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My Top Choices for Christmas Whites

White wine can come in various forms but here is a selection that should work well for Christmas – and even includes one rosé.

After our look at red wines last week, it is time consider white wines of elegance and grace to enhance your Christmas.

This is not just a list of carefully chosen recommendations but also insights into why those wines are good options.

From classy chardonnay to aromatic sauvignon, most palates should be catered for.

So should most budgets – although it is normal to loosen purse strings a little at this time of year.

Do remember, though, not to overchill these wines.

While sauvignon and sparkling wines are OK a little above fridge temperatures (say at around 7°C) chardonnay is usually best around 10°C – above most domestic fridge temperatures.

But today is not just about tasting these wines, use some of them as gifts that are sure to impress friends and family.

The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.

Starting in New Zealand

2022 Extra Special Awatere New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£10.75 at Asda and 13% abv):

Of all Marlborough’s sub-regions, the Awatere Valley has acquired a high reputation for acidic vibrancy and the herbal influences of the sauvignon blanc it produces.

See for yourselves how successfully it works with this nicely configured example that is well priced for New Zealand sauvignon at this level.

Mineral influenced and more restrained than many Marlborough sauvignons, it has soft apple, peach and ripe melon flavours.

These are supported by tropical fruit aromas, sharp grapefruit acidity and a tangerine, pea shoot and green herb centred texture.

And by way of comparison.

2022 Joseph Mellot Sincérité Sauvignon Blanc (from £13.99 at Laithwaites and 12.5%):

As prices for the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly push steadily upwards, sauvignon from further down the Loire Valley starts to gain a following.

It may be worth comparing this wine with the one previously recommended to get a fix on how New Zealand and Northern France versions differ.

Similarly subdued but with exceptional clarity, this one delivers gooseberry, melon and bell pepper flavours with sherbet lemon acidity

That foundation is made even more attractive by the and a fresh, clean, mouthfeel on display here.

Always the bridesmaid

2020 Edouard Delaunay Bourgogne Aligoté (£23.40 at Honest Grapes and 13%);

Overshadowed by the magnificence of top level chardonnay- based white Burgundy, it is easy to downplay the delights the region’s No.2 grape (aligote) can provide.

For sure, it can match neither the versatility of chardonnay nor its aging potential, but aligoté is enjoyably fresh, crisp and deceptively stylish.

Sophisticated and smooth, this one exhibits pear, peach and baked apple flavours with lingering adroitly oaked toastiness.

All that is partnered here by lively citrus acidity, a creamy texture with traces of vanilla and orange peel.  

Onto chardonnay itself

2022 Robert Oatley Semaphore Chardonnay (£10.50 at the Co-op and 12.5%):

Having been successfully involved in the wine trade for 50+ years, Robert Oatley now has winemaking operations in three different parts of Australia.

This enables his people to combine fruit from different parts (which I believe has been done here) to fine tune things so as to achieve the required result.

Nutty but with subdued aromas, this subtle but classy result features smoky medium bodied red apple and nectarine flavours.

Accompanying constituents include pithy grapefruit acidity that is skilfully balanced with hints of fudge.

Again contrasting new world and French versions.

2022 Esprit de Siléne Chardonnay (£11.95 at the Co-op and 14%):

 If Robert Oatley has a reputation for his Australian wines, then Jean Claude Mas is similarly acclaimed for this Languedoc wines.  

Here J-C uses fruit from his vineyards in the Limoux where conditions are ideally suited to chardonnay production.

White gold in colour but with good depth, this is wine I have praised before, but its intense tropical fruit and ripe pear flavours continue to impress.

It also contains well-judged lemon acidity supplemented by suggestions of minerality and a well toasted butter, almond and caramel finish.

Now stepping up a gear

2021 Pierre Vessigaud Pouilly Fuissé (£22 in M&S stores but do check price and availability) and 13.5%:

Well, we do know that areas like Pouilly Fuissé provide tasty, great value chardonnay without hitting the supreme heights of Cȏte d’Or, but this guy is rather special.

So many positives are at work here – 55+ year old vines, wild yeasts, oak fermentation and 12 months barrel maturation.

Yellow in colour and velvety smooth, it exhibits elegant red apple, ripe melon and apricot flavours enlivened by grapefruit acidity.

Subsidiary influences that hit the palate include vanilla, caramel, chalkiness and nuts, all built into an overall richness supercharged by oaky aromas.  

Next we head to Alsace.

2022 Best Alsace Pinot Gris (£10 at Morrisons and 13%):

While Alsace is normally associated with riesling ang gewurztraminer, never underestimate the quality of the pinot gris produced there.

Often vinified in a dry style, this example from Turckheim has a little more sweetness making it a versatile and food-friendly option.  

Perfumed and just off-dry, it brings us bright honey, ripe pear and apricot flavours and is slightly weightier than versions from other parts of the world.

Those components integrate well with the wine’s soft but rounded herbal, almond and mineral hints and clean acidic verve.

And a top level riesling.

2022 Hardys HRB. Riesling £20 at Tesco and 12.5%)

Once again, we see grapes from different Australian regions brought together to create wine that reflects the strengths of all areas involved – this time it is Tasmania and South Australia’s Clare Valley.

The result is an astoundingly good riesling that fully justifies its price label.

Although its opens with those classic, mildly kerosene based aromas, here, they are much more constrained on the palate.

They are merely a backdrop to the wine’s green apple and pineapple flavours that are coupled with zesty lime acidity and a long, sherbet infused texture.  

Now for the luxury level choice

2022 Santo Wines Assyrtiko (£22.40 at VINVM and 13%):  

Greek wines are getting more of a foot-hold in the UK and few have generated more enthusiasm than assyrtiko (once described as “chablis on steroids”).

Versions have emerged from all over the country, but the gold standard offerings are from Santorini – where traditional winemaking expertise and a volcanic geology seem ideally suited to the grape.

Smooth and beautifully integrated, it delivers tongue tingling red apple, melon and white peach flavours.

It works best at the top end of the white wine temperature range (say, 12-13°C) where its clean lines, grapefruit acidity and gentle mineral background all show at their best.

Let’s finish up in the pink

2022 Tavel Cuvée Prima Donna Rosé, Domaine Maby (£14.50 at The Wine Society and 14.5%):

Accepted wisdom says that the darker the rosé the sweeter it is – so normally you should head  for the and palest one available.

However, nobody told the winemakers of Tavel in the Rhȏne Valley – where their rosé is complex, age-worthy, food-friendly and ….  deep pink.

 Raspberry coloured with real depth, this example is firmly based on racy blackcurrant and grapefruit flavours.

Freshness comes from its sharp orange acidity which is pleasantly complemented by spicy touches and a suspicion of mint.

More News from Eddie

“As Morrisons 25% off buy 6 offer finishes on the 12th, the latest information is that 25% off buy 6 bottles at Sainsbury’s continues, and they have extended the time limit to 19th December. Tesco still go until the 17th.

Fast-and-furious stuff just now – and to a greater extent difficult to track as it changes day on day with shelf price reductions attaching to the possible multi buy deals.

Tesco Clubcard is particularly good on this double-dipping, à la that Eglise Saint-Jaques, Bergerac, that goes £7 to £6 to £4.50, and will delight all who enjoy a traditional Bordeaux blend.

Add to that the other major retail outlets like Lidl offer some limited money-off items on their Plus Card app.

But there are some substantial reductions on a series of bottles being offered  week-on-week at Aldi, none more so than this one that’s attracting a lot of press comment.

Aldi will sell bottles of critically-acclaimed wine for £3.49 (msn.com)

It goes from Monday 11th and is bound to be very popular with a massive £5.50 off. Cairanne Cru des Côtes du Rhône is way greater than the actual asking price this week of £3.49!

It will be hard not to want a couple of bottles when this wine has such provenance. I say a couple because it seems 2 bottles per person is all we can have per transaction.

That won’t stop those desperate to have more who will have to pay a couple of visits back to the car and return for  further purchases!

Interesting how so many ”old fashioned” French wine styles, and traditional bottles like this Rhône GSM, are grabbing centre stage just now. Why not … it gladdens my heart …”

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29 Responses

  1. Brian .. apologies for cutting across the main thrust of your posting today but following on from the published information above I stumbled on this late yesterday afternoon that’s an extension to the Aldi Cairanne CduR reduction and the massive press promotion happening currently.

    Seems there are more than 70 bottles called Aldi’s Specially Selected wine that will be slashed by 25% in a sale lasting from December 11 until December 24, giving shoppers plenty of time to stock up.

    Well that’s a Xmas bonus if ever there was one even though the actual Cairanne deal only lasts a week and we might be lucky to get some depending on how much they have.

    That’s because featuring in those 70 bottles there are so many favourites spoken about in the past by yourself and MWW subscribers.

    We all know Aldi are cheap but 25% off some of these bottles could make for an extraordinarily Merry Xmas.

    Here is one link that might work on a click, or can be copied and pasted …

    ALDI CUTS PRICE OF OVER 70 WINES IN BIGGEST-EVER PRICE DROP – ALDI UK Press Office (aldipresscentre.co.uk)

  2. Hi Eddie, thanks for Aldi info. Popped in this morning to pick up a couple of bottles of the Cairanne CduR – wasn’t sure if it would all be gone, as this offer had reached the national press. But there were cases stacked by the front entrance. Also there, at half price (now £9.99), were: 2022 Louis Chavallier Chablis; and 2019 Saint-Emilion Grandcru Ch Guillemin La Gaffeliere. Then by the main wine area were lots of wines reduced, as you reported. I bought 2 bottles of the Marsanne recommended last month by Brian, now @ £5.49.
    Interesting point of shelf etiquette – a lady filled her trolley with about 30 bottles of the Castellore, Specially Selected, Toscana Rosso, Tuscany, Italy 202, which I know was recently recommended by Decanter. She then couldn’t reach the last 2 bottles at the back of the shelf. Undaunted she got a staff member to get theses last bottles. I almost asked whether she minded if I could have just one of these last two. But I decided not – the Waitrose £10 fine wine offer includes the likely similar style Villa Antinori Rosso Tuscany, which I have bought. One cannot buy every wine on a great offer!

  3. Until recently a Rose’ at Xmas would have been a serious no-no,but it now reflects the reality that Rose’ has become accepted as an year round drink.Startling colour though!
    Welcome news that the excellent Silence Chardonnay has got rid of the arty scary Satyr label – which I think put people off- to a more traditional label.Less welcome is the hike in price to £11.95.I think it was £10.50 when you first recommended it.No doubt due to our government’s recent increase in duty and added VAT on most wines.The least welcome Xmas “gift”.
    Agree that he very best Assyrtiko still comes from Santorini- the Wine Society’s Exhibition Santorini Assyrtiko 2021is a relative snip at £17.50.Highly recommended this Xmas with anything fishy.

  4. At shortly after 11.00 this morning, both Aldi stores in Taunton had run out of the cairanne.
    Both stores were limiting customers to two bottles per visit, and each had only been allocated 66 bottles per store.
    Does anyone know if there is to be another delivery of this wine?

  5. No problem, Eddie. This is big news judging by the national press coverage and by the number of shoppers who seem to have decided to carry off the carranne.

  6. You just have to hope that she doesn’t like it Richard! – but glad you were successful in securing some of the Rhone. Others have not been so lucky.

  7. Thanks for the Wine Society pointer – a piece on Assyrtiko is one of the options for a post next year. Since its adaptability as a food wine has been “discovered”, rosé is indeed a “year round” option and wine drinking is all the better for it.

  8. Ah! Auto-correct! Mine recently mangled “inconvenience” so I was apologising for any incontinence caused!

  9. Currently checking with Aldi’s PR people but I am not optimistic, Jim. Five and a half cases per store has a feel of finality about it

  10. Oh dear Richard, me bad too. I bought 2 bottles of the Cairanne, put them in the car and went back in to my store and shopped for 2 more!! But that store was close to being emptied of this CduR by 9.30am with almost every shopper in there with 2 bottles in the trolley, so early in the day! Astonishing the power of this media campaign over the weekend. I got the rather nice Muscadet with £2 off, the Lebanese red and the unusual Italian Pagadibet Romagna from this Specially Selected range of 70 bottles in the deal. Great that it runs for another 2 weeks.

    Having been disappointed on too many occasions with supermarket Chateauneuf’ and Gigondas offerings that I now avoid … goodness knows where they source these bottles from at times …. I must say from the same neck of the woods I’ve rarely been unhappy when it comes to any Tavel rose I’ve had. Fits the bill so well for lunchtime drinking as an alternative to a an even light Pinot Noir with the main course, or as an aperitif. And it’s perfect with cold cuts, ham and pork pie on Boxing Day. Rarely undersold but not to be underrated. Certainly one rose I really enjoy that works the year round for me.

  11. PR people tell me that an Aldi spokesperson has said: “The Specially Selected Cairanne was available at a discounted price for a limited period only and has now sold out. We’re sorry that some customers were unable to get their hands on this product, however, demand has been extremely high. We limited purchases to two bottles per customer so that as many customers as possible had a chance to buy it.”

  12. Your Alsace Pinot Gris recommendation sounds very appealing. At this time of year I often like slightly off-dry and it’s good to have an alternative to Vouvray to try.

  13. Great selection as always Brian, love the Chardonnay choices, I’m a big fan of Robert Oatley, that Jean Claude Mas – Siléne sounds good as well, excellent selection from the Co-op again, I shall be picking those two up.

  14. Brian, when I tried the Tavel rose at a tasting, it took me back to when this was THE rose. Serious food wine, which I will be serving at a Christmas Eve Salmon dinner. As a not totally convinced Riesling person, the Hardy’s wine really impressed. If anyone wants to know what is the deal about this grape, lash out on this (with a 25% off deal) and see why all the wine pros love Riesling!
    I have also been impressed with the Waitrose Paolo Leo Fiano del Salento, on offer at £7.99. I am buying a few more bottles as it is a useful classy wine that can suit soft cheeses as well as seafood.
    Popped into the co-op today to buy another bottle of the their 2020 Famille Perrin Close Encounters Chateauneuf du Pape. Please could MidWeekers flag if they hear of co-op offers? Had to pay full price for this! But this will be one of the wines for our NYE dinner. Usually avoid CdP as rather variable, but this is serious stuff.

  15. Hello Richard,
    Way back in October,Brian recommended the Coop Irresistible Paìs from Chile.It is listed as not available on the website,but there are still some bottles on the shelves.
    The grapes come from 130 year old vines and the wine has cherry and cranberry flavours,low in tannins ,which I think makes it a great value Xmas Red.
    I bought a bottle for £7.50 today with a £1 off deal

  16. Thanks, Paul. I have drunk and enjoyed their Pais. Last year I tried, side by side, the 2019 M&S Found and 2019 Waitrose Loved & Found Pais wines. Enjoyed both, but the Waitrose wine was £1 cheaper at £7.99! So the co-op at £7.50 was a great buy, although that sounds like it may be local clearance offer.
    My nearest decent size co-op is at Felixstowe, however they never seem to operate the co-op offers that are available elsewhere. Will see if I can catch the manager and have a chat. The good news is that they have a very good selection from the co-op’s generally excellent range.
    I don’t ever remember seeing so many concurrent, and lengthy, supermarket 25% offers. Interesting to see whether Co-op do eventually join the party?

  17. Hi Richard, Same with our local Co-op, never seem to have the same offers as other branches and now very rarely have discounted bottles. I remember a few years ago they used to sell off bottles that had been on the shelves for a while at ridiculous prices, once I had my eye on a couple of Clos Floridene Graves, that nobody seem to want at around £24 a bottle, eventually after a few weeks they put a clearance sticker on them and I managed to pick them up for £9 a bottle ( I asked if they had more, unfortunately not) doesn’t seem to happen now, think our shop may well be getting more wine savvy.
    Went in today and picked up The Robert Oatley and the Jean Claude Mas – Siléne Chardonnays, no discount though.

  18. Thank you for taking the trouble, I appreciate it.
    By the way, I’m a very late-comer to your newsletter, but thoroughly enjoy it and have alerted a couple of friends about it.
    Thanks for your work.

  19. Not quite as much sweetness as many Vouvray’s Rebecca but, as you say, something not bone dry does add versatility to Christmas drinking.

  20. Good if even a mild riesling sceptic endorses that Hardy’s version – it does get everything perfectly in balance to my taste.

  21. Richard, I thought that Co-op one outperformed the other two you mention but that may just be me. As for discounts, the Co-op has previously offered reductions for card holders, but I hear that the competitions watchdog is likely to start investigating the effect on consumers of the rise of loyalty card price cuts.

  22. Thank you Jim and you are very welcome to the site. Do keep mentioning it to friends – I am always keen to welcome newcomers.

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