Compliments of the season > II

More recommendations for what to drink with your Christmas lunch.

With just a week to go until Christmas, three more wine merchants reveal their festive wine preferences. There will surely be some guests round the Christmas table who eschew red and demand white wine. Nothing could be simpler, pork goes beautifully with a rich, spicy white too. For those who are freeing themselves from the shackles of tradition, Xenophon and Sally of Cava Protasis, have the following suggestions.

From northern Greece in Macedonia we tasted Nico Lazaridis’ 2005 Chateau Nico Lazaridi White, Regional Drama, alcohol volume 12%, which blends Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon, Roditis and Ugni Blanc. It has a pale gold colour with brilliant, fresh green fruit nose. The palate is also of fresh fruit, soft and round, but with notable acidity and a full-mouth-feel. The wine has a quite mineral backbone and a long, elegant, tart finish. With a flourish of CO2 on the tongue and lemon end-taste, there is something for just about everyone in this wine. A classic white wine fermentation without bells and whistles in which all the best features of the component varieties have been allowed to shine. Serve at 8-10 degrees C with fish, seafood chicken and roast pork.

More Greek wine on the table and we decanted a bottle of 2003 Domaine Hadjimichalis Syrah, alcohol volume 13%. This limited production Syrah by one of Greece’s prominent winemakers, Dimitris Hadjimichalis, is powerful and concentrated with a vibrant, purple-red colour. Subtle with nice herbal aromas, dark cherry fruit and an almost sweet aroma, soft tannins and more cherry on the palate. Harmonious with traditional Christmas food, served at 16-18°C.

I would have always guessed the next wine, a 2000 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino, alcohol volume 13.5%, a ruby red wine of Sangiovese varietal, tight and chewy with full body and lots of raisin and spice. It has dark cherry and dried plum fruits, melting into more pronounced minerality and essences of tobacco leaf, lead and stone. On the palate, we discovered crisp acidity with pulpy fruit attacking you and a lingering finale. Beef stews, braised meets with potatoes, roast wild boar and aged cheeses come to mind. Served at 18°C.

George Hadjikyriakos of Spectus will start his meal with N/V Bollinger, alcohol volume 12%. Pale golden with sweet biscuit reflecting Pinot Noir domination (60%). Lemony and apple character with oak tones through mid-palate, subtle coffee and toffee aromas. Fresh champagne with a firm mousse. It is an excellent aperitif with some savoury nibbles to start with.

Created from the successful combination of Assyrtiko with the rare wine Malagousia, the 2006 Domaine Gerovasiliou White, alcohol volume 12.5%, has a bright, blonde-like colour with some greenish glints and aromas expressive of exotic fruits together with pepper, orange, melon, herbs and lemon. Rich, harmonious and pleasant acidity, vivid, medium body with a lemon finish. Served at 8-10°C, it is perfect matched with seafood, fish, white meat or pasta with plain sauces, Greek salad with tomato and feta cheese.

An excellent white is followed by an Amarone Classico. The 2000 Masi Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella alcohol volume 15%, (Corvina 70%, Rondinella 5%, Molinara 5%). This wine is created using the appasimento method, more about it in future. Dark garnet in colour, it exudes lovely aromatics of deep, dark black cherry, with notes of raisins and a hint of coffee in the background. These impressions carry over into the full-bodied flavours, with some added earth and underbrush, good structure and a long finish. This is a great value wine, with excellent aging potential too.

Excellent with roast beef or game with wild mushroom sauce. To complete his Christmas meal, George will drink a 2000 The Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonios, alcohol volume 12%, which has an amber colour with aromas of ginger cookies, apricot and orange marmalade. This is a sweet wine, deftly balanced, with a lively structure and a fine, lingering finish.

And finally, Victor Papadopoulos of La Maison du Vin, will definitely start with a bottle of fine Ruinart Champagne. Interestingly though, Victor also favours the Italians with a 2005 Zenato Lugana San Benedetto, (Trebbiano) alcohol volume 13%. This is the flagship wine of the Lugana family, straw yellow in colour and marked by greenish reflections. Persistent flavours of soft fruit, velvety and full bodied with scents of green fruit, vanilla and slight traces of peach too. The acidity keeps it fresh and refreshing, with a ripe, soft aftertaste. Excellent with most Christmas seafood starters and with roast pork at 11°C.

Like Ruinart, Victor must drink a Guigal at Christmas, this year he opts for the 2003 Cotes du Rhone, E. Guigal, alcohol volume 13%. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and some Mourvodre, this deep ruby-purple coloured wine has black pepper, raspberries and dark plums on the nose, followed by a nicely structured palate with plenty of complexity. Excellent value for money. Served at 17° C, it is an ideal pairing with red meats, tomato-based pasta sauces and mature cheeses.

And finally, the 2000 Poliziano Asinone, Vino Nobile di Montepulziano, alcohol volume 14%. Sangiovese at its best even though the name of this special cuvee translates as ‘big donkey’ it comes from the shape of the vineyard. Open and spicy tarry nose displays attractive herbal complexity. The palate is firm, tarry, structured and quite elegant with high acidity.