Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 101

FOOD & DRINK Tim Flint life How to choose your Christmas wines Choosing wines for the Christmas table can be a daunting affair, and that usually has the majority of us reaching for classic favourites such as Chablis, Bordeaux and Port. Nothing wrong with that, you may think, and right you are. But when it comes to value for money (or 'bang for your buck' as the Americans say), it may pay to look elsewhere - read on for a selection of classics and some cheaper alternatives. Champagne always helps to create a sense of occasion, and many of us like to begin proceedings with a glass or two of the fizzy stuff. Joseph Perrier is a Grand Marque Champagne house steeped in history; not only is it one of the very few that can still claim to be family run, it also supplied to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. The standard NV Brut (£25.02) is a real treat – few can resist the softness of the fruit flavours and the length on the palate of this fine Champagne. Best served as an aperitif, it is also excellent with seafood and smoked salmon. Fancy 3 bottles of bubbles for less than £25? One particular wine that has achieved cult status in Seaview lately is Domenico de Bertiol Prosecco (£7.66). Forget the cheap and nasty £2.99 stuff you may find at a certain European discount store - this is the real thing. Fresh, appley and far too easy-drinking, this is always a hit with the ladies and perfect for a Christmas morning tipple. And what of a white wine to serve with the turkey? The traditional match would of course be a Chablis, and Gerard Trembley’s ‘Domaine des Iles’ (£10.63) displays a fuller style of this classic wine that would provide a perfect match to turkey or other poultry. A great alternative, however, would be Viu Manent Chardonnay from Chile (£6.78). Complex, with lifted notes of tropical fruits, backed up by a subtle biscuit like oak. This has more than enough oomph to stand up to the myriad of flavours floating around the Christmas table. Moving onto the red, the usual choice would be something from Bordeaux or Burgundy, and the Domaine Patrick Miolane Saint Aubin 1er Cru (£14.67) will not disappoint. A seductive nose, marked by liquorice & cassis with a certain animal character that lends an extra dimension. Easily confused with some of the finer wines of the region. A great match to either Turkey or Beef (or if you are like me, both!). Chile as a country have been producing great value wines for quite a few years now, but with ever increasing costs on European wines, offers better value than ever. By far one of the finds of the year, Viña Ventisquero Pinot Noir Reserva (£6.78) is an elegant example of this usually expensive grape variety. It has a fresh and juicy attack, a beautiful velvety structure, soft tannins The Island's new funky radio station and a lovely toasted coconut after-taste that lingers on forever. If, by this time, you still have the constitution for Christmas pudding or some Stilton then luckily wines that match the pudding will also work with the cheese. Traditionally this would have been a vintage Port of some kind, and if you feel like a treat then you won’t go far wrong picking Weise & Krohn’s ‘Quinta da Retiro Nova’ 1997 (£44.23). Quality in Port production is measured by a number of factors, which get converted into points. This Quinta scores over 1200 points, putting it in the restricted group of ‘class A’ properties. If you would like an absolute bargain this Christmas you should look towards the 1997 Colhieta Port (£13.95) from the same producer. Colhieta Ports are single year Ports of a high quality level which have to be matured in wood for at least seven years. This particular vintage is outstanding quality and value for money. Snap it up now! Hope this helps with your decision making this Christmas - if not then just remember the golden rule of wine drinking: 'The best wine is the wine you enjoy'. Cheers! By Tim Flint, Managing Director of Eurovines Ltd Tel: 01983 811743 101