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Team db reveal their Christmas Day drinks

With Christmas just a shake of a reindeer’s bell away, at the db office, thoughts have turned to the all-important conundrum of what to crack open on Christmas Day.

Coming but once a year, Christmas Day offers the perfect excuse to dust off that old bottle you’ve been saving for years. It’s an occasion that demands celebratory wines – something a little more special than your midweek Malbec.

So we’ve put our heads together and come up with a wine or spirit that we’ll each be opening on Christmas Day, and what we’d be drinking if money were no object.

We’re keen to hear from you, dear readers, about what you’ll be imbibing on the 25th, so let us know your Christmas picks in the comment box below. This is our final day in the office until January 2, so we wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


Rupert Millar, staff writer: Peller Estates Vidal Icewine 2010

I’m not sure what we’re having with the turkey this year, that’s down to my father. However, I’m in charge of the stickies and I’ve lined up a 2006 Toni Jost Bacharacher Hahn Beerenauslese and a 2010 Peller Estates Vidal Icewine from Canada’s Niagara Peninsular.

And of course we have the obligatory Champagne at breakfast on Christmas Day, and I have some Dow’s 1980 knocking around still which is absolutely lovely and drinking very well at the moment (though we don’t drink it at breakfast of course).

If money were no object, I can’t possibly say but there would be lots of delicious Burgundy with a vertical of DRC wines (just for me), some of the more mythical Bordeaux vintages, Tokaji and German stickies.

I remember being lucky enough to taste an 1821 Blandy’s once, which I wouldn’t mind again, and I’d perhaps throw in some New World wines too, the list goes on; it’s all too much really. It’s probably just as well I don’t have that kind of cash.

Lucy Shaw, senior staff writer: Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso

Nothing says Christmas like Sherry. I’ve been eyeing up this amber elixir all year, waiting for a suitable occasion to open it. Its slender bottle grabs my attention every time I inspect the ever-dwindling stocks in my cellar; it’s jewel-like hue glinting in the light. If it wore the sitckers from all the awards it’s picked up, it would give Trafalgar Square’s Christmas tree serious competition.

Aromatic, dry and tangy with flavours of walnut, orange peel, caramel and spice, the palate is so intense you’ll taste it on Boxing Day. Its rich, nutty aromas make it an ideal match for hard cheeses like Manchego or grainy Comté, but it’s also sensational with pata negra jamón. I’ll be enjoying it during the Downton Abbey Christmas special with whatever I can get my hands on.

If money were no object, I’d be drinking Château Cheval Blanc 1947. Often described as the greatest wine ever made and a favourite of Jancis Robinson MW, its unctuous texture and rich, sweet fruit would pair well with goose, though I’ll probably never be lucky enough to sip this chapter of liquid history – “a peacock’s tail of complexity,” as Jancis puts it.

Andy Young, news and online editor: Lagavulin 16 Year Old

I’ll be drinking a 2005 Baron de Chirel from Marqués de Riscal, which I picked up on a recent trip to Rioja. The 100% Tempranillo stood out for me at a tasting, and I did my best Victor Kiam impression, “I was so impressed that I bought the company”. I couldn’t stretch to buying the company, so I settled for buying a bottle, which I’m really looking forward to drinking on Christmas Day.

Later in the day I shall enjoy a whisky after my dinner and for me the smokiness of Islay whiskies is delightful. There are obviously some cracking Islays to choose from – I currently have a 12-year-old Caol Ila, but I’m heading to my parents this Christmas and so I’ll be leaving that at home. Instead, I’ve ordered a Lagavulin 16 Year Old as a Christmas present to myself.

It’s not easy choosing a “money no object” drink, and it’s tempting just to go for something like an Armand de Brignac, which, let’s face it, would be a pretty good Christmas drink. But I’m more of a red wine fan and I do have a soft spot for Australia, so I would go for a bottle (maybe even a magnum) of Penfolds Grange. And I would go for a 1972, simply because it was a brilliant year.

Gabby Savage, managing editor: Clos de la Roilette Fleurie

Fortunately the Christmas drinking decisions are taken higher up the Savage family hierarchy so I get to enjoy the surprises. My sister only really gets excited by Mosel, so that’s likely to make an appearance while we work out what else to open. Depending on who’s joining us, Christmas lunch tends to focus on festive largesse rather than anything too “smart” – house red and Beaujolais, perhaps Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, both feature regularly, but served in magnum for added Christmas cheer.

To round off proceedings it’s often a glass or two of Heidi Schröck’s reviving Ruster Ausbruch to keep my aunt happy. We may be reliably informed that Father Christmas prefers whisky to Sherry, but we’ll almost certainly warm ourselves up with a glass of Wellington Palo Cortado.

As for the wishlist, it’s more a case of using Christmas as a chance to make time for drinks I love but often forget to consider. If I made new year’s resolutions, drinking more Madeira would be one of them. Those delicious old vins doux naturels would also make the list – perfect for an English winter and insultingly undervalued.

Patrick Schmitt, editor: Gaia Estate Agiorgitiko

To placate two sets of parents – in-laws and my own – my Christmas Day consists of two feasts. The first, a lunch in London with my wife’s family, will doubtless begin with Sherry – Waitrose’s own-brand Palo Cortado (blended by Lustau) – and then my contribution: Chateau Laffitte-Teston’s dry Pacherenc du Vic Bilh called Cuvée Ericka. It’s an unusual but delicious blend of barrel aged Gros and Petit Manseng. We won’t be cracking open any red as my father-in-law only drinks white.

Part two will then be held in Dorset – a dinner with my parents. My father likes to choose the wine and I’m guessing he’ll be breaking with tradition and serving a non-European offering as I spied a mixed case of Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which he knows both my brothers and I like.

I’ll also be forcing a further wine upon my family that evening, probably served blind. I’ve chosen Gaia Estate’s Agiorgitiko from Nemea. Being rather more Gaia than Greek, it will surprise, and also offers a relatively good value chance to taste this family’s winemaking prowess.

If money were no object, then I might be tempted to sip some Vega Sicilia Unico from my birth year – 1979. Other than that, I’d settle for Leflaive Montrachet and Voerzio Barolo. To finish, Madeira – preferably from the 1800s.

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