Friday, 21 January 2011

Christmas Wines

Hello there and a very belated Happy New Year from Hugo's Reserve.  I hope you had a cheery Christmas and New Year and most importantly had a fine array of wines to accompany your Christmas dinner.  We did!...

As tradition dictated, we bought our panatone and some delicious antipasti from Camisa, the age-old Italian deli in Old Compton Street (Soho) and a superb selection of cheeses from Neal's Yard (Covent Garden).  Before the descent of family on Christmas day we primed ourselves for the ensuing feast with panatone and coffee.  After everyone was then duly in place we then kicked off the festivities at noon sharp with a bottle of Pol Roger Reserve NV Champagne, which is without question my favourite regular house NV.   It was crisp, elegant, long, moreish, complex and subtle.  Delicious!

Following this we moved straight onto a bottle of JJ Prüm's Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 2007, which we have every year for no particular reason other than it's superb. Prüm are one of the greatest estates in Germany and Wehlener Sonnenuhr is one of the finest vineyards.  At only about 8% alcohol it's a perfect light wine for early in the day and was delicious with the antipasti (ventricina, felino, Mortadella, olives, nuts and Berkswell, a hard sheep's milk cheese from the West Midlands).

After a gap of several hours and far too many presents we finally made it to the main event.  After three years of geese on Christmas day (my preference) we reverted to turkey this year, which I must say was fantastic, perhaps the best turkey I've had.  Not at all dry of breast but instead juicy and full of flavour - the combination of a top-drawer bird and cutting the cooking time to the absolute minimum paid dividends.  In previous years we've always had Barolo with goose, but with the Turkey we went for our lone bottle of 1999 Rosso del Conte, which is one of the greatest wines of Sicily, from the producer Tasca d'Almerita.  Wow was it good.  It had the slightly bitter dark fruit flavours so typical of Southern Italian reds but it was also all elegance, which is often not the case.  Fully mature, very complex, very long and not at all tired; it was a stonker.

Moving onto the cheese part 1, we had a first class board from Neal's Yard along with a bottle of 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva from Carpineto.  A fine year of one of my favourite appellations from a top producer.  It was indeed lovely but the Rosso del Conte was a hard act to follow truth be told.   As to the cheese, there were a couple of goats' that we left out, as they absolutely don't go with the red wine and we had more than enough choice anyway.  This left us with two unpasteurised cow's milk cheeses, a very tangy medium hard number called St Gall, from County Cork and the usual Montgomery's Cheddar.  Both were spot on with the crisp red fruit flavours and streak of acidity from the Chianti.

For the cheese part 2 we had a blue taste off with a bottle of 2000 Taylor's LBV Port. The two blues were Colston Bassett, the usual Christmas Stilton, and its unpasteurised cousin Stichelton (which isn't allowed to be called Stilton due to the crazy law that says stilton must be made from pasteurised milk).  We all agreed the Stichelton just took the prize with some extra tang, roundness and complexity, probably due to the milk being unpasteurised.  However it must be said this is a touch harsh as they are both clearly first rate blues.  Great with the text-book LBV, which was perfect at 10 years old.  I would have liked some vintage port of course, but the only stuff I have isn't mature yet.  Another decade to go.

Finally, with just enough space left, we made it onto the Christmas pudding.  With it we had a naturally sweet Moscatel from the Lanzarote producer Bermejo.  Yes that's right, Lanzarote.  Believe it or not the volcanic island makes first rate white wine, dry and sweet, from both Malvasia and Moscatel. Both pudding and wine were first class, but perhaps the wine wasn't rich enough to match the pudding.  In retrospect perhaps a glass of 20 year old Bual H&H Madeira which was winking at me from the fridge would have been better suited.

Having made it through another year relatively unscathed I'm now wondering what to drink with next year's feast.  Mmm....


  1. Do you cater? If so, I'd like to book you for next Christams day.

  2. fish n chips and a bottle of stout then?

  3. I love fish and chips, both out and at home, but not on Christmas Day! One day we'll cook you our version Jay, which involves a lovely tarragon and anchovy breadcrumb crust over the white fish with Adrenne's chips, which are undoubtedly the world's best and my own tartare, which is rather good if I do say so. However, it will be with a bottle of 1er cru White Burgundy rather than stout!