December is characterised by many long lunches and dinners with family and friends. There is a certain tendency in these cold winter months to switch to red wines, particularly full-bodied reds which are perfect companions to the typical winter dishes served over Christmas.
But then, there is nothing like a good white wine to pair with fish dishes particularly when you have spent the Christmas period in Malta and the fish and shellfish are mouthwatering fresh.
Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2011: I tend to have a personal preference for German Rieslings although there are some Alsace winemakers which I consider at a par with Germany’s best, if not better. Trimbach is one such wine house and this Riesling Reserve was excellent. It is a dry white wine with concentrated fruits while being light. It was ripe, supple and rich yet very dry. It had excellent minerality and a saline finish. This is a Riesling that can get better with age.
Pascal Jolivet: Pouilly-Fume 2012: Served with a carrot and mussel soup this Pouilly Fume (made of Sauvignon Blanc grapes) was excellent. It had great character and high minerality. I particularly liked its elegance and notable finish.
Chateau Chasse Spleen 2004: This wine was decanted for two hours. It is a solid bottle of Bordeaux with a beautiful nose, nice fruit and well-structured tannins. Will drink well for the next three to five years. Although it comes from the Moulis-en-Medoc appellation of Bordeaux, north-west of Margaux, it is widely considered to be of a high standard. If you are confused with Bordeaux and want to try an accessible wine, then this is really a safe bet.
Insoglio del Cinghiale 2006: This wine from Tenuta Campo di Sasso was exceptional. It is made from 32% Syrah and the remaining part is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This wine is made by Lodovico Antinori who had earlier created Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, one of the most avant-garde wineries located in Bolgheri, Italy. I had this wine for a few years and it was perfect now with exceptional balance and a good structure.
Ilatria 2006: Casa Brancaia: This wine is a modern and terroir typical blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Petit Verdot and 20% Cabernet Franc from Tuscany. While the wine maker produces Chianti, this is what we call a super-Tuscan. Tasted together with the Insoglio del Cinghiale, most of us preferred the latter but still the Ilatria was a good wine that needed to be aged further.
Marina Cvetic Merlot 2008: A wine from Tenuta Masciarelli, in Abruzzo Italy, In my view this wine has an exceptional price quality ratio. Decanted for three hours before serving, this wine can be kept for many more years. It had all the characteristics of a great Merlot.