Wines for Christmas 2 - What would you recommend with Turkey?

There’s so much to choose from, so many different types of food to match, so many different  tastes to please. It’s a time of year when anything and everything goes and when we allow ourselves to indulge  in just about anything we want. So how do you pick wines to see you through this time? The wines we'd recommend reflect those that we would drink with the great food we enjoy at this time of the year– so there’s wines to go with salmon, prawns, turkey, goose, red meats, game trifle, Christmas pud and Christmas Cake. We've also selected some wines for the "downtime" between visits and meals, something to open to refresh yourself or alternatively, something to help you chill out! The notes below provide the answers to "What to Drink on Christmas Day?"

Celebrations need Bubbly!

So let's start as any good party should do – with some great Sparkling Bubbles. Sparkling wine at Christmas is a must and we have an excellent selection OF TOP QUALITY Cap Classique Sparklers which brings the quality of Champagne at half the price, leting you really celebrate without breaking the ban. Champagne is great, but the stuff worth drinking can be very expensive, so you might be restricted in the quantities you can buy, besides these Methode Cap Classique Sparkling Wines that we have from Pierre Jourdan in Franschhoek really do leave you asking WHY?would you pay double for wines of similar quality, just because they come from Champagne. ( If you haven't yet read it, click here to learn more about Champagne & Sparkling Wine.)

Made with the classic sparkling wine grape varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, these wines are made by the "Cap Classique" method, following identical traditions as used in Champagne, but in South Africa you pay for quality wine not for reputation - so much so if were buying Champagne of this quality you would quite honestly pay double the prices. (For more info on Champagne & Sparkling wines, see our recent article here.) Our two most popular Cap Classiques are the white Brut NV (£12.00) and the wonderful Cuvee Belle Rose (£14.00), both of which are fabulous quality and tremendous value. Both are made from the same grapes as Champagne, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both made in identical methods to Champagne. The Brut NV is a white Cap Classique and the Cuvee Belle Rose is a beautiful salmon pink colour with hints of strawberry flavours and a real creamy bubbly sensation on the palate. Last Christmas the Cuvee Belle Rose was extremely popular with our customers, everyone who bought it remarked on its special value.

For those on a more restricted budget, you needn't feel left out, our Du Toitskloof Brut ( @£9.00) is a wonderful light, fruity sparkler and it is very, very easy to drink lots of it!

Starters

Onto the meal and for starters, we’re usually looking at white wines. A couple of different types of wine to try, depending on what you are going to eat.. For seafood and light starters, there’s not much to beat Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc is often overlooked in favour of Chardonnay (which can be a great turkey wine……) but for the start of the meal something crisp and fruity and light on the taste buds is what you want. The typical characteristics of this wine are usually a great smell, grassy, gooseberries, fruity, sometimes called “cat’s Pee”, with flavours of citrus, asparagus, lemon and of course, gooseberries.

There's plenty to choose from, for a delicate example of Sauvignon Blanc, try the Du Toitskloof, or light and fruity there's our very popular Garden Route from De Krans, while for something a little bit classier there's Sauvignon Blanc from Glenwood in Franschhoek, Seidelberg in Paarl or Sumaridge in Hemel en Aarde. Each wine is a differing style, to suit different tastes, the Seidelberg is light, crisp and beautifully restrained, the Glenwood a great "halfway" style (between full on New & Elegant Old World), fresh and zingy but not too rich or over intense and theSumaridge is delicate and fine, has restrained but concentrated flavours of gooseberry and citrus, with a character that wine people describe as "Minerality" reflecting its place of birth..

We always like to suggest more than one type of wine and the second white wine that we’d recommend as a good wine for starters is Chenin Blanc - the De Krans from Calitzsdorp is wonderful and unfussy, clean, fresh, fruity with a melony aftertaste. Nice and light for starters, as is the beautifully rounded Du Toitskloof, which was very popular at our recent October tastings. For a touch more elegance and finesse, there's the Seidelberg Chenin Blanc, a wine that is great with food, but with enough richness to enjoy on its own.

Main Course

The tradition of Turkey at Christmas still thrives, but more and more people are choosing alternatives for their Christmas meal, so our wine suggestions cover wines for Game, beef and lamb. If you are having fish for main course, the Sauvignon blancs, Chenin Blancs suggested above in the "starters" section are more likely to go better than the Chardonnays suggested here - although the Du Toitskloof and Seidelberg Chardonnays would be good options for those who prefer this grape.

MAIN COURSE WHITES

White Wines
- Many people like to have white wine with turkey – if so, a good Chardonnay, Viognier or rich Chenin Blancwould fit the bill. In our selections we've suggested Chardonnay or Chenin. The Chardonnays range from the De Krans - warm and rich, but uncomplex, the Du Toitskloof - rounded and light with nice fruit andhoney flavours to the Seidelberg and Summaridge (from Hemel en Aarde), two estates where the emphasis is 'terroir' (a wine with a sense of place), finesse, elegance and smooth complexity of citrus, toasty, vanilla and butterscotch flavours. For those who prefere htere Chardonnay "unwooded", we have two excellent examples, from Neetlingshof in Stellenbosch and from Glenwood in Franschhoek. Fresh, with good fruit flavours and strong enough to live with the flavours of turkey.

The two Chenins we would suggest are the Du Toitskloof and Seidelberg mentioned above. Of the two, the Seidelberg with tis classy, rich style with apricot and honey flavours is "bigger, yet more elegant" and is perhaps the one, if forced to choose ,that we would have withthe turkey.

MAIN COURSE REDS

Red wines to have with your meal very much depend on your tastes, whether it be turkey, game or red meat.

A "Quick Ready Reckoner" would be:
Turkey -
Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc,
Game -
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc,
Beef & Lamb -
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Sauv/Merlot blend, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc.

Our range of red wines includes some excellent examples of single varietals and blends that really will provide something for every taste. For soft, fruity, very easy to drink preferences, there's the very popular Garden Route Shiraz, Glenwood Merlot or the Seidelberg Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. For those who like something smokey or with a little bit of spiciness there's the Glenwood Shiraz and the Seidelberg Shiraz, the Glenwood is a little bit more chewy and complex, two Shirazes to taste, each of them big bodied and full flavoured! For something new, we have our first Australian wine, the Mark Dvidson Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend from the Tamburlaine Estate in the Hunter Valley!

Two extra special wines at extra special prices this year are the Limited Edition Philip Jordaan Cabernet Franc 2001, which is exceptionally smooth, with a little hint of cedar spiciness and the Knorhoek Estate Shiraz 2004, both of which are £15 wines being offered for £11 - very limited quantities, so first come first served.

If you are looking for something a bit more "weighty", full bodied, "chewy" then the wonderfully mellow yet concentrated flavours showwhat a little bit of ageing can do for a good red wine, these wines display fantastic consistency of real elegance and quality, both being very typical examples of what these wines SHOULD taste like, with concentrated black and red fruit flavours, smooth mouthfeel and real sensations of being "serious" wines.

Those on a more restricted budget can't go wrong with our very popular trio of wines from Pebble River in Stellenbosch - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Cabernet Franc offer very easy to drink, serious, complex fruity flavours, with something a little spicy provided by either the Garden Route Shiraz from De Krans (limited quantities) or the elegant Shiraz from Du Toitskloof in Rawsonville..

For afters

Now, on to dessert. I love dessert wines, not enough people drink dessert wines, they’re not all sweet sickly efforts, the best have an excellent balance of sweetness and acidity. Many of our clients have told us they don't like dessert wines, so there's none in the selections, but just in case you'd like some we can offer the Du Toitskloof Noble Late Harvest (not cheap...at £10/half btl) with lovely botrytised, subtle peaches and apricot flavours or the De Krans Muscadel Jerepigo at £7.50 per btl.

Finally………if you still need more, or for the Christmas Pud later in the evening, let’s try some Port style wines South Africa is without doubt the best producer of Port style wines outside of Portugal - many examples are infinitely better quality and value than similar priced wines from the Duoro. Only when you start to go very expensive can SA not compete with the breadth of quality available. However we have two absolute crackers, both from De Krans - the ruby style, a smooth, full, fruity warming wine for after dinner and the Cape Vintage, which "vintage Port" at a fraction of the cost, with spices, fruitcake and plum flavours all being backed up beautifully with a complexity and full bodied, filling sensation.

We trust you've enjoyed the notes, they're designed to help relieve at least one of the stresses of Christmas. Of course, we have other wines to offer, click here to view examples of the Selections that we have put together. Remember, these are suggestions - we'll happily tailor a case to suit your own likes - then drop us an e-mail or give us a call and we can discuss what wines you'll be drinking this Festive period! (We'll be getting our last supplies around the 19th, but don't leave it until then!)

Scott & Stephen