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A Festive Wine Cellar

Wines to enjoy and impress this Christmas

A lot of emphasis is put in the food we eat in the festive season. We spend entire evenings looking at cooking books, ordering exotic ingredients in advance and negotiating the murderous environment of supermarkets in the days before Christmas to secure the best and freshest foods for our beloved and guests (not necessarily the same thing).

But when it comes to the wines we serve with our carefully selected and prepared food, most of us could be better informed and make smarter choices, even more adventurous. For example, instead of serving bubbles with the aperitif or at the end of the meal, why not serve them with food? Champagne is just a type of wine that comes from the eponymous region in France. There are different kinds of grapes that can be used to produce it and as result, there is a wide variety of Champagne wines, which all taste very different and can be paired with all kinds of food. Alexandra Tilling, Louis Roederer Brand Manager at MMLTD, gave me a mix of classic and quirky suggestions to share with you:

Louis Roederer Collection 243 MV, Champagne, France

There is rarely a celebratory moment that isn’t enhanced by the opening of a bottle of fine champagne, especially when surrounded by your family. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is just an aperitif though!  This incredibly versatile champagne, the result of a 20- year research project into global warming is beautifully elegant to drink on its own, but it really shines with food.

Louis Roederer Collection 244 MV is incredibly versatile and as such, beautifully elegant to drink on its own, however it really shines with food.

Alex points out that this is a great wine to have with different canapes, showing a new side to its character with each different food profile it is matched with. As a tip, she says that it pairs particularly well with nuts, white meat, pork, spices, smoked chicken or eel, citrus, and croquettes.

Find Louis Roederer Collection 243 MV at Selfridges (£62.99) and The Finest Bubble (£50), among other retailers.

Louis Roederer x Philippe Starck Brut Nature Rose 2015, Champagne, France

If you are looking to surprise your guests with something a little more adventurous and quirkier, Alex suggests you try this gorgeous zero dosage champagne. The wonderfully fresh acidity cuts through the rich Christmas fayre providing a welcome lift to the palate.

Louis Roederer x Philippe Starck Brut Nature Rose 2015 opens with a bouquet of citrus and spices and finishes with a touch of smokiness and umami overtones. 

Despite its delicate pink hue, this Rose packs a punch, pairing brilliantly with perfumed red meats such as duck or goose, as well as warming Indian spices such as garam masala. To the gourmet daredevils out there: please give it a go with smoked tuna.

Louis Roederer x Philippe Starck Brut Nature Rose 2015 is available from The Finest Bubble (£98) and Hedonism (£113), among other retailers in the UK.

Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre Les Caillottes 2022, La Loire, France

I tend to not give white wines the recognition they deserve because I am a “red or dead” kind of girl, but Alex rightly insists that any household worth its wine rack must have a firm white staple, such as this classic Sancerre, a deliciously crisp yet elegant wine made from Sauvignon Blanc. It leans more to the citrus, elderflower and flit profile than its New Zealand cousins.

Les Caillottes comes from one of the best soils in Sancerre, rich in limestone with excellent drainage.

As a light, unoaked style of wine, Les Caillottes can be a great option to accompany the Boxing Day cold turkey and ham. To up the anti a little, go with this iconic single vineyard, naturally made wine to really impress the in-laws. Knock them dead by pairing it with white meat, fish, creamy sauces, griddled asparagus, tomatoes and even citrus.

Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre Les Caillottes 2022 is available in cases of six (£240) or 12 (£300) from Millesima UK, and per single bottle from Soho Wine Supply (£33), among other retailers.  

Finca el Otero 2019 áster, Ribera del Duero, Spain

When it comes to reds, I feel a natural pull towards wine from my country. Although Riojas are better known, the reds from Ribera del Duero are slowly getting the international recognition they deserve. I find them more intense and tannic, which make them pair beautifully with hearty dishes. Finca el Otero 2019 is a classic, full-bodied bold Ribera de Duero, which, despite its complexity, it is easy to drink and match with food.

After a good airing, Finca el Otero 2019 áster is the ideal companion to roasted lamb, beef, suckling pig and mature cheeses.

On the nose, Finca El Otero 2019 áster reveals black fruits with mocha and coffee undertones. On the palate, it feels intense and creamy, well rounded and with silky tannins. At the end, you may notice hints of liquorice and balsamic.

Finca el Otero 2019 áster is available from Vinatis (£53.41) and Decántalo (£48.38), among other retailers.

Petit Vega Reserva 2015, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Still in Ribera del Duero, Petit Vega Reserva is a wine that surprises with its expressiveness and complexity that contrasts with how subtle it feels in the mouth. Although best to decanter for an hour or so, after a few minutes in the glass, the wine starts to open. Your nose willpick up berries, liquorice, mocha, chocolate and some toasted hints.

Petit Vega Reserva 2015 is made with 100 percent Tempranillo grapes and aged in French oak barrels for 28 months.

Despite its seven years of aging, this red still feels fresh and playful; a joy to have with an aperitivo of Spanish cheese and cold meats or with an exuberant main course, such as suckling pig or roasted lamb. Among other retailers, you can find Petit Vega Reserva 2015 at Waddeson Wine (£33) and at Blanco & Gómez in cases of six (£209).

Château de Pez Saint-Estèphe 2018, Bordeaux, France

After such a display of patriotism, Alex reminds me of a French region not too bad at producing reds, Bordeaux. Her pick is Château de Pez Saint-Estèphe 2018, made by winemaking legend Nicolas Glumineau, who is also the winemaker at the legendary “super second” classed growth Château Pichon Langueville Comtesse de Lalande. He is renowned for his ability to produce extraordinarily refined, elegant, fresh and complex wines.

Château de Pez has a complex nose of spice, liquorice, and cherries; and a long palate with silky tannins, finished with a hint of citrus.

For those looking for the ultimate pairing with red meat, look no further than this wine. That said, Château de Pez Saint-Estèphe also goes extraordinarily well with cheese… and dark chocolate.

Château de Pez Saint-Estèphe 2018 is available from Noble Green Wines (£53) and L’Art du Vin (£50.10), among other retailers.

I hope these suggestions will give you some ideas about how to populate your cellar/wine rack this Christmas. Be adventurous, try something new, nobody has ever regretted buying a good bottle of wine, only a bad one.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening picture: Nguyen Hong Quan/ Pexels      

Product pictures: Lina Ress

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