This is the first year where my daughter seems to have truly grasped the concept of Christmas. She was telling me yesterday how Santa needs to have mince pies and milk left out for him. I’m pretty sure this information hasn’t come from memory, since a year is a long time when it’s more than a quarter of your life. I’m also certain that this advice didn’t come from me, let’s face it, there’s no chance that I’d be suggesting milk as Santa’s ‘one for the road’.
Which brings me on nicely to what exactly would Santa be choosing to wash down his mince pies? Apart from the more traditional suggestions that might spring to mind, such as sherry or port, I’d think that Santa would be looking for something warming and spicy with a touch of sweetness. My Calmel and Joseph Corbieres would certainly do the trick, but it’s a different kind of wine that I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while, partly due to one of my other half’s old rowing buddies obsession with the Italian wine Amarone, but also since I’ve encountered a couple of wines this year that have been made in the same way, resulting in a style of wine which would be the perfect accompaniment to mince pies, chocolate cake and Christmas pudding alike, as well as dark and meaty wintery dinners.
Amarone is famously made using the ‘passito’ method of wine production. The grapes are picked and left to dry or ‘raisin’ on straw mats which serves to concentrate the grape juice by reducing the water content. When the grapes are then pressed, the juice is sweeter and stronger, generally resulting in a rich and higher alcohol wine. In the case of, Amarone, this comes with a price tag to match.
My pockets are too deep however to part with that kind of money (I’ve been unable to find one for less than £25), particularly when I’ve found some nicely priced alternatives;
Plummy and smokey, dry and smooth. A wine for you eco-conscious, waste-not-want-not types, ripasso wines takes the juice from the Corvina grape and passes it through the left over crushed grapes from Amarone production. The sugars and yeasts left in the crushed grapes then trigger a second fermentation, the resulting wine being similar in style to Amarone but a little lighter all round and great value. Also charmingly known as ‘the poor man’s Amarone’.
2) Vina Falernia Carmenere Reserva 2011, Elqui Valley,Chile
I’m a big fan of Carmenere and this is no exception, although it’s pretty heavy at 15% so definitely needs something to eat alongside. Well-balanced with orange spice and chocolate, with quick and soft tannins. Juicy blackberry fruit with cloves and little acidity, this is a rich wine that could become a bit sickly on its own but delicious accompanied.
As it says on the tin if my memory serves me correctly. I remember this to be plummy and rich with dark cherries on the palate and a real chocolatey finish. Very tasty and if I can get my hands on it, I’ll be adding this to the PFW portfolio – could be a great one to go with that chocolate consumption over Valentines Day!
Come and see me over Christmas on the Perfect Friday Wine Pop-Up Stall!!!