Christmas with Katie Cooper



Katie Cooper, our Wine Club Manager, plans some suitably indulgent repasts for a traditional Cooper family Christmas par excellence

Having been married in Dorset earlier in the year, it seems fitting that my new husband and I spend Christmas there this year. I’ll enjoy spending some time with my side of the family while my husband has the ready-made bolt hole of beach fishing if respite from the in-laws is required!

Putting the last frantic hours of work behind us, we’ll whizz down the M3 to be greeted by a refreshing G&T – made with our No.3 London Dry Gin, of course – and the soothing sounds of Christmas carols from King’s College on the radio. The celebrations will kick off with a Cooper family tradition of roast gammon and Dauphinoise potatoes on Christmas Eve night. I’ll take a bottle of Chardonnoir from Bodegas RE with me to savour with our first festive feast. As you may have guessed it’s an intriguing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and should have just the right combination of body, texture and richness to complement the gammon perfectly.

Feeling suitably relaxed, we’ll greet Christmas Day early with a bracing walk to tire the dogs out, then head home for an indulgent breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Champagne would be my usual choice but this year we’ll drink local (well, Sussex) with a 2010 Grosvenor, a Blanc de Blancs from Ridgeview Estate. It’s light enough for the early start yet rich enough to shine happily alongside those buttery eggs, and will also see us agreeably through the present opening.

Onto the main event, and as there will only be a few of us this year duck is on the menu. I love its crispy skin and savoury, rich meat and often find Pinot Noir a great match with its bright acidity and earthy character. We’ll probably take a couple of bottles that display different styles to suit everyone around the table – it is Christmas, after all. The charming 2010 Beaune, 1er Cru, Les Cents Vignes from Domaine des Croix will no doubt be favoured by the traditionalists, and for something a little fruitier and more expressive, the 2011 Ostler Pinot Noir from Otago will fit the bill nicely.

Boxing Day dawns, and if I haven’t lost my husband to the lure of sea fishing we’ll drop in on the West Bay Wallow, an annual event that sees people braver than we dash into the sea to shake off the previous day’s excesses. A long walk along the coastline, perhaps fortified with a sip or two of homemade sloe gin or The King’s Ginger liqueur, will whet our appetites for my favourite meal of the holiday: cold cuts, pickles, a few of my mother’s brilliant roast potatoes and a delicious West Dorset cheeseboard.

A hard meal to match wine to, as there is so much variety, so we’ll keep it simple with a choice of aromatic, peach-scented Torrontés that is fruit driven, light on its feet and interesting, or a crowd-pleasing Rioja with some age to it. Any room left over will be filled with a homemade mince pie and a drop of Pedro Ximénez Sherry, the last but by no means least of my Christmas indulgences.

We will be enjoying the Christmas tipples and traditions of three more members of the Berry Bros. & Rudd team this week; tomorrow it’s Mark Pardoe MW, our Wine Buying Director.