The Festive White, Orange and Rosé Wine Guide 2021


Welcome to my annual roundup of white, orange and rosé wines for the festive season. Ranging freely through styles, regions and grape varieties, it's designed to cover all occasions and eventualities throughout Christmas, new year and other festivals and celebrations of the season. There are wines for the towering occasions, lots of inspiration for gifts and, no less important, wines for the times when absolutely nothing is happening. All are ready for drinking, but some will also continue to develop.


White wines come first, then orange, then rosé and within those three groups the wines are listed in ascending order of price, give or take the occasional vagaries of special offers. The whites go from £6.50 to £30-plus. The orange and rosé wines go from £8.99–£17.


You'll find a few bottle weights (empty bottle) along the way, but not all that many. That's because some wines were tasted at tasting events, some were mini-bottle samples, some were tasted before I started weighing glass wine bottles that come into the house and sometimes I simply forgot to weigh them. I take this opportunity to put in a plea to all producers and all retailers with their own labels to reduce unnecessary weight of glass.


Finally, if you don't want glass at all, or if you want a vinous stocking filler or Christmas cracker (and why wouldn't you?), take a look at Canned Wine Co.'s cans. The vibrant, fruity and nut-smooth Barrel-Aged Verdejo No. 2 (below) is £16.50 for three 25cl cans. Alternatively, you can have six different wines, each packed in a decorative cracker, for £36.


£12 and under

Tesco Finest Saint Mont 2019, France

Vibrant, fruity, tangy white packed with orange, lime, quince and pineapple. Good to have on standby as an aperitif, a party wine or an anytime alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Made from local Gascon grapes, mainly Gros Manseng. 13%

£6.50, Tesco


Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Western Cape, South Africa

Zippy and zesty with textbook Sauvignon flavours that you don't often get at this price: elderflower, flint, gooseberry, lime cordial and subtle green pepper. 13%. Bottle weight: 465g

£7, Asda


Waitrose Loved & Found Roero Arneis 2020, Piemonte, Italy

Fresh, floral, leafy aromas and a round, peachy, spicy palate with delicate citrus zing. It's rare to see Piemonte's leading white grape, Arneis, at this price. 13%

£7.99, Waitrose


Juan Gil Jumilla Blanco 2020, Jumilla, Spain

Dry Spanish Moscatel (Muscat à Petits Grains) with orange blossom and citrus aromas, a crisp but oil-smooth palate and a lot else going on – apricot, grapefruit peel, white pepper and sweet orange – like a cross between Vermentino and Viognier, if that helps. Good with citrus-flavoured chicken, ricotta and lemon pasta, fish with citrus and herbs, salads with pink grapefruit. 13.5%. Bottle weight: 461g

£9–£12.25, Booths, NY Wines, The Great Wine Co


Tesco Finest Viñas del Rey Albarino 2020, Rías Baixas, Spain

Balancing peach and candied lemon against a sea-salty ripple, this is impressive at the price – not normally a sweet spot for Albariño. 13%

£9, Tesco


Kutjevo Winery Croatica Graševina 2020, Croatia

Fresh and fragrant, with floral, quince and peach lightly dusted with nuts and spicy earth and an appetising, slightly chewy, oily texture. Christmas anorak fact: the Graševina grape used to be known as Welsch Riesling. 12%

£9.95, Tanners


Pierre Brecht Cuvée Cinq 2020, Alsace, France

A delightful off-dry Alsace white with fresh grape, ginger and lime flavours. Made from two-thirds Riesling, plus Muscat and Gewurztraminer. Serve as an aperitif or party wine, or with Chinese and lightly spiced dishes and curries. 12.5%

£10.49, or £9.39 in a 12-bottle mix, Laithwaites


Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Smoky, grass, lime and gooseberry flavours in an enticing combination of Sauvignon energy and acidity with layered richness. 13.5%. Bottle weight: 474g

£10, Tesco


Domaine Lafage Centenaire 2020, Côtes Catalanes, France

Delicious, multi-layered, supple, dry white made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne vines, the bulk of which are more than 100 years old. Dried flowers, straw, nuts and cream, then spice, herbs, citrus zest and sea-washed rocks. Goes well with a wide array of fish dishes, including brandade de morue and oak-smoked haddock. 13%

£11.60–£14.60, Vinvm, Vinatis, Tannico


Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Leyda, Chile

Crystalline, cool, bone-dry Sauvignon with mouthwatering pea-pod, salted peach and lime zest flavours and gunflint minerality. Loves fish, seafood, salads and green asparagus. 13%. Bottle weight: 596g

£12, Tesco


La Colline aux Fossiles Chardonnay 2020, Vin de France

Bright, peachy Chardonnay rounded out with some coconutty French oak and refreshed by a saline finish. Made for M& S by the expert Lafage family in Roussillon (see the Centenaire above). Larger M&S stores only until the new year and not yet online. 13%. Bottle weight: 655g

£12, Marks & Spencer (larger stores)


£12.50–£20

August Eser Winkel Riesling Trocken 2020, Rheingau, Germany

Irresistible dewy orchard aromas of apple, pear, citrus and peach, with an added touch of almond patisserie on the palate. Crackling acidity balanced by a little hidden sweetness. A good apéro but food-friendly too: seafood, cold meat, Middle eastern meze or lightly spiced South East Asian dishes

£12.50, The Wine Society


O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2016, Clare Valley, Australia

Classic bone-dry Clare Valley Riesling showing gleaming fresh lime and mineral intensity and delicate toasted-wheat maturity and complexity. A winner with shellfish. 12%

£12.99, Waitrose


Petaluma White Label Chardonnay 2017, Adelaide Hills, Australia

If you're looking for a white wine to handle Christmas turkey and the trimmings, or a salmon centrepiece, this is a candidate. It's emerged from a difficult vintage carrying enough fruity richness, texture and oak and enough bright acidity to ride the parade of seasonal flavours.

£14, on offer until 2 January, then £16, Waitrose


Domaine de la Creuze Noire Mâcon-Fuissé Les Chataigniers 2020, France

There was a lot of competition for the southern white Burgundy slot and this was the winner for its charm, authenticity and value. Combining suppleness with mineral freshness, and gentle lime-zest, peach, straw and crème fraiche with almond nuttiness, it's a demonstration of Chardonnay's affinity for hard limestone soils.

£14–£18.95, Flagship Wines, Fountain Hall Wines, Barrique Fine Wines, Starmore Boss, Eynsham Cellars, Bay Tree Wine, South Downs Cellars, Whitmore White


Domaine Renaudat Quincy Les Noziots 2019, Loire, France

Combining the ripeness of the vintage with textbook Sauvignon Blanc vibrancy, this makes a welcome alternative to Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Apple, pear and nutmeg flavours with punchy grapefruit, grass and a sprinkle of pepper. 14%

£14.95–£19.90, Cheers, Tom I’Anson Wines, StarmoreBoss, Nysa Wine


Disznoko Dry Furmint 2019, Tokaji, Hungary

A difficult year for Tokaji’s sweet wines worked in favour of the dry wines. Soft, leafy lime and almond aromas, orchard fruit, peppery spice and mineral flavours and tongue-tingling acidity. Works well with antipasto, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes and on its own. 13%. Glass stopper.

£15, Ocado


Adegas Galegas Veigadares Albariño 2018, Rías Baixas, Spain

Blending the best of Albariño's aromatic peach, citrus and and steely mineral intensity with the richness of oak and bâtonnage, Galegas' barrel-fermented, lees-aged flaghship wine could take the place of a fine white Burgundy at the Christmas table, or be cellared another five years. 12.5%

£18.75, Corney & Barrow


Scorpo Aubaine Chardonnay 2019, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Partner to the Noirien Pinot Noir in my Festive Red Wine Guide and just as eloquent and refined, with lovely quince aromas, delicate smokiness and a creamy textural quality.

13.5%

£19.45, Haynes Hanson & Clark


Suduiraut Sec 2020, Bordeaux, France

A dry white Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend from one of the great Sauternes estates – serious and disarmingly charming at the same time, with sweet-grass, citrus, honeysuckle and spiced honey aromas, a medium-weight palate with juicy pear and lemon, a twist of bitter grapefruit, Semillon’s oily suppleness, and lingering saline freshness. 13.5%

£19.50, Cambridge Wine Merchants


£20+

Domaine Chartron Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée Eugénie Dupard 2019, France

Dry, textural, savoury and refreshing with nutty, salty, apple and citrus flavours. Most of the grapes for this barrel-fermented white Burgundy come from a tiny vineyard opposite the Charton cellar in Pouilly, making it almost Puligny Montrachet – and it tastes like it. 13%

£20.35, Private Cellar


Domaine des Deux Vallées Savennières Clos du Petit Beaupreau 2019, France

Chenin Blanc at its most magical – wonderful concentration, precision and freshness in drifts of pear, quince and lime aromas and spicy apple, pot pourri and mineral flavours. When it’s like this, there’s nothing quite like Savennières. 14%

£20.85, Haynes Hanson and Clark


Château de Plaisance L'Anjou Blanc 2020, France

From a very good Loire vintage, this flows with blossom, apple, hay, straw, wet rocks and a suggestion of honey, all deftly carried by a discreet but steely spine of Chenin Blanc acidity. 12.5%

£21.50, Lea & Sandeman


Marimar Estate La Masía Chardonnay 2018, Russian River Valley, California

I had the chance to taste this alongside the 2018 Torres Milmanda Chardonnay from Conca de Barberà in Spain, which is one of Marimar's brother Miguel Torres' wines. The Milmanda is cool and stylish, with preserved lemon, beeswax and elegant creamy nut flavours, but the 2018 hasn't filtered through to retailers in the UK yet. La Masía is a rich, full-bodied, oaked Chardonnay, fermented with its own yeast in French barriques (30% new) and 100% malolactic. The sweet, toasted, cashew-nut oak is still prominent, but behind it there's ripe-apple and citrus fruit, a creamy texture and taut acidity. You could drink it this Christmas, but, ideally, give it a year, or cellar it for several.

£30.25, Fareham Wine Cellar


ORANGE and ROSÉ

Macerao Naranjo Orange Wine 2021, Itata Valley, Chile

Made from 60-year-old Moscatel de Alexandria vines fermented with wild yeasts and kept with the grape skins for 90 days. Pale orange with heady aromas of roses, apricot, orange and ginger and a fleshy, chewy, fresh palate with an attractive, delicate bitter note. 13.5%

£8.99, Waitrose


Didebuli Orange Kisi 2020, Kakheti, Georgia

An inviting but authentic orange wine made in qvevri (buried, clay jars) from the little-known Kisi grape variety. Dried flowers, apples-in-the-attic, orange peel and walnuts on the nose, a downy, peach-skin texture, a hint of fresh fino sherry and airy tannins. Drink cool but not chilled with food, including meat. Or try it with the turkey-fest Boxing Day leftovers. 12%

£9.95, The Wine Society


Le Roi Soleil Rosé 2020, Languedoc-Cabrières, France

A pale-salmon, medium-bodied blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache with raspberry, peach, sweet earth and crisp, stony, mineral flavours. It could easily stand in for a Provence rosé. 12.5%

£14.99, or £13.49 in a 12-bottle mix, Laithwaites


Simpsons Derringstone Pinot Meunier 2020, England

Pretty salmon-pink with a perfume of red cherry, peach, rose and a whisper of vanilla and a supple palate freshened by a lick of white pepper, salt and citrus. Try it with aubergine dishes or pork or lamb cutlets. 12.5%. Bottle weight: 650g

£17–£19.50, Booths, Fenwick


Photographs by Joanna Simon


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