Goose has a reputation for being difficult to match to wine. I really don't think it is.
I always roast a goose at Christmas and usually on one or two other occasions during the year (I did one in November in southwest France). So that’s quite a lot of roast geese and accompanying wines over the last 25+ years. I've tried various stuffings, but the recipe I return to for Christmas, because it's always popular, is a rich, flavoursome one that includes chestnuts, prunes, sausage, herbs and spices (here’s the recipe). With last month’s goose, we had a 19-year-old Navarra Reserva: the Tempranillo-based Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Viña Viejas Reserva 1998. I thought it might be fading and not up to the bird, but it was a lovely mature wine and an impeccable match. I haven’t decided what we’re going to drink with the goose at Christmas this year, but this is how I approach the choice of wine:
• Red, full, mature and really good, Old World or New.
• Depth of flavour is important.
• You don't want obtrusive young tannins - they don't work.
• The exception to the age 'rule' is Pinot Noir, but Burgundy, mature or otherwise, isn’t easy unless from a particularly ripe vintage.
• Burgundy is also easily overpowered by rich stuffings (prune, apple, chestnut, bacon, spices et al) and by gravies enriched with sweet Madeira or Marsala. One notable Burgundy success was a mature Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru.
• With New World Pinot Noirs, I’ve had good matches with Felton Road (Central Otago, New Zealand) and Marimar Estate (Russian River Valley, California) but less success with the more Burgundian-style Rippon, also from Central Otago.
• Apple sauce and braised red cabbage with apple and port can be wine killers, but that doesn't stop me doing red cabbage in some years (it's so helpful to have a forgiving vegetable dish cooked in advance).
• Mature reds that have worked very well have included:
Penfolds Grange (Shiraz, Barossa, Australia) several times (try any complex, mature, Shiraz-based red), Tim Adams The Fergus (Clare Valley Shiraz), Pesquera and other Ribera del Duero (Spain), Mas de Daumas Gassac (Cabernet Sauvignon-based, Hérault, Languedoc), Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 30-year-old Chateau Musar (Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhône varieties, Lebanon), 30+ years Torres Mas La Plana (Cabernet Sauvignon, Penedes, Spain), Masi and Allegrini Amarones (Valpolicella, Italy), in 2011 a spell-binding magnum of 1999 Serego Alighieri Valpolicella Classico Superiore (a special 650th anniversary bottling), Pio Cesare Barolo 2005 (one of last Christmas’s choices and a better match than I was expecting) and the Gran Feudo Viñas Viejas Reserva (Navarra, Spain) mentioned above.
• I'm wary of Bordeaux when serving rich stuffings, gravy and other accompaniments, but Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf 1989 and 1990 worked well at 20 years old (both notably ripe vintages of this Saint-Emilion) and 1986 Château Mouton-Rothschild at 25 years old was a success – more so than I was expecting.
• Alsace Pinot Gris and Pfalz Riesling Spätlese can work, especially with a fruity stuffing, but I prefer to drink red with goose.