Mois: décembre 2013

Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Punaviinit


And finally… mostly to enjoy at New Year’s Eve, considering how late I post the article 🙂 : red wines. There is a lot of possibility in Alko’s selection, though I must warn you that choosing a red wine with Finnish Christmas food is a big risk. It will absolutely work with the pork, but it will fall short on the salmon, whether it is graavilohi or savulohi, it will also have difficulties with all the salads, peruna, rosolli… In case I would serve a fine red, I would split the dinner into two parts : first part with the salads and then with the joulukinkku and the various laatikkot.

This time, I give you a list split between medium and powerful wines and then by order of  increasing price.

MEDIUM BODIED (wines that I would favour for the pairing with Christmas food).

Spain: Pares Balta, Savia Viva 2010 (471587) 7,98€ : Simple but efficient.

Argentina: Amalaya 2011 (485797) 11,90€ : A surprisingly good blend from Argentina. Spicy and fruity but with a nice structure in the mouth. This is one of my nowadays « top buy » in Alko. Best served not too cool and can be drank right after opening.

New-Zealand: Brancott Estate, South Island Pinot Noir 2011 (466047) 11,99€ : Entry level and yet delicious Pinot Noir. Sure, it lacks a bit structure, but at that price point, it is a bargain.

Italy: Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore 2010 (450187) 12,99€ : Standard but elegant Valpolicella. Thousand times better than the ugly Masi example of the kind.

Chile: Leyda, Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2011 (475537) 13,98€ : Pinot Noir is definitely the best option when it comes to Christmas dinner. This is a good and affordable example. It will benefit from an early opening. (a couple of hours before drinking).

Austria: Rabl, Blauer Zweigelt Vinum Optimum 2011 (496847) 13,99€ : light, fresh and fruity. Almost no tannins. This is a dream of a wine for delicate palates. 2011 being an outstanding vintage in Austria.

New-Zealand: Vicarage Lane, Canterbury Pinot Noir 2009 (435547) 15,95€ : Much more dense. Spicy. Clean. A very nice Pinot Noir, more balanced and fruity than the Leyda Las Brisas.

Spain: Muga Reserva 2008 (449177) 17,61€ : One of the best Rioja of the selection. Surprisingly balanced and elegant.

Italy: Villa Antinori rosso 2009 (006861) 17,99€ : Modern, fruit and chocolate taste. A nice wine that benefits from an early opening.

Austria: Weninger, Blaufränkisch Hochäcker 2009 (407007) 18,14€ : One of the best value for money place in Austria. Spicy, with a strong character. And still very soft tannins. Very good wine.

Austria: Pittnauer, Pinot Noir Fuchsenfeld 2010 (452237) 19,96€ : Austria has started recently to produce Pinot Noir. This is an interesting example.

New-Zealand: Te Kairanga, Runholder Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 (408487) 19,98€ : One of the good Pinot Noir from Alko. If you find 2007 this will be even better. 2009 will require a little bit of breathing time.

USA: Boedecker Cellars, Oregon Pinot Noir 2011 (455397) 20,40 : From the coolest climates of the USA. A very well defined and nice to drink Pinot Noir.

France: Chapoutier, Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers 2010 (429967) 21,00€ : A very good example of nordic Syrah. Great vintage. The wine is however very young and need 2 to 3 years to open. If you have it for Christmas. Either decant 2 hours, either open 24h before drinking (take a few centiliter away and leave the bottle opened).

Italy: Luigi Einaudi, Barolo Terlo 2007 (476267) 39€ : The top of Alko’s selection. This is an outstanding wine, not even expensive. This wine has years in front of him but it is already enjoyable. To be decanted 2 hours before.

New-Zealand: Felton Road, Bonnockburn Pinot Noir 2010 (429367) 50,30€ : A fantastic wine from New-Zealand. Felton Road is THE reference of the country. Still young but enjoyable.

FULL BODIED, POWERFUL WINES (for those who look for a big kick in the mouth!)

Chile: Tabali, Reserva Especial 2009 (407507) 15,99€ : Very concentrated, very ripe, very powerful. A decent to good wine, but it might overpower the meal. Still, very pleasurable if this is the kind of wine you are looking for.

France: Château Cesseras, Minervois la Livinière 2009 (424377) 16,99€ : Powerful and yet fresh with a hint of grassiness that often lacks in super ripe similar blends from Australia.

Argentina: Norton, Privada 2010 (432417) 17,89€ : Much more powerful and concentrated. It is not a wine with a strong personality but it compensates with its expressivity.

Australia: Rosemount, GSM 2010 (454607) 24,90€ : A southern Rhône blend from Australia. Rosemount is not the reference estate from the country but this wine is truely outstanding. Very complex and with a great balance. Not to be missed!

Australia: Yalumba, Hand Picked Shiraz-Viognier (463597) 28,70€ : An other Rhône blend (northern Rhône), the same that you find in Côte Rôtie. More concentrated, more generous with a more noticeable alcohol. An other very good wine.

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Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Valkoviinit


For Finnish Christmas dinner, when I am asked about wine, I always think « white » first. In my opinion, this is the colour that match the best all the traditional dishes. I will give you a selection of different style of wines, they might not match every single meal, but none will be totally out of place. I will sort them by type of grape. Enjoy!

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a very versatile grape that make not too aromatic wines. As a result they are really easy drinking and pass on a huge variety of meals. Besides, it is can be cheap to produce and it can be grown almost everywhere. The selection of decent to good Chardonnay at Alko is big. Almost none are bad but, don’t be fooled, many are boring 😉

Argentina: Alamos, Chardonnay 2012 (570287) 9,98€ : A nice and pleasant wine. Rather on the exotic side. Not too oaky. Easy.

Australia: Penfolds, Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2011 (534747) 12,99€ : Fresh and crisp. Easy drinking wine.

New-Zealand: Sileni, The Lodge Chardonnay 2010 (519767) 14,99€ : This starts to be more serious. Little bit toasty. Nice wine.

New-Zealand: St Clair, Pioneer Block Sawcut Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (501427) 19,89€ : Extremely powerful and strongly toasty. Not the prefect example of elegance but it really delivers. A bit like a punch in the face. Should be a nice match to joulukinkku.

Austria: Tement, Morillon Muschelkalk 2011 (583807) 19,89€ : More balanced and fresh. This will do well with fish and salads.

Italy: Planeta, Chardonnay 2011 (525267) 19,98€ : A surprisingly balanced Chardonnay from Sicily. Will match most of the meal.

France: La Souffrandise, Pouilly Fumé 2011 (510217) 21,10€ : Powerful and yet delicate. It is a very fine wine, in a very good vintage for white wines in this region.

Sauvignon blanc

Sauvignon blanc is a very strong grape, producing wines with a clearly vegetal side. At its best they are powerful, aromatic and very fresh wines. Downfall is to get a too green and flat wine. Like many a white grape, it gives it best when grown in cool climates.

Chile: Leyda, Garuma Vineyard Sauvignon blanc 2012 (594677) 9,99€ : typical Sauvignon blanc. Grassy, fresh. A bit simple but nice to drink. Prefect match for the salads , cheese and fish.

Chile: Leyda, Kadun Vineyard Sauvignon gris 2012 (549837) 11,98€ : Sauvignon gris is a mutation of Sauvignon blanc. The difference is not huge. A bit more structure than the previous one.

Chile: Leyda, Lot 4 Sauvignon blanc (587357) 12,98€ : a huge difference between this one and the two before. Powerful and aromatic. A real good match for the meal. With always the typical grassiness of Sauvignon.

New-Zealand: Jackson Estate, Sauvignon blanc Stich 2012 (586067) 15,99€ : one of the best Sauvignon from Alko. More exotic. Extremely powerful. At his best after one year of cellaring.

Riesling

Riesling is an other extremely powerful and noble variety. Some of the greatest wines are made out of this grape. It is often slightly sweet (to balance its acidity) and it is extremely sharp in term of acidity. Therefore it ages beautifully and it pass extremely well with quantity of food, including red meet (if fresh and structured enough). Best examples come from Germany (Mosel, Nahe, Rheingau), Austria (Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal…) and France (Alsace).

Germany: Dr. Pauly Bergweiler, Blitz Riesling 2012 (524667) 8,69€ : uncomplicated. Fresh and aromatic. A pleasant wine, will pass on most of the meals.

Austria: Malat, Riesling Kellergarten 2011 (590147) 11,61€ : a more serious and dense Riesling. Still very young in a great vintage in Kremstal, Austria. To be opened and decanted 2 hours in advance.

Germany: Reichgraf von Kesselstatt, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2007 (582407) 20,10€ : SWEET! Very nice wine to end the meal and on desert.

Germany: Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling trocken GG 2011 (543897) 34,30€ : a great dry Riesling from Mosel. To be opened in advance.

Grüner Veltliner

The typical grape of Austria. Extremely aromatic, exotic and less sharp than Riesling. A very nice selection is to be found in Alko.

Austria: Rabl, Grüner Veltliner 2012 (599634) 7,52€ : simple but clean. A good pick.

Austria: Josef Jamek, Grüner Veltliner Ried Liebenberg Smaragd 2011 (599827) 24,20€ : an other great wine in a great vintage. Best cellared for 2-5 years. To be decanted two hours.

Austria: Rudi Pichler, Grüner Veltliner Terrassen Smaragd 2011 (509017) 24,80€ : same region than the previous one. Styles are slightly different, maybe more mineral for Pichler.

Others

Hungary: Oremus, Mandolas Tokaji Dry 2001 (598027) 16,50€

Spain: Gramona, Xarel.lo 2011 (505867) 19,84€

France: Château Doisy-Daëne 2009 (539404) 27,70€ (half bottle) : Sweet wine. One of the very best Sauternes in a great year for sweet wines.

Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Kuohuviinit


Ok, maybe not all the best, but some of the best picks. And we start with the star of Christmas: sparkling wines.

Contrary to one can think, you can easily spend the whole Christmas meal with sparkling wines. If that is the case, aim at a more powerful wine. The good thing is that Alko selection of sparkling wines is really on the top. Diversity, quality and decent prices (comparatively). Let’s start.

Kuohuviini 1: light and aromatic, for aperitif, or simply to enjoy before the meal

Chile, Cono Sur Brut (548407) 10,90€ : Easy-drinking wine and one of the only value sparkling that I can advise. It is really fine for a glass or if you want to try a cocktail (by mixing it with lakka for instance).

Spain, Codorniu Anna di Codorniu (505457) 11,48€ : Classic Cava. Simple but nicely done. In my opinion it is a better buy than Cuvée Raventos, which is a bit of a clumsy wine.

Italy, Jeio Brut Prosecco (552007) 13,97€ : Prosecco are the perfect aperitif. They are light, aromatic, not too expensive.

New-Zealand, St Clair Vicar’s Choice (591767) 14,93€ : More original, the sparkling Sauvignon. Perfect for aperitif but slightly more difficult to pair with food. It will do good also to celebrate the New Year.

Kuohuviini 2: full bodied wines, that can be served on the meal.

Chile, Leyda Extra Brut Méthode Traditionnelle (536977) 20,10€ : Can also do well as aperitif. This is a 100% Chardonnay : pure, enjoyable and crisp… Typical party sparkling, but with still a high quality factor.

Spain, Seleccion Ravento Pinot Noir Brut (587077) 13,99€ : This is one of the good rosé from Alko’s list. Typically, the wine that can last over the dinner. At his best after one or two years of cellaring.

Austria, Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut (586117) 15,78€ : Easier than the next wines, more aromatic than Chardonnay based sparkling. Will do great on Christmas eve.

Spain, Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut (531257) 18,83€ : The competition of Codorniu in mass produced Cava. This is a very interesting cuvée. Fresh but with a very interesting complexity (for your information, if you fly once though Frankfurt Airport, it is on sale in the Duty free shop at 12€).

Germany, Barth Riesling Brut (513537) 19,89€ : Original Riesling based sparkling. A very very good wine. 100% worth the price. WIll do great on the graavilohi.

Italy, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Prestige (558057) 29,90€ : Until recently you could still find it around 25€… anyway… this is a very good wine, complex, powerful… a realy great Franciacorta. It develops a lot with a bit of cellaring (one-two years).

France, Jacquesson Cuvée 736 Extra Brut (588767) 44,00€ : We enter here the world of great Champagnes. To keep in the cellar for more emotions. 737 will be even more spectacular, but this is already a fantastic wine.

France, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (564737) 47,90€ : More full bodied than Jacquesson. An other reference in the world of Champagne.

Kuohuviini 3: a touch of sweetness, sparkling that can live through the desert.

France, Jaillance Grande Tradition (008821) 13,77€ : Are you looking for sweet and aromatic? This is your wine. A direct, very expressive and well balanced sweet wine. If you like sweet or if you want something to match the desert. A great value for money wine.

France, Pol Roger Rich Demi-Sec (578657) 44,90€ : Here comes THE reference of sweet Champagne in France. A MUST if you are lucky enough to find it. This is good but it will improve immensely if you cellar it 2…5…10 years!

So here were my suggestions in term of sparkling. I hope you will find your ideal Christmas companion among them.