Christmas wines 2020

Some wines tasted over the holiday period, with an emphasis on sweet and Bordeaux.

Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Non Vintage France (magnum)
This was purchased a few years back and had been forgotten about, but it has aged really nicely on the cork. This is rich and quite opulent with some toastiness, rich white peach and pear fruit, and also some citrus brightness. There’s a touch of sweetness, but this is beautifully balanced by the acidity and freshness. Has a sort of crystalline quality on the finish, with a tapering finish. In a really good place right now: offers immediate pleasure, but also repays a bit of investigation. 94/100

Disznoko Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2006 Tokaj, Hungary
10% alcohol. Full gold in colour, this has lovely precision. It’s got an amazing citrus brightness with lemons and spice, as well as apricot richness. The acidity is an amazing foil for the sweetness. Such intensity and complexity here, with a bit of grip on the finish. This is quite remarkable, with such freshness and an eternal, expanding finish. Will outlive me. 95/100

Château Suduiraut 1er Cru Classe Sauternes 2001 Bordeaux, France
14% alcohol. This is complex, intense and has a lovely savoury waxy and nutty edge to the apricot, peach and citrus fruit. It’s honeyed and rich, with some grape and raisin sweetness, and a nice freshness on the finish. I’d drink this now: it’s at peak, and it might get too fat with further ageing. Special wine. 94/100

Domaine des Gagneries Bonnezeaux Cuvée Benoît 1999 Loire, France
13.5% alcohol. Bought years ago in a sale at La Vigneronne in South Kensington. This is powerful and rich with apricot, honey and peach, and nice acidity. There are subtle hints of straw and cheese, which speak of its Chenin origins, as well as a touch of marmalade with some nice structure, too – a bit of tannin adding brightness. Has a viscous texture and it has developed in a beautiful way. 93/100

Château d’Angludet Margaux 2005 Bordeaux, France (double magnum)
13.5% alcohol. Fresh, aromatic, gravelly edge to the nose. Blackcurrants and herbs, with some aromatic herbs and fine spices. There’s a sense of freshness to the palate which shows herb and mineral tinged blackcurrant and cherry fruit with some tannic grip and notes of chalk, blackberries and dried herbs. Quite a serious structured dry style of red with great balance and structure. 94/100

Château Gruaud Larose 2000 Saint-Julien, Bordeaux
12.5% alcohol. This is ripe, sweet and harmonious: lovely blackcurrant fruit tempered by age to show some warm spiciness. There’s nice intensity here with good concentration of sweet black fruits, a hint of ash, some gravel and coffee grinds, and a lovely freshness. This is really quite serious and is drinking very well now. Finishes savoury and a bit grippy, but lovely harmony here. Turning a little soft, in a nice way, but drink soon-ish if you have some. 94/100

Sarget de Gruaud Larose 2009 Saint-Julien, Bordeaux
13.5% alcohol. Sweetly aromatic on the nose with ripe berry fruits, a hint of caramel and raisin, and a touch of gravel. The palate is smooth, rounded, ripe and berryish. Very accessible and open with a lot of appeal. A rich style – don’t hold this any longer if you have some but drink with glee now. It’s in a nice place. 91/100

Château Beaumont 2009 Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
14% alcohol. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. Sweetly fruited with cherries and berries, and a bit of blackcurrant. Some green notes fringe the fruit. Easy drinking, ripe and rounded. Very smooth and sweet. 88/100

Château d’Armailhac 2009 Pauillac, Bordeaux
13.5% alcohol. This ripe and appealing with brooding sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, with some meatiness. There’s an interesting herbal undercurrent, and some rich notes of olive, pepper and a hint of animal that is more Rhône than Bordeaux. Hints of rusticity. 89/100

Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos des Forets Saint Georges 2017 Bourgogne
13.5% alcohol. Arlot have 15 hectares of vines (a lot by the standards of the region), including this monopole. This has a nose with some herbal hints and a touch of roast coffee, alongside the cherry and berry fruit. The palate is primary and structured, but also promises elegance – it shows dense raspberry and cherry fruit with fine herbal hints and lovely grainy structure. It’s really serious: there’s good structure and lots of potential for future development. Has a lovely whole bunch feel to it, with freshness and structure. Very fine. 95/100

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