Five Bordeaux wines for Christmas
Bordeaux is one of the most varied wine areas in France; it produces fizz (in white or pink), dry whites (in zippy and savoury styles), rosé and reds from tannic Cabernet and juicy Merlot as well as luscious sweet wines from (often) botrytized grapes.
But it doesn't end there; France's largest wine region also produces wines at every price level from the everyday to the most expensive in the world, wines for early drinking and wines for aging, wines with both freshness and structure, fruit and savouriness.
If I had to pick the wines of just one region to drink for the rest of my life, it may well be Bordeaux.
Located on France's Atlantic coast and extending inland along the Dordogne and Garonne rivers in the Gironde département, Bordeaux is made up of 54 appellations and over 8,000 producers.
Winemaking was first introduced here by the Romans; by 1855, the best wines had been classified into a system that is still a reference point for the top reds of the region.
With different soil types, grapes and sub-regions, the watchword in Bordeaux is blending; a marginal climate area, vintage matters in Bordeaux and different blending grapes from different sites is a way to achieve consistency of style and quality.
For me, vintage rates more highly than location; warmer (but not too hot) years are better for reds, cooler years favour whites. Jancis Robinson has developed a "rule of five" - vintages ending in a 5 or a 0 tend to be the best.
In recent years, this has proven to be the case; 2015 followed a run of fairly cool and disappointing years for reds and the last great year before that was 2010. However 2016 outdid 2015 in some areas.
Bordeaux Wines are partnering with independent wine merchants up and down the country to offer bespoke Bordeaux Christmas cases featuring different styles to highlight the breadth of the offering and making sure that you have the perfect wines to enjoy over the festive period.
Here are five Bordeaux wines that are suitable for a family Christmas meal - if such a thing is allowed by then. The red is from the Excellent 2016 and will continue to improve with age; the Sauternes from the uniformly Excellent 2015.
On arrival / Christmas Morning
Château de Bonhoste Rosé NV, Crémant de Bordeaux (£15.85, Hourlier Wines) Cabernet Franc-Merlot blend produced by a 5th generation, brother and sister winemaking team, this rosé Crémant is bright and fragrant with persistent mousse supporting a fine palate of bright red berry fruit and brioche. Ideal with a wide selection of Christmas canapés.
With brunch / starters
Tesco Bordeaux Blanc 2018 (£6.75, Tesco) Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon blend; herbal citrus, fresh notes of lemon, elderflower and white blossom. Cuts through rich vegan dishes like nut roasts or mushroom Wellington.
Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Bordeaux Blanc (£9.99, Laithwaites) elegant dry white, fragrant with citrus and grassy; fresh with grapefruit and elderflower, followed by blackcurrant leaf and steely minerality. Match with goat’s cheese or salmon starters.
Château Mille Anges 2016, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux (£13, Goedhuis & Co) Merlot-Cabernet Franc-Cabernet Sauvignon blend; bright, and fruit-forward; deep and complex yet with blackcurrant, cherries and damson, notes of tobacco and sweet spice. Decant for a few hours and serve with roast turkey.
Tesco Finest Sauternes 2015 (£12.00, Tesco) Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend; ripe stone fruits, candied summer fruits, marmalade and honey. Luxurious sweetness and spicy vanilla with a clean and fresh finish. Match with lighter desserts, such as crème brûlée.