When the tones of 'Good King Wenceslas' drift along the stiff breeze and make even the hardiest of Goth rockers all fuzzy inside; when setting fire to puddings isn't considered a Health and Safety risk, but a festive piece of theatre and when wearing embarrassing knitwear doesn't lead to horrific banter from your mates, but rounds of applause as you enter the room.
Christmas is the only time of the year where the conventions of the past 11 months and 2 weeks are put to one side and for 2 sweet weeks, I couldn't care less about my waistline, the strain on my overdraft or the fact I shouldn't play with my nephew's presents before I wrap them.
This exact same fact is representative of my wine choices. Working in the industry means I have a lot of good, bad and truly ugly wines within my grasp on a daily basis, but when we get to December, I look to trade up, try something new, go that extra mile in finding the perfect bottle for the 25th day. So when I got the opportunity to explore the range offered by Cadman Fine Wines in Northampton, I was on it quicker than Rudolf on a herbal nasal spray.
I did a bit of reading up on the history of this company that, in all honesty, I had seen a bit in various wine publications, but had no idea about its set-up. Founded in 2004, Cadman was the brainchild of Giles Cadman, who wanted to give people the opportunity to buy the 'the best years of the special bottles ' by the individual bottle, rather than having to splash out on the entire case, or having to stash them away for donkey's years and twiddle your thumbs in anticipation. They are an online retailer (they have offices, if you'd like to pick up bottles yourself, but no retail outlet) and ship all over the country and the world.
Drilling down into what I really wanted to know, I got stuck into discovering the range. What was going to be stashed in the secretive vaults of this place that would tempt me to part with a good wedge of money this Xmas? Turns out that they have all and everything that you could desire, from decently priced gluggers that would please any 'wine guru' neighbour that you have coming over on Boxing Day, right through to the Bobby Dazzler bottles that will leave you shoving the turkey to one side and saving space for another glass.
Top choices for the showstopper bottles are the Chateau Lalande-Borie 2005, which got a fantastic reception from the world's most famous wine critic, Robert Parker, and from a well celebrated vintage, a worthy price of £34.95 a bottle. Another one on my radar was the lovely plump and developed D'Arenberg 'The Dead Arm' Shiraz 2010, a favourite of mine from any year, but at £37.50 a bottle for something of that age, its a real steal. If you really fancy shoving a few quid into something to make your jaw drop, then go for the Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeots 2011, Pierre Bouree at £55 and take your time to wake up from your wine-induced nirvana.
However, as much as we'd all like to think that we could throw back fine Claret and sip spine-tingling vintage Champagne everyday for the rest of our lives, its good that they also do some more moderately priced wines that you can chug on without the guilt trip. I was given the opportunity to try their two best selling lines from their everyday range, starting with the Jose Pariente Verdejo 2013 from Spain, priced at £11.25 a bottle. A light lemon colour, with flecks of green, this was a classic Rueda wine. Flashes of clementine, peach and confected lemon on the nose drew me in to a slurp which was balanced and fruity. It would take a lot for me not to like a white from this region, but this was still a mighty tasty wine. For the red, I was treated to the Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux 2013, priced at £10.79, from the south of France. A chunky purple colour, it had a lot of weight of fruit in the nose, with some gutsy earthy spice wrapped around morello cherries and tart blackcurrants in the mouth. A winter wine to take the chill off your bones if there ever was one. They also do a vast array of other good daily drinking drops from Italian Trebbianos, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and Malbec from the smaller regions of France to keep your eyes and tastebuds hooked.
So, this Christmas, look beyond the well trodden high street fair and seek out some gems off the beaten track. You may just find something to jingle your bells and deck your halls...
If you'd like to discover Cadman's wines for yourself, log yourself onto www.cadmanfinewines.co.uk and explore.