I've tasted far and wide to pick white wines and rosés from a dozen countries to fill your glasses with festive cheer during this small-scale, socially distanced Christmas. Whether it's a simple lunch or supper, a fancy feast or a moment of reflection, these wines will illuminate it.
Starting at under £8, they're listed in ascending order of price, give or take differences in retailers’ prices and special offers. If you're in the mood to splash out, you'll know to scroll down and start at the end: don't miss the show-stopping new rosé from Bordeaux, right at the very end (and in a magnum if you wish).
A couple of other things to note: stores' terra firma and online offers are not always the same; and this year it's almost impossible to keep track of what's in and out of stock online. It can change more than once during the day and something showing as out of stock may be in good distribution in stores.
All wines below are in 75cl bottles, but more sustainable formats – cans, wine box, bag in tube, pouch, recycled flat PET bottle, paper bottle – are coming thick and fast and the quality of the wines going into them is on the rise. Check out this year's Festive Red Wine Guide, which kicks off with a red in a can that has white and rosé stablemates.
Teruzzi & Puthod Rondolino Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2019, Italy
A crisp and textured, lemon-scented Tuscan white with a mineral accent, almond and green pear fruit and citrus peel length. One to try if you want a change from Chablis or a cheaper alternative. 12.5%
£7.79 on offer, Waitrose (down from £9.79 until 3/1/21)
Abbotts & Delaunay Viognier 2019, France
Floral nose, fleshy peach and apricot fruit, a sprinkle of spice and an appetising fresh finish – proof that in the right hands and with vineyards in the right location it’s possible to make persuasive, refreshing Viognier in Languedoc. 13%
Monte Real Rioja Blanco Fermentado en Barrica 2019, Spain
A pale straw-yellow oak-fermented white Rioja with buttery, grilled nut and fresh hay aromas and a creamy, silky palate that takes in lemon, riper orchard fruit, toast, a hint of honey and neatly pitched acidity. Whether it is ever sold at its full price of £14.95, I don’t know, but it’s almost being given away at this price. 12.5%.
If you prefer something unoaked, go for the Viña Albina Rueda Verdejo 2019, which is also at a heavily reduced £8.47 at winebuyers.com
The Society’s Greek White 2019, Greece
A delightful, breezy, aromatic white with ginger and white pepper spice notes, citrus and floral flavours and racy acidity. It’s a blend of the Moschofilero and Roditis made by Seméli and would be as welcome on Boxing Day as it is at the height of the summer. Serve as an apéro or with salads and shellfish. 12%
£8.95, The Wine Society
Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2019, Italy
An unusual and delicious lees-aged blend of Sicily’s indigenous Grillo with 30% Viognier. Apricot, roast almond, wild fennel and acacia honey flavours bound together with generous texture and a lively, crisp, salted-grapefruit finish. Organic. 13.5%
D V Catena Chardonnay Historico 2019, Argentina
Chardonnay from four high-altitude vineyards in Mendoza fermented with wild yeasts and aged in French oak barrels to give a wine with taut, sweet-lemon fruit, a hint of pineapple and creamy, cashew-nut breadth. 13.5%
£10 on offer, Tesco (down from £12 until 4/1/21 inclusive)
Yalumba Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Australia
One of two new organic wines (the other is Cabernet Merlot) from the Hill Smith family at Yalumba, where they've been spearheading sustainability in viticulture for 25 years. Fresh-faced and medium bodied with bright fruit, herb, nettle and white pepper flavours, supple texture and light-footed acidity. 12.5%
Vachnadziani Krakhuna 2019, Georgia
A dry white with a spring in its step, aromas and flavours of pears, apples and herbs, a soft texture and breezy freshness. Who knew that western Georgia’s indigenous Krakhuna grape variety tasted like this? 12.5%
£12.50, The Daily Drinker
Wakefield Jaraman Chardonnay 2018, Australia
This stylish, oak-matured Chardonnay is an unusual blend of Chardonnay from two distant regions: South Australia's Clare Valley, which gives opulence, and Margaret River in Western Australia, which adds elegance and mineral character. It has lovely clean-cut fruit, toastiness and texture and impressive complexity for the money.
Quinta da Pedra Alta Pedra a Pedra Douro Branco 2018, Portugal
I recommended the Pedra a Pedra Tinto in my Festive Red Wine Guide and can’t bear to leave out its dry white partner. Made from indigenous grape varieties, it has mouthwatering orchard fruit and lime cordial flavours with a crème fraiche undertow and a zingy pepper-and salt-finish. 12.5%
The Society’s Exhibition Grüner Veltliner 2019, Austria
A model Grüner from Willi Brundlmayer’s vineyards in Kamptal. Intense, fragrant and floral with citrus and apricot fruit, fresh dill, spicy white pepper and a seam of stony minerality.
£14.50, The Wine Society
Domaine des Combiers Beaujolais-Villages Chardonnay Les Bruyères 2018, France
You don’t see white Beaujolais very often, but it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for what is essentially Chardonnay from southernmost Burgundy. Laurent Savoye’s is a delight, with delicate spring flowers and apples on the nose, ripe greengage, gentle creaminess and lingering freshness on the palate. 13.5%
£14.95, Private Cellar
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2019, New Zealand
Beautifully balanced, vivid Marlborough Sauvignon with depth and polish – a perennial favourite. Gooseberry, passion fruit and citrus flavours complemented by a contrasting streak of smoky flint and rapier acidity. Delicious now or any time over the next six years, perhaps more. 13.5%
Tesco Finest Margaret River Brooks Road Chardonnay 2019, Australia
Concentrated, lithe and complex barrel-fermented Chardonnay from the talented Janice McDonald at Howard Park Wines in Western Australia. Lightly toasted cashew-nut richness playing against succulent nectarine fruit and saline freshness. 13%
Cortese Vanedda 2019, Italy
A few kilometres from Sicily's Santa Tresa estate (see above), the organic Cortese estate is under the same ownership, but produces very different wines. This compelling, complex dry white is inspired by orange wine and is a blend of Sicilian varieties Catarrato and Grillo with a little Fiano. It has honeyed almond-patisserie and stone fruit flavours and a mouthfilling oily texture cut by tenacious citrus acidity. 13.5%
Jean Durup Chablis Les Valéry 2018, France
I chose another Chablis from Tanners as a Wine of the Week earlier this month, a gloriously rich, savoury, complex wine made from old vines. This is textbook Chablis, too, but in a lighter, steelier style, leaning more to apple and lemon fruit and mineral precision.
Marques de Murrieta Capellanía Rioja Blanc 2015, Spain
From Murrieta’s Capellanía vineyard, a model white Rioja aged in new French oak barrels for 15 months: a delicious combination of creamy, vanilla-scented richness, verve and vitality, with flavours of jasmine, pine, grapefruit and quince. A wine of great length and presence. Very good with creamy fish, seafood and smoked fish dishes and a variety of hard and creamy cheeses. 13%
Maso Toresella Chardonnay Trentino Reserva 2017, Italy
Barrel-fermented, mountain-fresh Chardonnay from a 6.5ha estate in the foothills of the Dolomites. Beeswax, melon, lemon and floral fruit lightly brushed with toast and butter. I drank the 2016 in situ last year in an excellent pairing with a risotto with pumpkin and leek. 13%
Domaines Schlumberger Alsace Grand Cru Saering Riesling 2017, France
Intense, intricate, powerful and sustained, this superb dry Riesling from the Schlumberger family, the largest vineyard owners and Grand Cru owners in Alsace, combines piercing minerality with lovely lime, stone fruit and acacia honey flavours. A match for almost any fish and it won’t stumble at a touch of southeast Asian spice. Charcuterie is another option. 14%
Trefethen Chardonnay 2018, California
I loved the 2017 vintage of the Trefethen family's signature Chardonnay from their Oak Knoll, Napa estate, but the 2018 is even better – just that little bit more refined, graceful and complex, with cool-climate lime and pear clarity and intensity enhanced by subtle oak (61% was barrel-fermented, 13% of which was new oak). 13.3%
There are only two rosés below: the rest are in my summer Rosé round-up. And they'll still all be good. In fact, many will have benefited from the additional four months' age. Only two seem not to be available now (although some others are with different retailers): Domaine de Mourchon Loubié 2019 and Vidal Fleury 2019.
Simpsons Pinot Noir Rosé 2019, England
From it’s pale apricot colour, to its delicate red berry, peach and apricot aromas, soft texture, reviving acidity and dry finish, this is captivating – and goes surprisingly well with smoked salmon.
£11.99 on offer, Waitrose (down from £14.99 until 3/1/21)
Elégance du Clos Cantenac, France
This is a tiny production Merlot rosé in its first vintage made by Charlotte (’Lolly’) Krajewelski on her father Martin’s Saint-Emilion Grand Cru estate. Fermentation was in a 700-l concrete egg. The nose is extraordinary: delicate yet deeply expressive with spring blossom, clotted cream and spices. On the palate it’s a similar story: intensity at the same time as delicacy, with an arrestingly creamy rich, yet gossamer-fine texture, a core of subtly sweet apple and summer berry fruit and crackling, chalky mineral energy and freshness. 13%
£37.50 (or £75 per magnum), Private Cellar
Photographs by Joanna Simon