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: 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

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

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!

Jouluruoka ja viinit

Finnish Christmas dinner is a lively tradition and the easy thing about it is that the meals are always the same. However the mix of fish and meat, potatoes, beetroot and the different “laatikko” makes it difficult to match one single wine on everything. I decided (a bit late) to provide you with my recommendations.

First of all, you might be interested to know that I tasted all the wine I suggest. Second, they all come from Alko general list and you can check their availability on Alko internet site. Third, remember that to enjoy wine, you need good glasses, good temperature and to pay attention not only to the taste but also to the smell.

I picked 20 wines that would fit the Christmas menu. In order you will find one champagne, 9 red wines and 10 white wines.

Here is a link to download a PDF
version: Jouluviinit

These wines have indeed very different style. However, in their own way, they should perfectly fit the purpose. Of course some other possibility exists.

To match the whole dinner with one single wine, aim at the Champagne or a white wine. White will fit both fish and meat such as pork and turkey. On the contrary, red will be a bit strong for fish. Or pick a red but avoid drinking it with the fish.

For more precision, I will write down which wine would even better fit some specific meals.

With graavilohi or kylmäsavulohi : 1, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

With savulohi : 1, 11, 12, 14, 17, 20

With rosolli : 11, 14, 17

With joulukinkku and porkkanalaatikko, lanttulaatikko, maksalaatikko : 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 20

A few extra things:

Red Nro 7: has to be opened (you just open and leave the bottle like this) 5 hours before the dinner.

White Nro 11 and 16: will be better if you open them in the morning, then recork and put back in the fridge.

White Nro 14: is far too young (my advise is too buy it for next year), you have to open it 48h before, then leave it opened 10 min, then recork and put back in the fridge.

As a conculsion, I am sure some of you wonder what would I pick if it was for me?

I would serve the fish and rosolli separately first and then the meat. I would then pick :

1- Jacquesson Champagne 734 which is one of the very best champagne for this price. (Nro 1)

2- Malat Riesling Kellergarten 2008 a very good and elegant wine. (Nro 11)

3- Caliterra Tributo Pinot Noir 2009 which is a surprisingly powerful and yet balanced Pinot
Noir, the best I tasted from Chile. (Nro 6)

I hoped this helped you!

Hyvää Joulua