Wine Club: you will need “robust ones that can deal with the bold flavours of festive food”. He goes on: “As for quantity, I leave that up to you, but I can’t think of anything worse than running out on such an occasion, especially as there is not the restraining factor of work the next day.” Palling has curated five Christmas cases, including champagne, port and sauterne, with discounts for readers of The Week.
The Week Wine Club’s Christmas wine cases start from £187.99, a saving of more than £50
Christmas is a time for fine champagne, and one of the finest on sale this year is Krug 2004. The vintage, released this autumn, draws “an unbroken line that stretches across six generations of the Krug family”, the venerable winemaker says, and it’s no idle boast: Olivier Krug, the director of the company, is a direct descendant of the founding family. All that history has produced “a real firework of a Grand Cuvee”, says Decanter: “2004 was a year of luminous freshness, tension and stylish radiance, in a late September vendange of subtle complexities created by a longer time on the vine.” It is also available in a limited-edition wooden case alongside Krug Grande Cuvée 160ème Édition, a blend of the 2004 vintage with up to 30 premiere cru wines from vintages spanning a decade.
Krug 2004 is available from £220 per bottle. A case of three bottles of Krug 2004 and three bottles of Krug Grande Cuvée 160ème Edition is £900
A vintage English sparkler
English sparkling wine has established itself as a forced to be reckoned with in recent years, and it’s not just patriotic Brits supporting the home side. “The rise in popularity has been put down to demand from abroad,” says The Guardian. Exton Park Vineyard, in Hampshire, acknowledges the fickle nature of the British climate by refraining from producing a vintage wine in all but the best year, which means you can have confidence in its 2011 Blanc de Blancs. The terroir “closely matches that of Champagne”, says Decanter, and the wine “matches the flavour characteristics of some of the region's better examples”. Expect “beautiful floral notes” and grapefruit on the nose, and “peppery, spicy nutmeg notes with a crisp, mineral character” on the palette.
2011 Exton Park Vineyard, Vintage Blanc de Blancs, is £43 from Friarwood
The Wine Society membership
A wine club with a difference, The Wine Society is owned by its members. That means there’s no sneaky minimum purchase requirements and, even more importantly, you can be confident that every penny you spend goes into sourcing the best possible wines. Prices range from less than £6 per bottle to well into the hundreds, and there are surprising finds throughout the price range. “A one-off payment of £40 gives the happy recipient access to some of the best wines around,” says The Daily Telegraph, and a share in the society, which is yours for life - or longer. “Some families have handed it down for generations,” the paper says.
A share in The Wine Society costs £40 (including a £20 credit towards your first purchase), and can be bought for yourself or as a gift
Sweet wines for Christmas
Christmas provides an excellent opportunity to explore the sweeter end of the wine spectrum, too often neglected at other times of the year. La Passion, Domaine de Juchepie, 2011, is an organic, biodynamic wine of “intense minerality and complexity”, says Integrity Wines, made in the Loire from chenin blanc vines dating back to 1911. It is a wine of “great mellowness”, says Enfin du Vin, with “intense notes of candied dried fruits” - perfect for Christmas pudding - and a touch of acidity to balance the sweetness and create a “harmonious structure”. Alternatively, Chateau de Rieussec’s 2008 Les Carmes de Rieussec, made using the traditional techniques of the Sauternes region, is a lighter, fresher wine, carrying notes of citrus and white peach.
Fonseca LBV 2008
Despite its modest price tag, this ruby port makes it onto Decanter’s list of top 20 ports for Christmas. Having been subjected to extra wood ageing before bottling, it develops more quickly, rewarding earlier drinking than many vintage ports. “Rich, succulent summer fruit on the palate” is complemented by “plums and cherries, backed by firm, stony tannins with a touch of black pepper”, says the judge at Decanter. It’s older sister, Fonseca’a 1994 Douro Valley vintage port, receives a slightly higher rating but costs ten times as much.
Extended family visits can result in mismatched glassware being pressed into service around the Christmas dining table, so now is the time to restock the kitchen cabinets - especially as Riedel, the first glassmaker to craft stemware for specific varieties of wine, is offering 20% off and free delivery. Its Veritas Old World Pinot Noir glasses, in lead crystal (above centre), are handsomely proportioned, giving fine reds the space they need to breathe.
Riedel’s Veritas Old World Pinot Noir glasses are £44 per pair from The Riedel Shop
Veuve Clicquot X Charlotte Olympia
The luxury shoe designer Charlotte Olympia has teamed up with champagne house Veuve Cliquot to launch a range of Christmas gifts. Her “Eugenie platform sandal, Pimlico court shoe and Kitty flats have been reimagined in glitter cork,” says Luxury London, and her “Pandora clutch has been recreated in wood and with a golden, bubbly topper” (above). For those more focused on the drink itself, the champagne inside the limited edition presentation box is La Grande Dame 2006, a variety “launched in 1972 to not only celebrate the bicentenary of the brand, but also pay tribute to Madame Clicquot, aka ‘La Grande Dame de la Champagne’”, says InStyle.
La Grande Dame 2006 in Charlotte Olympia Pandora presentation box is available from Harrods for £170