Top 10 Boozy Gifts For Christmas

Stuck for gift ideas for those particularly boozy friends or family members? For a little inspiration here is Jon’s Christmas List – there’s not a pair of socks in sight!

  1. The Foundry Grenache Blanc. This full-bodied white has a lovely jasmine richness and was voted South Africa’s best white wine this year. A bargain compared to its old-world rivals and a great introduction to the wines of this country, which are growing in interest and complexity each year. £15
  2. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir. First class Pinot from one of South Africa’s best specialist producers. It’s also the perfect Turkey accompaniment! Another great find from my recent whistle-stop tour of vineyards in this beautiful country. £30
  3. Macymyra 10 – Swedish single malt whisky par excellence – and they now import to us direct so the price has recently come down to £60
  4. Quinta do Vesuvio Late Bottled Vintage Port. A super-famous estate in the Douro really delivers with this delicious top quality LBV. £20
  5. Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin. All the way from Australia but worth it for this intensely flavoured gin which would make a great gift for all those gin collectors out there. The key botanical is Finger Lime. £50
  6. Domain Ferrand Chateauneuf du Pape. For when only the best will do.  This is lavish wine – powerful, supple, spicy and super-smooth in the mouth. Make sure whoever you buy this for drinks it with you! £38
  7. Cave du Turckheim Mayerling Brut from Alsace.  Made from Pinot Blanc this is a cracking value sparkler with heaps more cut and interest than Prosecco for a very fair £16
  8. Rizzardi 3em Cru Amarone. A superb full, rich and deliciously savoury Amarone wine from the Veneto. £38
  9. Vincent Gaudry Chante Cigale Sancerre. A biodynamic and brilliant lean and tangy Sancerre, the biodynamics adds a lovely extra edge of complexity to this super-fresh wine. £26
  10. Scarlet Wines Gift Vouchers. These vouchers can be used in our wine and spirits shop and deli, and also our cafe – making them a great way to gift an experience rather than more ‘stuff’.

We hope you find one of the above under your tree this Christmas…

What does a wine merchant drink at Christmas?


If you would like a little help stocking up your wine rack for Christmas please come in and talk to us. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like, and you’re bound to leave with some truly wonderful finds to complement your food offering and make your Christmas really memorable.

For a little inspiration here is what Jon drinks at Christmas (a slightly edited version anyway, we know you don’t have all day!)

Christmas Eve. This has to be one of the best times of the year. That delicious moment when everyone is home and you can start the party. I like a crisp, well chilled white wine, something refreshing like Sancerre or Pouilly Fume. These are from Sauvignon Blanc grown in the upper reaches of France’s Loire valley. They lack the pungent fruitiness of New Zealand Sauvignon but replace it with a tight, stony crispness that is impossible to beat.
Domaine Roblin Sancerre, £19.50

Christmas Morning. My family tradition calls for Champagne at this point. Personally these days I usually opt for English Sparkling Wine from one of Devon or Cornwall’s own vineyards. Every bit as good and local too.
Trevibban Mill Brut, £30

Christmas Lunch. Burgundy is the absolute classic here. These are the most tricky wines of all to get right. The whites are from chardonnay and the reds from Pinot Noir. The best guide to quality is the name of the producer rather than the micro zone the wine comes from, but you must get advice and you must spend a decent sum or you will be disappointed. When the wine is good, there is nothing better in the world; buttery, complex, creamy whites and multi-layered, complex, delicate reds with the odd mushroomy twang to keep your interest until the very last drop.
Les Heritiers Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc, £22
Amiot Servelle Chambolle Musigny, £65

Christmas Day Evening. By this point fatigue has set in, the palate is a little jaded and a disagreeable hangover lurks nearby. I find that something sweet does the job, ideally sweet and fizzy. So a nice Moscato d’Asti is perfect; this is low alcohol with a delicious grapey fresh taste and a lick of comforting sugar. For something stronger and sweeter, go for vintage port, ideally with a couple of decades age. This is another absolute classic, rich full and, if well aged, tastes a bit like Christmas cake.
GD Vajra Moscato d’Asti, £20
Quinta do Infantado 2011, £58

Boxing Day. Head out for that walk, get some air, chase the dog / children about and you will be ready for one of life’s true pleasures; the boxing day left-overs lunch. What to drink? This is a chance to go off-piste; so top quality of course, but less trad. I’d love a rich complex, full bodied white from South Africa. For red a lovely gentle, spicy Rhone wine, so Gigondas, Lirac or everyone’s Dad’s favourite, Chateauneuf du Pape.
Miles Mossop Saskia, £18
Domaine Gallety Cotes du Vivarais, £25

Discovering New-Wave South African Wines

Travelling to the Southern Hemisphere for Spring as the leaves turn in Cornwall is always tempting, but was not the only reason for Jon’s trip in October. “There are really exciting young winemakers in South Africa creating interesting, modern wines from well-established old vines,” he explained. A trip to meet some of these producers first-hand was an exciting prospect…

As well as visiting vineyards in well-known Swartland, Franshoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch, Jon also visited the lesser known region of Elgin which is traditionally renowned for growing apples. As you will read, Jon returned fired-up by the experience, and he has chosen four white and four red wines on the menu by the glass to help you get to know them too.

Over to Jon to tell us more…

The overall feeling I had after my trip was of the amount of young, skilled and forward-thinking winemakers. They have studied their craft then travelled the world honing their knowledge and expertise, and returned full of enthusiasm and ideas. Working with old vines that have been in the ground for 100 years or more means that they have access to excellent quality grapes to craft their wines with – it’s not like planting a new vineyard and starting from scratch.

What has changed is not so much the viticulture or the way in which the vines are grown, but their methods of making the wine – the vinification. Thirty years ago the style favoured by critics was for big, heavy extracted wines. Now the grapes aren’t pressed for as long, making lighter, fresher wines. By doing this the winemakers can really show difference, reflecting the terroir of each particular vineyard.

This can really be seen in the wines of Donovan Rall, who is enamoured with Mediterranean varieties. We are stocking his Tea Leaf Chenin which comes from a small plot surrounded by native rooibos plants that lend their flavour to the wine. This is a great example of how the terroir effects the grapes and produces a distinctive, complex wine that is still modern thanks to its juicy drinkability.

Other Mediterranean grape varieties that have been given a modern twist include Mourvedre and Grenache. Young winemaker Jolandie Fouche joined Kloovenburg and the du Toit family approximately three years ago. The historic vineyard benefits from her no-nonsense approach that relies on smell, touch and experience to create wines with their own character. This is clearly shown in the Kloovenburg Grenache, with its super-pure fruit and elegant dark cherry, plus a herbal note that makes this a vibrant, juicy mid-weight wine.

The trip was a revelation to me and I’m really looking forward to bringing more of my South African discoveries onto the shelves here at Scarlet Wines.