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Red wines for Christmas

It is the happiest time of the year, so they say. For wine writers it means some sleepless nights to decide the best wines for the festive season. Christmas isn’t a time to improvise. The holiday season is all about spending time with family and friends, basking in the warm glow of the familiar. It’s the same with wine. At this time of year, I like to pull out old favourites, confident in the knowledge that I know what I’m getting and can relax and enjoy them for what they are. This year, I’ve done the work for you and sipped my way through dozens of wines to find the perfect case for the holidays…

2014 Ezousa Winery Shiraz, Pafos PGI
The colour is deep purple with ruby highlights. Directly appealing, this wine is bursting with ripe cherry and plum aromas complemented by earthy undercurrents of smoky cocoa and cola, and highlighted by traces of citrus blossom and lemon. A very smooth mouth feel glides into a long silky finish with flavours of red cherry and blackberry, hints of toasted vanilla, and a tantalising slate element. €16

2015 Zambartas Lefkada-Shiraz, PGI Limassol
They get along so well… this a bold blend of Lefkada and Shiraz. Deep garnet-purple coloured, the 2015 offers pronounced plum preserves, blueberry pie and blackberry tart notes with underlying licorice and dark chocolate hints. Medium to full bodied with a solid backbone of ripe tannins and lively acid cutting through the concentrated black fruits flavours, it finishes with persistent pepper, anise and spice box notes. €16.50

2014 Kathikas Vasilikon Winery, Methy Cabernet Sauvignon, Pafos PGI
The new, much anticipated vintage of Methy Cabernet Sauvignon is garnet in colour with a ruby red rim. It has an alluring nose of blackberry bramble, baking spices and black olive. Aromas of vanilla, cassis and sage fill the glass, revealing the influence of French oak barrel ageing. On the palate, notes of raspberry are complemented with lingering acidity and a finish of dusty, silky tannins. Given proper cellaring, this wine will provide drinking pleasure through 2024. €14

2016 Kyperounda Winery, Epos, Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah, Limassol PGI
Complex and compelling, this generous wine reflects the diversity of the great Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend. On the nose vibrant layers of red and black fruit mingle with hints of violet, dried herbs, black licorice and graphite. The flavours echo the aromas, with lovely blackcurrant and licorice elements supported by firm, impeccably balanced, tannins and an excellent structure. Good acidity helps to carry the juicy dark fruit notes through to a long, satisfying finish. Pair now with juicy Porterhouse steak and savour. €19

2011 Kolios Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pafos PGI
Deep garnet in colour and delicious from start to finish, the aromas open with the essence of jammy blackberries, a big sweet kiss of crème de cassis and opulent dark plum; there are also oak influences of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. The palate is supple, rich and voluptuous with flavours of blackcurrant and plum and has a lengthy, fruity finish. The wine’s sturdy palate pairs it well with juicy rib eye steak. €8

2012 Makkas Winery, Merlot, Pafos PGI
This Cyprus vinified Merlot combines a lovely structure and alluring appeal, a classic expression of Merlot, well close. Intense aromas of ripe cherry, plum and black fig rise from the glass underscored by hints of leather and cedar. On the palate it is lush and supple with bright acidity and velvety tannins supporting layers of raspberry and black cherry as well as hints of coffee and chocolate that carry through on the long finish. €14

2014 Tsiakkas Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Limassol PGI
Deep purple-black in colour, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon springs from the glass with lifted crème de cassis, violets and chocolate box notes plus hints of lilacs, raspberry leaves, anise and cardamom. The perfumed black fruit preserves and chocolate-laced notes completely pack the full-bodied palate with soft, velvety tannins and just enough freshness, finishing very long and very spicy. Definitely this one is for hedonists seeking immediate gratification. €12.50

2015 Fikardos Winery, Shiraz, Pafos PGI
This wine has a deep ruby-black colour with violet hints. Spicy aromas, more like dried spices, cracked pepper with scents of roasted coffee beans, blackcurrant, red fruits and licorice. A full-bodied and rich wine with lovely notes of spice, minerals, focused black raspberry and cassis, medium to full in body with fine tannins and bright acidity. Excellent with game, beef, lamb, barbecue foods, roast pork and other hearty dishes. €9

2012 Vlassides Winery Opus Artis, Syrah-Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, Limassol PGI
This wine has a brilliant deep red hue. It has a refined, fragrant and very composed character with inherent aromatic spices and a stony edge, in addition to licorice and some star anise. The fruits are in the dried-plum and dried-cherry spectrum, but this also hints at plenty of cloves, cardamom and pepper. The palate is succulent, powerful even, and really finely layered. The tannins are most definitely a feature now, and this has plenty of ageing potential. Enjoy the dark-plum and black cherry finish. Best from now and then for a decade after that. €16

2015 Argyrides Winery, Mourvedre, Limassol PGI
Hints of game and sweet tobacco on the nose with blackberry, cassis and hints of lavender on the palate. Wow… intensity, brilliant acidity and tannin structure with Mourvedre’s lush fruit flavours and texture; this is a wine that offers juicy plum, blackberry, cassis and savoury flavours with hints of wet stone. A rich, layered mouth feel and bright finish complement the intense aromas. Pairs well with chicken and chipotle sausage on sliced baguettes; mushroom and roasted red pepper pasta with feta cheese; white beans with bacon. €11.90

2014 Aes Ambelis Omeros, Maratheftiko, Limassol PGI
Fragrant aromas of ripe black cherry, plum compote, blackcurrant and herbal spice introduce the lush red and black cherry, raspberry, and black plum flavours of this remarkably sumptuous Merlot. Mouth-filling and deeply concentrated on the palate, it is perfectly balanced by bright acidity and supple, fine-grained tannins, culminating in a long, spicy, cherry-laced finish. Enjoy this delicious Merlot now or age it another five to seven years to fully savour its developing complexity. €12.50

2014 Tsangarides Winery, Maratheftiko, Limassol PGI
Tsangarides Maratheftiko is a sumptuous red wine boasting fragrant black cherry and dark plum aromas mingled with appealing vanilla, cocoa and light herbal scents. Juicy and succulent on the palate, the wine’s concentrated dark cherry, plum and cassis flavours gain a zesty tea-leaf spice tone in the long, savoury finish. Beautifully balanced with supple tannins, this Maratheftiko handsomely rewards an additional three to five years of bottle ageing. €12.50

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