WHITE WINES FOR CHRISTMAS
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 4 December 2021
A selection of dry whites to suit every budget over the festive period:
Tokay, Hungary: TOKAJI DRY FURMINT 2019 Pajzos (12%)
£8.95 The Wine Society
Brilliant value dry example of Hungary’s Furmint, combining fresh brisk acidity, ripe bruised apple fruits, hints of spice and creamy viscous texture. Note the moderate alcohol level at just 12%. Pajzos, owned by the Laborde family from Bordeaux, are a name to watch making rich intense styles. Easy to drink on its own, but rich enough for turkey and trimmings.
Bordeaux, France: LES DEUX SOEURS 2018/2019/2020 (12.5%) ***GOOD VALUE***
Marie & Sylvie Courselle at their family’s eco-friendly chateau are shaking up the rule book in traditional Bordeaux with this three vintage/three grape blend. 2018 for roundness, 2019 for minerality and 2020 for fresh fruit, whilst Sauvignon Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon give a seamless blend of richness and texture to match smoked salmon starter or roast goose.
Swartland, South Africa: DIE KLUISE CHENIN BLANC 2021 Leeuwenkuil (12.5%)
£11.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
Step up from usual Cape Chenin at this price, this has honeyed depth, tropical fruit notes, zippy freshness, brisk acidity and hints of complexity. From a family estate run by Willie and Emma Dreyer with dry farmed (unirrigated) vineyards in Swartland, once known better for cereals than grapes. Serve as aperitif or with smoked salmon starter.
Loire, France: POUILLY FUME LIMITED EDITION 2020 Chassaux (13%)
Might look pricey for Aldi, but this is one of their nine Winemaker’s Lot premium wines – good value for the Pouilly Fume appellation. Sleek Sauvignon Blanc from a blend of limestone, clay and flint soils; pungent green fruits, creamy palate, classic smoky notes and minerally finish.
Coastal Region, South Africa: GFV CHARDONNAY 2021 Gabb Family (13.5%)
£14.99 Majestic Wine
If you prefer your Chardonnay lightly oaked, this example from Journeys End vineyards is restrained and balanced. With fermentation in stainless steel and just 30% racked into barrels for 5 months, the oak is very subtle with hints of ripe apricot, rich sweet mouthfilling citric fruits with crisp finish.
Valencia, Spain: MESTIZAJE BLANCO 2018 Bodegas Mustiguillo (13.5%)
£14-£15 Berry Bros; Decantalo; Bibendum Wine; Noel Young Wines; North South Wines
Big favourite at our recent Spanish tasting, this obscure unoaked blend of Merseguera, Viognier and Malvasia grown at 900 metres altitude about 80km inland from Valencia. Made by the talented winemaker Toni Sarrion of Mustiguillo; beautifully peachy floral on the nose with vibrant acidity, smooth rounded texture, zippy dry finish.
Upper Hemel en Aarde, South Africa: NEWTON JOHNSON CHARDONNAY 2020 (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
This beautifully balanced Chardonnay shone out at a recent tasting. Grapes from the Johnson family vineyard in the shadow of Babylonstoring mountains where cool mountain breezes and granite soils give this wine a citric freshness combined with rich leesy weight and creamy texture with underlying smokiness – and no sulphur used in winemaking. Very impressive.
Margaret River, Western Australia: VASSE FELIX ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2019 (13%)
£25 Harvey Nichols, Vinvm, Latitude Wines, Farnham Wines
Winemaker Virginia Willcock believes the key to Margaret River is the southern Indian ocean breezes keeping fruit cool allowing bunches to ripen slowly. The unique Chardonnay GinGin clone gives such intensity. A fine example of how good Margaret River can be; elegant, complex with depth of citric fruit flavour.
Alsace, France: PINOT GRIS ROCHE CALCAIRE 2018 Zind Humbrecht (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£20 The Wine Society
Rich luscious Pinot Gris from one of Alsace’s finest domaines. The grapes come from Clos Windsbuhl, a 5.5 hectare vineyard wholly owned by the Zind Humbrechts, where chalky soils and southeast aspect create wines with vivid intensity. Loved its honeysuckle and musky perfume, off-dry style, finesse and complexity with characteristic smokiness on the finish from the terroir. Big rich wine from warm 2018 – serve with roast goose.
Franken, Germany: SULZFELDER SONNENBERG SILVANER TROCKEN 2017 Weingut Zehnthof (12.5%)
£25 Raeburn Fine Wines
The Luckerts make deep characterful Silvaner, a grape which is often ignored as there are many poor early-harvested examples. This is Silvaner from Franken region at its best from organically grown fruit and old vines; tense minerally, dried herb, savoury, sleekly dry white with fabulous acidity – slender and characterful.
Burgundy, France: BOURGOGNE CLOS DU CHATEAU 2017 Chateau de Meursault (13.5%)
£26 Justerini & Brooks
It may be a simple generation Bourgogne Blanc appellation, but this is serious classic white burgundy for the price which hails from an east facing Clos in the grounds of Chateau de Meursault. Light buttery notes, citric fruits, freshness from chalky limestone, smooth rounded texture and oak notes from ageing in 25% new oak barrels for one year.
Kent, England: THIS SEPTERED ISLE 2018 Hush Heath (12%)
Astonishing still dry white made by the Balfour family from seven traditional Champagne grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris and more. Fresh spicy notes, unctuously rich creamy rounded palate – from ripe 2018 vintage. Only 2000 bottles made – but proves to doubters about England’s still wine potential.
Mosel, Germany: MAXIMIN HERRENBERG ‘1896’ BLACK LABEL ALTE REBEN RIESLING TROCKEN 2016 Weingut Carl Loewen (12%)
£43.50 Raeburn Fine Wines
From vines planted in Queen Victoria’s region, still in its original form yielding tiny yields of small berries. This is the world’s oldest vineyard with ungrafted Riesling on this scale with steep slopes of red volcanic soils, rare in Mosel. Winemaker Christopher Loewen recreates the way the wine would have been made using C19 basket press. Lemon zest aromas, yellow fruits, hints of salinity, unctuous creaminess. tense dry minerally finish.
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