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Helping to select the best wines for your Christmas dinner

Traditionalists will suggest Chardonnay or Pinot Noir and I would agree.

If you would like New World Chardonnay you could not go wrong with Sbragia Gamble Ranch Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay from Napa Valley.

Ed Sbragia is the only winemaker in the world to have had the distinction of not only a white wine, but also a red, placing No 1 wine of the year on the Wine Spectator’s annual top-100 list.

This was in the days when he headed up the wine team at Beringer. When we visited Ed and his wife earlier this year, I tasted this wine and was bowled over by its beauty.

Parker rated it 94/100 and wrote: “Sbragia has always demonstrated a Midas touch with Chardonnay and this is apparent with the magnificent 2010 Gamble Ranch.” This wine would just fly with the turkey at a cost to you of $50.65.

If you wish to source from the birth-place of Chardonnay then may I suggest the Chassagne Montrachet 2012 from the biodynamically farmed vineyards of Joseph Drouhin.

Even though white Burgundy can age beautifully for many years, this particular vintage is attractive now with such good fruitiness, fine balance and richness.

It is bright and intense with flavours of pear, white flowers, mint and a palate-cleansing lively acidity, and is priced at $61.45.

Last week we served the Hospice de Beaune Cuvee Guigone de Salins 2010 to a group of about one hundred at a formal dinner.

There were quite a few wines but I think it fair to say that this Pinot Noir was one of the top hits of the evening. The Hospice was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin (his wife was Guigone de Salins) to nurture and care for the poor and over the years wonderful vineyards have been willed to it.

Every November an auction is held and we bid on two barrels (300 bottles each) of the 2010 vintage. This one has velvety tannins with delicate ripe and sweet fruit and it already is at a point where it’s most enjoyable. $69.50.

Another certified organic and biodynamic farmer, this time in the Carneros District of Napa Valley, is Robert Sinskey and his 2009 Pinot Noir is seamlessly balanced with cherry and forest floor aromas, rose petals, baking spices, black tea, vanilla and tangy acidity. It is quite exquisite at $49.80.

Dare I say that there is one in our home that is not the No 1 fan of Pinot Noir and in the interest of harmony I will probably also serve a quite well aged Bordeaux as they can be a splendid accompaniment to roast turkey.

Take for instance the 2004 Chateau Palmer from Margaux. As you know, a little less than one per cent of all Chateau wines in Bordeaux were classified into five groups back in 1855.

Palmer was placed in the third and today it is often said that “Palmer is the most expensive Third Growth, but the least expensive First Growth”. In other words over the past 159 years it has been elevated to the likes of Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothchild, Margaux and Haut Brion, all of which are the Great First Growths.

I became a devoted fan during a dinner in Bordeaux some years ago when the Sichel family (part owners) generously opened two imperials of the classic 1982 vintage. A six litre, or eight bottle Imperial is the largest size produced in Bordeaux.

The 2004 Palmer should show extremely well now. I do not remember trying it but I rely on Parker who notes “licorice, crème de cassis, smoked and grilled meats are found in this pure, rich, fat Margaux.

“Classically structured, medium-bodied, long and firmly tannic it should peak between 2010 – 2025”. It is priced at $186.20.

I have really enjoyed your contacts and comments over the past year and do sincerely hope that you all have a wonderful and memorable Christmas time.

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.