Pol Roger Brut 2002 France (12.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £59.95) Mere words are not going to be able to express how I feel about this perfect, discreet, elegant champagne from the extremely good 2002 vintage. It seemed to stop a crowded room moving around me each time I have tasted it. I can feel the clichés descending: it’s Grace Kelly, an Aston Martin – oh look, champagnes this good don’t come along often.
Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2012 Italy (5.5%, Lea & Sandeman Keep it in the family. This beautifully labelled, slightly sparkling … Moscato is a delicious treat – sweet but far from unctuous, blissfully light on its feet, gently peachy and mildly floral. A treat of a counter to the stodge of Christmas pud. This one is worth the extra money and the tracking down effort.
Durou Exception Malbec 2011 France (13.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £6.95) Made from grapes grown in the area of Cahors but declassified to Vin de France. Lovely deep violet colour, not at all brutish but a far more contemporary take on French malbec – smooth, with polished edges, but not a walkover. Nice geometry and improves when left open. Could replace your house claret – and would very likely constitute a far better deal.
Cuvée Selection Paul et Marie Jacqueson 2011, Burgundy, France (13%, Lea & Sandeman, £16.95/£15.75 by the mixed case) A one-off cuvée made by these Rully producers using bought-in fruit after they lost a chunk of their crop to hail. It’s a deliciously cushioned, ample, white burgundy, shot through with bright lemon.
Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2001 Portugal (20.5% £27.95) Brilliant port for the price, made from grapes grown on Taylor’s Vargellas estate up in the more remote wilds of the Douro.