Our final review of wines for the festive season turns the spotlight onto white wines for Christmas Day lunch – or to be enjoyed at other times as the year draws to a close.
Once again, I mainly concentrate on traditional Christmas wines and, as befits the season, have been more relaxed over price points than usual.
As ever, use any available pictures to help find the wine whether they form part of a crowded shelf or appear on an on-line page.
Starting with a great value choice
While (principally Italian) pinot grigio continues to fulfil a great role as “wine for all seasons and tastes”, more serious versions are being produced in cooler parts of the world – notably in New Zealand and, for years, in Alsace.
Not least because it secured 91 points from the MW team scoring the current Lidl Wine Tour (of which it forms part), do try Alsace’s 2019 Ernest Wein Pinot Gris (£7.99 at Lidl while stocks last) with its soft, cooked apple, herb and mace flavours, lively tangerine acidity and depth that contains a hint of honey.
Now let’s go a long way west.
We now move from one of France’s driest regions to one of Spain’s wettest to catch up with an increasing trend towards premium versions of an ideal seafood companion and the undoubted star of Rias Baixas – albarino.
Ripe, with sweet edges to add impressive complexity, 2019 Paco & Lola Albarino (£10 – instead of £12 until 2 January – at Tesco) brings us zingy quince, peach and red apple flavours with turbo charged zestiness from its excellent lime and grapefruit acidity.
But then there is the traditional
Let’s drop back to France for the white Burgundy that appears on so many Yule-tide tables although not this time to the super-expensive titans of the Cȏte d’Or.
Instead, we go to what the World Atlas of Wine calls “two of the best villages” in Mȃconnais – Viré and Clessé.
I really loved the aromatic smoothness of 2018 Viré Clessé Vieilles Vignes Florent Rouve (£14 at M&S) with its morning dew fresh fruit flavours, mild oak influences and depth that combines pie crust components with a gentle chalky backdrop.
And equally traditional
When waterways were the prime way to move goods, the area surrounding Chablis was a major provider to the Paris wine trade – although the railways of course changed all that.
Now there is just one main remnant from those days but what a superstar it is – the distinctive and delicate chardonnay that is only possible this far north because of special geology around the town of Chablis.
Many fish-based Christmas dishes are successfully partnered by chablis and a good example of its charms is the soft and velvety 2019 Taste the Difference Vieilles Vignes Chablis (£15 at Sainsbury’s) with its intense apple and melon fruit, sharp lemon acidity and contrasting savoury backdrop.
But from the new world
I always enjoy the wines of New Zealand’s Dog Point operation run in Marlborough by two former stars of Cloudy Bay who have created a range of consistently good wines (including an oaked sauvignon) but, today, I want to focus on their chardonnay.
Smooth with perfectly judged oak aromas 2017 Dog Point Chardonnay (from £25 at Majestic (where stocks are low) and at other retailers) brings us rich melon, apple, tropical fruit and tangerine flavours energised by sherbet lime acidity and supported by toasty, toffee and crème fraiche texture.
A final word from me
As this is the last pre-Christmas post, it only remains for me to wish everyone a very happy Christmas (despite all the inevitable constraints) and a New Year that involves significantly fewer of those constraints.
This site attracts one of the highest levels of subscriber engagement of all UK wine websites, so thank you all so much for your continued support – and especially those who contributed to my autumn survey or joined in Zoom sessions
We shall be back in business on 14 January with our customary focus on reliable wines that do not cost a fortune.
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