By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 14 December 2019


My top twelve white wines for serving this Christmas:


Durbanville, South Africa: CAPE TOWN SAUVIGNON SEMILLON 2019 Diemersdal (13.5%)  **STAR VALUE***
£7.99 Aldi
I was expecting this to be zippy and light at this price, but this is a classy white Bordeaux-style Cape blend with fleshy ripe fruits, rich creamy texture, good mouthfeel and honeyed notes.  Tastes quite complex for the price, made by Diemersdal, a historic C17 Cape estate.  Best with rich textured seafood like scallops or monkfish, but could work as a bargain turkey match.

Loire, France: SAUVIGNON DE TOURAINE ‘FLEUR DE PRINTEMPS’ 2018 Domaine de la Rochette (13%)
£10.75 L’Art du Vin; £14.50 Swig
For those who normally buy Sancerre, snap up this delicate elegant bright floral green-fruited Sauvignon with tangy acidity from a lesser-known corner of Loire for a fraction of the price.  Made by Francis Leclair, an enterprising winemaker who created and steered a group to create a new appellation, Chenonceaux.  Our tasters loved its crisp gooseberry fruit and creamy leesy palate.

Burgundy, France:  VIRE CLESSE 2018 Florent Rouve (13%)
£14 Marks & Spencer                   
An exceptionally good value Maconnais for those who like lightly oaked Chardonnay.  Ticks all the boxes for a crisp dry white with peach and white flower aromas, bright citric fruits and a hint of minerality.  Winemaker Florent Rouve is an emerging superstar in southern Burgundy, here he uses 30 year old vines with 11 months lees contat and old barrels to give gentle oak notes.  Rouve also makes very good Chardonnay in Arbois in neighbouring Jura too.


Burgundy, France:  CHABLIS 2016 Domaine de Claude Ecuelle (12.5%)
£15.99 Raeburn Wines Edinburgh                       
Claire & Gerald Vilain run Chaude Ecuelle – which translates as ‘hot bowl’ referring to the terracotta bowls that workers used to heat up their meals out in the vineyards.  The Vilains make very stylish soft Chablis with honeyed notes and a deliciously rounded texture – so it is not typically steely taut Chablis – but would suit those who like drinking Maconnais.
Loire, France: MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE ‘PRESTIGE’ 2016 Guilbaud (12%) ***STAR BUY***
£15.99 Luvians, St Andrews & Cupar; Graft Wines; The Sampler
Mature oaked Muscadet is a bit of a rarity – this beautiful rich dense smoky Muscadet is made by revolutionary Frederic Guilbaud who has reinvented Muscadet at his family’s historic Chateau de la Bretonnerie.  The grapes, in this case Melon de Bourgogne although it tastes more like a rich minerally Chardonnay, come from Frederic’s vineyard at La Haye-Fouassiere – with French oak barrique ferment and long lees ageing.  Ideal match with herby chicken breasts or roast turkey.

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2019Marlborough, New Zealand: GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 Kevin Judd (13%)
£16-£18.99 Woodwinters; Majestic Wine; Laithwaites; Exel Wines; The Wine Society; Luvians; NZ House of Wine
Named after the grey sandstone with high clay content found across New Zealand, Kevin Judd is famous for his work in establishing Cloudy Bay on the world’s wine map.  Today he runs his own label following the same philosophies: keeping yields down, acid in check, chasing ripeness and using non-aggressive winemaking.  2019 is his latest vintage from a small volume, but stunningly good year which basked in hot dry summer sun ripening grapes well.  This is one of Judd’s best in an opulent vibrantly fruity style with spicy aromas, ginger and citrus fruits finishing long, from grapes sourced from Southern Valleys, central Wairau plains and upper Awatere.

Rheingau, Germany: MELLIFLUOUS ELEMENTS RIESLING 2018 Eva Fricke (12%)
£19.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
If you have not tried Eva Fricke’s wines yet, you must. This young well-travelled winemaker comes from Lower Saxony, trained at Geisenheim in Rheingau and worked in South Africa, Spain, France and Australia along the way.  Now based in Kiedrich in Germany she makes really stylish minerally whites.  In this case from 40 year old vines – 50% from her own personally-tended organic vineyards and 50% from bought in grapes from a mix of soils from loess, slate to quartzite.  With 14 g/l residual sugar it is just off-dry, but with a sleek minerally juicy fruity character – and as smooth as its name.

Alsace, France: PINOT GRIS ‘ESTATE’ 2015 Hugel (14%)
(£16.50 Tanners Wine; The Wine Society)
Favourite from our recent Alsace tasting – this is a new addition from historic Hugel (established in 1639).  ‘Estate’ Pinot Gris is from a dozen plots near Riquewihr grown in an exceptionally warm vintage, 2015.  30% fermented in seasoned Burgundy barrels to add body without adding any oak notes.  Of all Alsace varieties, Hugel believe that Pinot Gris has the greatest ageing potential.  This could last another 4 years in the cellar, but is delicious now with its rich smoky tones and rich fruit concentration; serve with roast goose or turkey.

OVER £20

Greyton, South Coast, South Africa: LISMORE CHARDONNAY 2016 (13.5%) 
£25.99 Exel Wines, Perth; Hay Wines; Strictly Wine
Californian ex-pat Samantha O’Keefe bought a farm in a remote little-known area beneath the snowy Riviersonderend mountains, just west of Swellendam.  She is also a single mum with two children – a braze woman coping in the wilds of the South Coast – but he has succeeded in producing fabulous wines.  This barrel fermented French oak matured Chardonnay comes from the hot dry 2016 vintage: orange and apricot notes, smoky toasty with rich citric fruit concentration: very complex for the price.

Pichler Krutzler Riesling Kellerberg 2015 Wachau AustriaWachau, Austria:  RIESLING KELLERBERG 2015 Pichler-Krutzler (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£42.20 Raeburn Wines Edinburgh
Juicy baroque style from the warm 2015 vintage made by the dynamic duo of Elisabeth Pichler and Erich Krutzler, one of the new power couples on the Austrian wine scene.  This exquisite Riesling comes from the higher cooler sites of Kellerberg vineyard.  Rich full succulent with very ripe orange aromas, honeyed lush fleshy palate with sleek minerally notes and lovely long finish interwoven with lemon acidity.  Delicious served with roast goose.

Veneto, Italy: LUGANA I FRATI 2018 Ca dei Frati (13%)
£21.49 Valvona & Crolla Edinburgh       
From tiny Lugana region south of Lake Garda made from local grape Turbiana.  Anna Maria Dal Cero runs Ca dei Frati with her siblings Igino and Gian Franco focusing on high density planting, low yields and long lees ageing.  The result is an enchanting white blossom and lemony white with zippy freshness and a creamy leesy texture – very popular with our tasters.  At its best with grilled fish, but rich enough to serve with turkey.

Napa, California: HYDE DE VILLAINE CHARDONNAY 2013 (14%)  ***STAR BUY***
£56.95 Corney & Barrow Scotland
Outstanding Carneros Chardonnay, my favourite at a recent Californian tasting.  Made by famous Burgundian winemaker Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee Conti using fruit from the Hyde family’s vineyard in eastern Carneros, from a range of different Burgundian clones planted on shallow loam over clay.  Beautifully focused fruits, citrusy nose with very rich toasty palate with sumptuous fruit, vibrant mouthfeel and incredibly long minerally finish.  Beautifully focused and balanced, you barely notice the 14% alcohol.

Join Rose’s Bordeaux v South Africa wine tasting on Thursday 5 March at The Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh £45


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