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What producers are drinking this Christmas

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After many of us were not able to see extended family and friends over Christmas last year, this festive break will seem that much more special. We caught up with some of our favourite winemakers and distillers and asked them what top bottles they will be opening to celebrate this Christmas – and why

Claude Giraud (owner of Champagne Henri Giraud) – 1999 La Romanée-Conti, Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

“We always spend Christmas with the family and everyone brings a bottle they want to share. This bottle is first and foremost a Grand Cru of Pinot Noir, and we love the Grands Crus of Pinot Noir in both Champagne and Burgundy. Following a bottle of our own Grand Cru – Hommage au Pinot Noir and an MV10 Champagne, of which both would have benefited from a few years of aging, I will serve the Romanée-Conti. I like to drink these wines quite early in the meal, their fragrance, their voluptuousness, and their precision make me happy to continue the meal. This bottle is also a memory of the person who gave it to me on one of my trips to Japan. I will call my friend on this occasion. Because wine is that – beyond a taste, it's a story, a bond of friendship, a touch of humanity that we so badly need for these end of year celebrations.”

Sébastien le Golvet (winemaker at Champagne Henri Giraud) – 2011 Único, Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero

“Christmas with the family at the Girauds is a string of bottles, each more extraordinary than the last. Thanks to my wife Anne (one of Claude Giraud's daughters) I had the chance to discover some great wines. These wines inspire me every day when I am in the vineyards or in the cellar. They make me want to surpass myself and always go further in precision and excellence. Vega Sicilia is one of those first great Spanish wines which made a deep impression on me. I like them old, after 20 years, 30 or more because this is really where Vega Sicilia fully expresses itself. And then I recently drank in Mexico a bottle of 2011 Vega Sicilia and I was amazed. It is so young and already so beautiful! I told myself that I couldn't keep this secret to myself, I wanted to share it with my family. So, coming back from this trip, I immediately put some in my cellar. And the first bottle will be for Christmas.”

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Sébastien le Golvet

Tod Mostero (Dominus) – 2005 Riesling Auslese, Graacher Himmelreich, Joh. Jos. Prüm, Mosel

“It is finally feeling cold enough here for the subtle fruit and mineral shades of a Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Auslese 2005, which may pair well with a grape and quail dish I love at Christmas time. I like to travel in my mind and tell stories with my family at the holidays. This bottle was offered to me by Michael Grimm (our distributor in Germany) and his family shortly after I returned to California in 2007. He and his family have become close over the years. I will also remember Bordeaux, my spiritual family in Libourne, and the gravelly earth and creamy tones of Pomerol soils with a 1982 La Fleur-Pétrus or the pillar of beauty, 2009 Trotanoy – bottles offered to me by Christian Moueix to celebrate the end of year. It is fun to pour a wine and talk to loved ones of the people and places in the bottle.”

Gaia Gaja (Gaja) – 1961 Barbaresco, Gaja

“This Christmas more than ever the family will gather in full, at my parents' house to celebrate Christmas together. I can’t wait. It will be a long day of celebration, cooking and enjoying each other’s company. Several wines will accompany us throughout the day and surely will be inspiring to the memories. In particular, I am excited to share a magnum of Barbaresco 1961 because this year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of my father’s great career and this wine was his first step – the first vintage made by him when he was just 21!”

Thomas Duroux (Ch. Palmer) – 2009 Malvasia delle Lipari Passito, Caravaglio, Sicily

“In July 2011, I went for the first time to Salina, one of the seven Aeolian Islands. I had a little knowledge of the wines produced there but I did not know Antonino Caravaglio. We spent a lot of time together and I had a chance to taste several Malvasia from his estate. I took the hydro-foil ferry back to Sicily along with six bottles of his 2009 Malvasia delle Lipari. This sweet wine, made with dried berries from Malvasia grape variety develop extraordinary aromas with age, such as rosemary bush and dried apricot. This is really something that does not exist anywhere else. I plan to open the first bottle this Christmas and this wine will be my second daughter Gabrielle’s, born in 2009, first sip of wine!”

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Thomas Duroux

Chris Riesbeck (Westland Distillery) – Garryana Edition 6

“For the holidays, I love to go with big Sherried malts during the colder months – our latest Garryana Edition 6 is just absolutely wonderful. It combines what I love in Sherry (dried fruits) with classic Garry Oak notes of ginger, clove, barbecue smoke. We used quite a bit of ex-Calvados and fruit brandy casks as well, so it’s this fantastic bouquet of candied fruit and smoke (not peat). Aside from that, I have a running obsession with large format (three-litre for the win!) during the holidays. It’s such a fun treat to share those sorts of things with loved ones. This year I’ve pulled a three-litre bottle of Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois 2017 out of the cellar to celebrate.”

Francesco Ripaccioli (Canalicchio di Sopra) – 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva, Vigna del Sorbo, Fontodi

“One of the bottles that I will definitely open this Christmas will be Fontodi’s Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo 2013 in magnum. This bottle is so special for me for many reasons, for sure it is one of the greatest wines I ever tried, but behind this, there is a family (the Manetti family) and a man, Giovanni Manetti, who at the beginning of my journey in the world of wine was a great sponsor for me, granting me his friendship and his continuous support. Fontodi has been, and still is today the greatest example of how a family-run estate can stay local, while thinking global. I love the 2013 vintage in all of Tuscany and also Piedmont. The wines mature very slow and this is the sign for me of a great vintage. But we can now already start to enjoy something from it for sure.”

Frédéric Weber (Bouchard Père & Fils) – 1999 Beaune-Grèves, Premier Cru, Le Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Bouchard Père & Fils

“Christmas day is the perfect day to celebrate this wine, so it is an easy choice for me. This is a great wine, from an appellation that today is still too underrated. Historically the top wines from Beaune were the most expensive in Burgundy and can compete with some of the finest. I have chosen 1999 because this was in fact the first bottle I bought from the domaine when I joined Bouchard in 2002. It is a fantastic vintage for Burgundy and is drinking beautifully now. I am looking forward to sharing it with my family this Christmas.”

Rebecca Jago (The Last Drop) – The Last Drop Très Vieux Pineau des Charentes

“This Christmas, we’ll be opening a magnum of Pol Roger I was kindly given last year but further lockdown meant we just didn’t have the company to drink it all! We have a mix of family and friends for Christmas Day and we’ll open a bottle of Newton’s unfiltered Chardonnay (my husband’s favourite), and some Ch. Talbot 2000. And, with the Christmas pudding, I’ll be opening my bottle of our incredible 100-year-old Pineau des Charentes: I can’t wait to share it with our loved ones. As evening falls, a small glass of Tom’s Blend No 1 for a moment of quiet reflection and memories of my much-missed parents.”

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Rebecca Jago

Martin Donatsch (Donatsch) – 2016 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, Honivogl, Franz Hirtzberger, Wachau

“My motto: It's better to drink a few great wines than to unwrap a lot of presents. Unfortunately, it will be a sad Christmas for us, as it will be the first without my mum. She sadly passed away in the summer after a hard fight with cancer. So, we will be drinking one of her favourite wines in her memory. She loved Grüner Veltliner from Austria, so there will certainly be a Honivogl from our friends Hirtzbergers in the Wachau, which my mother loved so much. For red wine we will have some of our favourites, a 2011 Romanée-Saint-Vivant from Romanée-Conti and a 1989 Haut-Brion. Noblet and Delmas were for us the best cellarmasters ever on this planet. They both inspire me again and again when I drink their wines. For the sweet end, it will be Yquem again... I drink Yquem maybe three or four times a year. But at Christmas, this world-class sweet wine is always a must! Which vintages we open, I decide spontaneously shortly before Christmas but I’m thinking it will most likely be 1999.”

David Stewart MBE (The Balvenie) – Balvenie PortWood 21 Year Old

"I would probably have a couple of glasses of white wine, generally a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. We've visited a number of vineyards near Cape Town in Stellenbosch. In the evening I would pour myself a couple of drams of Balvenie PortWood 21YO, my favourite, whilst watching Call the Midwife."

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