Red Hill Brewery Christmas Ale, 330ML $5.50
EACH year Red Hill Brewery makes Belgian-style Christmas ale, which complements fruit puddings and ham. Its limited season means enjoying it now and it's going to be a nifty match with my fish and chips with aioli on New Year's Eve. Christmas ale is a robust and very hoppy brew, amber and cloudy with a billowy white head, fuller-bodied and really fruity with distinct spiced orange rind notes and a bitter finish. Best to enjoy it with food rather than slaking a thirst. From Red Hill Brewery, Red Hill, and cheaper in a four-pack at $20.
UP TO $40
Clover Hill Brut 2008 $35
WHEN it comes to local sparkling wine, the finest are made in Tasmania - or at least from fruit grown there. Clover Hill at Pipers River is an exceptional Aussie wine and if someone offered me a glass of this on New Year's Eve, I'd be thrilled. It has savoury characters from appealing toasty and biscuity notes to a distinct soy sauce and Vegemite flavour, yet plenty of lovely stone fruit and honeyed nuances, too. Rich without being heavy, its fine acidity drives this to a persistent long finish. Very stylish as an aperitif but a neat match to seafood canapes. From Dan Murphy's.
Bellavista Cuvee Franciacorta Brut $60
FRANCIACORTA in Italy's Lombardy region - slightly warmer than Champagne and historically younger - makes the country's finest sparkling wines. Bellavista has been at the forefront of the style. This non-vintage is chardonnay dominant and that comes through both on the palate and nose with its white floral and apple notes; there's fine acidity and freshness, too. There's a lot going on with this franciacorta, yet it's balanced with plenty of fine bead to dazzle. Bellavista is always a gorgeous drink on its own and perfect fizz to welcome in 2013. From Boccaccio Cellars.
Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2004 $75
I'M a vintage champagne fan because I love the nuances each year brings, its overall complexity and superior quality. While non-vintage is less expensive and there are plenty of good ones available, at the above price, Moet & Chandon's vintage 2004 is a steal. There's no denying vintage champagne's allure; here it's full of brioche and pain d'epice aromas, super toasty with candied lemon, quite voluptuous with plenty of plump fruit yet there's fine acidity to rein this all in. It's a stylish and refined vintage Moet. Bravo. From Nick's Wine Merchants.