International - A winemaker's Christmas
December 10, 2020
Six winemakers share their thoughts
" Drink the wine you fancy at the time "

We asked some of the world’s top winery owners and winemakers share their food and wine pairings for their family Christmas.

Here are thoughts of famous winemakers from five wine-making continents, namely:

- Jose Zuccardi - Proprietor: Bodegas Zuccardi, Mendoza, Argentina

- Daniel Daou - Winemaker and Co-Proprietor, Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles, California, USA

- Chester Osborn - Proprietor, Chief Winemaker and Viticultralist: d’Arenberg, Maclaren Vale, South Australia

- Danie De Wet - Proprietor: De Wetshof Estate, Robertson, Western Cape, South Africa

- Sandro Boscaini - Chairman: Masi Agricola, Veneto, Italy

- Adrian Bridge - CEO: Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman, Douro Valley, Portugal

Conclusion: Christmas is a time of celebration and festivity so follow the lead of the winemakers and pair your favourite food with wines matching your joyous mood. Drink the wine you fancy at the time - whether it is traditional or not.

Philip Evins
Bailli Délégué, Great Britain

Jose Zuccardi - Proprietor: Bodegas Zuccardi, Mendoza, Argentina

Christmas is a very special time for Argentineans. Families get together to celebrate it as a great event and start planning details with enough anticipation. As in the southern hemisphere December is a month of midsummer, Christmas Eve is usually very warm; organization of the dinner is mainly focused on food preparation and beverage selection, according to the weather.

For this special dinner I would choose a recipe from my mother: the corn cake. I would accompany this traditional dish with a fresh, light, juicy wine; whether red or white. The perfect white wine option for me is Zuccardi Fósil, 100% Chardonnay from our vineyard in San Pablo at 1400 meters of elevation. Fósil is a mountain wine austere at first but gradually opens towards citrus aromas of orange peel and lemongrass, followed by notes of herbs such as sage and oregano.

My red wine option would be Zuccardi Concreto, 100% Malbec from Paraje Altamira, at 1100 meters above sea level, in the Uco Valley. This great wine is full of freshness and textures given by the calcareous soils of this place. In my opinion, this pairing works very well because the great freshness of the wine balances perfectly the sweetness of the corn, while the textures of one and the other complement each other.

Daniel Daou - Winemaker and Co-Proprietor, Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles, California, USA

Christmas is a very special time for our family and is usually celebrated Christmas Eve. Our traditional main meal is usually a leg of lamb. For an appetizer we prepare a salad with lobster and shrimp in a citrus vinaigrette.

Wine plays a big role at our Christmas Eve table. We start with a Daou Estate Sauvignon to freshen up our palate and it pairs wonderfully well with the seafood. The acidity of our Sauvignon Blanc brings out the flavours of the lobster and accentuates the citrus flavours.

For the main course I love our Daou Mayote. It is usually a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon with a little bit of Petit Verdot. The Syrah element pairs extremely well with the lamb by bringing out a spicy component. Whilst the Cabernet adds a nice texture to the meal with its wonderful tannin backbone. Finally, the petit Verdot fills the middle palate creating a symphony from beginning to end.

Finally, for our traditional “bûche de Noël (Christmas log), our Daou fortified wine based on Cabernet Sauvignon adds layers of complexity of flavours to this heavenly cake.

Chester Osborn - Proprietor, Chief Winemaker and Viticultralist: d’Arenberg, Maclaren Vale, South Australia

Christmas will involve around 16 family members for lunch. We have a sort of traditional Christmas meal starting with Coffin Bay oysters and prawns, with Champagne and sparkling d’Arenberg Pollyanna Polly NV. Followed by either roast turkey or turducken (three bird roast), ham, potato bake, and veggies.

Lovely aged d’Arenberg whites and reds paired with top equally aged European counterparts will vary. Definitely includes White Burgundy probably a Puligny-Montrachet with possibly a d’Arenberg ‘Lucky Lizard’ Chardonnay. Red Burgundy next. Maybe a Volnay with a d’Arenberg ‘Feral Fox’ Pinot Noir. Most likely followed by a d’Arenberg ‘Ironstone GSM’ and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Vieux Télégraphe. Then a d’Arenberg ‘Dead Arm’ and a Barolo.

An array of cheeses and Christmas pudding will be served with d’Arenberg Nobel Botrytis Semillon/Sauvignon and a Sauternes, perhaps Château Coutet.

Wines are presented blind, to help train the up-and-coming budding winemaking studying kids and to make sure the oldies can enjoy some gems of history.

Danie De Wet - Proprietor: De Wetshof Estate, Robertson, South Africa

Christmas usually means a visit to the coast, more specifically to our beach-house close to the most southern tip of Africa. The day starts with sparkling wine. Instead of Champagne I look to a South African Cap Classique. Graham Beck from Robertson is one of my favourite producers.

If we are lucky, our winemaker Izak de Vries and my son Johann will have been up earlier to dive wild oysters from rocks. These are among the best oysters in the world. Their succulent fatty flesh is an ideal partner to the brisk freshness of the sparkling wine.

At the table, first course could be Parma ham and sweet melon. With this, I enjoy a De Wetshof Riesling which is a gorgeous accompaniment. As an interlude before main course, De Wetshof Bon Vallon, an un-wooded Chardonnay graces the table. It is a great example of Chardonnay’s complexity in a natural state.

Main course would most likely be a roast leg of lamb. We De Wets believe that Chardonnay is an excellent accompaniment to lamb and select ‘Bateleur’ and ‘The Site’, two single-vineyard wines from our estate. These are classic wines, displaying boldness and complexity with multi-layered dimensions. Of course, I will also select some great Cape red wines, for example, Kanonkop Pinotage or Banghoek Reserve from Delaire-Graff in Stellenbosch.

Dessert-wise we love a French cheese-selection complemented by a traditional South African sweet of green-figs poached in syrup and served chilled. Here, the wines will be a De Wetshof Edel-laatoes (noble late harvest made from Riesling) and a Tawny Fortified Wine from Boplaas in the Klein Karoo region.

Sandro Boscaini - Chairman: Masi Agricola, Veneto, Italy

The Veneto in the north east of Italy is one of the most productive regions in the world. It is here that I produce wines on the Masi estates. The climate and soil allow a wide variety of wines. Some of them are well known and distributed all over the world. I am referring to:
- Prosecco, which has imposed itself for its nature as a casual and friendly sparkling wine;
- Pinot Grigio, the Italian way to a fresh, fruity, never banal white wine;
- Two classics such as Soave and Valpolicella from the hills of Verona.

Also “His Majesty” Amarone della Valpolicella, a unique and original wine thanks to the native grapes made from the ancient method of “appassimento” (drying grapes during winter months) which is responsible for its majesty and elegance.

I belong to a region that is also rich in food specialities and great gastronomic tradition. The Christmas menu is always very typical and linked to dishes that are a must of the biggest festivity of the year. They were born in history to be best matched with local wines and this is what is traditionally done. Personally, however, I also love to look elsewhere for differences and compare tastes. The great Pinot Noir is one of my passions and I do not hide my predilection for European classics rather than the equally good but different Pinot Noirs from the New World.

For my Christmas table it is paired with roast guinea fowl with a preference for a great Burgundy. Also, for wine from the Montan plateau which is known for being where the best Pinot Noir wines of South Tyrol flourish.

Wishing you a toast to a peaceful Christmas, this year unfortunately marked by the global pandemic.

Adrian Bridge - CEO: Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman, Douro Valley, Portugal

Christmas is a moment of family and friends, a moment to entertain and enjoy other people’s company.

We normally have a major drinks party with people from the local community. I always find it much easier if you have a large group to serve something that everyone will enjoy. I serve Bollinger Special Cuvée from magnums which I normally age in my cellar for ideally three years after purchase. Simple snacks such as smoked salmon on brown bread are the accompaniment.

In Portugal, the tradition is bacalhau (dried, salted cod) served on Christmas Eve. There are many ways to make bacalhau but the best is still ‘com natas’, literally ‘with cream’. Layers of cod with onions, potatoes and cream are oven baked.

It works well with a fine red wine. Something big and bold like a Quinta do Crasto Reserve Vinha Velha 2015. A great year and a wine packed with the flavours and scents of the Douro. Yet the dish works well with rich whites as well. Quinta Perdigão Encruzado 2019 might be my choice this year. Great structures and fine complexity combine with the freshness of this exciting grape variety.

Of course, a Christmas without Port would simply not work. On Christmas Eve we will serve something like Taylor’s 20-Year Tawny with say rabanadas - a cinnamon-breaded Portuguese dessert that is quite rich and fatty (once a year is OK!). The fine acidity of the Port cuts through this.

Christmas lunch must be Vintage Port, mince pies, Christmas pudding and all the other great things. This year I will be serving the Taylor’s 1985 Vintage Port. It is still fresh, plump, with some maturing leathery notes and great length. The exciting thing for me is to drink a wine that is already older than most wines ever achieve yet find that it is still full of vibrancy.


Winemakers: from top to bottom
1 - Jose Zuccardi
2 - Daniel Daou
3 - Chester Osborn
4 - Danie De Wet
5 - Sandro Boscaini
6 - Adrian Bridge