Christmas is a time for many things: spending time with those you love, watching The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, undoing all that hard work that you’d done down the gym… but most of all it is about opening a bottle or two of something nice and getting a little squiffy.
In my family we take this very seriously. Plans start being formulated by the Christmas Booze Co-ordinators (my brother, my Dad and myself) a couple of months before the festive period really hits. This allows us to make sure that we are adequately covered for all eventualities and that we don’t run out (perish the thought). This year we did ourselves proud, with a wonderful selection of offerings that were greatly appreciated by the Milford hoard (and there are a fair few of us).
Here is my review of our Christmas boozing…
One of the more interesting experiments of the festive period involved some a bottle of Christmas Pudding Gin from the Sacred Spirits Company. How much more festive can you get than a gin flavoured with actual Christmas Puddings? The bottle told us that we were best off drinking this gin straight out of the freezer and in shot form. We did try this and it made for a rather tasty and satisfying shot, although it didn’t exhibit as many of the flavours from the Christmas :Pudding as we were expecting.
However, being the intrepid booze explorers that we are we wanted to say what else it would go well with. I started by seeing whether it would make for a nice gin and tonic; we tried it with three different garnishes – sultanas, dried apricots and dried raspberries. I made the GnTs on a one part gin to one part tonic ratio, which some felt was too strong, but I wanted to taste the gin! Our conclusion was that it did not suit the addition of the tonic as it was more like a gin liquor than a traditional gin. Where we did succeed, however, was in adding the Christmas Pudding Gin to some Mulled Wine. It gave the Mulled Wine a little more depth, a little more viscosity and a little more body to it; it really warmed you as you drank it. I feel that this was a very successful experiment.
For the Christmas Dinner itself we really pushed the boat out, which we had to given the excellent quality of my mother’s cooking. With the Roasted Turkey, Goose and Ham (THREE meats!) we served white and red wines.
For the white my brother put forward a 2011 Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes, a white Chateauneuf du Pape made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussane and Bourboulenc) which had a nose of stone fruit (peach and apricot), accompanied by secondary notes of tropical fruit (lychee) and floral (elderflower). On the mouth it had relatively high levels of acidity and was well balanced, with a mix of citrus (lemon) and stone fruit (peach) flavours. I felt this was an interesting wine, I don’t often drink white Chateauneuf-du-Pape; 7.0/10.0.
The red was my offering and I had brought along a 2009 Louis Jadot Chouacheux Beaune Premier Cru. On the nose it was fragrant with red fruit (strawberry and red cherry), along with some herbaceous notes (blackcurrant leaf) and an undercurrent of almond aromas. On the mouth it had medium levels of acidity and tannins with red fruit coming through once more, although a little tarter (raspberry and strawberry), along with some more gamey notes from the maturity. If you can’t open Premier Cru Burgundy for Christmas, when can you? 8.0/10.0.
With the Christmas pudding my brother brought out a 2010 Giovanni Allegrini Recioto della Valpolicella Classico. It had intense aromas of stewed fruits on the nose (dates and damsons), along with some rather heady sweet spices. There was more than a little kick to this! On the palate it was sticky and sweet with raisins and cinnamon coming through. As the taste progressed some of the dried fruit notes came through a little more. This was a thoroughly decent wine. 7.5/10.0.
Now, after all that meat and a fair smattering of Christmas Pud we needed a little mid-session interval before we headed on to the home straight. Time for cheese and Port! Now, I am of the opinion that just like dogs, Port shouldn’t only be for Christmas; however, it is a nice excuse to break out something a little bit special. So, I was very glad when my Dad brought forward a bottle of Graham’s 1980 Vintage Port. Extracting the cork was a challenge and as was decanting it (a good deal of the cork had disintegrated), a pair of my mother’s tights had to come to the rescue to strain the Port through (this really is a family affair…!) On the nose it was glorious: intense aromas of chocolate and leather. The sweet spice were surprisingly restrained, but they were there in the form of licorice and cloves. On drinking it had powerful treacle and aniseed notes, with surprisingly powerful savoury/gamey secondary characteristics. The finish of this Port was sublime, it easily passed a minute. This was a real stonker. 9.0/10/0.
Another part of a ritual is that my Dad, my brother and myself excuse ourselves (after the washing up is done, of course) and go sit outside smoke a cigar and drink some rum. Usually our tipple of choice is a Trinadadian rum called Angostura 1824, but this yea my Dad had brought back some rum from his trip to Nepal – called Khukri XXX Rum. By this point in the day, I’m not really focussing on making tasting notes. What I do know is that we made our way through half of the bottle and put the world to rights. Awesome.
Other honourable mentions for wines that we used to mark our time together over the festive period:
To accompany a film w were watching we popped a bottle of Chapel Down’s NV Vintage Reserve Brut (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier). English fizz’s stock is rising all the time and I’ve heard that the ’14 vintage is going to be a corker – I can’t wait. There was a notable bready/brioche aroma on the nose with citrus fruits (lemon) and green fruits (green apples) coming through in abundance. On the mouth it was refreshing due to the high acidity. I noted that it seemed to have an orange note to it, but with a big punch of green apple. 7.5/10.0
With a pudding on Boxing Day I presented one of the Beerenausleses that I’d brought back from my trip to the Mittelrhein in September. This was the Toni Jost 2011 Bacharacher Hahn Riesling Beerenauslese. On the nose it was clean and intense. It featured tropical fruits (mango and passion fruit), but had the unmistakable twang of botrytis in the form of some marmalade like aromas. There was also a touch of floral to it, with some honeysuckle. On tasting it was very sweet (as would be expected), with the tropical fruits pervading on the finish for about a minute. A lovely little treat and a reminder of a wonderful holiday. 8.5/10.0
So, there you have it. That is how we celebrated Christmas – Milford style. I hope that you had a similarly fun- (and wine-) filled Christmas.