The best drinks to see in the New Year | Alistair Gibson

Well, this isn’t quite the new year’s eve column I had thought I would be writing.

By Alistair Gibson
Saturday, 26th December 2020, 12:00 am
One of the red wines Alistair recommends for New Year's Eve.
One of the red wines Alistair recommends for New Year's Eve.

There is no doubt this is not going to be the end of the year celebrations we all hoped to be enjoying.

However it is what it is and so here are a few wines to maybe open on the evening.

It’s almost impossible to think about new year’s eve without mentioning fizz and while the mood may not quite merit Champagne, I still think there is a need for something sparkling in the fridge. Specially Selected Crémant du Jura (Aldi £8.49) is the best sub-£10 bottle of sparkling wine I’ve tasted this year.

It comes from one of France’s least-known wine producing regions, nestled up in the foothills of the Alps. This is made from chardonnay and is produced in the same method as Champagne. The bouquet is really fresh with green apple, orange peel and lemon sherbet, followed by a lively mouthfeel with more citrus fruit and a zesty, zippy finish. This is a sparkling wine to wake up your taste buds at the start of the evening, perfect to serve it with a few prawn or smoked fish canapes.

I think my evening may well end with a glass of red wine in front of the fire contemplating the year that was and either of these two wines would work just fine for me. Baron de Ley Gran Reserva 2013, Rioja (Waitrose £19.99) is a lovely example of this style of Rioja. It is a blend of tempranillo with a little garnacha and was aged for 24 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels and then aged for a further three years in bottle before release. The bouquet is classic rioja with red fruits, violets, a little chocolate and smoky, vanilla oak, followed by a very smooth, silky palate with more red fruits and some savoury notes before a long, satisfying finish. If you were serving a slow-cooked leg of lamb, then this would be perfect.

Staying in Spain but in a very different style, Torres Salmos 3026, Priorat (Waitrose £21.99, Fareham Wine Cellar £21.50) is made from a blend of cariñena (or carignan) syrah and garnacha grown in the mountainous region of Priorat south of Barcelona. It was aged in French oak, of which 25 per cent was new, for 14 months.

This is full-bodied wine with notes of black fruits, liquorice, wild herbs and spice. It is very much a wine to match with hearty roasts or stews and ponder a new year, which will we hope will bring less gloom and more cheer.