June 18, 2024

Christmas may not always mean fine dining, but it’s still worth some good quality wine


John Wilson: Leftover sangers don’t really go with the most elegant wines, but it’s all part of the festive season

In our house, we deliberately buy too much turkey, make an excess of stuffing, and cook double quantities of all the trimmings too. Christmas would not be complete for some members of my family without reheated dinners, including the roasties and Brussels sprouts.

Others even like turkey soup, not my favourite. I prefer my leftovers cold, which means sandwiches made with batch loaf, stuffing, brown turkey meat, tomato relish, and plenty of mayonnaise. The other option is leftover ham in the same batch loaf, usually with Dijon mustard and pickles, sometimes with Comté or another firm cheese. Cold sausages, a real delicacy, are eaten alone with mustard and/or relish. As the chef of the house, I encourage all of these traditions, as it means I can stay out of the kitchen. Anyone still hungry can feast on mince pies and or Christmas pudding.

Leftover sangers don’t really go with the finest, most elegant wines, but as this is very much part of the festive season, I still spoil myself with some good quality wine. Cold weather and strong flavours call out for something a little more substantial. A Malbec from Argentina or Cahors would provide sufficient heft, as would a Negroamaro or Primitivo from Apulia in the south of Italy. 

But my favoured option would be a soft warming Grenache of some sort, so this week four very good wines that are either entirely Grenache/Garnacha/Cannonau – they are one and the same, or close relatives – or as part of a blend.

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The Château Beauchêne 2020 is rich and smooth with seductive ripe soft red fruits, a hint of dark chocolate and a nicely rounded finish

The Garnacha-based wines of Madrid are worth considering. The best are a marvellous combination of delicate fragrant fruit, refreshing acidity and plenty of warming alcohol. The Treinta Mile Maravedíes from Bodega Marañones (€23, Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie) is a very fine example.

I feature three Côtes du Rhône here. While you will certainly find cheaper wines under the same name, two are made by very good small producers who also make wine in grander appellations. The third, Le Charlatan, is the creation of Irishman Killian Horan. Having worked four vintages with the team in Les Deux Cols, Killian tried his hand making his own wine. He is justifiably happy with the results. Originally intended to be a Syrah/Viognier, it now has a healthy dollop of Grenache and the combination works perfectly. If you cannot find this locally, many independents will have stocks of the excellent Côtes du Rhône from Les Deux Cols, including the Ô Font (€16).

The delicious white Sardinian Vermentino from Antonella Corda has featured in this column before. Her Cannonau (a local variant of Grenache) is equally impressive, and the finest example I have tasted so far. 

Château Beauchêne 2020, Grande Réserve, Côtes du Rhône
14.5%, €15
Rich and smooth with seductive ripe soft red fruits, a hint of dark chocolate and a nicely rounded finish. This is perfect winter drinking and great value for money. 
From: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, Dublin, whelehanswines.ie

La Ferme du Mont €15 Côtes du Rhône “Première Côte” 2019
14.5%, €17-18
A smooth warming hug of a wine with sleek silky dark fruits, and a hint of spice. Seriously good value for money. Enjoy this with all forms of leftovers
From: Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Liston’s, D2, listonsfoodstore.ie. 

Le Charlatan 2020, Côtes du Rhône
14%, €27
Delectable ripe cherry fruits with a savoury touch and a seductive earthiness. Supple with lots of interest and good length. One to savour with all sorts of winter foods.
From: 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Stationtostationwine.ie; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Neighbourhood Wine, D4, Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Neighbourhoodwine.ie.

Cannonau di Sardegna 2019, Antonella Corda
15%, €34.95
An exceptional wine, pale in colour with floral aromas, satin-smooth strawberry and raspberry fruits, and some fine tannins on the finish. A beguiling combination of freshness and power. Perfect with cold turkey or ham.
From: Redmonds, D6; Redmonds.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Kellys, D3, kellysofflicence.ie; The Corkscrew, D2, thecorkscrew.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Lucey’s, The Good Food Shop, Mallow, luceysgoodfood.com; wineonline.ie. 

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