I love being surprised by wine, trying new things and finding new wines I enjoy. Christmas should be a perfect opportunity for doing so, but one of the downsides of being ‘the wine buff’ is that I get charged with choosing the wine for dinner. That’s easy enough if I’m choosing wine for me, but when choosing for a range of people I always feel the urge to play safe. That’ll be me with the Champagne, Sauternes, Port …
This year I’ve been trying out a few alternatives. At least I can enjoy them even if they’re still sitting unopened on the sideboard on Boxing Day. I gave a Greek sweet wine a go this week on a recommendation. It was Imperial Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne de Patras. They may want to rethink the name before aiming for the mass market.
It looks brown and green, like tawny port, and has thick gloopy legs. It smells of figs and nuts with treacle and raisins. It’s sweet, but not cloying, the acidity cuts through the sugar. It tastes of coffee and cocoa and muscovado sugar, with figs and prunes and toffee. It has a long sweet finish, and it’s surprisingly high in alcohol at 15%.
This is an unusual wine, and a good one. It’s carefully made and spends eight years in big wooden casks sitting out in the Greek sun. If this was Port you’d pay £20 for it. If it was French you’d pay much more, but at £6 a bottle this is offensively cheap. I might just keep this one for myself.