Sat 13 Dec 2014

Staff Picks for Christmas


You don’t have to love wine to work here, but it helps, and every two weeks members can find a new ‘Staff Choice’ on The Society’s website, detailing something one of our team felt was so good that they wanted to share the experience.

Liz Brown

Alsace fan Liz Brown

At a time when some heads are still being scratched over which wines to enjoy on the big day, and Wednesday night’s order deadline for UK Christmas delivery fast approaching, we’ve asked a number of Society staff about what they themselves will be tucking into. We hope it provides some inspiration.

Liz Brown – Recruitment and Retention Manager
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what brings a smile to my face is a chilled glass of The Society’s Vin d’Alsace (£8.50 per bottle). It’s a versatile, dry, yet full-flavoured white. I enjoy this as an aperitif while cooking, with festive food and when just relaxing watching a Christmas movie with my family.

James Malley – Member Services Adviser
It’s just gone 7pm on Christmas Day, the Christmas presents have been opened, the frantic scramble to find enough batteries in the house to get the kids’ toys working has finished and the older members of the family passed out asleep still with their Christmas hats from the crackers still on their heads.
What better way to settle in for the evening than by opening a half bottle of The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes 2012 (£9.95 per half)? Its lovely full luscious tropical-fruit aroma and its sweet but slightly oak-influenced palate will shine with creamy, salty cheeses or rich pâté from the earlier feast, and if there is anything left from the bottle, it would make a nice little tipple to any family or guests that are round for Boxing Day.

Allan Sharman recommends Martinborough pinot noir.

Allan Sharman recommends a Martinborough pinot noir

Allan Sharman – Member Services Adviser
Pinot noir is a fabulous wine for Christmas, particularly when you find one of the quality of Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 (£13.50 per bottle) but at a very reasonable price.
This makes for a lovely glass of red wine without food, punching well above its weight and – for me – verging on being a fine wine that far outshines many a pricier bottle of red Burgundy.
With food, this Martinborough pinot is a wonderful match for the Christmas dinner – whether it be turkey, duck, lamb, gammon, or even game. It won’t overpower a nut roast for vegetarians either.
Gorgeous red-berry fruit, hints of beetroot, spice and wonderfully balanced acidity. This is sheer elegance and class that will add to our festive cheer.

Conrad Braganza – Cellar Showroom
Size matters for me at this time of year: the generosity a magnum offers reflects the season. I always seek out a large-sized bottle at Christmas and this year The Society’s Exhibition Rioja (£29 per magnum and £13.95 per 75cl bottle) will take pride of place at the Braganza dining table.
The ripe sweet fruit is a crowd pleaser and should stand up nicely to the accompaniments that make Christmas lunch such a hard meal to match. Its silky palate also imparts an elegance that lends itself to contented sipping after the meal and prior to 40 winks. As they say in Spain, Feliz Navidad!

Leflaive-loving Paul Trelford

Leflaive-loving Paul Trelford

Paul Trelford – Head of Copy
Olivier Leflaive, Bourgogne Oncle Vincent 2013 (£16 per bottle). Leflaive is one of my favourite white Burgundy growers. To me, his wines are the perfect embodiment of what Burgundy does so well with the chardonnay grape: luxurious complex rich oaky flavours while retaining a genuine freshness and bite. Unfortunately, his wines are usually out of reach for a father of two on an honest copywriter’s salary. So when I spotted this wine at less than £20 a pop and on which Olivier had been proud to put his legendary uncle’s name, I jumped at the chance. The 2012, now sadly sold out, certainly didn’t disappoint. It was exquisite. Gloriously opulent and nutty on the nose with a palate combining pure citrus fruit with tropical pineapple notes all underwritten by a mouthwatering, oh-so-moreish freshness. Such complexity and length! If the 2013 is half as good I’ll be a happy bunny with a glass of this and a well-stocked cheeseboard come the Queen’s speech.

Shaun Kiernan – Fine Wine Manager
I’ll be enjoying a delicious Half bottle of Williams & Humbert As You Like It Medium Sweet (£22 per half), which was one of my WOW wines of last year. Just so many different flavours going on in the glass. Definitely one for a cold Boxing Day afternoon by the fire watching some sport too.

Gareth Park – Marketing Campaigns Manager
Alheit Cartology, Western Cape 2012 (£24 per bottle; low stock). This South African Chenin stopped me in my tracks earlier this year and has to be one of the most outstanding whites I’ve tasted while working at The Wine Society. Made in ridiculously small quantities, this is deep, rich and wonderful and will be replacing the tried and trusted Exhibition White Hermitage on Christmas day. High praise indeed!

Buyer Jo Locke is planning a sparkling Christmas

Buyer Jo Locke is planning a sparkling Christmas

Joanna Locke MW – Buyer
Christmas will certainly include fizz – either The Society’s Champagne (£29.50 per bottle or £19.92 when you buy six in our current Champagne offer) which I am always proud to serve, or something more local which might be our own excellent Crémant du Jura (£12.50) or something as yet undiscovered.

Jon Granger – Tastings Team
We will be devouring a turkey on Christmas Day with all the trimmings. This generally consists of potatoes (par boiled, fluffed and roasted with garlic & rosemary), sprouts (chopped up with chestnuts, cream & bacon), carrots a la Tom Kerridge, honey-roasted parsnips, cabbage (gently fried with ginger) and gravy.
Rather than looking for a wine to match any specifics from the cornucopia of flavours on the plate I would always try to find a wine that sits well with all of it. Year after year I have found that southern Rhône blends work really well for me.
My wine of choice for this year would be Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Chapouins Vieilles Vignes, Famille Perrin 2006 (£40): a wonderful full-flavoured wine dominated by juicy ripe grenache from old vines and from a very good vintage. Still tasting quite youthful with lots of sweet fruit and well-balanced tannins and acidity, perfect for all those yummy flavours on the plate but with the potential to age gracefully over the next 10 years or so too.

Categories : Miscellaneous


  1. W. Leslie Alexander says:

    I found the comments by your staff interesting and very much enjoyed the compliments (not complements) of the season by Janet Wynne Evans.

    • Martin Brown says:

      Delighted to hear! ‘Complements’ was used in the title purely because the subject of the videos was food and wine matching… perhaps one pun too many! Merry Christmas
      Martin Brown
      The Wine Society

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