What I think should be on your festive table this year (or on your Santa List!)
It’s December, and after the year we’ve had, well be looking forward to a time to relax, with friends and family, for hearts-a-glowing and much mistletoe-ing. With a little planning, or even a bit of sage advice; your holiday lineup of wines could be looking as amazing as your Christmas jumper or your neighbours Xmas lights. Some of these wines might be good for the big day alongside the turkey, or for taking over to your Gran’s bach on Boxing Day. And one or two should definitely be on your Santa list – whether you’ve been naughty or nice.
I’ve not picked anything that will blow the budget, but PLEASE… if you only read this bit… Rule No.1: don’t throw $60 on a really average bottle of big-name French sparkling wine. That would be so much better spent on a really decent bottle of New Zealand bubbles AND a good bottle of wine for the table. Yes, both.
I have been looking back at the wines that I’ve tasted in 2021, but with a fair budget in mind. There will be a separate list in a few days time where I talk about the very best wines that have crossed my path this year, but for now we’re not breaking into the kids piggy banks. Read on….
So, lets’ start with those bubbles. It’s important, right? We all want to pop something frothy and sparkling on the 25th don’t we? Well, let’s stick to the wine…
#1 No.1 Family Cuvée. A beautiful Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay). Dry and elegant, showing a racy, mineral-flecked acidity with real power and drive into the palate. A little ‘softer’ than a Brut style, although has all your champagne flavours. $35.99
Moving on to a selection of white wine choices (and a rosé)…
#2 The Landing ‘Boathouse’ Pinot Gris. Classic varietal aromas, appetising acidity and “well made, with real personality” This label won our ‘top 10 tasting’ for Syrah, this year, but their other wines are all really good. $27
#3 Rapaura Springs ‘Bouldevines Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2019. A vibrant smoky, flinty edge is immediate, backed up with red apple, roast cashew, chamomile, lemon and a crème fraiche, mineral salinity. Plush, complex, layered – lots going on. $29.99
#4 Esk Valley Albarino. Reviewed back in March, with “Heroic – there’s an elegant purity to the fruit expression and the unpretentious way it’s presented. Simple but powerful” not something I write about every wine I taste! Still a relative newcomer of a variety, this is well worth a try – it now sells under the ‘Artisanal Range’ from Esk Valley $24.99
#5 Love Block Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, serious but vivacious. The nose is less grassy and herbal, but leads you into a scented garden of elderflower, lemongrass, almond, peach blossom, chamomile and grapefruits. $22.99
#6 Askerne ‘Serieux’ Rosé. One of a pair of rosé wines from this Hawke’s Bay label – A big bouquet of summer fruits – red berries, melon, white peach and apricot, with a likeable bubblegum note on the nose as well. Bright and youthful – a taut, dry style. $24
Great NZ red wines at lower price points used to be a problem; but looking at the Trophy winners from the last few week; it certainly feels like there is very good wine at the $20 mark if you buy carefully. I have no problem recommending this handful:
#7 Church Road ‘McDonald series’ Syrah 2019. A wine that just keeps winning – receiving the Trophy for Champion Syrah at both the NZIWS and the Royal Easter Show. Medium bodied, with a tension and balance between acidity, fine tannin and ripe fruit. $26.997
#8 Elephant Hill ‘Le Phant Rouge’ 2019. A Merlot-dominated red blend, shared with Malbec and Syrah this year, from Hawke’s Bay. Juicy aromatics of cassis, damson, mulberry and provencal herb notes. A good vintage, lovely wine, great value. $19.99
#9 Alexia ‘Fleeting Glimpse’ Pinot Noir. I was at the opening day of the Alexia Urban Winery in Greytown, Wairarapa, last year and picked up this impressive Pinot. As much about celebrating the tight, supple tannin as it is the ripe fruit. Complex, ethereal, and yet with stunning depth. $35
#10 Marsden Estate Tempranillo 2019. Dense, dark and ripe, with lovely silky tannins. One for a big slab of red meat. They don’t make it every year, but this ’19, from a great vintage is well worth hunting for. $30.