The annual John Lewis advert is appearing on our small screens meaning that Christmas is now at the centre of our thoughts.
Last weekend’s papers seemed to contain more ‘supplements’ from supermarkets plugging their Christmas treats than news items. The News guide to festive wines starts on December 2 and runs throughout the month.
Having tasted many of the featured wines there will be suggestions from the turkey to the pudding and everything between. Meanwhile, here are a few bottles to tempt you before the real countdown begins.
Albariño is a grape that's become fashionable. From relative obscurity it now features in supermarket-own label ranges, a good marker of a wine's arrival in our consciousness.
Most Wanted Albariño 2016, Rias Baixas (The Co-op £7.49 down from £8.49 until December 12) is a lovely introduction to this Spanish grape. It hasn’t the concentration or layers of flavours more expensive examples have, but it's good value here. There are notes of peach, citrus fruit and a hint of honey on the nose before a fresh, nicely-textured palate. A pleasant all-round white which would work well with a prawn linguine.
Mount Benson Shiraz 2016 (The Co-op £6.99) is from that store's Irresistible range and previous vintages have appeared here before. I’m pleased to say the 2016 vintage is another great value red. It has a deep, rich colour with a fresh nose with ripe black fruits, a touch of chocolate and some Asian spices, followed by more black fruit, spices, ripe tannins and good length. It's difficult not to like this. Perfect with sausages and mash.
Lastly this week, a scoop. English sparkling wine is one of the most exciting developments in the wine world. Hampshire's at the forefront of this fledging industry and I've just had a first taste of a new wine from one of Hampshire’s up-and-coming producers.
Raimes Classic 2014 (raimes.co.uk £29.95) is a great new ‘sibling’ for its much-lauded Blanc de Noirs. It's a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier produced in the traditional bottle-fermented method, and like the Blanc de Noirs it's beautifully presented. It has a lovely appearance in the glass with a constant stream of fine bubbles. The nose offers citrus fruit, green apple, a touch of oyster shell maybe and some toasty background notes before a beautifully balanced palate with green apple acidity. Given a little longer in the bottle this will get even better. Surely another award-winning wine from the Raimes family.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call 01243 431002 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.