It’s probably a little late to write up about my Christmas wines (it is February now…!), but as the saying goes “better late than never”…
I drank some rather nice wine over the festive period, it is a time to celebrate after all; but for me the highlight of the selection was three fortified wines that I tried, which reaffirmed my love for those delicious stickies.
First up was a half-bottle of NV Williams and Humbert “As You Like It” Medium Sweet Sherry (Jerez, Spain) (available from The Wine Society for £22/half-bottle). This was a rather special wine that I’d been looking forward to drink for quite a while, an Amontillado-style sherry made with the Palomino Fino grape that had been aged for a significant time to gain a sweeter and nuttier profile.
In the glass it pulled an impressive colour, but it was a revelation on the nose: it had a heady aroma that reminded me in sweetness terms of a nice Pedro Ximenez – all juicy raisin, however it had a profound secondary profile characterised by salinity and sweet smoke – a distinctly Amontillado style.
On tasting the wine, it had a certainly sweet profile, but not overtly so; there was a nice balance of sweet flavours (damson and prune), coupled with more earthy flavours of tobacco. This was an excellent bottle of wine with good depth, profundity and complexity – and for the price I thought it was a complete steal.
Quality: 8.5; Value: 8.5.
Next up was a wine that I was very much looking forward to trying. If you follow my posts on Vinspire, you will know that last Autumn I was invited to the 225th birthday of that veritable Port house, Sandeman’s, birthday party. This was an extraordinary event with many fascinating people present, but I was fortunate enough to come away with a bottle of their 2000 “The Word” Vintage Port (Oporto, Portugal) released especially to commerorate their birthday and had been saving it for Christmas.
Now, I know that one can drink Port at many more times of the year than Christmas, but there is something nice about opening a nice bottle of Port at this most festive time of year. Having previously drunk this wine ex-magnum, I was keen to see how it compared from a single-bottle.
On opening the wine (which I decanted for an hour or so) I noted the wine had a pleasant aromas of black fruit with ripe and juicy blackcurrant and blackberry prevalent. There was also a rather exciting touch of something a little deeper on the nose, I thought it reminded me of aniseed.
On tasting the wine had the full-frontal fruit profile of a black cherry jam/compote, but what was more noticeable were the secondary notes of cocoa and tobacco which gave it a real power – much more so than I was expecting. I had worried that this wine wouldn’t quite be ready, but I was wrong, this wine really did deliver. If you did have it in a magnum (lucky you!) then I would probably wait another few years, but in the single bottle format this is very much ready to go.
Quality: 8.0; Value: n/a.
Last up was a wine that I wasn’t expecting to drink, but was very pleased to have been able to. My sister, Rachel, was 30 this year and consequently I gave her a bottle of 1985 Taylor’s Vintage Port (Oporto, Portugal) to celebrate with. How fortunate was I then that she generously brought the bottle with her to help us all celebrate Christmas?!
Drawing from previous experience I decanted the wine about two hours before we wanted to drink it. Fortunately the cork came out very nicely, indicating a wine that was in very good health – and so it proved to be: the wine was rich and full, beautiful, sexy and silky in texture. It was powerful yet refined, not outrageous, but voluptuous and confident. The wine possessed a great depth and length that resulted in a long and profound finish.
This truly was a wonderful wine worthy of a particularly wonderful sister, who typically of her character shared it with all of us in the family.
Quality: 9.0; Value: n/a.
It has hardly surprising, but I have really become taken with vintage Port – there is a great profundity and majesty to it. I bought some cases of 2011 vintage Port (supposedly the greatest Port vintage in the last fifty years) and I am simultaneously excited and frustrated that I have to wait at least twenty years to enjoy this wine in its optimal state.
So, there you have it – three sweet wines that helped add a touch of festiveness to the festive period.
Did you similarly indulge in some of the sweet stuff over Christmas? What were your highlights?