The Festive White Wine Guide 2018



Dry and off-dry whites from around the globe to cover the festivities and all eventualities at prices from £6 upwards and from the supermarket giants to small independents. Listed in ascending order of price, as usual.

Moncaro Verdicchio dei Castelli Jesi Classico 2017, Italy

A rounded, off-dry white with almond nuttiness, leafy freshness and a hint of citrus-pith bitterness on the finish to off-set the touch of sweetness. Good value. Can be drunk solo or with light fish, pasta and chicken dishes. 12.5%.

£5.99, Waitrose

Mayne de Beauregard Bergerac Blanc Sec, France

A light-bodied, crisp, Sauvignon-based white with soft, leafy green-apple flavours. An easygoing aperitif or party white. 12%

£7, Marks & Spencer

Finest Tingleup Riesling, Great Southern, Australia

Made by Howard Park in Western Australia, this has been a stalwart of Tesco's range for years and more than deserves its place. Mouthwatering vitality conveyed through juicy lime and apple fruit, a smoky mineral undertow and tangy freshness. Has just a little sweetness which, in tandem with the acidity, makes it a good bet with lightly spicy dishes, as well as an aperitif or party wine. 12.5%

£8.50, Tesco

Climbing Chardonnay 2017, Orange, Australia

Toasted cashew-nut flavours wrapped around zesty lemon-curd fruit and a hint of white pepper. Textbook contemporary Australian Chardonnay that could take on the turkey dinner, creamy pasta or salmon fishcakes, but has the vibrancy to be drunk on its own. 12.5%.

£8.99, Waitrose

The Doctors' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017, New Zealand

The usp of this wine is its low – 9.5% – alcohol, which has been achieved with no loss of vitality, ripeness and Sauvignon tropical and green fruit character. 9.5%.

£8.99, Waitrose

Vom Löss Rabl Grüner Veltliner 2017, Kamptal, Austria

Refreshing, light, dry, unoaked Grüner with a honeyed nougat note on lime-citrus fruit. One for the aperitif slot. 12%.

£9.50, Marks & Spencer

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017, New Zealand

The gold labelled Cellar Selection is a marked step up from the widely stocked Private Bin range, with more energy, intensity and substance, and ripe gooseberry and grass flavours, a swish of minerality and citrus-zest finish. 12.5%.

£10.11 on offer until 1 January (then £13.49), Ocado; £10.99 in any 6-bottle mix, £12.99 individually, Majestic

Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace, France

Pinot Blanc gets overshadowed in Alsace by showier Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling, but its soft, dry appeal comes with blossomy orchard-fruit aromas, peachy fruit and a hint of honeyed nougat. An ideal apéro. 13%.

£11, selected Co-op

Sabar Badacsonyi Kéknyelü 2017, Hungary

Delightful, aromatic, unoaked white made from the very rare white Kéknyelü grape in the Badacsony region. It has flowery, sweet-apple and pear aromas, spice and apricot on the palate and a slightly oily texture cut by snappy lime zest acidity. A great discovery by the Society's Eastern Europe buyer. 12.5%.

£11.75, The Wine Society

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Soave 2016, Italy

An all-Garganega Soave with mouthwatering freshness, intensity and weight, citrusy fruit, herbs and a hint of honeyed almond. A low price for Soave of this quality, but beware: low stocks. 13%.

£13, The Daily Drinker

Bodegas Pazo Tizón Extramundi Ribeiro 2017, Spain

A Galician blend, mainly of Albariño and Treixadura, with the rich texture of lees-ageing cut by zingy acidity and flattered by citrus, white peach and ripe pear flavours. 12.5%

£12.99 in any 6-bottle mix, £14.99 individually, Majestic; £19.50, Berry Bros & Rudd; £19.50, Fortnum & Mason

Akrathos Newlands Winery Assyrtiko 2016, Halkidiki, Greece

Assyrtiko's typically smoky, mineral nose and pithy citrus flavours, but not the pungent intensity of Santorini Assyrtiko. In its place: peach and floral notes, succulence and mineral length. A very polished wine from a brand new winery – one to watch. 13%.

£15, The Daily Drinker

Müller-Grossmann Grüner Veltliner Silberbichl, Kremstal, Austria

A reminder of how good Austrian Grüner can be. Rich stone-fruit and citrus flavours, spicy intensity, then a lingering, crisp, peppery note to finish. 13.5%.

£19 on offer (normally £22), Tanners

Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Chardonnay Clos de La Crochette 2016, Burgundy, France

Mâcon with the precision and class of a much more expensive Côte d'Or Burgundy, from a treasured walled vineyard belonging to Meursault luminary Dominique Lafon. Nutty straw, dried flowers and lemon on the nose and a creamy textured yet tautly steely, crisp palate with flavours of preserved lemon and walnuts. Lovely now but still developing. 13%.

£22.50, Tanners

Domaine Georges Vernay Le Pied de Samson Viognier 2017, Collines Rhodaniennes, France

This comes from outside the Condrieu appellation, but from one of Condrieu's great producers, so it's Condrieu in all but name and tastes like it – heady floral aromas, juicy white-peach fruit and luxurious texture stretching out harmoniously and elegantly. 13%.

£26.95, Yapp Brothers

Domaine Pinson Chablis Montmains 1er Cru 2016, France

Premier Cru Chablis showing in its depth and complexity the benefits of old – 60-year-old – vines. Lemon and spice on the nose, salted almonds and crème fraiche on the palate, tinglingly fresh and long and evolving all the time in the glass. The half-full bottle I left stoppered and refrigerated was even better the next day – creamier, richer, nuttier and with no loss of freshness. You can drink it now or any time over the next five years, if cellared impeccably. 13%

£30, Berry Bros & Rudd

Domaine Anne Gros Hauts Côtes de Nuits Blanc Cuvée Marine 2016, Burgundy, France

Intense, refined and dry with textural richness, citrus and salted-almond depth balanced by laser-crisp, zingy acidity. 12.5%.

£33.75, or £30.75 in any mix of 12 bottles, Lea & Sandeman

The Society's Exhibition Hermitage Blanc 2014, France

A stunning dry white Hermitage made from Marsanne and Roussanne by Jean-Louis Chave in a great vintage. Full-bodied but precision-tooled, with aromas and flavours that unfold tantalisingly: pot pourri, straw, dried apricot, spice, grilled almond, honey and zippy lime. Drink it now or any time over the next decade. 14.5%.

£36, The Wine Society

Photograph by Joanna Simon

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