Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Nathan Lane
Wine Correspondent
1:03 AM 9th December 2023

Wines For The Festive Season

Image by Alexander Fox | PlaNet Fox from Pixabay
Image by Alexander Fox | PlaNet Fox from Pixabay
Your intrepid wine reporter has taken some criticism in recent times that the wines reviewed are too expensive. And that is why we’re heading to Berry Bros and Rudd this month, one of the oldest and most respected wine merchants in the world.

The family-owned British wine and spirits company Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) was established in London, England, in 1698, though they didn't start selling wine until the late 1700s. The company was founded in 1698 as a tiny coffee shop and has since expanded to become a multinational enterprise with six offices across the globe.

In addition to wines, including those that are en primeur from regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, and Italy, the company offers wines and spirits under Berry Bros. & Rudd's Own Selection, its own label. Luckily, for Northern readers, they also have an efficient delivery service.

With Christmas just around the corner, we are reviewing a selection of wines that include some fizz for Christmas morning, a great red for lunch and a spectacular dessert wine.

2007 Champagne Le Mesnil, Cuvée Prestige, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Brut.

Founded in 1937, Le Mesnil is a cooperative champagne house located in the centre of the Cotes des Blancs, at Le Mesnil sur Oger. All of their vineyards are now classified as "Grand Cru." The area is renowned for creating exceptional Blanc de Blancs Champagnes from its magnificent Chardonnay grapes.

Blanc de Blancs means “white of whites,” these are Champagnes made exclusively from white grapes—in this case, Chardonnay. The Les Mesnil Cuvée Prestige is made exclusively from the famous chalky Grand Cru vineyards, close to the winery in the Cote des Blancs’s most famous postcode, Le Mesnil sur Oger.

To preserve the fruit's purity and vintage character, the grapes undergo low-temperature fermentation in cement and steel. It then spends nine years on lees to develop complexity and delicate, tight bubbles. With edges of minerality and hints of golden apple, roasted lemon, and the salty chew of caramel shortbread, the mouthfeel is unmistakably Grand Cru.

Considering that it is produced from some of the best terroirs in the area, the Prestige 2007 is a work of art and incredible value. At £59.80, it represents good value compared to a bottle of Veuve Clicquot non-vintage champagne at £47. {Clear}

2020 Berry Bros. & Rudd Extra Ordinary Claret by Château Villa Bel-Air, Bordeaux.

Many wine merchants offer their own brand alternatives to popular wines, and it’s worth exploring the Majestic range. However, the BBR Extra Ordinary Claret is an excellent choice, and at £17.95 a bottle, it feels like someone made a mistake at the online checkout.

This Claret is a traditional red Bordeaux blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. French wood is used sparingly throughout the wine's maturity to not overpower the wine.

It offers rich fruit and smooth tannins, making it robust and luscious. Stick your nose in the glass, and you get a blast of oak and leather. The wine offers layers of fruit with blackcurrant and plum and a finish of slight oak and chocolate.

This great wine goes well with most savoury dishes or a Sunday roast because it's comforting but adaptable. Just the ticket for a cold Christmas day with your family.

2016 Tokaji Aszu, 5 Puttonyos.

A good dessert wine will elevate any meal, and to finish off a Christmas dinner, it’s a must. Tokaji is one of the most renowned sweet wines and comes with a hefty price tag. This version comes in at around £60 a bottle for 50cl.

Depending on age, it can be golden to deep amber. When the nose is young, it smells intensely of citrus and fresh fruits, most frequently apricot. When the wine ages past ten years, it develops even more complex aromas with notes of honey, spices, and dried fruits.

The Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos is an exceptionally complex example with a focused flavour that is long-lasting and fresh. The wine has a long finish that demands you smack your lips. It’s a wine to savour and remember.

If you rush, you can still order in time for Christmas. Visit

Our wine enthusiast Nathan lives in Leeds and runs PR and marketing company Campfire PR