Moor Hall’s Ben Robinson picks eight wines for New Year’s Eve

·5-min read
Pour one out: celebrate New Year’s Eve in style   (Pixabay)
Pour one out: celebrate New Year’s Eve in style (Pixabay)

New Year’s Eve this year is looking to be something of a subdued one; parties may be allowed to go ahead, but Covid caution is putting something of a leash on the biggest blow-outs.

Still, if there’s one night of the year to go big, it’s tonight. It has — as has been repeated ad infinitum elsewhere — been a tiresome 2021. But, with the good news of Omicron’s reduced potency, hopefully signalling the end of this Godforsaken pandemic, there is good reason to raise a cheerful glass to 2022.

Below Ben Robinson, beverage director at the acclaimed Moor Hall, shares eight of his favourite wines to see out the dying embers of this year. From fine Champagne to a low-alcohol number to stay steady on, Robinson’s picks should suit whatever the budget and whatever the plan. They should provide enough bottle to bluff your way through Auld Lang Syne, too. Happy New Year.

Champagne Chartogne Taillet, Sainte Anne Brut NV

Alexandre Chartogne produces outstanding rich and powerful champagnes and this Pinot Noir dominated blend is the perfect way to start the evening’s festivities. It would work well as an aperitif but also with your starter. The freshness of the champagne perfectly complements rich starters like oysters, foie gras, or chicken liver parfait. I would serve this chilled but taken out of the fridge for 10 minutes before serving.


Weingut Rudolf May, Silvaner Retzstadt 2017

In my opinion, Rudolf is the finest producer of this undervalued grape in all of Germany. This Silvaner has terrific exotic fruit notes balanced with laser-sharp acidity and a subtle salinity. Serve this chilled and straight from the bottle, allowing it to spend time out of the fridge for 15 minutes. It’s fresh, bright and crisp so will go perfectly with seafood dishes that might be served as a starter, like langoustines, oysters and lobster. I also love that Rudolf still uses the traditional Franken bottles for this wine.


Maison Valette, Pouilly-Fuissé Tradition 2012

This wine is a great Chardonnay from Burgundy and the estate is known for ageing its wines for extended periods, giving fantastic richness and complexity. I would suggest decanting it for 30 minutes to an hour before serving as it should be warmer than most white wines because you want those rich, nutty notes to come through. It has enough body to go with a poultry main course but also has the right textural quality to go with classic festive starters.


Borgo del Tiglio, Chardonnay ‘Selezione’ 2013

This wine offers a great alternative to Burgundy. The “Selezione” is a blend of the estate’s top parcels and barrels, bringing a wonderfully opulent and floral wine with great finesse. This should be decanted for about 45 minutes before serving and will be warmer than how you would expect to enjoy most white wines. Large balloon wine glasses will allow the floral notes to be expressed and it works particularly well with fish dishes.


Good cheer: Ben Robinson (Press Handout)
Good cheer: Ben Robinson (Press Handout)

Château Gruaud-Larose 2005

Château Gruaud-Larose is a true icon of the St Julien appellation. This wine will make an excellent centrepiece for any New Year’s Eve table. Once it has had a little time in a decanter, it truly opens up to show beautiful notes of dark chocolate and blackcurrant. Exceptionally well balanced with that signature St Julien finesse. You definitely want to decant this an hour or two before you serve it so that it can open up and show it’s true character. It’ works well alongside white meat but it would be perfect if you’re serving Beef Wellington or a rib of beef too.


Marco Porello Birbet NV

At only five per cent alcohol and lightly sparkling, this red wine from Northern Italy is seriously easy to drink. Expect notes of fresh raspberries and strawberries, which will make a fun and uplifting end to any dinner. Serve straight from the fridge and as quickly as possible. It’s exactly the sort of wine to drink while you’re playing board games but you can also enjoy it with your dessert. Its freshness would really help to lift a classic Christmas pudding, if you haven’t had enough by now.


Quinta da Romaneira LBV 2014

This LBV is from one of my favourite Port Houses and makes a beautiful addition to any cheese selection. It’s deep ruby in colour with intense dark fruit notes yet wonderfully balanced with a subtle freshness that keeps all that beautiful fruit in check. You can decant it an hour or two before drinking and it works really well with strong cheeses like Stilton or Stinking Bishop. It should be served in a small measure in a regular wine glass.


Capreolus Distillery Damson Eau de Vie 2019

Although this is strictly not wine, I couldn’t leave it out of my top 10 New Year’s Eve drinks. Barney is producing something extraordinary at his distillery in the Cotswolds and is definitely my favourite distiller at the moment. This Eau de Vie is made using 24kg of fruit for every litre of spirit so it’s packed full with beautiful damson essence. Serve it chilled straight from the fridge, either as a nightcap or as an after dinner digestif.


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