Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas is coming

It seems like Christmas was only yesterday but like me I am sure you know it is already that time of year again. One month from today and we will all be reflecting on Christmas Day 2010 but before we can reflect we need to plan and as this is a wine column we need to plan what we will be drinking on the big day.
If you like to start Christmas Day with a glass of bubbles you have got time to shop around and pick up either some great value New Zealand sparkling wines or to save your pennies for a bottle of something special from the French region of Champagne.
For Sari and I we always start with champagne; if we can’t be a little decadent on Christmas Day when can we be? Because the world economy is still recovering very slowly champagne houses in France have a bit of surplus stock so you will find some pretty good deals being offered by many retailers. Fifty dollars will buy you a very respectable bottle of Champagne but if you want to push the boat out a bit then the sky is the limit - $300 plus for rare or ultra premium wines.
I know this sounds expensive but a mid-range champagne at around the $100 mark can make your Christmas a very special occasion and you have four weeks to plan for it.
Last week I went to a tasting of Pol Roger and Charles Heidsieck Champagnes at Casa del Vino where we tasted everything from the $110 Pol Roger Pure NV through to the $320 Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 1999. The latter was the star of the tasting as you would expect but the Rosé Champagnes ($150 & $240) were stunningly elegant and oh-so-drinkable. If you want premium champagne for your Christmas Day then drop in and see Anne and she will help you choose the right wine for you.
If your budget won’t quite stretch to premium bubbles then you have some great New Zealand choices. Old favourites like Cloudy Bay’s Pelorus, Daniel Le Brun’s No 1 Family Estate Number Eight or Allied Domeque’s Deutz are absolutely reliable wines made in the traditional champagne method and you will find them on special for $20 – $45 depending on the wine. Then there is always the old faithful Lindauer. It doesn’t set the world in fire but you can always find it somewhere for about $10 a bottle.
Whichever sparkling wine you choose stay away from the ultra-cheap ($4 - $7) carbonated wines, the bubbles are artificial like soft drinks and will just give you a huge headache.
If you see very cheap imported champagne be wary if it is parallel imported. The storage and age is not guaranteed by a distributor and the quality can vary significantly from bottle-to-bottle. They can be great value but if it is not as exciting as you expected then you have been warned.

I have been drinking
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 2008 Lone Gum Gewurztraminer - $21
This multi-trophy winning wine is simply stunning. The wine is full bodied and bursting with rose petal and Turkish delight characters with lashings of sweet lychee and delicate spice all bound together in a luscious, oily texture in the mouth. Named as Winestate’s New Zealand Winery of the Year 2010 it comes as no surprise the trophies for this wine contribute to 100 trophies the winery has won over the years.

Julicher Estate 2009 99 Rows Pinot Noir - $25.45
A gold medal Martinborough pinot noir for $25? They do exist and this is living proof. The light colour understates the delightful intensity of this wine. Packed with ripe dark cherry, elegant vanilla and soft toasted oak flavours wrapped around silky tannins this wine is a warm delight.

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