James Tanner's Christmas Collection 2017

In the glasses cupboard at home are five treasured champagne saucers. They are heavy lead crystal glasses by Waterford, with a simple cut that shows off the colour of champagne beautifully. I picked them from my grandparents’ artefacts because, while deeply unfashionable, for me these glasses epitomise Christmas, a time which is all about tradition and familiarity.

That’s also why my Christmas drinking is enormously conservative and I’m not ashamed of it! I love wines from every corner of the globe, just not at Christmas. Pepys and Dickens didn’t drink Australian Chardonnay at Christmas and neither am I.

For us the day revolves around Christmas lunch at home, preceded by present opening, so the champagne is opened at about 11.30 AM, usually a bottle or two of rather special vintage with plenty of Tanners Special Champagne as back up. The challenge is to open presents with champagne sloshing around in those old saucers like a mini tsunami!

We would generally have had smoked salmon on the hoof, so it’s straight onto the main course - invariably goose, locally reared in Shropshire. So it’s French wine again, probably some claret from the cellar – nothing amazing or special - or maybe a good Rhône red, Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Côte –Rôtie which will stand up well to the goose and its accoutrements. Invariably there will be some non-red drinkers around so there’ll be a bottle of white open, something crisp like Chablis as I’m probably not going to spoil them with Puligny-Montrachet.

Christmas Pudding is a tricky one as a fine sweet German Riesling or Sauternes can get swamped by the richness, so I’m more inclined towards dessert Muscats whose grapiness  will complement the raisins in the pudding. Then on to Port with Stilton, nuts and various sweet delicacies which will invariably be from a good vintage but I am being more and more taken with aged Tawnies and Colheita Ports whose maturity also lends its self very well to the job in hand.

After all that it will be meagre slices of cold ham for supper that night – we normally get a small leg to last us the period – and that calls for something refreshing: a zingy German Riesling Kabinett, an Alsatian Pinot Gris or an appley Gavi di Gavi . Sorry Marlborough Sauvignon you’re not getting a look-in!

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  1. Cote Rotie, Cuvee Terroirs, R Rostaing
    Côte-Rôtie, Ampodium, René Rostaing 2013
    Syrah/Shiraz 13.0% Vol
    Rhône Valley > Northern Rhône
    Freshly cracked black pepper on the nose followed by pure, easy mid-weight palate full of raspberry...
    £49.95 per bottle
  2. Chablis VV, Dom Daniel Defaix
    Chablis vieilles vignes, Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix 2012
    Chardonnay 12.5% Vol
    Burgundy > Chablis
    Old vine cuvée from one of the top growers in Chablis. Defaix wines have a depth and...
    £22.00 per bottle
  3. Wine & Soul 10 year Tawny
    Wine & Soul 10 Year Old Tawny Port
    Port Blend 19.5% Vol
    Port > Tawny Port
    A superb tawny port with silky smooth fruit and spice. Rich and nutty wih flavours of dried figs,...
    £28.00 per bottle

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