Uncork one of these classic whites for Christmas…

It’s official, the big day is less than three weeks away but if you’re uncertain which festive wines to stock on for the Christmas period then let Times Drinks Editor James Viner be your guide…


From a great-value Spanish buy to a splash-out Austrian magnum, your industrious, spittoon-serving Times wine correspondent has diligently sifted through a bumper festive crop and hand-picked six stunning white wines to get your festivities flowing. Wines are listed in climbing price per cl. Happy drinking!


  1. Must-try, keenly-priced, light-bodied supermarket giveaway party white:

2021 Pagos del Rey, Marqués de los Zancos Rioja Blanco, Spain (£5, Tesco, 12.5%)

Seeking a bargain? Scoop up this ridiculously good value, fruity and lightly vanilla-scented white Rioja from Tesco. It’s immediately friendly, supreme at the price and easy to enjoy as a young wine (which will grow up fast). Just the ticket for festive parties. A gold-plated bargain festive household must-buy and a whizz with poached salmon and light chicken dishes. Try it!


  1. Canny Italian DOCG white wine from a late-ripening, ancient Campanian grape variety:

2021 Greco di Tufo, Campania, Italy (£6.99, Lidl, on its Christmas Wine Tour, 13%)

This scrumptious, unoaked Greco di Tufo – a DOCG white wine made in largely volcanic soils from the challenging, late-ripening, heat-tolerant and drought-resistant Campanian grape variety Greco – is my top pick from Lidl’s Christmas wine tour. Underpinned by crisp acidity and bolshy in length, it keeps you coming back for another sip as its captivating, refined flavours evolve. Apricot, spice, orange citrus, aniseed and dried herbs are all on offer. Roast chicken, grilled fish or seafood risotto anyone? Suave, long, fresh and keenly priced. Yum!


  1. Can’t afford Chablis? Try this Portuguese alternative made from 100% Encruzado:

2021 Specially Selected Portuguese Encruzado, Dão Portugal (£7.49, Aldi, 12.5%)

Kudos to Aldi’s wine buyers who sniff out some of Portugal’s hidden gems. Encruzado is one of the country’s finest white grape varieties. It’s principally planted in Dão, which lies on a high granite plateau in north-central Portugal (just to the south of the Douro wine region), where it makes both modest and rich, stylish wines with decent acidity and lots of body. This tiptop, mouth-filling example is characteristically fresh and interesting. Think tangy woody herbs, orchard fruits, orange blossom and a suggestion of smoke and flint. For fans of Chablis who can’t afford the French wine’s high price tag. Finishing lengthily, this is a great demonstration of the sophistication of modern Portuguese wine. Very fair price despite the recent increase from £6.99. Chill for shellfish and fish/pork stews. Delicious!


  1. A marvel from the Veneto on a tasty Christmas offer:

2019 Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy (£16.99 offer, down £5 from £21.99 until January 1, Waitrose, 12.5%)

This is a beautifully composed, textural, upmarket, floral, almondy and minerally Soave Classico with flashes of yellow fruits, white pepper and a long, gently saline, pure stony finish. The grape is late-ripening Garganega. Overflowing with moxie and energy. Sensational refreshment from one of Veneto’s best producers that can handle everything from poultry, fish pie, mild spicy dishes, sushi and grilled fish to Osso Bucco. Nab it on the offer (through January 1 ‘23). Cin cin!


  1. Refined, vivid Kiwi classic with real complexity and ageing potential:

2022 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand (£23-£27.95, Laithwaites, Ocado, Majestic, Sainsbury’s, Jeroboam’s, 13.5%)

A consistent hit, this outstanding, complex, majorly aromatic Sauvignon Blanc (SB) from New Zealand’s most famous winery is a luminous Christmas treat. Punchy fruit – think kaffir lime, lemongrass, passionfruit, green peapod, white asparagus, wet stone and nectarine – moments dart, in, out and around crunchy, limey acidity. Five per cent of the multi-vineyard SB blend was fermented in large oak vats. A long thread of enlivening acidity leads to a toothsome, lingering finish, whetting the palate for the next glass. Rapier-like of intensity, very classy and abounding with youthful vigour and zest, this is a textbook, standard-bearing, world-class Marlborough SB that will undoubtedly evolve handsomely – garnering even more complexity – in the bottle over the next several years. Try it with herby roast chicken, seafood, smoked salmon, white fish or even a Thai green curry. Check out the new, eye-catching, embossed, sustainable bottle design!


  1. Think big – a magnificent, showstopping magnum for a festive dinner party:

2019 magnum of Weingut Bründlmayer Riesling Ried Heiligenstein Lyra 1ÖTW/Erste Lage, Kamptal, Austria (£79, The Wine Society, 13%)

Only the best will do at Christmas! Bravo Weingut Bründlmayer, squarely stepping up to the mark. Exquisite, ripe, invigorating, ageworthy, palate-perking Riesling from an iconic Austrian producer and sandstone-filled, classified Erste Lage (Premier Cru) vineyard, all passionfruit, Mirabelle plum, yuzu and starfruit pizzazz, leaving the mouth as fresh as a spring day. A super choice for Asian cuisine and Christmas duck, fish, goose, pork, poultry and veal. It’s a real treat with exquisite, dry, length. Enjoy now or else cellar and forget. Don’t pour it ice cold.

This magnum is an ideal Christmas gift for a wine connoisseur as it’s built for the long haul – a truly exceptional Christmas present for the wine lover in your life.

Stuck for present ideas? £40 gets a lifetime membership to the award-winning, not-for-profit wine cooperative, The Wine Society – and it’s £20 off the first order.

Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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