Charles Lea's Wine List

Wines I Like - Winter

Deeper, rounder whites like good white Burgundy, Rhone and some Spanish wines are more what one is looking for in the cooler weather. The 'Domaine Emilian Gillet' Viré-Clessé from Gautier Thévenet, and both are sensational in their ways - the Thévenet wine is full, unoaked, very ripe, with hints of floral honey, and a magnificent supple juicy length. Whites from hotter climes can also really hit the spot with slightly richer textures and lower acidity, think white Spanish or white Rhône. Wines with a little residual sweetness can have a similar comforting feel, so the complex balance of Alsace is also worth considering.

In much the same way, the lighter Blanc de Blancs Champagnes which are so brilliantly elegant in the summer can, depending on your mood a bit too, seem a bit brittle in the winter. If you feel like this, do try Champagnes in different styles, like new discovery Gonet-Médeville, especially their 'Tradition' and 'Blanc de Noirs', as well as Barnaut Blanc de Noirs and other big, Pinot Noir-dominated blends like Bollinger and Krug. The secret is partly the grape content - Pinot Noir gives fuller flavour, but also fact that many of these are made from wines made in barrel.

For Reds too, juiciness needs to give way to denser, perhaps earthier and spicier flavours. Winter food takes a slug of tannin better too. What about a Crozes Hermitage or even a Côte Rôtie, or some of the great Sicilian reds which have made their way onto our list in the last year - not to mention Chateauneuf... and I haven't even mentioned Claret yet, but if you haven't got a stash in storage with us, there is always a great selection in the shops of mature wines at all levels.

Just recently I've been absolutely loving the new Riojas from Roberto Olivan of Tentenublo, as well as the other new wave Riojas we have stocked for a year of two (Sierra de Toloño and Artuke). Try Roberto's 'Xérico' for an introduction, and, although it is still young, his amazing Escondite del Ardacho 'Veriquete' to really show what he can do. NB these are not yellow-edged brown old over-oaked wines in the style of some Riojas or yore, but the cutting edge of the new terroir-driven growers. Read about Roberto here.

Weekend treat: Hidalgo's 'Wellington' Palo Cortado

Charles Lea