If you looking for ideas for interesting dry red and white wines to grace your dinner table this New Year´s Eve, read on….
There has never been a better time to enjoy the selection of interesting wines from all over the world, as now. Forty years ago, your selection was limited to perhaps red and white wines from Burgundy, famous Bordeaux names, the Rhine, and a few bottles from Rioja and Tuscany if you went to specialised merchants. Today, there have never been as many choices for the wine lover; more wines from more places, better wines and wines made from grape varieties that until recently, no one had ever heard of. Supermarkets now have Verdejo from Spain, Vermentino from Sardinia and even Chenin Blanc from India!
And the really exciting thing is that the wine exploration continues. We are beginning to discover Greek grapes, Sicilian wines and grape varieties native to Eastern Europe and Georgia. Indian and Thailand now have tiny, but growing wine industries and the quality keeps getting better.
So the good news is that you definitely don’t need to limit yourselves to Cabernet Sauvignon and the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc this New Year´s Eve. Much more interesting wines abound for the oenophile who’s sick of liming themselves to well-worn varietals and wines.
In that spirit, we have prepared a list of 10 wine suggestions for your New year’s Eve home entertaining that are (nearly) all a bit left field. And even the names you recognise may still have a surprise or two in store for you!
2011 Leitz Kabinett Riesling, Rheingau, Germany
German wine has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, after having been derided for decades as mostly sweetened rubbish and terribly passé by the majority of us. But, German Riesling has arguably the potential to be the finest in the world, this fantastic example from the Leitz estate has wonderful aromas of citrus, peach and pepper, with a marvellous freshness and zest. One of the best Rieslings we have tried this year.
2011 Valenciso White Rioja, Spain
Rioja just means red, right? We used to believe so too, until we sampled this wonderful white Rioja from the acclaimed winery Valenciso this year. The wine is a blend of the native Viura and white Garnacha varieties (70/30) and unusually, it is barrel fermented in Russian oak for 9 months, a real oddity as most producers generally use French or American. It is, nonetheless, a beauty of a wine, offering toasty aromas, overladen with citrus, lemon and fig. Try it with Smoked Salmon!
2011 Casa Marin Gewürztraminer, San Antonio Valley, Chile
This small, family owned estate was one of the first to pioneer vine growing in the San Antonio Valley in Chile, a new and very fine costal wine region. All of their wines are superb, but what really stands out is the Gewürztraminer, an Alsace variety which produces wines that people either love or hate, there does not tend to be a middle ground. We, however, love its exotically perfumed floral aromas, this beautiful wine has it all: rose petal, spice, pepper and lychee. Perfect with Asian cuisine, for those who want to give the traditional Christmas lunch a miss.
2011 Laroche Chablis ‘La Collegiale’ France
Laroche, an extremely important Chablis grower and dynamic merchant has produced a Chablis that will silence the naysayers once and for all. It sets the standard for others to follow at a great price: a wonderfully concentrated, citrus infused Chardonnay with the classic Chablis minerality and a long, intense finish. Those who hate their Chardonnay rich, creamy and buttery – this wine is for you.
2008 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Savennières, Loire, France
A legend, both for its wines and the estate’s controversial owner Nicolas Joly, a passionate advocate of biodynamic viticulture taken to the extremes. Located in one of the Loire’s oldest vineyards, Nicolas’s daughter Virginnie produces exquisite, long lasting Chenin Blanc wines in tiny quantities. The 2008 vintage displays complex notes of honey, apple, citrus and melon, a vibrant wine with a strong mineral finish. No where else in the world can you find Chenin Blanc of this quality or distinction -a perfect companion to Roast Goose.
2005 Marques de Riscal Baron de Chirel, Rioja, Spain
Rioja’s oldest winery (founded in 1858) today produces one of the region’s most distinctive and modern style wines – Baron de Chirel. Their ‘cuvee prestige’ is unique for its high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, most wineries are forbidden from using such a high amount by the appellation rules. The result is a totally distinctive Rioja – expect cassis, coffee, dark fruits and lashes of new oak, perfectly integrated. A very classy Rioja that deserves Roast Duck.
2007 Esporão Private Selection Alentejo red, Portugal
Undoubtedly one of the finest estates today in Portugal’s southern Alentejo Region, Esporao’s top wine is a blend of the native Aragones (Tempranillo) and Alicante Bouschet. It is the poster-child for modern style, Portuguese table wines, offering lush blackberry fruit on the nose and a rich, dense, and spicy palate of black fruits. Proof that Portugal doesn’t begin and end with Port!
2011 Viu Manent Gran Reserva Carmenere, Chile
Viu Manent was established in Chile by a Catalan family over 75 years ago, and is today a consistently impressive producer of excellent, often outstanding cool climate red and whites. Their Carmenere – a variety closely related to Merlot – is one of the best in the region, with its intense, gorgeous red berry fruit, spice and velvety texture – a great alternative to the Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz out there.
2007 Harlan Estate Red Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley, California.
Harlan Estate have beaten the Bordeaux establishment at their own game, crafting a red of such class and intensity that rivals such famous names as Lafite and Latour. Indeed, the owner, Bill Harlan, set out to create a wine that would equal Bordeaux’s First Growths and it must be said that this is one of California’s great reds. The 2007 is an amiable monster, a wine of intense concentration and depth, with mocha, truffle, cassis, caramel and dark cherry. The palate is rich but in total harmony, the finish extraordinary long. A wine for that very special Christmas occasion!
2010 Contra Soarda Gaggion, Breganze, Italy
Contra Soarda is a new face in the Breganze appellation of North East Italy, having only entered into wine production in 1999. They make delectable wines, using both obscure native and international varieties. Their stand out wine though is the Gaggion, made from Marzemino Nero. After two years of barrel ageing in French oak, this delicious wine is ready to display its dark fruit, floral notes and just a hint of liquorice – Works very well with Roast Beef.
Happy new year to all our friends, valued suppliers and very special customers!