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Striking the white note for Christmas

Often main course winter reds are the primary Christmas wine focus but our sole remaining feast day also demands good white wines like these - especially if fish features somewhere on the menu.

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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12 Responses

  1. Thank you Brian, always such good and sensible advice.

    Made use of Aldi’s great range during lockdown with free delivery for 6 bottles.
    Always reliable and good value. They have good buyers.

    Wishing you Seasonal Greetings and time to enjoy your own recommendations.
    Keep up the good work,

    1. Many thanks for your kind words Roger – much appreciated. As you say there are some great wines in the Aldi range and I look forward to trying some of them in 2021 and I guess you do too … Brian

  2. A very happy Xmas to you too Brian and much thanks for your informative and entertaining stuff on here throughout the year. Best now … Eddie

    1. Best to you too Eddie and many thanks for your strong support for the site – which is very much appreciated … Brian

  3. Hi Brian, thanks for all your recommendations over the year, enjoy your informative posts every week. Hope you and all your readers have a great Christmas (despite restrictions). Looking forward to catching up (fingers crossed) next year sometime.

  4. Thanks Dave for your good wishes and for your support for the website throughout the year. Have as good a time as circumstances allow and raise a glass to a better time in 2021 … Brian

  5. Thank you Matthew and I do hope to see you on another Zoom tasting soon, as you sugegst ….. Best ….. Brian

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