Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc
Tesco and Dunnes, €14
Everyone loves a crowd pleaser and this Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc is an easy pour. One of the reasons that Chilean sauvignon blanc is one of the most popular wine varieties in Ireland is because it offers a great balance of fruit and acidity.
The vines for this wine sit in clay soil and the grapes develop amongst the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean. This wine is a gush of freshness with notes of pear, nuanced with citrus flavours such as lemon and lime, with a hint of gooseberry on the finish. Perfect to pour for guests who drop around at Christmas and, if offering some nibbles, consider goat’s cheese warmed on crusty bread and drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar.
Calvet Chablis 1er Cru
Tesco, €38 (€30.40 Clubcard price until 31 December)
Chablis is the white wine that sits on my Christmas Day table. There is a lot of variety happening during that meal, but this French chardonnay has both body and finesse, complimenting those festive flavours. It can also take you straight from a smoked salmon starter right through to your succulent turkey and finish with some creamy cheese.
This Calvet Chablis 1er Cru is a real treat. From Maison Calvet, the family have passed their winemaking skills through the generations for 200 years. As a result, this chardonnay has a fine fruit base of apple and pears with a lemon finish. Eight to 10 months of ageing in stainless steel vats has developed its fantastic minerality which prevails in the mouth and gives a memorable finish.
Thierry Germain L’Insolite Saumur
The Loire Valley is famous for sauvignon blanc but a lesser-known gem is chenin blanc. When they do it, they do it well. Case in point is this stunning Thierry Germain L’Insolite Saumur. You’ll immediately enjoy a fresh gush of orchard fruit, peachy notes and lime blossom. But this wine has extraordinary depth so let it linger to reveal its fine minerality with a touch of smoke.
From a tiny vineyard with 85-year-old vines on phenomenally situated land, this is an example of a winemaker focusing on quality over quantity. If you’re planning a relaxed Christmas Eve, this will be stunning with a side of salmon or a few oysters.
Also consider a cheeseboard with St Tola’s goat’s cheese taking centre stage.
Cambala South African Merlot
This is our bargain wine of the season. From Stellenbosch in South Africa, this 100% merlot from Aldi has lots of festive flavours. Blackcurrant, cherry and plum notes are elevated with vanilla warmth, cloves and a pop of pepper.
This a smooth wine with an elegant softness so you could serve when friends come to call. But to really allow this wine to shine, it is best enjoyedwith food. If you’re pairing it with canapés, think mini beef wellingtons or some rare beef on warm bread with a pop of horseradish. Equally, this will work for a cosy night in when you need a break from the festive flavours. We’re thinking roast lamb or a steaming bowl of Shepherd’s Pie.
Château Tour Bayard
Simply Better at Dunnes Stores, €15.99 (reduced from €19.99 until 1 January 2024)
Whenever I think of a single estate claret, Downton Abbey comes to mind (Mr Carson always seemed to be decanting it for dinner). So it’s safe to assume this Château Tour Bayard emulates some quality posh vibes, and so it should.
From a 15-hectare vineyard of excellent terroir, the estate has been carefully managed by the Richard family since 1955. Using their three grapes, the wine is made of 70% merlot, which brings a delicious smoothness, 25% cabernet sauvingnon, which adds complexity, and a dash of malbec for that subtle spice. Barrel ageing adds excellent structure to the ripe red and black fruit flavours. If you’re opting for the traditional goose this year, this wine will work a treat.
Blason du Rhône Châteauneuf-du-Pape
O’Briens Wine, €26.95 (reduced from €37.95)
We all have our Christmas traditions and one of ours is to open a fantastic Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s not something we do on the big day, more one that we treat ourselves to on a lazy evening between Christmas and New Year. For me, it’s Christmas in a glass and this Blason du Rhône conjures up all those flavours with warming red fruits of cherry and strawberry.
However, it’s that peppery spice on the finish that gets me every time. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre grapes, this is a big bold red with a distinctive smoothness. Enjoy with a hearty casserole. It will also work great with some Cashel Blue.
Tesco Finest Prosecco Valdobbiadene Docg
A festive pop is always needed and this prosecco is excellent value. We’re off to the Italian hills of Valdobbiadene in the heart of Prosecco, where the warm and temperate climate (along with a good downfall of rain) help develop the Glera grapes. This is quite a dry sparkling wine, with crisp peach and pear notes shining through followed by some zesty lemon flavours. With a nice elegant fizz, this is a bottle to get the party started.
Serve with a flavourful antipasti board piled high with charcuterie and olives or, if preparing party bites, some breaded brie or halloumi fries.
Don’t forget some zesty salsa to really top things off.
De Saint-Gall Champagne
Chef de Cave Cédric Jacopin uses only chardonnay and pinot noir in this De Saint-Gall Champagne, a new edition to the M&S range. The result is an elegant wine with fine bubbles that fizzle on the tongue. It’s got balanced flavours of white stone fruits and lemon. The brioche notes are a little disguised but it does have good minerality and complexity. One of my favourite Christmas treats is the M&S party food…and sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be a party for us to pop a few bites in the oven.
This champagne is going to shine next to their fried fondue bites, the pulled beef and potato rosti towers and the fresh sweetness will balance the spice of the Middle Eastern-style chicken flatbreads.
Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial NV
O’Briens Wine, Molloy’s, The Wine Centre, Brown Thomas, Dunnes Stores, Tesco and SuperValu, €68.45
We’re finishing on a classic - the Moet Brut Impérial Rosé, a beautiful and sophisticated expression from one of the world’s most celebrated champagne houses. With the pinot noir grape bringing intensity to the wine and the pinot meunier adding roundness, it is then finished off with a drop of chardonnay which adds elegance.
Wild strawberries and raspberries with floral notes bring a fruity vibrancy to the wine while light peppery notes and a biscuity crunch complete the experience. Many people assume champagne should be sipped on its own, but it’s superb when paired with food. In fact, if you’re having an intimate gathering for Christmas dinner, this is a wow wine to serve.
It will pair beautifully with your turkey and roasted vegetables.