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The Festive White Wine Guide 2019

My round-up of white wines from around the globe to cover Christmas and all the other festivities from simple supper to a big splash that demands something like a smart white Burgundy.

It's always more difficult to find cheap white wines with something to say for themselves than it is to find inexpensive reds with some character, but the ones below should do the trick and I've also thrown in a keenly priced pale rosé from New Zealand. Wines are listed in ascending order of price, as usual, so head for the far end if you're looking to treat someone (or yourself). 

Finest Saint Mont 2017, France

The little-known Saint-Mont in southwest France is always worth looking out for if you want a good-value dry white with some interest and flavour or, specifically, an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. The grape variety here is Gros Manseng (mainly) and it gives the herb, mineral and zesty quince fruit flavours. Drink as an aperitif, or serve with salads, fish or goat’s cheese. 13.5%

£6.50, Tesco 

The Mineral Blocks Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Western Cape, South Africa

There's a mineral accent here, as you might expect, but the wet-stone minerality is held nicely in line by citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit. 13%

£6.99, Aldi

Planalto Douro Reserva  2018, Portugal

Crowd-pleasing, medium-bodied Portuguese dry white in a zippy, contemporary style with smoky mineral, lemon and lime flavours. A characterful blend of seven local grape varieties. 13%.

£6.99, Majestic

Wairau Cove Rosé 2019, East Coast, New Zealand

Pale pink and dry, but not too dry, with soft-textured cherry and raspberry fruit. Made from Pinot Noir filled out with a little Merlot. A useful aperitif or party option. 12.5% 

£7, Tesco 

No. 1 Cederberg Private Cellar Chenin Blanc 2019, Western Cape, South Africa

Apple and lime fruit, subtle oak smokiness and a polished texture. This is made by one of the Cape’s most admired winemakers from vineyards at more than 1,000 metres and profits support social and environmental projects. A good partner for salmon, chicken or vegetable dishes. 13.5%

£7.99 on offer until January 2 (down from £9.99), Waitrose

Irresistible Broglia Gavi 2018, Italy

Lemony, almondy, leafy and crisp. Made from Piedmont’s Cortese grape, it makes a good apéro or party wine, or an accompaniment to vegetables and fish. 13.5%

£8.50, Co-op

Finest Tingleup Riesling 2018, Great Southern, Australia

Crisp, dry, aromatic and full of life, with flavours of lime, apple and a hint of patisserie sweetness – an old favourite in a very good year. Ideal as an aperitif or party wine, but also happy with Asian spices. 12.5%

£9, Tesco

Les Vignerons Ardéchois Viognier Grès du Trias 2018, Ardèche, France

Floral, sweet-nougat nose with rounded, fresh, peachy fruit. An appealing party or aperitif choice, or one to serve with shellfish.

£9.95, The Wine Society; 10.75, Yapp Bros

Parcel Series Marlborough Chardonnay 2018, New Zealand

Barrel-fermented Chardonnay with citrus fruit purity and freshness and wax-smooth succulence. 13%

£9.99, Majestic 

Weingut Jülg Weissburgunder Trocken 2018, Pfalz, Germany

I know it says Germany, and that’s where the wine is made, but the grapes (Pinot Blanc aka Weissburgunder) come from over the border in Alsace. Sounds slightly bonkers, but the wine is a delight – zippy and floral with rounded apricot-apple-lime fruit. One for the aperitif slot, or a quiche perhaps. 13%

£10.95, The Wine Society 

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017, France 

A generous, full, Viognier-dominated blend with Viognier's spice, peach, apricot and floral signature and grapefruit zing. Good with scallops and other shellfish including with gentle spicing. 13.5% 

£10.95, The Wine Society; £12.50 in any 6 bottles Noble Green Wines (£13.50 single); £12.50 in any 12, Mr Wheeler (£14 single) 

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2017/2019, Clare Valley, Australia

The Barry family's textbook Clare Valley Riesling in two vintages: intense lime cordial and mineral depth in the 2017; lime flecked with apple and peach in the younger vintage. Delicious intensity and the potential to age in both cases. Versatile with food, including all sorts of fish, shellfish and southeast Asian dishes.

£12.99 for the 2019, Waitrose; £14 for the 2017, Morrisons (150 stores; not online)

Marques De Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2015, Spain

If you like oak-matured white Rioja, this is for you: oaky, spicy, almost resiny richness balanced by intense preserved-lemon fruit and silky texture. It's in Morrisons' The Best Range and, although only in 100 stores, it's available online. It could take on the turkey or a rich fish dish.

£13, Morrisons

Akriotou Savatiano Orivatis 2018, Sterea Ellada, Greece

A gem from a boutique winery and vineyards high up off the beaten track in central Greece. Light bodied and full of interest, with delicately spicy, dried-flower aromas and a fresh peaches-and-cream palate sprinkled with spice and citrus zest. Lovely on its own, or with shellfish or salads. 12%

£13.50 (or £12.50 in any 6-bottle mix), Noble Green Wines; £13.99, Fintry Wines; £70.50 for 6, Strictly Wine; £71.06, for 6, Great Wines Direct

Marangona Lugana 2017, Italy

More expensive than the average Lugana and with good reason: it has both concentration and finesse. Mineral, almond cream and lemon notes on the nose and a lively but rounded palate with lemon, lime and apple fruit and a refreshingly zesty, saline finish. 12.5% 

£14.50, The Daily Drinker

Tibaldi Langhe Favorita 2018, Italy

A fresh, flowing, medium-bodied white with apple, pear and floral notes and mineral, herbal length. You may think you don't know the grape variety but Favorita is the local Piedmont name for Vermentino. Drink it as an aperitif or with salads, vegetable dishes or fish. The Langhe Nebbiolo made by the Tibaldi sisters, Monica and Daniela, is also worth trying (£17.50, Tanners). 13% 

£14.50, Tanners

G de Château Guiraud 2015, Bordeaux Blanc, France

The oak-matured dry wine from a great Sauternes producer gets top marks for its combination of honeyed fruit streaked with herbs and for crystalline acidity running through textured richness. It could tackle the turkey, a roast or creamy chicken dish, pheasant or fish pie.

£16, The Wine Society

Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon 2019, New Zealand

The latest Sauvignon from Kevin Judd in the style he’s perfected at Greywacke since leaving Cloudy Bay. Peach, lemon-zest and stem ginger; intense and zingy, but fleshier, riper, more textured and altogether more detailed than the laser-cut, grass-green Marlborough style. 13.5%

£16.95, Slurp, £16.99, Roberts & Speight; £17.99, Laithwaites and other independents.

Some stockists are still on 2018, including Majestic which has it at on offer at £14.99 from 9–16 December.

Adnams Grüner Veltliner 2018, Kamptal, Austria

From one of Austria’s star winemakers, Willi Brundlmayer, and Austria’s own grape variety, Grüner Veltliner. Mineral, lime and almond intensity with a twist of spice. A match for vegetable dishes, fish and seafood, spiced or not, or as an aperitif. 12.5%

£16.99, Adnams

Domaine Jean Chartron Bourgogne Blanc Clos de la Combe 2015, France

A creamy, rich, honeyed white Burgundy with white peach and hazelnut layers energised by clean-cut acidity. Classier than its humble Bourgogne Blanc designation suggests. If you want a classic French white for the turkey, this could be it. 13%  

£19.33, Private Cellar

No. 1 Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Vinzelles 2015, France

Beautifully creamy textured, lemony fruit with salted almond and honey flavours and racy acidity. A new Waitrose & Partners wine made specially by the highly regarded Joseph Drouhin. 13%

£22.99, Waitrose

Inama Soave Classic Vigneto du Lot 2016, Italy

Soave might not seem an obvious choice for the turkey feast, but the top wines have wonderful depth and complexity: in this case, exotic, mirabelle plum perfume, almond, herb and honey flavours and a beeswax-smooth texture. 13%. Another of Inama’s top Soaves, Vigneti di Foscarini 2017, which has a slightly more lemony accent, is in and 8 branches (£19.99). Or, if you want to dip a toe in the water before splashing out, I can also recommend Inama’s standard Soave Classico (above right; £13.99, Majestic).

£24.30, Majestic

Domaine Agnès Paquet Auxey Duresses 2017, France

A lovely, taut, concentrated Burgundy with yellow plum fruit, toast and mineral intensity. It'll give great pleasure any time over the next three years. 12.5%

£27.75, Haynes Hanson & Clark 


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