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Drinks for all Reasons – Twelve Drinks for the Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas party. Wine tasting. Red, white, and rose wine selections on outdoor patio table. Wine bottles. Rustic wooden table. Pine twig decor to left. Christmas ornaments, tinsel foreground.

The festive season is upon us and this gives us an opportunity to treat ourselves and share time with the most important people to us. A selection of wines featured below stood out from hundreds that have been tasted at wine companies’ portfolio tastings in recent months.

These are wines for all reasons and chosen specially to help highlight special occasions over the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Magnum-Inous Gatherings:
Grande Alberone 2018, Vino Rosso D’Italia, 150cl 14.5% ABV


€19.99 limited availability at Aldi stores and in gift box
Nothing impresses more than serving wine to family and friends from a magnum sized bottle. It shows a generosity of spirit the bounty of Christmas. Despite the keen price, there is nothing simple about this generic Italian red. Full-bodied and tasty with a warm fruity heart, soft tannins and seductively silky textured, delivering instant gratification. Pair the generous magnum sized bottle with family and friends.

 

Gift For The Wine Lover:
Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand


13% ABV
€35.15 from independent wine specialists nationwide.
​Dublin: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Gibney’s, Malahide; Londis, Malahide; Lilac Wines, Fairview; Martin’s, Fairview; Baggot Street Wines; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Higgins, Clonskeagh; Redmond’s, Ranelagh; Mitchell’s, Glasthule & CHQ; Blackrock Cellars; Donnybrook Fair and On the Grapevine, Dalkey.
Nationwide: La Touche, Greystones; Bradley’s, North Main St, Cork; 1601, Kinsale;
Wine Centre, Kilkenny; McCambridge’s, Galway and World Wine Wines, Waterford.

A standard bearer and iconic wine that launched New Zealand to an international wine audience. Established in 1985, success quickly followed. Numerous awards and ecstatic reviews resulted in the wine being strictly rationed on an allocation basis. Signature aromas of lime and passionfruit. The zesty citrus acidity underpins the mango and white peach fruit. The excellent 2019 vintage in Marlborough promises to deliver a consistent excellence and balance of ripeness and freshness.

Gift Set For Three Wise Men:
Fercullen Trilogy Gift Set, Powerscourt Distillery, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.

Photo: Eoin Holland – www.eoinholland.com

50ml @ €25 from www.powerscourtdistillery.com and in Dublin: The Celtic Whiskey Shop, 27-28 Dawson Street; Mitchell & Son, CHQ Building and Sandycove; James Fox Cigar and Whiskey Store, 119 Grafton Street and L. Mulligan Whiskey Shop, 13 Clarendon Street.

A trilogy of miniature treasures from the Powerscourt Distillery on the demesne of the same name at one of Wicklow’s prettiest villages, Enniskerry. Crafted by multi-award-winning Master Distiller, Noel Sweeney.

Fercullen Single Grain Irish Whiskey, Aged 10 Years 40% ABV
Almond nuttiness is contrasted by dried orange peel and vanilla spice.

Fercullen Premium Blend Irish Whiskey 40% ABV
A blend of aged Malt and Grain whiskies delivering a lemon and vanilla character.

Fercullen Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Aged 14 Years 46% ABV
The rich malt is complemented by honey, cinnamon and dark plums imbued by complexity form lengthy aging in fresh Bourbon barrels or a minimum of 14 years.

Sweeten the in-laws:
Rutherglen Muscat, Chambers Rosewood Vineyards, Victoria, Australia 17.5% ABV

37.5cl bottle @ €18.99 in Dublin at Morton’s; Fallon & Byrne Foodhall; Fresh – The Good Food Market; Mitchell & Son; The Parting Glass; Searson’s; Clontarf Wines; Blackrock Cellar and online: Wineonline.ie
Vegan friendly. One of Australia’s treasures, Rutherglen’s Muscats are aged for very lengthy periods in barrel where they acquire an antique tawny rose-golden colour. Highly aromatic of rose petals and plump golden sultanas. This gorgeous Liqueur wine is honeyed and decadently unctuous. A simple and no fuss dessert to chill and serve as a Christmas Pudding alternative.

Christmas Morning:
5. Fino Sherry by La Ina, Jerez, Spain 15%


Probably one of the most versatile wines to match with salty, bitter and challenging foods. Perfect with a pizza topped with anchovies, olives and artichokes. A personal favourite to chime in Christmas Day. With all Sherry’s Fino style wines, treat as you would any dry white wine and chill and enjoy within a day or two of opening. Delicate scent of camomile and cashews. Classically bone dry and light-bodied for a fortified wine. A bracing Atlantic sea-breeze adds a salty tang to the almond nutty and lemony palate. Serve exceptionally well-chilled and consume within a day of opening, preferably with a hearty full-Irish breakfast/brunch.
€16 or two for €25 at www.mitchellandson.com and independent off-licences nationwide.

Turkey Tipple:
6. La Clape Grand Vin Blanc 2015, Chateau D’Anglès, Languedoc, France 14.5% ABV


€25.95 at Donnybrook Fair, Donnybrook and Searson’s Wine Merchants, Monkstown. Online:   www.searsons.com.
A fuller-bodied wine made with a less familiar grape varietal, Bourboulenc. Aging in oak barrels has given added depth by imbuing the golden fruit a delicious contrasting nuttiness and pepperiness. A dry wine but with a honeyed ripeness and creamy texture. Ideal match for a rich white meat – roast turkey or pork. Serve cool but not chilled to reveal the layers of character or decant into a cold decanter for added glamour.

A Red Christmas:
7. Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Sequoia Grove, Napa Valley, USA 14.6% ABV


€57 in Dublin at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street and Whelehans Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown
California’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon is nurtured in Napa Valley, north of nearby San Francisco. Sequoia Grove’s example showcases the premium sub-zones in the valley with over half from the earthy styled Rutherford. The Cabernet Sauvignon is enhanced by a little Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and made to continue to improve over ten years. Currently it has the benchmark bouquet of blackberries and vanilla with maturity expressed by leather and cedar notes. The palate is full-bodied and evolving with dark plummy fruit and a dusting of cocoa. If going to the dark side with the Christmas meat, try with a spiced roast beef or venison with juniper berries.

A Portly Character:
8. Duorum LBV Port 2014, Douro Valley, Portugal 20% ABV [O’Briens] €23.95 reduced from €25.95 until 31st December


This Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is a very elegant version. While naturally sweet, this is veering towards a drier style. Highly aromatic with a heady perfume of dark fruits and chocolate. Full-bodied, rich and a velvet texture supporting the integrated sweetness. Pair with hard cheese and consume within two weeks of opening.

POST-ST. STEPHEN’S DAY TREK
9. Shiraz 2014 Portrait series, Peter Lehmann, Barossa, South Australia 14.5%
ABV [Coman’s]


€14 at Donnybrook Fair; The Hole in the Wall; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Morton’s, Ranelagh and Martin’s, Fairview.
Gently elevating aromas of ripe blackberries with a little mint. Full-bodied with warming alcohol, yet restrained in personality, showcasing the elegance and complexity of premium quality Australian wines where less is more. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels to underpin the fruit with an underlying mellow vanilla-pod spice. Effortlessly smooth and mellow.

SPARKLE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE:
10. Cava Brut 11.5% ABV [Marks & Spencer] €10.50 @ Marks & Spencer nationwide

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Vegan-friendly. Classic blend of native white varietals: Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada. Made from a blend of recent vintages 2016 and 2017. Despite the keen price, the wine overdelivers in quality exceeding expectations. The classic Cava Rich Tea biscuit bouquet hints at the quality. On the taste buds, dry but not excessively so and followed by a lemony tang on the finish. Light-bodied and refreshing. Pop the cork to commemorate the past year and welcome the New Year ahead. Keep well chilled and top up with freshly squeezed orange juice for a New Year’s Day’s breakfast bracer.

AFTERMATH CONTEMPLATION:
11. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013, 3 Cru, Guerrieri Rizzardi, Verona, Italy 15.5% ABV [O’Briens] €24.95 from €34.95 at O’Brien’s nationwide from 9th December for 1 week


The marriage of two noble families, they have been making wine for nearly 400 years near Lake Garda. Harvests combined from 3 premium vineyards (Cru), the grapes are dried for several months to reduce the water content in the juice by about half and concentrate the flavours. The resulting wine aged for three years in oak barrels. Italians refer to these powerful and complex dry wines as meditation wines served after a meal with some nuts to savour the raisin rich fruit, licorice and herbal notes.

 

 

Nollaig Na Mban – Little Women’s Christmas
12. Albarino 2018, Laurent Miquel, Lagrasse village, France 13%
[Dunnes Stores] €10 at Dunnes Stores nationwide


The twelfth day of Christmas on January 6th marks the Feast of the Epiphany. But in Ireland it also celebrates a tradition where the women in Ireland take a break from the hard work making Christmas so special for family and loved ones: Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Little Christmas.

Aimed to invigorate and celebrate with friends and with or without food. More associated with Spain, this Albarino white grape varietal has made itself at home in southern France. In the capable hands of the imaginative winemaker, Laurent Miquel (married to a Dublin woman, Neasa Corish), his Albarino delivers classic grapefruit aromas and a fruity palate of white peach. Dry and refreshing with mouth-watering citrus acidity and a salty note. Balanced by moderate alcohol and while refreshing as a pick-me-up, equally successful with smoked salmon and oysters.

Liam Campbell
Twitter: @LiamDrinksWines

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