A glass of bubbly is the perfect way to toast the Christmas season. Yet, instead of offering friends and family a sip of Champagne, how about a glass of “Sussex’’?
Sussex wines have been winning awards for some time now. But the granting of protected regional status by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in November puts the county’s sparkling wines in a different league, alongside the likes of Bordeaux, Burgundy and, of course, Champagne.
It’s no surprise that Sussex wine is so outstanding. The county has a similar climate to the world-famous Champagne region and its terrain shares the same chalky soil structure. Now, there are more than 20 producers turning out top-quality, home-grown sparkling wines in Sussex. At SmoothRed, we recommend you look to the Nyetimber and Bolney estates for a glass of this creamy, rich, citrus sparkling wine.
So what next with your Christmas dinner? A Riesling from Alsace will have loads of dry citrus flavours, just the wine to accompany your smoked salmon or appetizers. And for the turkey? Well, we’ve nearly always gone for a Bordeaux at SmoothRed. But a Rioja is a great alternative.
Recently, our team travelled to Rioja for lunch at the Contino estate and a tasting with Gómez Cruzado, and we didn’t miss the chance to bring back a few Gran Reservas for the Christmas table. A Gran Reserva must be at least five years old and the predominant grape is the much-loved Tempranillo. These wines are elegant, with lovely soft spicy character, which should partner really rather well with the turkey.
To finish the meal, an opulent, rich, sweet white wine from Sauternes is a dead cert or how about Tokaji from Hungary? (The SmoothRed team will be drinking plenty of Tokaji when we visit in January to arrange our new wine tours to the region – keep your eye on SmoothRed.co.uk for more details.) This year, we’ll be uncorking a bottle of old Tawny port. It’s a delicious match for cheese – but our top tip, try it with chocolate.