Roussillon, which lies on France’s eastern border with Spain, is a go-to region for wines that deliver on quality and value. This red wine is a real crowd-pleaser, made from a blend of grapes similar to that used in the better-known Côtes du Rhône. Juicy, ripe and approachable, its slightly herby, spicy red fruit would work well with the Christmas turkey – especially if it comes with a dollop of cranberry sauce on the side.
Trah Lah Lah 2010, Domaine O’Vineyards, Cité de Carcassonne IGP £12.99, Naked Wines
Ryan and Joe O’Connell, the father-and-son team behind this delightfully named wine, originally hail from the US. They’ve put down roots in the Languedoc – near the pretty walled city of Carcassonne – and now make a range of heady red wines from grapes grown in the area. This dark, brooding blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot is packed with bold, ripe berry fruit. It would work well with the Christmas turkey; if you’re dining on rib of beef instead, so much the better.
Syrah Les Epices 2009/10, Domaine Les Yeuses, Pays d’Oc IGP£8.99, Majestic
While the syrah heartland is the northern Rhône, this version hails from vineyards within sight of the Mediterranean. The coastal position ensures vines benefit from breezes that keep the grapes from over-ripening – preserving the brightness that’s detectable in this wine. Thoroughly delicious, it has smoky damson and spiced fruit, draped around a framework of ripe tannins, and gives many a Crozes-Hermitage, twice the price, a run for its money.
Domaine Damien Coquelet 2011, Chiroubles AOC £14.04, The Sampler
This is a beaujolais – but if you’ve only ever tasted beaujolais nouveau, the personality and richness of this wine will come as a (very pleasant) surprise. Made from grapes grown on vines approaching their 90th birthday, this is an intense, earthy wine with aromas of summer flowers and red berries. Juicy and bright, it has enough tannin and acidity to provide structure – but not so much as to get in the way of your drinking pleasure. A festive season all-rounder.
La Croix Boissée 2010, Bernard Baudry, Chinon AOC £17.95, Lea & Sandeman
Cabernet franc is one of the parents of the popular cabernet sauvignon grape and shares some of its aromatic characteristics. However, it needs a cooler climate to thrive, which is why it’s most at home on the banks of the Loire. This cuvée – made from grapes grown on chalky soils – is fine-boned and elegant. Black fruit flavours are enlivened with a pronounced seam of smoky, graphite-tinged minerality. The tannins and racy acidity make this a food wine par excellence.
Fortis 2008, Domaine de Monteillet, Côte-Rôtie AOC £31.78, Goedhuis & Co
Côte Rôtie is one of the most prestigious appellations in the northern Rhône, an area that specialises in producing sinewy syrah redolent of cracked black pepper. This cuvée has had its brawn softened with a judicious dose of viognier; a white grape that knocks a few edges off the syrah, lending it a voluptuous, perfumed charm and enhancing its damson fruit. Decant it a couple of hours before your festive lunch and it should go down a treat.
Gevrey-Chambertin 2008, Mark Haisma, Gevrey-Chambertin AOC£32.50, Vinoteca, Bordeaux Index
Mark Haisma made his name in Australia, under legendary Yarra Yering winemaker Bailey Carrodus. More recently, he’s been in Burgundy and is beginning to make a name for his quirky, characterful wines. This gevrey-chambertin takes no prisoners: it is direct, with great purity of red berry fruit, a hint of autumn leaves and a long, perfumed finish. Subtle, precise and poised, this would be a terrific match for turkey or goose.
Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet 2009, Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac AOC £31 to £38, Bordeaux Index, Fine & Rare Wines, Hennings Wine Merchants
A rising star in the firmament of top-class Bordeaux. Its best bottle won’t emerge for a few years yet – and will cost five times the price of this, its second. The Bordeaux blend, dominated by cabernet sauvignon, is accessible, enhanced by the ripeness of the 2009 vintage. A bit of decanting would help bring its plush blackcurrant and cedar fruit to the fore and soften grippy tannins. Match with rare beef.“