It’ll be a white Christmas thanks to these top tipples

It'll be a white Christmas thanks to these top tipples

Here he selects a trio of top dry white wines which will be perfect for special lunches or aperitifs too… .

Here’s a mixture of marvellous whites from my tasting notes (available at the time of going to print) from the high street and online that I believe would bring much-needed cheer during the ongoing pandemic and match many classic seasonal dishes. Take into consideration that most retailers offer discounts for bigger orders and frequently for mixed dozens. Read on to discover my three standout buys and my selection of the six best white wines under £10. Try these…

1) Creamy white from New Zealand that will match the roast Christmas bird plus gravy, bread sauce & roast veg

2019 The King’s Legacy Chardonnay, Marisco Vineyards, Marlborough, New Zealand (Majestic, £11.99, Mix 6, 13.5%) 

Now you’re talking! White burgundy lovers ahoy – modern premium Kiwi Chardonnay is top value and, like this one, very rewarding. Expect a loquacious palate of lemon curd, stone fruit, quince, green apple, plus just the right amount of creamy, leesy flavours along with faint notes of oak spice, orange and toasted hazelnuts. Sourced from two vineyards, this Chardonnay has some authority and a serious pulse (the Kings Series has more concentration than the top-selling Ned brand from this large Brent Marris-owned Waihopai Valley producer). A delightful wine with drinkability stamped all over it. Smoked salmon, creamy pasta, seared scallops, fish pie, fish with beurre blanc and Christmas turkey here we come.

2) After a white to match turkey? This one from South Africa is it!

2020 The Society’s Exhibition Chenin Blanc, Alheit Vineyards, Western Cape, South Africa (The Wine Society, £13.50, 13%)

This gorgeous Western Cape Chenin Blanc is a sumptuous New World festive drink. It’s versatile, fresh and stylish, with ripe stone fruit, apple skins, camomile, beeswax and so much flavour packed in, but also blessed with lively acidity. Thoroughly satisfying to drink with a wide range of foods, including prawns, poached salmon, spice-rubbed roast pork and the festive bird with all the trimmings. You can certainly see the beauty now with more to come over the next three+ years. Delicious! Join an inimitable club that has no external shareholders to please: the gift of a lifetime share of The Society costs £40 (with a £20 credit towards the first order) and is painless and easy to do.

3) Splash-out textbook limpid Chablis that’s perfect with seafood and homemade cheese gougères. Just a whiff of this will perk up your taste buds…

2018 Chablis Vieilles Vignes Les Pargues, Domaine Moreau-Naudet, Burgundy, France (Lea & Sandeman, £23.95, case of 12 price, 13.5%)  

For many wine aficionados, Christmas without Chablis – the classic steely wine of Burgundy’s northernmost vineyards in north east France – is unthinkable. All the stony and limpid premium-plus Chablis you’ll need, made from low-yielding, 50-70-year-old Chardonnay vines (yes, Chablis is Chardy!), this has the lemony tang, tell-tale expressive racy mineral and evocative oyster shell/rock pool salinity to make you chortle with cheerfulness. Les Pargues is a one-hectare lieu-dit (named site) which has a similar exposition to premiers crus Vaillons and Montmains. From ear to ear the quality is simply stupendous. Blossoms on the finish. Fermented with wild yeasts, most of the final blend was aged in old 600-litre French (steamed, not charred) barrels, hence the wood influence is extremely subtle indeed. But the X-factor and great sense of place here are both quite unmistakable: take a bow cult Chablis supremo Virginie (Mimi) Moreau!

But what to eat with it?

I caught up with Jack Chapman, Head of Private Clients at London’s fine wine merchant Lea & Sandeman (recently granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HM the Queen) to find out more:

“The most immediate and predictable pairing you’ll be offered for Chablis is seafood – with good reason, it works wonderfully. However, for a real treat, drink it with homemade cheese gougères. For the uninitiated, these are more or less little choux pastry cheese doughnuts. Incredibly easy to make and I’ll eat my shoes if they don’t quickly become a go-to dinner party snack.” À votre santé and bon appétit!

4) Special Gascon dry white for a splash out Christmas treat

2016 Le Faîte Blanc AOC Saint Mont, Producteurs Plaimont, France (Corney & Barrow, £20.95, 13.5%)

Ditching Bordeaux varieties, ever-tiptop co-op Producteurs Plaimont in SW France produce strikingly lively sweet, red and dry white table wines from characterful local grape varieties, such as this one from the first slopes of the Pyrenean foothills in the Gascon heartland of AOC Saint Mont in the Gers department. The unusual, strongly local grape mix is Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu. It has a spicy and floral bouquet and tastes of tropical fruit, pear and quince. A great food wine with a light saline riff, this is just the job for white-wine drinkers with shellfish or Christmas Day turkey sarnies. Maybe a third or fourth glass with the great turkey Boxing Day buffet too? The wine’s unusual wooden label pays tribute to the winegrowers of the past who kept their outstanding wines under the clay soil, identified by a tongue of wood. A great gift and a real find. 

Viner’s top 6 must-try festive white wines below £9

Appetising, crisp and vibrant, here are six bargain low to medium-bodied Austrian, Chilean, French and Italian whites for every occasion from quiet nights in to larger Xmas get-togethers. Stock up! Listed in order of price:

  • 2020 Chassaux et Fils Bordeaux Blanc, France (Aldi, £4.99) – great for parties!
  • 2019 Finest* Saint Mont, France (Tesco, £6.50)
  • 2020 Specially Selected French Limoux Chardonnay, France (Aldi, £6.99)
  • 2020 Gunderloch Red Stone Riesling, Germany (Co-op, £8)
  • 2020 Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc, Pierre Sauvion, France (Majestic, £8.99, Mix 6)
  • 2018 Finest* Feudi di San Gregorio, Falanghina del Sannio, Italy (Tesco, £9)

Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine 

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