The spectacular scenery of the Douro Valley vineyards
ON the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.
Now partridge, like turkey, is very wine friendly, but with pears, and especially picked pears, it shouldn’t be anything too tannic. A red with a lighter touch would be great.
When I tasted my way through a wide range of possible wines with this feature in mind, I was particularly impressed by a gorgeous red from Fronton, the local wine of Toulouse. It would be perfect.
Château Jouaninel 2009, is a blend of the local Négrette grape, which seems to have an almost floral aroma, with Cabernet Franc.
It is very attractive, perfumed, with rather savoury plum and bramble fruit, quite fresh acid, and light, supple tannins. And it’s a snip at just £7.99 from Majestic, or £6.99 if you buy two.
As it would be a shame to eat the two lovely turtle doves that my true love so thoughtfully provided the following day, it seems like a good excuse, instead, to open a rather fine bottle of sherry. Waitrose have a superb Palo Cortado, from the excellent Lustau cellars. This rare style, bone dry, elegant, nutty, slightly salty and spicy, with the scent of orange peel is even more of a Christmas cracker at £8.99. I would have recommended it at twice the price. Enjoy it with cheese, dried ham and olives, or left-over turkey.
Day three’s French hens might just be those superb Bresse chickens, said to be (by the French themselves, of course) the finest fowls on the planet.
The French would undoubtedly call out for a bottle of the best Beaujolais, served a little cool. The 2010 vintage was superb, and Morgon Domaine des Rochers, Côte du Puy (£14.99 from Carruthers & Kent) is Gamay at its finest. It’s concentrated and very juicy, with black cherry fruit and just enough tannin to cut through the rich sauce you’ll undoubtedly serve with the chicken (or yet more left-over turkey).
On days four and five, my true love’s generosity has no obvious gastronomic link, so I fancy something fishy to eat and a crisp, aromatic dry white to accompany it.
Dourthe’s lovely zingy Bordeaux ‘La Grande Cuvée’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£7.99 Waitrose), pictured right, with its creamy lemon and gooseberry flavour is richer and more savoury than a Marlborough Sauvignon, and is just the ticket.
Day five is Saturday, if I’ve got my sums right. With any luck the cold turkey has all gone and a warming meaty stew would be comforting. I’m very impressed by Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc 2009 (£10.99 Majestic). This rich South African red is a wonderful mix of ripe, dark, minty chocolate fruit, with a seasoning of spicy oak. It’s food-friendly, savoury and sophisticated, and I love it.