The Smashing Wines concept was born in Meribel, French Alpes, on one evening over Christmas 2014 when three friends; Clément Sigaut, Tom Mayne and Rebecca Murland were enjoying a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion 2005. Three friends and one huge thing in common – the love and passion of great wine! Many conversations and many bottles of wine later, Smashing Wines was created. Smashing Wines concentrates on ‘minimal intervention’ wines – eschewing chemicals and unnecessary messing about with the wine and also focuses upon new, overlooked and small producers unavailable from anywhere else.
We start with pre-lunch fizz and Clément recommends Effervescence de Saint Clerc, a Cremant de Bordeaux that reflects this style of wine, beautiful citrus aromas with a lovely aromatic presence on the palate. Its well-balanced acidity makes this a rich, complex and well balanced wine. It is still made using the traditional Methode Champenoise but made in Bordeaux not Epernay. This bottle of fun is just £15.90 and very popular for weddings and your Christmas breakfast Bucks Fizz.
For those that insist on Champagne then the 2007 Philippe Gonet Brut hits the target at £48.00. Blanc de Blancs differs from the classic Champagne blend by being made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes so if Chardonnay is your preferred option then this Champagne is for you.
Main Course – turkey or beef
Light, turkey-friendly reds
Clément’s first option is Reuilly from Luc Tabordet in the Loire valley a great expression of the Pinot Noir, with complex red fruit aromas, pale in colour but rich in flavour for just £13.90.
The second affordable option, at £16.90, is a spicy Cote du Rhone; La Grande Ourse (‘the big plough’ a reference to the constellation) a powerful wine that will hold up to a tasty gravy as well as stronger white meats like turkey. It’s made with a blend of four grapes Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache.
One of the specialisations of Smashing Wines is to find and offer wine from small, overlooked producers and this is demonstrated aptly by their premium recommendation for a suitable wine to accompany Christmas main course; red Burgundy. At £44 the 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet from producer Domaine Billard sits at the top of an attractive range starting at around £20 for the Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Bourgogne.
Heavier reds for beef-lovers
That fillet of beef will be ideally accompanied by Talons Aiguilles (stiletto heels) from L’Ancienne Cordonnerie (the old cobbler) a young talented producer in Languedoc whose grandfather was a cobbler and who reflects this in the names and label designs for his wines. This is a delicate wine while being rich with black fruits from Carignan grapes and very popular at £12.90. Chateau Massereau a beautifully balanced 10 years old masterpiece with deep ruby, raspberry and cherry on the nose and powerful on the palate with silky, bold tannins. From Barsac in Bordeaux it is a typical Smashing wine with no added sugar or acid, filtration or other chemicals. At £18.90 it’s a snip for claret lovers. Finally to accompany your seasonal chateaubriand is Indiscrete, Tom Mayne’s top choice for a Cote Rotie (‘roasted side’) a small area in northern Rhone. It’s mainly Syrah but has 10% Viognier added – a white grape that cuts through some of the pepperiness of the Syrah – a fantastic medium/full-bodied wine. As Tom says “once you’ve tasted it you’ll be on the hunt for more”. At £49.90 it might not be every man’s daily tipple – but this is Christmas.
A white alternative
There are always those that prefer a white wine and Smashing Wines accommodates them with a selection of wines for day-to-day drinking as well as the festive season. First up is a Petit Chablis Domain D’Elise at £14.90 another small, talented wine-maker who has built a reputation in the world of eco-friendly wines. This is a classic fruity, floral, un-oaked chardonnay and good value when compared to the larger Chablis domains. The Aligote, £15.90 from Domaine Billard, offers a change of grape and is aged in oak for 10 months so it gives a stronger flavour, ideal with poultry. The final white is another barnstormer at £49.90 from Burgundy – Meursault ‘En Dressolls’ 2015 Domaine Huber-Verdereau which is aged in old oak and he only ages 60% of the wine this way so it’s very delicate and not overly oaky.
La Passonne is a Sauvignon/Semillon blend. This natural wine from Cadillac in Bordeaux is late harvested – the grapes are left on the vines before the first frosts in October as the vines take back water leaving a high level of natural sugar. No sweetness is added. At £19.90 Smashing Wines has only a limited supply so move fast on this one.
Next up Clément recommends the exclusive Chateau Massereau; a Sauternes from Barsac. Staggeringly only 600 bottles are produced each year. A friend of Cléments owns the castle and produces this precious dessert wine, often ranked above the most expensive wine in the world; Chateau d’Yquem. It’s priced between £100 – £120 a bottle depending on vintage and Smashing Wines is one of the very few places you can get this wine.
Finally for a dessert course with a difference we have a sparkling rose, medium sweet wine; Cremant de Bordeaux from Remy Breque at a very reasonable £15.90. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon its red fruit aroma goes well with chocolate, lemon or any sweet as well as providing a tasty talking point to set you up for port and Stilton as Christmas lunch slides comfortably towards supper time. Smashing Wines sells port and a wide range of gins – a spirit rising in popularity as the range of flavours increases.