From the tasting team

Team Talk: What we're drinking this holiday season

By The Tasting Team

9 Dec, 2022

The Halliday Tasting Team reveal what they'll be drinking this holiday season.

Campbell Mattinson
I always say rosé, when asked about Christmas drinking, because Australia makes so many good examples now, like the lovely new one from Bulman or the juicy Welkin by Aphelion (both 2022), though the truth is that despite such good intentions I always just end up drinking red wine, even in the hotter months, partly because I’m so rusted on and partly because you can never have too many antioxidants – or so I keep telling my liver. I’m not completely mad though so the red I drink will be in a lighter style, hopefully something like gamay by either Sorrenberg or Farr Rising (both 2021), or if I can find some, the new, wonderful and delicious Nick Spencer Amphora Shiraz Pinot Noir 2021.

James Halliday 
Champagne, riesling young and old, quality rosé at my favourite Chinese restaurant, pinot noir in all its emanations, young or old, and 30-plus year old shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. If the days are warm to hot, be very conscious of the ambient temperature for red wine (don’t hesitate to chill it). Moreover, whether white or red wine, it will change temperature in the glass if the conversation slows the rate of consumption. And on that issue, don’t overkill with the best wines in your cellar – modern Christmas celebrations more often than not will be informal situations.

Jeni Port
This summer I’m going full alternative, delving deep into Australia’s new wave grape varieties to learn more about their origins, tastes and why so many of them are going to increasingly be in our drinking future. So, I expect to be tasting a few varieties ending in a vowel, such as pecorino, aglianico, mencia, greco, and falanghina in addition to torrontés and schioppettino and more. The warmer weather is perfect for these styles which, for the most part, are medium-bodied, well-structured in acidity (whites) and tannin (reds) and perfect when it comes to food matching. And having recently re-discovered the joy of a glass or two of textural, aromatic Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie, I’ll be looking to the Loire for some relaxing drinking pleasure with my Christmas/New Year seafood.

James and Campbell selecting wines in James' cellarJames Halliday and Campbell Mattinson selecting wines in James' cellar.

Shanteh Wale
This holiday season, I'll be choosing to indulge in quality over quantity. As a new mum, those precious couple of drinks have been a long time coming this year. I’ll kick off with a magnum of Frederic Savart L' Accomplie Premier Cru to toast to family, festivities, and of course new beginnings. I'm going to throw in some Heaps Normal Quiet XPAs for present time and beach frolicking, a tasty frothy without the danger of intoxicated swimming. Win-win. And I am very much looking forward to a generous glass of Barolo or Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2004 – when you can only have a glass or two, I am looking for a red wine of detailed structure and sips to ponder and dream over. 

Ned Goodwin MW
I had the great fortune to travel to Austria and Germany during late spring. The scenery was bucolic and the agoras devoted to music, theatre and wine, enviable, particularly from the perspective of one who lives in Australia, a country regulated within an inch of lifelessness. With these memories driving me to raise a glass in devotion, celebration and hope that our new government will look beyond our borders of limbo, I will be drinking magnums of Austrian and German Riesling, each tasting of optimism. I will back these up with lakes of Rhône, Spanish and McLaren Vale’s better expressions of grenache, in addition to a plethora of Italian things, particularly the whites of Campania, the nearby aglianico of Taurasi and Vulture, lambrusco for its effusive mindlessness and Barbaresco for its graceful authority. 

Dave Brookes
In this household, riesling is always in fashion, so there will be plenty of that from crisp Clare and Eden Valley classics through to Kabinett and Spätlese styles from Germany. Grenache and lighter shiraz are the focus for the reds along with some airy European numbers – think pelaverga, poulsard and frappato with a slight chill in the fridge. In the fizzy realm, Champagne and pet-nats are in the door of the fridge and I hereby declare this year to be the "Summer of Rum" so we'll be imbibing in a few mojitos, classic daiquiris and the odd tiki classic to keep things interesting.

Jane Faulkner and Dave Brookes smiling. Dave has his arm around Jane.Tasting Team members Jane Faulkner and Dave Brookes.

Jane Faulkner
Bubbles. Crisp whites. Chilled manzanilla/fino sherry plus jugs of gin and tonic. That should cover my holiday season of drinking for a week or two. I’m a big fan of Reed & Co gin that’s made in Bright in Victoria's Alpine Valleys, especially the yuzu-flavoured Neo and their dry called Remedy, made from juniper, native citrus and gum leaves. Plus, Strangelove for the tonic. The suite of Arras bubbles are on my drinking wish-list especially the outstanding E.J.Carr late disgorged 2007 whereas Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve is my go-to non-vintage Champagne. Whites will include vermentino, greco di Tufo, carricante, Portuguese blends but mostly, Australian chardonnay.

Mike Bennie
Being Jewish, Christmas festivities are superseded by Hannukah, our Festival Of Lights. It’s an eight-day celebration that revels in the ritual of lighting candles, eating well and giving small gifts. Around all this, wine is typically consumed. I’ll be drinking Harkham Aziza’s Semillon 2021 from the Hunter Valley – textural, lemony, saline-minerally and fresh – vigneron Richie Harkham is also Jewish and produces exceptional alternative expressions from Hunter Valley staples that happen to be Kosher (certified). L’Chaim!

Philip Rich 
Given it’s likely to be another hot summer, then whatever I’ll be drinking has to be refreshing and not too alcoholic. As an alternative to gin and tonic, I’m a devotee of the yuzu spritz: premium yuzu sake in a tall glass with lots of ice and topped up with soda water. The fridge will also be stocked with dry rosé, as it’s the one wine that can handle just about any food on a warm day, and an assortment of off-dry to dry rieslings from Germany and Australia. I also like drinking gamay and Beaujolais, slightly chilled, which is the key to drinking any red wine on a hot summer’s day!