We've had great fun collaborating with our good friend and 'artist in residence' David Chandler over the last few months as he has been working on the illustrations for our bi-monthly seasonal offers.
Being both creative and technically adroit David couldn't resist cajoling me into participating in some conversations about wine ('adventures' in his parlance) that can now be downloaded as Podcasts from the iTunes store.
"In this special, holly-decked edition, Jason begins by asking David the obvious question and despite receiving the rather obvious answer, presses ahead regardless with a bumper, eight-bottle sampling of his own Christmas wine choices that is guaranteed to get even the most diehard humbug ding-dong-merrily-on-high.
Sure enough, David's soon getting teary-eyed over a pocket-sized, half-bottle of Léon Beyer, Crémant d'Alsace; a finely-bubbled, brioche-bouqueted vivifier that's perfect for incentivising the scullion on sprout-peeling duty.
With an eye to the fact that your relatives may well hang around far longer than your wine does, Jason's next suggestion is a German, Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein. At around a tenner a bottle, your feckless offspring can neck this easy-going aperitif while you're still worrying over your cranberry reduction.
Two wines in and our intrepid duo have only got as far as the smoked salmon, which Jason decides he'll pair with a 2017 Chablis, Domaine Christoph Camu. David may call it, 'Trad,' but this nervy, fruity classic has been around for a long time for good reason and this one's so desirable, your salmon will be just begging for the lemon juice.
In need of respite from the demands of meal-planning, Jason and David divert to Christmas Eve and sample a 2017 Yapp Rouge; a toothsome, mid-weight, pure cabernet sauvignon that will cheer any opportunist carollers who happen to gate-crash your silent night. Before you can say, 'Figgy pudding,' however, they're back to the big day and a beautiful Beaujolais 'Fleurie' from Alain Graillot. This racy, crunchy, floral red is Beaujolais done the right way. All you have to do is do your guinea fowl the right way, too.
With the beefeaters and mushroom munchers in mind, the gloves are off for Jason's next choice; a no-holds-barred 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 'Le Vieux Donjon.' This awesome dark fruit, cherry and tapenade, vintage wine will hush all conversation at the table and wrap even your most garrulous guest in a welcome bubble of solipsistic and appreciative contemplation.
Though David may wish to linger, Jason is bringing out the cheese already and for the first time in their podcasting history, our vinous pair enjoy the novelty of eating something to soak up all the sampling they've done. The cheese is a heady, truffle-infused Godminster cheddar which team Yapp has paired with an equally heady Château Milhau-Lacugue, 'Les Truffières.' Not quite like putting curry on your vindaloo, but a double-truffle treat for any hedonist who can't get enough of a good thing. And for those who may feel they've had quite enough of everything, Jason's last suggestion may just persuade them to linger a little longer at the table. Put away the port, stash the Sauternes; Banyuls from Domaine La Tour Vielle is a limpid, caramel-coloured, candied peel and fig, dessert wine that will stand up to Christmas pud, mince pies and chocolate whilst everyone else is falling over."