The perfect wines to crack open this holiday season:BUBBLES
Val Frison Lalore Blanc de Blancs, Champagne
Because you’re special: Lalore is Val Frison’s pure Chardonnay from the Aube – its beautiful texture and fine bubbles reveal a herbal palate that reminds one of wild rocket. The terroir inflection is reminiscent of superior white Burgundy. Indigenous fermentation with wild yeasts in used barriques from Chablis, naturally-occurring malo and tirage without filtering or fining.
1701 Sullerba, Franciacorta, Lombardia
Original fizz: Biodynamically-farmed cloudy baby Franciacorta (Chardonnay grape), fermented partly in amphora, a beautiful balance of oyster-shell crunch, sheer vinosity and understated orchard fruit.
Chasselas M de Marin, Les Vignes du Paradis, Savoie
Tongue-luge: The Chasselas for the Marin is planted in Savoyarde granitic soils with glacial moraines lending it some of the most bitingly mineral-flavours and textures you will find a white wine. Restrained aromas of yellow under-ripe citrus fruit and a hint of honeysuckle rise from the glass. On the palate, it opens with brilliant honey-tinged, tropical fruit and bright citrus that gives way to a rush of minerals that lasts seemingly forever.
Bourgogne Blanc La Combe, Domaine Derain, Burgundy
Puligny-manqué: From a tiny plot (less than 1/3 hectare of low yielding vines grown in the brown clay soils in Puligny village Bourgogne Blanc “La Combe”is tighter than a coiled spring and more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Vinu Jancu, La Garagista, Vermont
Crescento: Homage to a very special vineyard on Mount Etna named Vinujancu, this wine is made from the hybrid La Crescent vines grown in alpine meadows by Vermont’s Lake Champlain. Hazy golden-orange, musky, wild mint, tarragon, white strawberry, little golden plums and pears, skinsy and grippy, and oh-so-alive. Wildly wonderful.
Fiano, Sancho Panza, Zampaglione, Campania
Colourful Campanian: The vines for this Fiano are planted at an altitude 800 metres above sea level on poor soils. This is golden-amber in colour from being raised in an open vat, cloudy in the glass, and has seen very little sulphur. The nose comes alive with fresh green notes, aromatic yellow fruits, and dried herbs. The palate is round and full of citrusy, lemon intensity finishing with a hint of tannin.
Les Foulards Rouges “Le Fond de l’Air” est Rouge, Roussillon
St Nicq-las: Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge is another reference to the Nouvelle Gauche and refers to a Chris Markham political film from 1977. It was released in the US as A Grin Without A Cat. The wine itself is a pure and generous expression of Cinsault, irresistibly crunchable with all the lean red stone fruit flavours you could want. Drink in the Nicq of time. With a grin. Without a cat.
Beaujolais-Leynes, Julien Guillot
Life in the light leynes: Consider Julien Guillot’s fabulous Beaujolais-Leynes from vineyards at 900 m above sea level adjacent to Saint-Veran. This cool, sans-sulphite number crunches in at 10.5% of ethereal mineral-salty goodness. By golly this is a good to drink
Kelley Fox Maresh Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon
Maresh land: Wild briary fruit interwoven with crunch of souring rhubarb and orange as well as background aromas of mint, wild herbs, earth, fennel, peppercorns and smoke. The herbal tannins lend a medicinal note and the beautiful natural acidity creeps up on you. It is kinetic, salty, sappy and tonic, bursting with volcanic life.
Domaine Hauvette Cornaline, Coteaux d’Aix, Provence
A year from Provence: From a gorgeous vintage, a wine that is finally cracking a smile, endorsing sunburnt mirth and filling my beaker of the warm South. It’s meat, meat jus, woodsmoke, balsam and garrigue all in one glass.
Flor del Narcea, Dominio del Urogallo, Cangas
Binary winery: Is it a sweet wine, is it a flor wine? Yes. This blend of Albarin, Albillo and Petit Manseng is provocative, salty, nutty, sweet and yet refreshing.
Marsala Superiore 1987, Marco de Bartoli
Oxi-date: Marco De Bartoli has revived the quality of Marsala that harks back to the 18th century, to when the British made it famous (and were prepared to fight for it!) Vinified in large oak and chestnut barrels this majestic tawny-hued vintage Marsala is focused and rich with walnut, leather, orange skin, chestnuts and even with notes of anchovies ‘sotto olio’. Perfect with dolci or elaborate cheese and nut dishes.