For my December Wines of the Month I’m going to start as I mean to go on, with a daily December drip feed of seasonal treats of the fortified, sweet or sparkling variety.
Domaine Philippe Delesvaux Coteaux du Layon Saint Aubin Passerillé 2009 (Loire) – passerillé tells you that this Chenin Blanc owes its sweetness to dessication, not botrytis, which makes for fresher styles of Coteaux du Layon. This, Delesvaux’s basic cuvée, may not have the concentration or complexity of top wines like Les Clos Moelleux, but it more than makes up for it with its versatility. Subtly sweet with delicate stone fruits, creme caramel and a clean finish, its fine balance of acidity and sweetness makes the perfect match for rich starters like foie gras or sweetbreads and will see you through to dessert or cheese. A handy festive sweetie then, and great value on deal at Genesis at £126/case of 75cl, (£10.50/bottle).
Seppeltsfield ‘Para Grand’ 10 Year Old Tawny (Barossa Valley, South Australia) – I’m a huge fan of Seppeltsfield whose fortifieds show great integration of spirit, which makes for very smooth and seamless wines. This is no exception with a nose of salt caramels with subtle savoury nam pla hints. Animated, with lovely life and lift, it’s nutty, fine and long in the mouth with almond and singed tarte tatin notes. £16.95 at Hailsham Wine Cellars, £17.95 at Noel Young Wines. The richer Seppeltsfield 21 Year Old, £24.49 at Hailsham Cellars, also comes highly recommended with its layers of hazelnut, walnuts, dried fruit, macoroons and chocolate. Both will work brilliantly with mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding and, if the Christmas dinner elasticated waist band is overly challenged, these wines are a dessert in themselves. Year round, reckon on sticky toffee pudding, pecan pie, rich chocolate desserts or pair with a cheese platter.