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Top 10 wines in the UK press

Cava Heretat El Padruell Brut, Marks & Spencer

“Who needs Champagne?”, wrote Fiona Beckett in The Guardian this week. Her advice this Christmas is to instead save a few quid and buy a “top quality sparkling wine”, such as this Cava Heretat Ed Padruell Brut.

She said: “Cava has fallen out of favour lately, but it has improved hugely in quality and is a better bet if you find prosecco too sweet; it’s often cheaper, too. Witness this rich, full-flavoured example from M&S – at just over a fiver, it’s fantastic value.”

Price: £5.33, (normally £8)

Depréville Crémant de Loire

Beckett also recommended this French crémant, a sparkling wine made in the same style as Champagne but not from grapes produced in the region, and thus not able to carry the prestigious title.

She said: “Another crémant (aka French sparkling wine), this time from the latest player on the discounters market. Attractive, generous, soft and moussey, this is slightly drier than prosecco, but sweeter than most sparklers from the Loire. Looks posh, too.”

Price: £6.79

Graham Beck The Rhona Blanc de Blancs 2009, South Africa

Jamie Goode, writing in The Express, popped the cork on a selection of sparkling wines for celebrating this Christmas, starting with this “classy” South African Graham Beck Brut.

He said: “This is such classy stuff from Graham Beck, the maker of South Africa’s best sparkling wines. It has subtle notes that combine seamlessly with pear and white-peach fruit, and it’s just so balanced and stylish.”

Price: £13, Marks & Spencer

Bouvet Saumur Rosé Brut NV, Loire, France

Goode also recommended this sparkling rosé from the Loire.

He said: “A classy pink fizz from the Loire at an excellent price, this is fresh and pure with citrus fruit, cherries and strawberries, and it’s so pretty and delicious. If this survives Christmas, it’ll be ideal for Valentine’s Day.”

Price: £13.49 but £10.12 each if you buy two, Majestic 

Pfeiffer Rutherglen Muscat, Victoria Australia

Fortified wines were the focus of David Williams’ attention writing in The Guardian this week picking his favourites for sipping this festive season. He described this Australian Muscat as “luscious”.

He said: “Before its light wines began to take off in the latter part of the 20th century, Australia’s wine industry was better known for its fortified wines. Many mimicked the style and production methods of port – not surprising given the similarities in climate between much of South Australia and port’s home in Portugal’s Douro Valley. They’re hard to find in the UK these days, although Laithwaites has the fine, mellow Father Grand Tawny by Penfolds. More readily available is the toffee-and-raisins of Victoria’s Rutherglen Muscat, of which Pfeiffer’s is a particularly luscious example to match the Christmas pud.”

Price: £16, The Wine Company

Niepoort Senior Tawny Port

Another of Williams’ recommendations was this “suave and sophisticated” moustachio’d Niepoort tawny.

He said: “At a time when the trendier souls of London – many of them sporting moustaches like the one on this bottle – are happy to sip sherry all year round, it’s something of a puzzle that port remains so stubbornly seasonal. Many of us don’t even buy a new bottle each year: despite the fact that an opened bottle will begin to lose its lustre a week or so after opening, we turn to last year’s dregs to fill our teeny thimbles for the Stilton. Far better to serve it in normal wine glasses and drink it up by New Year – an easy proposition when the wine is as suave and sophisticated as top producer Dirk Niepoort’s aged tawny.”

Price: £19.95, Lea & Sandeman

Devaux Grande Réserve NV

Terry Kirby, writing in The Independent, had the answer to all your Christmas imbibing requirements this week recommending a number of apéritifs, right through to your dessert wine.

Of this sparkler he said: “A big and rich Champagne from an emerging house. The Pinot Noir grapes are enlivened by a little Chardonnay, delivering full flavours and a long finish. Highly satisfying sipped on Christmas Day morning in pyjamas while opening the first presents.”

Price: £24.99,; £25.89,

Mas La Chevalière Vignoble Peyroli 2012

For those favouring white this Christmas, Kirby suggested this “restrained and balanced” French Chardonnay from the Languedoc which he said was “crisply mineral” and reminiscent of Chablis.

He said: “The oak adds a touch of spice rather than dominating the fragrant, light, white fruit flavours, New World-style. For shellfish, salmon or chicken.”

Price: £12.99, (as part of a purchase of six mixed bottles)

Rioja Vega Gran Reserva 2005

Kirby also recommended this “big, modern” Rioja, with notes of “vanilla, soft oak and lush blackberry”.

He said: “Elegant, powerful, structured, needing early decanting and slow savouring.”

Price: £19.99,

Laroche, Chablis La Collegiale 2013, France

Finally Tom Cannavan, of the Huffington Post, recommended this Chablis made from Chardonnay – a grape which he believes is undergoing something of a “re-birth.”

He said: “People just grew so sick of sweet, oaky, vanilla-tasting Chardonnays that soon the ABC club was born (Anything But Chardonnay) and almost en masse we turned to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and a supporting cast of fresh, zippy and – most importantly – unoaked varieties.

Well, the big news is that Chardonnay is still very much around. Some of the worst perpetrators of the ‘in your face’ style from Australia, California and elsewhere have really cleaned up their act, producing Chardonnay that is much crisper, finer and wears its oak lightly. But Chablis in the north of Burgundy has always made its Chardonnay that way. And this is a great and moderately priced (at its special offer price) example that has all the fruit and texture you could ask for, but is dazzlingly fresh and vital too, a long shimmering lime and lemon core keeping it decisive.”

Price: £15.99, Majestic, but note it is £11.99 through until February 2015.

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