Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster and The Jockey Club’s resident wine and food pairings expert, tips up the best festive fizz for the season:
Champagne is a must for the festive period. The three key grape varieties are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, with fermentation taking place in bottle in the cellars of the French region of Champagne. The NV (non-vintage) style is perfect as an apéritif and is just right for many occasions, whilst Vintage Champagne, made with grapes harvested from one year, is a true classic.
Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Rosé NV, Champagne
(Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and other retailers around £35-£45).
This dry rosé is super fresh as ever with aromas and flavours of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. A lovely pairing with nibbles, canapés, and charcuterie.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV, Champagne
(Tesco £40 down to £33 and available in many other retailers too).
The Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label deserves so many accolades thanks to the brilliant winemaking. A fabulous pairing with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on a Christmas morning or brunch ahead of the King George VI Meeting on Boxing Day.
Moët & Chandon 2012 Grand Vintage Brut, Champagne
(Majestic £61.99 down to £41.99 in a mixed case of six bottles and check out other retailers) is the 74th Grand Vintage produced by this world-renowned Champagne House. 2012 is a wonderful Champagne vintage and is developing very impressively with creamy, soft elegant flavours. A top class and underrated vintage bubbles for quality wine drinking over the Christmas period.
English Sparkling wine is being awarded more medals in competitions than ever before and the reputation of our local fizz is growing both domestically and internationally. English Sparkling wine often features the same three grape varieties as Champagne and follows the same production process. Here are two English Sparkling producers who should be in your notebook for the festive period:
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée MV, West Sussex, Hampshire
(Waitrose £36.99 on offer to £27.49, Majestic, Fortnum & Mason). Beautifully crafted and blended by their award-winning winemaker Cherie Spriggs, Nyetimber Classic Cuvée is a dry, elegant, beautifully balanced wine and is a lovely pairing with salmon with cream cheese, or scallops, sushi and canapés.
Coates & Seely Sparkling Rosé NV, Hampshire
(£32.95 from www.coatesandseely.com online shop) A stunning English pink made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with vibrancy, delicate red fruit flavours, crisp acidity and a superb finish. Chef Virginia Coates has created the perfect festive pairing with her delicious Christmas tart including lemon, lime, cranberry and almond!
Prosecco Rosé launch
There has been plenty of exciting Prosecco news this year with the production of Prosecco DOC Rosé for the first time and with the subsequent launch of Prosecco DOC Rosé Millesimato 2019 in the UK in November. Made from Glera and Pinot Noir we love enjoying pink all year round and look out for the Prosecco DOC Rosé Millesimato 2020 arriving in the UK in the first few months of 2021.
Prosecco is always a winner at Christmas-time. Its soft easy-drinking style is so popular. As a versatile wine, it works well for Aperitivo Hour with Grana Padano cheese, antipasti, mini pizzas and salads too. A great start to the Christmas celebrations.
Prosecco DOC La Gioiosa Rosé Millesimato 2019, Veneto
(Waitrose £11.99 to £8.99) La Gioiosa is a famous Prosecco producer renowned for their high quality and elegant Proseccos, with their recently launched Rosé no exception. Marvellous with seafood, light spicy dishes and delicious with panettone.
Spain’s popular sparkling wine is produced in the same way as Champagne and most of our UK sparkling wines.
Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Spain
(Tesco £12.00, Ocado)
Vilarnau is produced south of Barcelona in Sant’Sadurni d’Anoia and, with the Gaudi influenced design, this bottle is really eye-catching.
This is stylish on the palate too, with lovely ripe fruit and crisp acidity.
A really versatile choice for complementing light bites or enjoying on its own.