On our Christmas wish-list
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Max Lalondrelle, Bordeaux Buyer
1986 Château Léoville-Las Cases, St Julien, Bordeaux: If I could choose to collect a vertical from one château it would be Château Léoville-Las Cases, which is a phenomenally consistent estate. Firing on all cylinders, the 1986 typifies a beautifully crafted and aged Claret.
2013 Cornas, Les Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Alain Voge, Rhône: Alain Voge is a master of his craft and – although often surpassed for the better-known appellations – Cornas is a hidden gem producing some of the best Syrahs out there.
Matt Smith, Italy Buyer
2006 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany Italy (in magnum): Christmas calls for pushing the boat out – and what better a way than with a magnum of a seminal Italian wine. Sassicaia was the first of the Super Tuscans and remains very much on top today. The 2006 vintage was slightly warmer than average, and wonderful for Cabernet Sauvignon. This exotic wine is drinking exceptionally now.
2009 Gattinara, Vallana, Piedmont, Italy: This offers fantastic value from the lesser-known Gattinara appellation which actually has a longer history with the Nebbiolo grape than the Langhe. Here the soil is volcanic and rich in iron, giving the wines fantastic concentration and nerve. They often take longer to age and Vallana is never in a hurry to release, preferring to mature them in their cellars so they drink well as soon as they’re available to buy. This 2009 (their current release) is already fantastically complex and full, and drinking beautifully for this Christmas and many to come.
Catriona Felstead MW, Spain Buyer
2010 La Faraona, Descendientes de J. Palacios, Bierzo, Spain: La Faraona is a tiny, yet unique vineyard, perching almost vertically, at incredible altitude high on a hillside in Bierzo. Alvaro Palacios talks about the “magnetic” energy of this place and you can see how this translates into this absolutely thrilling wine with its poise, complexity and perfection.
2016 La Montesa, Crianza, Bodegas Palacios Remondo, Rioja, Spain: La Montesa is one of my favourite “everyday” Riojas. Alvaro Palacios is putting so much energy and care into transforming this vineyard, changing all the trained vines to dry-farmed bush vines, and the focus on this terroir is clear. Fine and elegant with rich cherry and macerated cranberry fruit, this wonderful wine also has freshness and balance, making it an easy decision to enjoy another sip.
Demetri Walters MW, Wine Educator & Presenter
1920 Bual, Blandy’s, Madeira, Portugal (in magnum): Fortified wines give year-round pleasure, though never more so at Christmas. Both this, and my slightly more affordable choice, can be enjoyed lightly chilled before your Christmas lunch or dinner, are the best match for plum pudding and are a superb accompaniment, in tandem with a cup of tea, to Christmas cake and mince pies. The 1920 Bual, by the venerable house of Blandy, is one of the very best vintages of the last century and in magnum format the joy will go even further. Best decant this two or three days before drinking. It’ll keep for months once opened.
Berry Bros. & Rudd William Pickering Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal: With an average cask age of 15 years, our William Pickering Tawny Port, made for us by the famous Quinta do Noval, will provide a wonderful treat at a fraction of the cost of the above. Two hugely enjoyable sweeties to reminisce over, to sip with friends and family, or accompanied by a snoozing cat or dog in front of a roaring fire.
Lenka Sedlackova MW, Agency Manager
1999 Champagne Salon, Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Brut: No Christmas Eve is complete without a glass of special Champagne and if you’re looking to splash out, you can’t go wrong with Salon.
Champagne Jacquesson, Cuvée 742, Extra Brut: Jacquesson’s 700 series Champagnes are carefully crafted with a view to express the intrinsic qualities of particular vintages. The Cuvée 742 is based on the excellent 2014 vintage; it is wonderfully rich and biscuity and ready to enjoy with smoked salmon blinis.
Barbara Drew MW, Events Manager
2013 Henschke, Hill of Grace, Eden Valley, Australia: This was one of the first Australian wineries I ever visited and I was blown away by the vineyards, the winemaking philosophy and the combination of elegance and power that Hill of Grace captures. A rare treat, but worth every penny.
2012 Qupé, Sonnie’s Syrah Sawyer Lindquist, Edna Valley, California, USA: This is a very different style to the Hill of Grace, more savoury and spicy, but still with Syrah’s trademark peppery note.