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Indie merchants share favourite Xmas wines and look ahead to 2020

Published:  13 November, 2019

Merchants across the country will be pushing bubbly, Port, Rioja and other Christmas classics this festive season, but before they lock up on Christmas eve what will they be grabbing for their own celebrations?

We quizzed indies up and down the country to find out what they’ll be getting stuck into this Christmas from the comfort of their own homes, and also asked them to look ahead to 2020 and share their hopes and fears for the new year.

Emily Silva, Oxford Wine Company

“After a (hopefully) manic week manning our shops over the week running up to Christmas, I will be just about ready to collapse! A glass of bubbly in front of the fire, probably in my pyjamas will be just the thing – probably the Rathfinny Blanc de Noirs, which is tasting just gorgeous!

“My hopes for 2020 are that the trends towards drinking less but better wine, along with the more adventurous attitudes of the public, continue. I also hope that we hang on to the very talented team we have at OWC! Most fears are, I’m afraid, Brexit related!”

Sam Howard, HarperWells, Norwich

“This year will be a rarity, I recently unearthed a private cellar we are brokering, that is crammed full of hidden gems from a bygone era. I managed to squirrel away a bottle from both my wife and my birth year; a 1976 Mouton Rothschild. Back up bottles are likely to be South African - JH Meyer's Pinot Noir and Duncan Savage’s Savage White are likely to feature.

“Hopes for 2020: that the broadening of interest in fine wines away from simply the first growths continues, that the brokerage opportunities and upswing in private cellars continues. I fear that my hopes for a change in the financial pressure on the pound, the lowering of wine duty, and a reduction in business rates will not be a priority for a new administration, but failing that I hope we can return to a broad spectrum of policies rather than a single issue.”

Phil Innes, Loki, Birmingham

“If I am not ill as has been a Christmas tradition for the last three years, I usually start with a bottle of Champagne in bed (Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve) - as with many people, I usually end up going quite traditional so probably I'll be opening white Burgundy and red Bordeaux.

“Here's hoping everyone forgets about Brexit and I never hear the word again.”

Greg Sherwood MW, Handford Wines, London

“I used to try so hard to only drink posh classical wines for Xmas. But then I decided that the wines that I enjoyed the most where some pretty small, petit wines from the Loire, South Africa and places off the beaten track like Tenerife. In the end, my final selection will probably be a few bottles of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018 with our smoked salmon starter, a white Burgundy option along with an old vine Chenin Blanc from someone like Naude Family Wines, followed by a classic red Burgundy with a little bit of age but then balanced by a richer, riper, more youthful wine like Abrie Beeslaar Pinotage 2015 or an older Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1994. All washed down with both a vintage tawny Port like the 20 or 30 year-old from Grahams as well as a vintage Port like 1970 Dows or perhaps a Niepoort 1977!

“My fears for 2020 are people sitting on their hands, consumers sitting on their hands and buying tentatively even though they might have lots of money. It’s all about sentiment as everyone knows. We hope... well, like all businesses, that we get Brexit sorted one way or the other and that people can focus again on restocking their cellars and enjoying life!”

Ryan Condon, Old Chapel Cellars, Truro

“This year, at Christmas I will be drinking white Bordeaux (Chateau Haut Pougnan Blanc 2018 and Chateau Saransot Dupre Blanc 2018), red Bordeaux (Chateau Grandis Haut Medoc 2010 and Chateau Haut Beycheville Gloria 2014), German Riesling (Hanewald-Schwerdt Auf der Pochel 2017) and some new world wines too: The Scoundrel Magpie Estates 2018 Barossa Shiraz/Grenache, Judas Blend 2014 Bodega Sottano and Mountford Estate The Gradient 2010 Pinot Noir.

“Hopes and fears for 2020 - to implement wine education and grow the events side of the business. My fears are over the uncertainty of Brexit (surprise, surprise).”

Sam Owens, Thirsty, Cambridge

“I'll be drinking something from Oz as that's where I'll be! Perhaps an old Hunter Semillon. Or a Mornington Pinot Noir. And deffo some chilled sparkling Shiraz!

“Fears for next year? It's still got to be all about Brexit, hasn't it? Can't see this wretched genie being stuffed back in its bottle any time soon...”

Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wine, Peterborough

“I’ll be enjoying the full spectrum of different things; it is the time of year to try lots of different things.

“2020 will hopefully have some political stability and the UK will rock and roll.”