Our Guide to Oxidative Wines for Christmas
We love opening a bottle of special oxidative wine at Christmas. Wines made under flor are the perfect accompaniment to cheese with all those dark and umami flavours. These heavy, rich and often spicy wines really suit the season. Here is a guide to some of our favourites;
THE ULTIMATE CHOICE
Jura is one of the most renowned regions for oxidative wine, mainly thanks to its specialty Vin Jaune. This is a rich and opulent white wine made from the Savagnin grape variety in barrels that were not topped up. As wine slowly evaporates, this leaves space for a bacterial layer of dead yeast to form on top of the surface of the wine. This is known as flor and it imparts unique flavours and texture to the wine. To use the term 'Vin Jaune' (yellow wine), the wine must be aged for a minimum of 6 years under this 'veil' of flor. We have been keeping this 20212 vintage from Domaine de la Borde in Arbois Pupillin for a few years in the cellar. Pair with Comté cheese and walnuts for one of the most amazing taste experiences you are ever likely to have.
THE NEXT BEST THING
For a 'baby Vin Jaune' option you can go with Domaine de la Borde - Les Ecrins 2016 which has been aged for 4 years under flor. Slightly more affordable and still plenty of body, richness and complexity.
Les Dolomies - La Chaux 2018 is another Jura option but this time using Chardonnay grapes. Much less intense on the oxidative side but that doesn't take away from the complexity.
Not a million miles from Jura, La Ferme des Sept Lunes - Lunatik Lady Land 2015 is an amazing, oxidative expression of Marsanne and Rousanne grapes from the Northern Rhône. We have aged this unique natural wine for a couple of years now which has taken the complexity to another level. Great value for money too.
ONE OF A KIND OXIDATIVE WINES FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN
The Sherry region of Andalusia in southern Spain is another region famous for oxidative wine. Fernando Angulo in Sanlucar de Barrameda has garnered quite a reputation for himself by producing unfortified oxdiative wines only when flor naturally occurs. He uses nothing artificial to encourage this process and if the veil does not develop, he produces sparkling wine instead. Fernando Angulo - La Charanga Flor 2021 is an example of one of the successful flor years. A unique sherry style wine without the alcohol fortification. Saline with flavours of almond and citrus.
Barranco Oscuro is a winery in the eastern part of Andalusia near the city of Granada. Manuel Valenzuela is one of the first natural winemakers in Spain and has been creating unique and exciting bottles in the Aplujarra since 1984. Barranco Oscuro - XP NV is 4 vintages of Pedro Ximenez made under flor, blended together. For us this amazing and unique wine sits somewhere between a white Jura wine and a top notch fino sherry. Very good value for such a special cuvée which makes a great accompaniment to fish.
Finally, we head to Sicily for an example of how Marsala used to be! Nino Barraco - Catarratto Altogrado 2015 is an unfortified style of the famous wine which was common prior to the explosion of the UK export market. Made from overripe Catarratto grapes, you expect dried fruit and nutty flavours. Another special bottle for the winter season.
DIPPING YOUR TOE IN OXIDATIVE WINE
All of these options display mild oxidative characteristics. Umami notes and developed or 'bruised' fruit notes will be present but they aren't front and centre of the experience. Good bottles for those who are new to this style of wine.
Chevassu - Chardonnay Sous Voile 2018 (Another Jura option with lighter savoury notes)
Clos Lentiscus - Perill Blanc 2020 (Xarel Lo from Penedès in Catalunya with flavours of lemon, lime and green olive)
Constantina Sotelo - Flor de Sotelo 2018 (Unique and complex Albariño from Rias Baixas made under a layer of flor)