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.

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 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 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.


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.

Christmas at Alko: The selection from the general sortiment.

Now that I gave you a list of « on order » wines, here comes the list from the general selection.

First. Remember that the article I published the past years are still valid (see : Joulu), for example white wine is a better choice. Second, remember that for Christmas, you need wines that will be balanced and rather light. Cabernet Sauvignon are very unlikely to fit the dinner, for example. The must, in red, will be Pinot Noir and in white, most will fit. But then again, I will try to provide you with a whole range of different type of wine. So that you find one that pleases you palate.



– Parès Balta, Savia Viva Tempranillo 2010, 7,99€ : SPAIN. A must taste as entry level wines. Undoubtedly the best wine in this price range. Tempranillo.

– Alamos, Malbec, 9,90€ : ARGENTINA. Malbec is not the best pick but as far as entry level wines are concerned this is almost unbeatable. In the same category I can recommend Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2008.

– Brancott Estate, South Island Pinot Noir, 11,28€ : NEW-ZEALAND. The cheapest enjoyable Pinot Noir of Alko. A very nice wine to drink Pinot on a budget.

– Paul Jaboulet, Côte du Rhône Parallèle 45, 11,48€ : FRANCE. More spicy. Very high acidity, it is not so pleasant to dring alone but it fits well with food. To be decanted at least an hour before service.

– Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore 2010, 11,99€ : ITALY. Easy drinking and fruity wine.

– Cono Sur, Wild Duck 2010, 12,90€ : CHILE. This wine is stunningly well made for the price. A Pinot Noir that will fit your joulukinkku very well. Beware not to leave the bottle half empty as it doesn’t stand staying in the fridge for more than 12h.

– Leyda, Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2010, 13,98€ : CHILE. Much more defined and structured Pinot Noir. This one needs breathing. A very good choice.

– Descendientès de J. Palacios, Petalos 2010, 15,98€ : SPAIN. Very spicy and elegant wine. To be decanted. Extremely food friendly.

– Weninger, Blaufränkisch Hochäcker 2009, 17,99€ : AUSTRIA. A great vintage and a very good producer. This wine is full of dense fruit with a very good complexity. Tannins are very soft. A very good match to pork.

 – Nino Negri, Mazer Inferno 2007, 18,14€ : ITALY. I don’t actually know this wine but I know the producer. Nebbiolo is a tannic grape with very subtle flavours and very good balance. That is definitely something I would try. But maybe not the best pick. I will try to taste it before Christmas.

– Te Kairanga, Runholder Pinot Noir 2007, 19,80€ : NEW-ZEALAND. One of the best Pinot Noir of Alko’s selection. This is a very very good wine. Strongly advised. (Beware of the vintage).

– Torrès, Mas Borras 2008, 28,50€ : SPAIN. It is sure a bit young… but this is one of the best examples of Pinot Noir from Spain.

– Vincent Girardin, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes 2008, 36,20€ : France. Pinot Noir is the best red grape to match Finnish christmas meal. This is a good French example. From a fine terroir.

– Aalto 2007, 39,00€ : SPAIN. A very big wine but not overriped. Will need to be decanted a couple of hours earlier. But maybe not at its best now… probably better in three years.



When you aim at a white wine, Chardonnay is always a safe choice as it is not too powerful (and will match most food types) and it is pretty inexpensive to produce. So, a cheap Chardonnay is always better than a cheap Sauvignon blanc.

– Pares Balta, Savia Viva Xarel-lo 2011, 7,99€ : SPAIN. A bargain. Nuts and toasty aroma. Nice to drink.

– Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Blitz Riesling 2011, 8,49€ : GERMANY. Best buy as Riesling. Very well balanced. Aromatic. Taste dry.

– Alamos, Chardonnay 2011, 9,90€ : ARGENTINA. A classical in basic Chardonnay. Slightly oaky, good fruit and nice balance.

– Domaine Boyar, XR Chardonnay, 9,99€ : BULGARIA. A bit more on the oaky side. Otherwise interesting.

– Ruffino, Libaio Chardonnay 2011, 9,99€ : ITALY. Again a oaky Chardonnay. Bit more sun than the previous one (exotic fruit on the nose).

– Henri Bourgeois, Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc, 10,98€ : FRANCE. A basic and sound Sauvignon blanc.

– Brancott Estate, Gisborne Unoaked Chardonnay, 11,28€ : NEW-ZEALAND. Very nice Chardonnay with real taste of Chardonnay. Good balance, very pleasant.

– Malat, Riesling Kellergarten 2008, 11,48€ : AUSTRIA. A classic, starts to get old. Will be perfect with joulukinkku but avoid the salad and fish.

– Leyda, Sauvignon Gris Kadun Vineyard, 11,98€ : CHILE. Very good Sauvignon.

– Penfolds, Thomas Hyland Chardonnay, 12,98€ : AUSTRALIA. A very good balance, lots of freshness and very little oakiness. Good wine.

– Cono Sur, Vision Single Vineyard Riesling 2010, 12,98€ : CHILE. Powerful Riesling from the new world. Very straightforward.

– Cono Sur, Vision Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, 12,98€ : CHILE. A good pick as Chardonnay.

– Leyda, Sauvignon Blanc Lot 4, 12,98€ : CHILE. A Sauvignon with intense varietal aromas. Very grassy.

– Jackson Estate, Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 14,98€ : NEW-ZEALAND. More ripe Sauvignon, more elegant, less grassy.

– Sileni Estates, The Lodge Chardonnay 2010, 14,98€ : NEW-ZEALAND.

– Oremus, Mandolas Tokaji Dry, 15,95€ : HUNGARY. Oxydised style. Perfect with smoked salmon.

– Weingut Salomon Undhof, Grüner Veltliner Alte Rebe Berglagen 2011, 18,90 : AUSTRIA. Maybe THE pick of the list. Fruity, aromatic but with good structure.

– Saint-Clair Pioneer Block Sawcut Vineyard Chardonnay 2009, 19,76€ : NEW-ZEALAND. A very good example of big Chardonnay. Big and still elegant.

– Planeta, Chardonnay 2010, 19,90€ : ITALY. An other one 🙂

– La Souffrandise, Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes 2010, 20,80 : FRANCE. One perfect vintage and perfect Chardonnay. Spicy, toasty, fruity. To be decanted.

– Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Grosses Gewächs Riesling Alte Rebe 2008, 29,90€ : GERMANY. Very structured Riesling. A great wine but maybe still a bit young. To be decanted.

– La Chablisienne, Grand Cru Les Preuses 2008, 38,90€ : FRANCE. A good example of Grand Cru, in a very good vintage. Ready to enjoy!



Sparkling wines are also a very clever choice for Christmas. If you aim at drinking it during the whole meal, you will want to chose a more powerful wine, oak aged, vintage or with a higher proportion of Pinot Noir. Here is a very short selection. Alko has a very wide choice of these wines, including all the top producers for reasonable prices (I mean by that, that you will not pay more than in France, and most of the time, less).

– Codorniu, Pinot Noir Brut, 14,80€ : SPAIN. A great Cava rosé (Spanish champagne). Very, intensely fruity. Perfect aperitif. Enjoyable with the food but lacks a bit of structure to manage well. Noticeable improvement after 1 year of cellaring.

– Ca’ Del Bosco, Cuvée Prestige, 29,90€ : ITALY. This Franciacorta (the Champagne of Italy) is a real bargain as you will not find a wine to match its quality at this price point. Excellent in aperitif and with starters or smoked fish.

– Billecart-Salmon, Brut Réserve, 39,90€ : FRANCE.

– Gosset, Excellence Brut, 39,90€ : FRANCE.

– Pol Roger, Brut Réserve, 43,90€ : FRANCE. This is the kind of Champagne you must aim at to drink the whole evening.

– Charles Heidsieck, Brut Réserve, 47,50€ : FRANCE. A truly great wine, that can last your whole dinner (except desert!). Definitely my pick.

– Bollinger, Special Cuvée, 49,90€ : FRANCE. A very good choice also, to drink along the meal. Improves greatly after 1 or 2 years of cellaring.

If you have any question, feel free to comment or send me an email. I’ll try to answer quickly.

Christmas at Alko: a first selection of wines.

As usual for the Christmas time, I am publishing a list of possible wines to enjoy with your Christmas meal. This list is specifically directed to Finnish readers as I select wines from Alko’s list, considering Finnish traditional meal.

Again I remind you of the basic rules with these dishes: pick white or a light red and avoid any big fat wine from warm places.

Today, I will start with a shortlist of great wines from the « Tilattavat » section of Alko. To get these wines, you need to ask for them in your local shop and in general it takes one week up to two (check with them). So it is better order right now 🙂



Red will fit with joulukinku and the different side dishes but it will not match any fish (savulohi or graavilohi) nor the different salads. For these meals, you should aim at a white. With these meal, I advise something balanced and spicy but not too tannic. Among many more possibility, here is what I would pick:

– Tedeschi, Valopolicella Classico Superiore 2010, 919587, 16,76€ : ITALY. Classical, easy drinking and balanced Valpolicella. Somewhat « light ». Will not kill the meal.

– Planeta, Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2010, 930967, 17,99€ : ITALY. Very balanced and full of fruit and spices. Interesting wine to try something new.

– Alfiero Boffa, Barbera d’Asti Storica 2007, 905647, 18,97€ : ITALY. Again, more classical. Delicate, elegant. Smoky with a fresh fruitiness. Very good vintage.

– Remondo Palacios, La Montesa 2009, 927697, 19,84€ : SPAIN. For those who look for more power, this is a good pick. To be decanted at least an hour.

– Luigi Einaudi, Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010, 950927, 21,00€ : ITALY. More on the fruit side than the Barbera. Very direct but will definitely need around two hours decanting.

– Château de Montfaucon, Baron Louis 2009 938097, 22,50€ : FRANCE. Spicy, intense and concentrated. A very powerful vintage from Southern Rhône valley. Also to be decanted.

– Emilio Moro 2009, 914197, 23,80€ : SPAIN. Elegant tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.

– Cono Sur, 20 Barrels 2008, 909747, 24,90€ : CHILE. A very good example of chilean Pinot Noir. Slightly young.

– Alfiero Boffa, Barbera d’Asti Vigna More 2005, 908367, 26,40€ : ITALY. Same as above but higher pedigree. More ready to drink. Very enjoyable.

– Jean-Louis Chave Selection, Saint-Joseph Offerus 2010, 946837, 26,80€ : FRANCE. Saint-Joseph brings up very good Syrah. From an excellent producer of Hermitage… will also age well.

– Clos Henri, Pinot Noir 2008, 953747, 29,50€ : NEW-ZEALAND. An other Pinot Noir. A very good pick to match the ham. Intense fruit but stillvery delicate.

– Remondo Palacios, Propiedad 2008, 941427, 29,90€ : SPAIN. More intense and concentrated than La Montesa. This is a great wine. To be decanted.

– Viña Leyda, Pinot Noir Lot 21 2011, 915727, 33,10€ : CHILE. A very very concentrated Pinot Noir. Modern in style, 100% fruit and oak.

– Domaine de Montcalmès 2008, 912947, 33,10€ : FRANCE. Elegant wine from Southern France. Very intense, very fruity and extremely elegant. The powerful wine for the ladies.



– Domaine Chanson, Viré-Clessé 2009, 924407, 17,95€ : FRANCE. Nice, traditional, slightly oaky Chardonnay but with very good complexity. From southern Burgundy.

– Clos Henri, Sauvignon Blanc 2009, 945367, 24,00€ : NEW-ZEALAND. Very intense and ripe Sauvignon made by a French owner. Kind of a mix between the New World and France. Powerful and  fruity.

– Domaine Saget, Pouilly-Fumé 2010, 949317, 24,50€ : FRANCE. A very classy, extremely elegant Sauvignon blanc. Maybe one of the best choice in terms of balance and finesse.

– Markus Molitor, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese trocken 2007, 947077 28,30€ : GERMANY. A dry and intense Riesling. Very structured. At its best with fish but will match the joulukinkku.

– Bründlmayer, Grüner Veltliner Alte Rebe 2007, 913517, 30,50€ : AUSTRIA. Very good vintage. Aromatic and yet mineral Grüner Veltliner. More powerful in style and more ripe than a Riesling.

– Thevenet, domaine de la Bongran, Viré-Clessé 2005, 911197, 35,10€ : FRANCE. This wine is absolutely stunning but it is very original. Extremely exotic in the nose and more classical in the mouth. Perfect with the various « laatikko » and joulukinkku.

– Newton, Unfiltered Chardonnay 2007, 904037, 43,10€ : USA. Exclusive Chardonnay. Very powerful, large.

– Laroche, Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2005, 919077, 59,90€ : FRANCE. A ripe Chablis ready to drink. Elegant and yet powerful, with light toasty aroma.

Christmas at Alko: Villa Antinori 2008 by Antinori (Italia, Toscana)

Another wine featured by Alko for the Christmas celebrations is Antinori, Villa Antinori 2008. This is a pretty famous wine from Toscana (Tuscany). It is sold as IGT as there is many grapes blended with the traditional Sangiovese. We find here Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Quite a mix! One last fact is the good-very good quality of the 2008 vintage in the region, a vintage which is also very palatable right now (maybe not the one to keep ten years!).

The wine is dark ruby. The nose is intense on the fruit flavours, black berries, black cherries… The mouthfeel is smooth though powerful, displaying again intense aromas of ripe fruits. There is also a hint of oakiness. The overall balance is good and the finish is pretty long and pleasant. This is a very nice but very untypical wine. This profile could have been achieved in many places and it does not reflects its origins, which is a bit sad. It requires an opening in advance. 2 to 4 hours with one glass removed.

However, as pleasant as it is, this is not something I would recommend warmly with Christmas food. The wine is too powerful and too much on the fruit side when Christmas food requires spiciness and acidity. It will not be awful but it will neither be the pairing of the year. One positive aspect though is that it is sold in half-bottles too at Alko.

Wineops’ rating: 78/100 ; 0 0

A very drinkable and pleasant wine. Totally internationalised (not tasting Italian at all). To be paired with red meat served rare/medium rare like reindeer or beef. 

Link to Alko: here

Christmas at ALKO: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 by Domaine du Vieux Lazaret (France, Rhône)

Well, to be honest, seeing a Châteauneuf-du-Pape at 25,90 in Alko… I had serious doubt. Price is not an absolute or objective value. Price depends not only on the quality but also on the fame. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the oldest and most famous appellation of France. And its wines are among the very best. Therefore, it is hard to find a good Châteauneuf in France below 30€. True, there are exceptions like Domaine Charvin, but this is not so common. Besides, in Finland, you must take into account the importation costs and the taxes… this explains why I would expect a good Châteauneuf to be around 35-45€ at Alko. Beaucastel being around 69€ (55€ in France).

This being said, it could have been one of these exceptions. But it was not really.

Surprisingly for this very ripe vintage, the color is not very deep. Ruby red with purple reflexions. The nose displays fruits and alcohol. This impression fades gradually to express only (but slightly less intense) black ripe fruit. The mouth is on the same side, with a jammy note and a bit of camphor aromas. Alcohol levels remain very noticeable and there is a little sweetness remaining in the palate. It is quite visible that the wine needs breathing as it gets better over night, at least 3-4 hours in a decanter (if you don’t have a decanter, open 24h before), but it remains somewhat unbalanced. It brings back to my mind some standard cuvées of Vaqueyras, which are in general much cheaper.

This is not a wine that I would warmly recommend. If you are not in a hurry, try to order at your local shop : there is much more to enjoy with Château La Nerthe 2006 (available in « tilattavat »  page of the internet site).

Wineops’ rating: 70/100 ; 5 +

Link to Alko: here

ALKO, Jouluviinit: Kuohuviinit

Last option for Christmas: a sparkling. Clearly, considering the composition of Finnish meal, it can be more than a substitute. Again, you will find first a number of reference, then the name of the producer, the name of the wine, the price and the reference number from Alko.

40: A light sparkling but with enough to enjoy.

41: One of the most interesting sparkling Rosé from Alko. Flower and red fruit aromas. It is much better after one or two year of extra ageing in bottle. WINEOPS PICK.

42: More Champagne-like. Toasty, fruity. Nice long finish. Great with food. WINEOPS PICK.

43: More exclusive than the previous one. A big wine that require some ageing.

44: Jacquesson is one of the most reliable Champagne brand. However 734 is quite average, you must aim at 735, which has just been released. To be aged one to five years.

45: The Champagne of James Bond. This also needs ageing though it taste very well right now.

ALKO, Jouluviinit 2011: Valkoviinit

In this article, I will comment on the white wines from ALKO. In my opinion, these are the most likely to fit your whole Christmas meal. You notice that the selection is wider than with the reds, which is logical. Again, I will pick among them my favourite ones under the « WINEOPS PICK » label.

On the list, you will find first the number that is linked to the comment afterwards, then the name of the producer, then the name of the wine, then the price and finally ALKO’s reference number.

15: Medium minus strength, exotic fruits, good complexity. A good wine and one of the best value for money from Alko in white. Very versatile. WINEOPS PICK 

16: Powerful; apricot and stone fruits; good complexity. This is a massive wine, not as subtle as the others I picked. It will particularly fit the pork.

17: Medium; oaky, toasty, oily; good complexity. Again a bargain. Extremely pleasant oaky Chardonnay. Much better than all the « Chardonnay Reserva » from the New World.

18: Medium; herbaceous; average complextiy. This is more a curiosity. This variety of grape is a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc. Interesting, will fit well savulohi.

19: Powerful; oaky, toasty; average-good complexity. Somebody would call that an oak-monster. I do not like these over-oaked wines but it is very expressive and easy to enjoy. If you like big Chardonnay from the USA or Chile, this is for you!

20: Medium-low; Pear, citrus, little bit of exotic fruits; average complexity. A curiosity from Spain, very aromatic. A match for savulohi and salads.

21: Medium; nuts, grilled nuts; average complexity. Again another great value for money. This can fit most dishes. However it is made in a distinctive oxidative style. It means that you will not find the fresh fruit of other white but something more grilled.

22: Medium; white fruits, oaky; good complexity. An other Chardonnay from the South but with more acitidy. Its powerful body will match savulohi as well as pork.

23: Medium; flowers, fruits; good complexity. I already advised this wine last year. Today it has a bit different profile, the wine is ripe and more thick than it use to be. A great and original idea to pair it with joulukinkku.

24: Medium-low; stony; average-good complexity. This is still very young but it is very fresh and it will cut through all of the dishes. That is a very good compromise. WINEOPS PICK.

25: Medium; stone fruits; average complexity. A good value for money wine. The style is an inbetween Riesling and Chardonnay.

26: Medium-high; stone fruit, « chicken-like »; average complexity. Pinot Gris is always a possibility when you aim at a match with powerful meals like pork or salmon.

27: Medium; flowers, stony; average complexity. A Chardonnay from the north, with much more freshness and a better ability to pair with food. A good pick.

28: Powerful; Exotic, stone fruit, slightly toasty; high complexity. A big wine in the good sense. Very well balanced, very nice wine.

29: Medium-high; mineral, floral; good complexity. Puligny-Montrachet is one of the best village of Burgundy for white wines. This is a good example of this location, unfortunately a bit too young.

30: Powerful; Exotic, very toasty, spicy; high complexity. This is a great Chardonnay especially when we consider the price. It is typical from Pouilly-Fuissé with its characteristic spiciness. A must-drink : WINEOPS PICK, undeniable.

31: Medium-high; Herbaceous, fruity; high complexity. Sauvignon Blanc is the grape but in a whole different style than what you can taste from Chile or New-Zealand. This is rich and ripe, a bit varietal but not that much. It would age wonderfully. WINEOPS PICK.

32: Light; fruit; medium complexity. Again a great value for money. This is a perfect example of a good, entry-level, Riesling from Mosel : pure, fresh and yet aromatic. Again a WINEOPS PICK.

33: Medium-low; stony, citrus; medium complexity. Very fresh and clean Riesling. Great to deal with the fat of both salmon an pork.

34: Medium; stony, lemony, slightly exotic; good complexity. A bit more of everything than the previous one.

35: Medium-low; fruity; average complexity. Simple and charming. More body than the Blitz Riesling but also a bit more sugar.

36: Medium; spicy, stone fruits; average. A basic Pinot Gris, with loads of fruit. It taste large.

37: Medium-high; mineral, toasty, flowery; high complexity. Fresh and well balanced Chardonnay. WINEOPS PICK.

38: Powerful; spicy, exotic; high complexity. A good alternative to the Chardonnay/Riesling strategy. Very interesting Pinot Gris.

39: Powerful; fruity; medium complexity. A powerful Riesling with residual sugar (that you don’t really feel: it tastes dry) and quite high alcohol. The match is powerful be good with pork.

ALKO, Jouluviinit 2011: Punaviinit

Here are a few comments on the different red wines from ALKO’s normal selection. I will comment them the same way each time and will pick a couple of them as « WINEOPS PICK« . I hope it will be a useful reading.

On the list, you will find first the number that is linked to the comment afterwards, then the name of the producer, then the name of the wine, then the price and finally ALKO’s reference number.

1: Medium strength, fruity, not very complex. This is a very juicy wine though a bit simple in term of aromas. Alcohol is slightly too high.

2: Powerful, fruity and concentrated, medium complexity. Very interesting wine made from grapes that grow in northern Italy. Might be slightly too powerful but will please people who look for something stronger than a Pinot Noir.

3: Medium strength, very fruity, spicy and oaky at the same time, high complexity. This is a modern style fruit-bomb Pinot Noir. Very enjoyable and easy to understand. I liked it a lot. WINEOPS PICK.

4: Medium minus, spicy and a bit fruity, good complexity. Less modern, it will need a bit of breathing. It is an interesting solution if you wish something cheaper than K1.

5: Medium, spicy, fruity and earthy, high complexity. This is a classic solid Pinot Noir that require a minimum of one hour decanting. A beautiful effort for a very reasonable price! WINEOPS PICK.

6: Medium plus, fruity, high complexity. Very nice Pinot Noir, slightly too young.

7: Medium minus, fresh fruits like red currant (punaviinimarja), average. A bargain and a very pleasant wine.

8: Medium, fruity and earthy, medium complexity. Antè is a very good example of wine from northern Italy. Balanced, elegant and yet powerful enough. More body than a Pinot Noir but still fits pork.

9: Medium minus, mix of fruits, humus, average. Not very powerful but a good value for money.

10: Medium minus, cherry and earthy, average. An interesting but basic Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Maybe more difficult to enjoy.

11: Medium, fresh fruits, good complexity. From Sancerre, this is more on the fruit side but still classical. A good wine with a very good acidity, that often lack in New World wines.

12: Medium plus, spicy, good complexity. Classical style. Very versatile and enjoyable wine. A good pick.

13: Medium plus, fruity, spicy, high complexity. More modern, a bit more of everything compared to the previous one.

14: Powerful, fruity and oaky, high complexity. Very modern, this is an extracted, oaked aged Pinot Noir. This requires most of the time a bit of opening. Self evident but it is a bit too much in my opinion.

That’s for the reds, all of them should deliver during your Christmas meals. These red should fit well with joulukinkku and the various laatikkot. However they will not match the possible fish (like savulohi) and the salads.

ALKO, Jouluviinit 2011

Hello my Finnish reader! Like last year, I will provide you with a few recommendation about Chrismas wines. Of course, you can also still check last year article, HERE.

As I said earlier, the main difficulty is to match a wine with all the ingredients of the traditional Christmas meals. There are three possibilities : either you try to find the best possible match for all (which will be a white wine) or you separate the service of fish/salads and joulukinkku/laatikkot and you pick two different wines or eventually you pick the wine you want (for example a red) and you drink it only with what fits.

I made two lists this year. One is about the normal Alko’s selection and the other includes wine that are one the « tilattavat » section. Follow the links !

Wines from the catalog, that you can find directly from the shop:


Wines to order (around a week to get them):


In the next post I will comment a bit on these lists.

Hyvää Joulua!