Tasting Notes: Christmas Social wines, 14 December 2016

Notes made by John Harris after the event. Many thanks to everyone who brought these wines and introduced them so ably!


Prima Perla Sparkling Chardonnay NV – traditional bottle-fermented French non-champagne from Jean-Claude Mas (Majestic £9.99) – pleasant quaffing fizz but no more!

Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvée 2010 – 60% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir, 8% Pinot Meunier. A very elegant favourite on the night, showing how good English fizz can be – now in its 5th year after vintage, the 2010 Jenkyn Place Cuvee has reached a delicious level of maturity. The nose is characterised by pure, bright citrus with yeast-complexed fruit, followed by a silky palate of tropical fruits, quince and baked bread. Freshness and precision of flavour is enhanced by beautiful balancing acidity, giving this wine a harmonious mouthfeel with great persistence. Price £28.50

Leon Beyer Sylvaner 2014 (Alsace) – pleasant very light easy-drinking white, some nice Alsace character for this normally-blended grape – Wine Society say “Dry, food-friendly Alsace white with a hint of peppery spice, a twist of honey and delicious appley flavour. Satisfying and refreshing.”

Louis Jadot Pernand – Vergelesses 2011 – a very classy white Burgundy, lovely subtle oak ageing and what a treat for those wedding guests we heard about! Not an inexpensive wine though, nothing is in Beaune.

13/2015 Parcel Series Pinot Noir 2015 (Majestic £9.99) – made from declassified Pinot Noir grapes from the Otago region of New Zealand. A delightful very pure expression of Pinot Noir, ripe strawberries and red cherries on the nose and following though on the palate. Not a complex wine but who cares – eminently drinkable while they still have some, excellent value for money.

Passagem Douro 2009 (Bandeiras Family in the Douro Superiore, Portugal) – blend of Touriga Nacionale and Touriga Franca (normally used to make port) – very luscious and slightly spicy red, maybe a little on the young side, shows what Portugal can do with dry reds. A favourite on the night.

Yalumba “The Scribbler” 2012 (Barossa Valley, Australia) – classic Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend which they do so well. Full, spicy and aromatic but not “in your face” with the fruit as some of these can be – my favourite red of the night.

Beronia Reserva Rioja 2012 (widely available) – a tempranillo/graciano/mazuela blend and a light modern style of Rioja with fruit as well as the traditional subtle oak. A very enjoyable and inexpensive Rioja with real character.

Vergelegen Merlot 2006 , Stellenbosch, South Africa.  One of the best-known SA wineries and owned by Simon Downing’s company, hence the availability of an older vintage. To my palate, it had the characteristic Stellenbosch “smokiness” and a very full plummy character with soft tannins. –be interesting to compare with a younger vintage.

Stanton & Killeen Rutherglen Muscat NV – a unique style of Aussie sticky, from an area which has the climate to specialise in these sweet slightly-fortified nectars. Figs, sultanas, quinces, even Christmas Pud on the palate and what a complex nose; worth every penny of £20.

Chocolate Ruby NV (£7.99, Marks & Spencer) – well, definitely an unusual wine – maybe too sweet to drink much of it, but over a nice ice-cream, better! This is what the press said…… “Unlike many reds that boast notes of chocolate, this 15 per cent ABV tipple is actually infused with real chocolate. Perhaps it’s a follow-up to their chocolate-flavoured port that flew off the shelves at £6.99 a bottle in 2008. Or maybe it’s inspired by Blumenthal’s own choc-wine that was also released in 2008 at £48 a bottle. Either way, with Britons spending £3.6billion on chocolate last year  –  and £38.4 billion on alcoholic drinks  –  M&S must think they’ve stumbled on a recipe for success”.

Dow’s Finest Reserve Port NV – a traditional wine to finish, Symington’s Dow Reserves are always good and very easy to drink – a great way to say “Happy Christmas” to everyone and special thanks to Jill and Hugh for hosting such a super evening.