The very best red wines for Christmas 2020 – the LLM expert guide

the-very-best-red-wines-for-christmas-2020-–-the-llm-expert-guide

Words by Natasha Heard and Lisa Curtiss

With darker evenings and colder nights settling in, there’s little more satisfying than popping the cork on a bottle of fruity red. And though the festive season looks a little different this year, our love for the ruby red tipple will never leave us, so whether you’re raising a glass at a Zoom Christmas party, tucking into your turkey dinner or pairing a glass with some fabulous cheeses, there’s a red for everyone. Read on for our top red wine picks to get you fully in the festive swing this December.

Artesano de Argento Organic Fairtrade Malbec

Artesano de Argento Organic Fairtrade Malbec

Made from 100% Malbec from Bodega Argento’s organic vineyard in Alto Agrelo, Mendoza, the Artesano de Argento Malbec 2019 is certified organic and Fairtrade. Chief winemaker Juan Pablo Murgia comments: ‘Our organic winemaking approach has been driven by our search for fruit purity, expression of terroir, and quality. Growing organically brings out the very best from our vineyards.’

This wine is a deep purple red in colour, while on the nose you’ll find aromas of plums, black cherries, and floral hints of violet. It is deep, expressive, and boasts good structure.

Price: £10

Where to buy: tesco.com

Artesano de Argento Organic Malbec-Cabernet Franc

Artesano de Argento Organic Malbec-Cabernet Franc

From the organic vineyards in the foothills of the Andes comes this delightful Malbec-Cabernet Franc boasting an intense ruby red colour along with aromas of plums, cherries, currant and fruits. With a rich, full body, supple tannins and a long finish, this wine, made by artisan winemakers (Fairtrade and organic certified) is suitable for vegans and can enjoyed now or for up to two years.

Price: £10

Where to buy: sainsburys.co.uk

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec-Tempranillo

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec-Tempranillo (003)

Spicy, peppery, warming reds make up this Mendoza-based offering. A wonderful wine with the aromas of ripe cherries , prunes, black pepper and tobacco, there’s also notes of chocolate, liqueurs and spice, making it perfect for this festive time of year. Enjoy with creamy blue cheeses, mature hard cheeses, beef, lamb, game and spicy salads.

Price: £13.90

Where to buy: matthewclark.co.uk

Gabb Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Gabb Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

With a core of ripe blackcurrants and plums and hints of mixed spice, this wine is wonderful with any hearty festive fare – or simply savoured by the fireside. It has a lovely velvety texture, fine tannins and is at the perfect age to enjoy now.

Price: £14.99

Where to buy: majestic.co.uk

Gold Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

WB VR GLbl CabS FL 750 Cork

Hailing from Australia, and over 50 years in the making, Wolf Blass is an iconic collection of beautifully crafted wines that are famous the world over for quality, character and consistency. If you enjoy Yellow Label and are intrigued to discover more, wine enthusiasts can experience the elegance and excellence across the Red, Silver and Gold Label Wolf Blass collection.

This is a smoothly textured wine with warm red and dark berry fruit flavours with chocolate, delicate mint, and ripe blackcurrants, and is best enjoyed with seared rib-eye with caramelised shallots.

Price: £15

Where to buy: groceries.morrisons.com

El Jardin De La Emperatriz Rioja Tinto, Rioja Alta 2017, Hermanos Hernáiz

El Jardin De La Emperatriz Rioja Tinto, Rioja Alta 2017, Hermanos Hernáiz

With a clean, classical profile, with notes of ripe fruit and spicy oak and a medium-bodied palate with good entry and very fine tannins, this is a crowd pleaser.

The new range is a nod to the Bordelais style which is part of the history of Finca La Emperatriz. They lowered the yields and decided to assemble a number of varieties, so this is 90% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 2% Graciano, 2% Viura and 1% Maturana Tinta. This offering is a serious and straight red that has fermented in stainless steel and matured in American and French oak barrels for 12 months.

Price: £15.95

Where to buy: champagnesandchateaux.co.uk

2017 Côte de Nuits-Villages Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de Bellene

Producer Nicolas Potel sees his (increasing) holdings in the Côte de Nuits-Villages as the future of his domaine, where prices aren’t as high, yet the quality of terroir can be outstanding. This delightfully silky wine has density and finesse with nice purity too. Charming.

Price: £21.88

Where to buy: laywheeler.com

Baron de Ley Gran Reserva Rioja 2013

Baron-de-Ley-Gran-Reserva

The Gran Reserve is made from grapes grown in Baron de Ley’s own vineyards and is only produced in great vintages.

This wine has been aged for 24 months in American and French oak casks and a further 36 months in bottle, producing aromas of outstanding complexity and a smooth velvety structure. It delivers a remarkable aromatic intensity in the nose, displaying a bouquet with ripe fruits and raisin integrated with a toasted and balsamic character.

A perfect gift for any wine aficionado, including vegans, this truly special Gran Reserva Rioja can be drunk now, or will cellar for years.

Price: £22.99

Where to buy: waitrose.com

Châteauneuf du Pape La Chasse des Princes 2018, Cellier des Princes

This award-winning red is very elegant and complex with aromas of red currant, black berries, red cherries with spicy overtones such as thyme, lavender and rosemary. An excellent balance in the mouth, tannins are elegant and silky, and this wine shows finesse and elegance throughout.

Made from Grenache 90%, Mourvèdre 5% and Syrah 5% and matured without oak, this is best appreciated with venison and wild mushrooms wellington, squash and venison tagine, grilled ribeye or fine cheeses.

Price: £25.50

Where to buy: delicario.com

Churchill’s Port 10 Years Old Tawny

Churchill’s Port 10 Years Old Tawny

It’s Christmas so how could we not include a traditional port? Best enjoyed with your festive cheeseboard as well as a mince pie or two (if you have room for any more, that is) and the ever-delightful Christmas cake. Striking a perfect balance between the exuberance of youth and the complexity of age, this totally Moorish Tawny has a wonderful freshness and a depth.

Price: £25.50

Where to buy: harveynichols.com

La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2018

La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2018

This is a ‘baby Brunello’ from an up and coming organic Italian estate. Intense and complex aromas, blending floral notes with those of ripe black cherries, raspberries and spices with sweet tobacco and herbal notes on the finish.

Price: £29.80

Where to buy: hedonism.co.uk

Finca la Emperatriz Rioja Tinto 2016

Finca la Emperatriz Rioja Tinto 2016

Deep ruby in colour and spicy on the nose – think black pepper, cumin and even a sweet touch of cinnamon – which contrasts with the sobriety of the fruit and some subtle meaty notes too that impart character. This wine is made up of 70% Tempranillo, 28% Garnacha and 2% Viura and is aged for 18 months in barrels (60% new French oak and 40% second-year American oak.

Enjoy this with lamb, beef and rich Spanish foods; pork, chorizo, Iberico and cheeses such as manchego, an aged gouda or mature cheddar.

Price: £34.50

Where to buy: champagnesandchateaux.co.uk

2014 Vina Arana Gran Reserva, La Rioja Alta

2014 Vina Arana Gran Reserva, La Rioja Alta

A wonderful more approachable take on Rioja Alta’s super-traditional style. It’s matured in American oak, racked by hand and by candlelight, followed by three years in bottle. Ideal with roast meats and rich sauced dishes.

Price: £35.00

Where to buy: armitwines.co.uk

Six Brothers Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2018

Six Brothers Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2018

From a single vineyard located south of the Tamar Valley, this stunning Pinot Noir has raspberry hues with a vivid cherry-skin core, hints of crushed mulberry woven with wild blossom and roasted spices on the nose, while a dry leaf earthiness adds a spicy complexity. On the palate, it’s a wild delight of mulberry, cranberry and raspberry followed by dry herbs such as marjoram and wild thyme, all perfectly poised with crunchy acid, creamy oak and supple, textured tannins.

Match with crisply fried duck breast with a plum and star anise sauce, or game dishes such as pheasant, or spring lamb. It is also a wonderful foil for rich, truffle and mushroom based dishes, pasta bakes and roasted vegetables.

Price: £37.99

Where to buy: majestic.co.uk

Chateau Lassègue Grand Cru 2012

The 40-50-year-old vines of this Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux-based vineyard are blessed with extraordinary soils and sun exposure, while soils of clay and limestone add exquisite minerality to their fruit.

Aged for 12 months in French oak, this wine comprises 70% merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and boasts a deep colour with a beautiful floral bouquet of violets lilac and rose alongside leather and pencil lead. On the palate, expect red and black fruits such as red cherry, black currants and the like alongside oak flavours and rich notes of vanilla, toast and cedar.

Price: £60

Where to buy: comptoir-cafe-and-wine.co.uk

Vérité ‘La Joie’ 2015

Vérité 'La Joie' 2015

This truly special wine hails from Sonoma County in California and is one of only three wines produced from Vérité, all based on the traditional varieties of Bordeaux. Though yields were low on the harvest, the quality of grapes in this vintage was outstanding and this offering comes highly rated across the board.

Aged 17 months in 100% French oak, this blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot boasts aromas of mint, sage and lavender. Black currant, cherries, damson plum fulfil the promise of new world wines, while a brooding finish and grippy, well-integrated tannins pay homage to the old world.

The Vérité signature, the message of the soil, is here captured in undertones of granite, iron and limestone. If you want to save this for another Christmas then rest assured that this wine will mature gracefully for many years to come.

Price: £399

Where to buy: hedonism.co.uk

All prices are correct at the time of publication.

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