With Christmas round the corner, it’s time to buy your bubbly, wines, sherries, spirits and ports. Here’s my time-saving list of recommendations that will work perfectly with every Christmas occasion.
Bubbly and sparkling wines play an important role in any festivities. If you want to create a stylish way to share and enjoy bubbly at your party, then opt for a magnum. They also make great presents! For a really special occasion, buy a vintage champagne. The 10 out of 10 vintage is 2002 and I’d definitely recommend Pommery Cuvée Louise 2002, from Ocado (£109.99). Look out for their Pommery Grand Cru Vintage 2004 too, which is stunning, Ocado (£51.99), Another lovely vintage to enjoy now is the 2006 Jacquart Blanc de Blancs which is excellent and available at Tesco (£40) . For a signature celebration champagne, go for Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, available on offer at Waitrose (£24.99) and also at Sainsbury’s. Serve with a dash of sloe gin.
Alternatively, a magnum of Prosecco, will also add a fun, celebratory feel to any yuletide party. Try the fresh, creamy style of premium Prosecco Magnum NV Masottina from M&S (£19.99). This is also one to carry through and continue to serve with a smoked salmon starter on Christmas Day. Alternatively open a bottle of dry sherry such as Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino (£9.99) available in all major retailers. Serve this delicious, refreshing sherry chilled. Once opened, you’ll need to drink this within a couple of days. Otherwise, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, such as a good Sancerre, will also work well here like Sancerre Blanc 2013 Domaine Vacheron, at Majestic (£17.99).
Around 68% of us will be eating turkey on Christmas Day, according to a 2014 Gallup survey in Prospect magazine. So what’s the best wine to serve with it? Many opt for a Bordeaux to complement all the rich flavours of the accompanying dishes. If you’re looking for good value, choose a Bordeaux with a Cru Bourgeois label – a mark of quality. Bordeaux wines from 2009 are considered the ‘once in a lifetime’ vintage for Bordeauxs, but the 2010 Bordeaux are also considered exceptional. Bordeaux wines do need to breathe properly, so decant 2-3 hours before serving. Within this style of wine, some of the best value Cru Bourgeois wines are available at Berry Brothers & Rudd, Fine & Rare, Lea & Sandeman and The Wine Society.
Alternatively, a Rioja works well with turkey and game, including venison. Try Campo de Viejo Gran Reserva 2007 at Sainsbury’s (£15.99) or a Louis Jadot CÔte du Beaune-Villages 2012 (£16.99 – buy 2 save 15%) at Majestic, the Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2012 at Ocado (£19.49 to £16.49).
On Boxing Day, serve cold turkey with a fabulous Beaujolais such as the ripe and fruity, Château des Labourons Fleurie 2011, produced by Henry Fessy, and available through winedirect.com (£16.99). Or, equally good, the Brouilly Henry Fessy 2012 at Waitrose (£11.99) would also be very good here.
Now the cheeseboard. Pair a classic stilton or Alex James’ Blue Monday with Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 at Waitrose (£15.99 to £12.99) or Sandeman 20-year-old Tawny Port, also from Waitrose, (£32.49). Other wines that will complement cheese include a red such as such a Bordeaux with a good cheddar, while Roquefort is a good match for Sauternes.
Tawny port is also a good accompaniment to mince pies, Christmas pud and as an aperitif, served chilled. Other rich, fruity wines that complement intense fruit flavours include; the Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo VORS – a rich, dark Oloroso sherry, available at Waitrose (£19.99 half bottle), or try Blandys 15-year old Malmsey Madeira from The Oxford Wine Company (£26.99). Alternatively, opt for the rich, luscious flavours of the perfect Christmas tipple, Californian Elysium Rutherglen Black Muscat 2012, (£11.99) available at The Oxford Wine Company.
Good all-round easy drinkers I’m very happy to offer anytime over the festive break include South Africa’s Zalze Sangiovese 2013 (£6.99), available at Co-Op. Peter Yealands’ Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Co-op (£9.99) and Sainsbury’s (on offer £7.50) and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Macon Villages 2013 (£8.99). For a Rose, try Les Dauphins Rosé 2013 at Asda, (£6.99).
Have a wonderful Christmas and make sure you watch the William Hill King George VI on Boxing Day at Kempton. Also, don’t miss the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Saturday 27th December.
Rock On Ruby was my nap of the day in my On The Box column in Racing Plus last Saturday and I was delighted to see this likeable nine-year-old take control at the top of the hill, scoring his first success over the smaller obstacles at two and a half miles.
Cheltenham is a home game for Ruby On Ruby and Harry Fry his trainer was delighted with his performance, whilst the youngest family member, Ruby, born November 25th, was there in the unsaddling enclosure to cheer in the winner.
At the Cheltenham Festival in March Rock On Ruby could appear in the three mile Ladbrokes World Hurdle, however I’m not convinced that the extra half mile will really suit him and the two and a half mile Aintree Hurdle looks the right card to play.
The celebrity racehorse Mad Moose was returning from his racecourse ban at the same meeting, once again deciding to down tools at the start despite the genuine jump racing crowd willing him on.
Mad Moose’s owners Middleham Park Racing have decided that is enough and his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said “We love him dearly but he really is a complete sod! “.
Have a lovely retirement Mad Moose.
Great to see everyone enjoying these wines from the excellent Chilean producer Errazuriz in my Drinks Theatre session at the Foodies Festival in South Parks, Oxford yesterday. Thanks also to the lovely audience at my local Foodies. Look out for my column in The Oxford Times and I’m a regular presenter on BBC Radio Oxford too.
As promised here are the list of the wines and the stockists I presented in my Errazuriz: Premium Chile session:
Errazuriz Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua, £9.99. Stockists: Budgens, Majestic, Waitrose.
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2011, Valle de Casablanca, £13.99. Stockists: Co-op, Majestic.
Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2013, Valle de Curicó, £9.99. Stockists: Booths, www.rhythmandbooze.co.uk, Majestic.
Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Aconcagua Valley, £13.99. Stockists: Budgens, Tesco, Waitrose.
I also mentioned the Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenère 2013, Aconcagua Valley, £10.49, which is available from Majestic and Wine Rack .
We have had a great time in the Drinks Theatre at all the Foodies shows and we will
be in The Old Truman Brewery in London from November 28th-30th for the Christmas Foodies Festival. See you there!
There’s a massive rollover on today’s Scoop 6 with a potential £2.1 million win fund plus a huge bonus fund. For a £2 bet all you have to do is select the winner of each of the six Scoop 6 races and if you are the only winner then you will be collect the total win fund. Also, all winners of the Scoop 6 then have the opportunity to win more money by selecting the winner of the bonus race a week today. The bonus fund currently stands at £1.5 million and will probably reach near to £2 million so another incentive for having a go at today’s Scoop 6.
The races in today’s Scoop 6 with my two selections for each race are:
2.05 Sandown Leg 1 selections: No 3: Raven’s Tower and No 13: Dolores Delightful.
2.20 Haydock Leg 2 selections: No 5: Big Johnny D and No 13: Sir Reginald.
2.50 Ripon Leg 3 selections: No 2: Body and Soul and No 17: Hillbilly Boy.
3.25 Haydock Leg 4 selections: No 1: Gabrial’s Kaka and No 6: Brae Hill.
3.30 Ripon Leg 5 selections: No 3: Sizzler and No 13: Bayan.
3.50 Sandown Leg 6 selections: No 2 Bury Parade and No 17: Ardkilly Witness.
More buzz, more anticipation and more hype were on the menu for the first day of The Cheltenham Festival at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire. There was also a beautiful spring day to bring out the crowds for four days of competitive championship racing.
Willie Mullins was rightly tipped to be the trainer of the week and kicked off the start of The Festival with Vautour winning the Sky Bet Supreme Hurdle, whilst his Champagne Fever in the Racing Post Arkle and my hot tip in to get the champagne corks popping
was just pipped on the post by the 33/1 outsider Western Warhorse. In the feature race of the day and the main race of meeting in my book Mullins had Hurricane Fly bidding to achieve his third Stan James Champion Hurdle, with my other hotpot for the day, My Tent or Yours the winner for me. In a race marred by the fatal fall of Our Conor My Tent or Yours just failed to beat Jezki, with Hurricane Fly back in fourth. Whilst Mullins was obviously downcast after Hurricane Fly’s fourth place, his incredible little mare Quevega then became the first horse to win six races at The Cheltenham Festival when battling in determined fashion to win the OLBG Mares’ Final for the six consecutive year. Incredible mare, incredible training performance.
My day of previewing and tipping for JPFEstival.com in The Gold Cup Restaurant featured one winner and three frustrating seconds! A frustrating day had a sweetener with The Wine Tipster’s day saved by winning the placepot!
Another great day ahead.
New Year’s Day at Cheltenham Racecourse was very wet and windy, with the racecourse team doing a great job in keeping racing going for the afternoon. Although racegoers were rewarded with some impressive performances by Annie Power, Oscar Whisky and Mendip Express it was certainly a day for staying inside and enjoying some liquid refreshment in the various racecourse bars.
The Golden Miller Champagne Bar was certainly a popular spot with many punters raising a glass of Piper Heidsieck Brut NV or those who had hit the jackpot were enjoying some delicious Dom Pérignon 2002. In the Final Flight bar Adam Henson’s Rare Breed Bitter, brewed by Butcombe Brewery, was doing a roaring trade.
On Cheltenham Racecourse Radio when interviewed in the wind and rain by presenter Rupert Bell before racing I tipped Oscar Whisky, who won, whilst my other tip Burton Port, was clearly off colour. Rupert had set me the task of finding a warming drink at the course and Tullamore Dew’s hot toddy was certainly enticing, however the Fireside bar delivered the goods with their not over spiced mulled wine. Hopefully when I’m back on Cheltenham Racecourse Radio on January 25th we can talk about good ground and dry conditions.
In terms of liquid refreshment, the festive period equalled quality imbibing in 2013 with the stunning Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, whilst my last bottle of Perrier- Jouët Millésime 1998 fizz was an exquisite, beautiful and complex champagne to savour on Christmas Day. Château D’Anglès Classique Rosé 2012, La Clape, Sud de France made from Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache was a top class, cerebral pink for Christmas Eve. Dalmau Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2005 made from fruit from their sixty year-old vines in their single vineyard plot Canajas was a brilliant example of what Rioja achieves at Group 1 level and tasted great with the duck. Folks never think enough about fortified wines at Christmas and Gonzalez Byass’ Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo VORS Sherry was outstanding with the stilton and mince pies over the festive period.
Boxing Day came with grade one racing from Kempton Park and it was great to see our local trainer Charlie Longsdon win at this high profile meeting with Loose Chips. The elegant Meerlust Pinor Noir 2011 from Stellenbosch in South Africa was perfect the with ham from Slatters’ Butchers in Chadlington and for armchair viewing too!
New Year Eve’s drew in with Louis Roederer’s Brut Premier NV and like my tips will be for 2014 this champagne was right on the money!
The Wine Tipster has selected four champagnes for Christmas and New Year which are definitely in racing terms “well handicapped at the weights” in terms of quality. First up is Canard-Duchêne Authentic Reserve NV, £26.99, Waitrose, down to £19.99 until 2nd January. Canard-Duchêne are making some lovely, fresh well balanced, easy drinking champagnes and I like the rounded, fresh character and soft, creamy, dry finish, which makes this fizz just perfect for Christmas morning or as an aperitif at your New Year party.
Charles Heidsieck is always one of the champagne houses I look out for at any tasting and Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, £45.00, Fortnum & Mason, is the bubbly to share once all the relatives have left! Their Brut Reserve NV is beautifully balanced, elegant with buttery, ripe vanilla, and a floral and nutty character.
Lanson Brut Rosé NV, £37.99, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose produced by an underrated, ultra consistent champagne house, this is a delicate, dry, crisp rosé with refined raspberry fruit, ideal with salmon or a light, spicy dish.
There is so much more interest in vintage champagnes that there was a couple of years ago and Laurent-Perrier Millésime 2004, £50.00 down to £35.00, Majestic, is well-priced and floral with light brioche, lemony fruit and tangy flavours. A champagne that will continue to develop and should be served at a couple of degrees above fridge temperature as an aperitif or with oysters.
As a tip look out for some of the lovely expressive champagnes from the 2006 vintage from Jacquart, Canard-Duchêne and G.H. Mumm.
Great session on BBC Radio Oxford today with Phil Mercer on the Garden Cafe show. Here are the four wines for Autumn that we featured:
Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina. Stockist: Waitrose £9.99.
Beronia Rioja Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain. Stockists: Waitrose £12.99, Ocado £9.74 until 3rd December.
Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County 2010, California, USA. Stockist: Hedonism £18.10.
Quinta do Vallado 2010, Douro, Portugal. Stockist: winedirect.co.uk £23.
Really impressive selection. You can listen again here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kfj57
1:50 Newmarket Lanwades Stud Fillies Nursery handicap Cl2 7f Channel 4. Top weight and favourite Autumn Lily has a 12lb rise to cope with after her Chesham Stakes win, with the second and third in this race not franking the form in their subsequent races there is a value elsewhere with Cornish Path at 17/2. Selection Cornish Path win 17/2.
2:05 Newbury Denford Stud Stakes (Registered As The Washington Singer Stakes) (Listed Race) Cl1 7f Channel 4. Hard to ignore the talented favourite Somewhat. Selection: Somewhat win 11/8.
2:20 Newmarket 32Red.com Supports Racing Welfare Grey Horse Handicap (For Grey horses Only) Cl4 6f Channel 4. This race for grey horses only is a great spectacle and this year it looks sensible to side with the favourite Majesty, who is easily the least exposed runner in the field. Although last year’s winner Medici Time is in the race, I cannot see him taking on the favourite. There is some place value with Bilash, who looks good each way versus the single figure priced horses like Crew Cut and Baby Strange. Selections: Majesty 9/2 win and Bilash each way 12/1.
2:40 Newbury Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 1m 5f 61y Channel 4 At the top of the market Aitken and Biographer will need more rain to show their best form, whist there are others like Royal Empire and Testudo who have never raced over this distance. On the basis of there being plenty of question marks in this race The Wine Tipster will take a tentative chance on Aitken, whose second to Rite of Passage in his last run does stand out, with an each way wager on Red Cadeaux to turn back the form clock. Selections: Aitken win 7/2 and Red Cadeaux each way 11/1.
2:55 Newmarket 32Red Supports Racing Welfare Stakes (Handicap) Cl2 6f Channel 4 Tight between the top three in the betting Ninjago, Midnight Flower and Secret in the Park, however Ninjago has an advantage in the weights over Secret in the Park on their last running and Midnight Flower, who beat Secret in the Park by a length, when finishing second to Lucky Beggar – who also runs in this race but the 33/1 winner so might be a one off – doesn’t have the weights in his favour this time. Selection: Ninjago win 5/1 win.
3:15 Newbury Betfred Hungerford Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 7f Channel 4. The big question is how favourite Soft Falling Rain will cope with the ground and the course at Newbury on his UK debut and I prefer to look elsewhere and take on this favourite with Caspar Netscher, who will like the ground and run impressively on his seasonal debut when second to Garswood. Selection: Caspar Netscher win 3/1 win
3:30 Ripon William Hill Great St Wilfrid Stakes (Handicap) Cl2 6f . Baccarat was tipped for his previous race by The Wine Tipster, however this four yr old was slow off the mark, then badly hampered, before running on to finish sixth, beaten three lengths. The one slight worry is that he is drawn in stall nine in the middle of the track in a race where the draw tends to favour one side or the other, however with some deserved luck in running he is still my tip. Selection: Baccarat 6/1 win
3:50 Newbury Betfred Mobile Sports Ladies Day Handicap Cl3 7f Channel 4 Plenty with chances in this handicap and The Wine Tipster is going to take a punt with the Richard Hannon trained 3 yr old Janoub Nibras, who is having his first run of the season and won three times as a 2 yr old. Selection: Janoub Nibras 10/1 each way.
For some champagne to celebrate try Canard-Duchêne Brut NV, which is great value in Majestic at £19.00.
Ascot 12.55 Les Ambassadeurs Casino Shergar Cup Mile The main question here is how Nine Realms will perform after a slightly lacklustre first run of the season. The Wine Tipster thinks that Nine Realms has too much to do and his siding with Andrew Balding’s Roserrow, who is certainly progressive.Selection: Roserrow win 8/1.
Ascot 1.30 Redcentric Shergar Cup Stayers 2m Sir Mark Prescott is renowned for the placement of his horses and his Mutual Respect, a winner last time at Ffos Las over this distance, looks open to improvement against some tough opposition including Broxbourne and Brockwell. Selection: Mutual Regard win 5/1.
Ascot 2.05 Barclays Shergar Cup Dash 5f Ahtoug looks well handicapped and his trainer Charlie Appleby’s stable is in good form so with a pull in the weights Ahtoug can reverse the form with joint favourite Steps when they last met on July 28th at Ascot. Selection: Ahtoug win 9/2.
Ascot 2.40 Keltbray Shergar Cup Classic 1m 4f Chesterfield, despite a six pound penalty after his determined victory over Lady Pimpernel over 1m 2f, looks sure to benefit from the longer trip of 1m 4f and give trainer Charlie Appleby a double, whilst Cathy Gannon’s mount Cardinal Palace looks good for some place money. Selections: Chesterfield win 11/4 and Cardinal Palace each way 12/1.
Ascot 3.15 Pagegroup Shergar Cup Challenge 1m 4f Star Lahib will relish the return to 1m 4f and his two wins this season have both been over this trip. Ustura is the main danger and if runs to his Royal meeting form then he is a big threat, although The Wine Tipster still takes Mark Johnston’s Star Lahib to just edge this tight handicap. Selection: Star Lahib win 7/2.
Ascot 3.50 Dubal Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint 6f Trainer William Haggas continues in cracking form and look set for another successful Saturday in televised races with favourite Noble Deed’s three wins all coming at this distance of 6f, this looks the horse to be punting your pounds on.Selection: Noble Deed win 5/2
Channel 4’s is also featuring these races with my The Wine Tipster’s tips:
2.20 Haydock: Educate 9/1 each way.
2.55 Haydock: Telescope 4/5 win.
3.35 Newmarket: Wedding Ring 7/2 win.
To celebrate a successful afternoon The Wine Tipster suggests some wonderful fizz from Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque NV, £25, Great Western Wines or Laurent-Perrier’s delicious and expressive Laurent-Perrier Millésime 2004,Champagne, France £43.99. Stockists: Sainsbury’s, Oddbins