Below are 59 exceptional whites and a pink currently on sale in the UK, chosen from literally thousands tasted in the last few months. I shall be devoting the next four Saturday articles specifically to champagne and other sparkling wines, sweet and strong wines, and more luxurious whites and reds for the holidays - but see also today's collection of Fifty great red buys.
Wines are listed in ascending price order, with the majority in the £8-15 price bracket I identified in Trade up, or down, but not too far as offering, in my view, the best value today. Unusually for me, I have concentrated on the big, easy-to-find retailers but please note that they are not always cheaper than Britain’s many excellent independent merchants. I have tried to give as accurate an indication of how widely available each wine is but please bear in mind that the biggest, most wine-orientated branches will have the widest selection. Where a price is given in brackets, this represents some special offer and often entails buying more than one bottle (three at Thresher/Wine Rack for example, and usually two at Majestic).
Regular visitors to this site will recognise some old favourites, now shared with readers of the Financial Times where this list is published today as part of a special supplement to the UK edition.
Ormer Bay Chenin Blanc 2004 Western Cape
The best in a recent showing of Fairtrade wines, specially bottled for this Fulham importer by the Citrusdal co-op.
Casablanca Chardonnay 2006 Casablanca Valley
Pablo Morande, father of Chile’s first cool climate wine region Casablanca has produced something really full of flavour and zest in 2006.
St Mont 2005 Côtes de St Mont
See Tariquet’s slighty similar example below. The Plaimont group of Gascon co-ops has fashioned an exciting and beguiling blend of Gros Manseng with the local Petit Courbu and Arrufiac grapes, rescued from extinction by André Dubosc of Plaimont.
Emmanuel Delaille, Le Vieux Clos 2005 Cheverny
£5.99 (£5.49 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Very lively and exciting nose with racy fruit. Greengage flavours. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay sur lie. Long.
d’Arenberg, The Stump Jump White 2005 McLaren Vale
£6.95 Bibendum, The Cellar Door of Overton
Bursting with fruit and the sunshine that ripened this full-bodied blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Marsanne.
Clos d’Yvigne, Princesse de Clèves 2005 Bergerac Blanc Sec
£6.99 (£5.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle. Interesting, full on palate. Smoky, tangy - a great house wine, though the red is even better.
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Grüner Veltliner 2005
From Huber in Traisental. 12.5%. “floral aromas and green plum flavours and a hint of spice” big and bold and good price for Grüner. Their Riesling Von den Terrassen is £8.99 at Oddbins.
A Passoni 2005 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
£6.99 (£6.49 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Nice looking, lots of fruit, long, good constitution. Grapefruit flavour in spades.
Daisy Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Marlborough
£7.49 (£4.99) Wine Rack and Selected Thresher
Expected 24 Nov. The way to keep prices this low is to ship the wine in bulk from producers Maven to Germany and bottle it (under screwcap) there. Very fresh, great price and just as good as many a wine selling at double the (three bottle) price. Distinctive label. Maven’s NZ-bottled Chardonnay at £9.99 (£6.66) is also worth a try.
Southbank Estate Pinot Grigio 2006 Hawkes Bay
£7.49 (£5.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Good value screwcapped Kiwi (the last two words being a tautology nowadays). Very full and spritzy. Perfumed, off dry. Drink soon.
Winter, Riesling trocken 2005 Rheinhessen
Lovely example of Germany’s new flavour-filled dry whites.
La Monacesca 2005 Verdicchio di Matelica
£7.95 Stone Vine & Sun of Hampshire
Strikingly ripe, fruity wine with no shortage of verve.
Leasingham Magnus Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
£7.99 (£5.33) Wine Rack and selected Thresher
Very fine and fruity with real punch. A great, great buy at the reduced price.
Luc Pétard, Sauvignon Gris 2005 Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France
£7.99 (£6.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Very nice smooth texture. Lovely and gently smoky nose with quite muted acidity - caresses the palate. Very broad, pungent flavours. Organic.
Tesco Finest Chablis 2005 Vaucher
Lively, correct steely expression of Chablis and good value.
Mâcon Fuissé 2005 Dom Thibert
£7.99 Tesco Fine Wine
Lots there. Their Pouilly Vinzelles is £8.99 at Waitrose and full and grainy. Montrachet Wines also have a good Thibert range.
Tesco Finest Tapiway Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Casablanca
£7.99 (£3.99 until 5 Dec) Tesco
Terribly prosaic label but lovely nose, focus, backbone and core of fruit. From Viña Ventisquero.
Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesing 2006 Great Southern
Herbal, off dry aperitif - basic label but lovely wine. What is it about Tesco and £7.99?
Leitz, Rüdesheimer Rosengarten Riesling Kabinett 2005 Rheinhessen
My notes say: ‘far too cheap’. Fragrant, bursting with ripe fruit flavour, already open and bumptious. A great, fruity aperitif.
St-Bris Sauvignon Blanc, William Fèvre 2005 St-Bris
Super-clean, well-made dry French Sauvignon Blanc from the outskirts of Chablis country with, thanks to the vintage, no shortage of fruit.
Villa Maria, Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Marlborough
A particularly delicate, vivacious example of New Zealand’s favourite export.
Domaine Servin 2005 Chablis
£8.49 (£7.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Definitely worth the premium over Tesco’s regular version at £6.20 - much more nervy and exciting while many 2005 Chablis are a bit flabby.
d’Arenberg, The Money Spider Roussanne 2005 McLaren Vale
£8.95 Bibendum, £8.99 Oddbins
Exciting Australian version of the Hermitage Blanc grape. Dry, full and long.
Dr Loosen Blue Slate Riesling 2005 Mosel
£8.99 larger Somerfields
Screwcapped burst of super-reviving fruit. Just 8.5 per cent alcohol - an afternoon drink? Not bone dry but not super sweet either.
Nals & Margreid Pinot Grigio, Punggl 2005 Alto Adige
£8.99 (£7.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Smoky nose, great name - off dry and lively.
Dom Tariquet, Les 4 Cépages 2003 Côtes de Gascogne
£8.99 (£5.99) Wine Rack and selected Thresher
Expected late Nov, Satisfying blend of Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and very lively for a 2003 but with more weight than usual.
Neil Ellis Chardonnay 2005 Stellenbosch
Lively and smooth - great texture, and vitality too.
Grant Burge Winemakers’ Secret Reserve 2005 Eden Valley/Adelaide Hills
£8.99 Tesco Fine Wine
Interesting, satisfying lightly oaked blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon, Pinot Gris, reminds me of Flagstone’s South African version. Why don’t more Australians vary the recipe this way?
Dom Chaume Arnaud 2005 Vinsobres
£9.75 Berry Bros
Very full and peachy, then appetising and grainy on the palate. A really good dinner party wine - a whole spectrum of new flavours and textures from Viognier and Marsanne.
Dom Pierre Bise, Clos de Coulaine 2004 Savennières
£9.75 Stone Vine & Sun
Very exciting, tangy and nutty with a dry finish. The real intensity of this appellation yet whistle-clean. Very long.
Sainsbury’s Chablis Premier Cru 2004
Excellent - fresh, green and clean. Just so zappy and immediate yet 100% Chablis… 13%. Mouthfilling yet so zesty. From the ever-reliable Brocard.
Petaluma, Hanlin Hill Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
Great value for an Australian classic. Bone dry and dense - no hurry to drink this.
Pouilly Fumé Les Chicottes 2005 Claude Fournier
£9.99 (£6.99 until 29 Nov) larger Tescos
Smokey exciting nose, green and zesty. Really good - takes a lot to get me excited about supermarket Loire whites.
Château du Nozay 2005 Sancerre
£10.87 Corney & Barrow
Very fresh and lively and, for once, with a real core of fruit.
Meyer, Gewurztraminer Eichberg 2004 Alsace Grand Cru
Dom Daniel Barraud, En Crèches 2004 St-Véran
£10.95 Lea & Sandeman
Rich, ripe and very expressive. Good value.
£10.95 Stone Vine & Sun
Seriously interesting, mineral-dominated version of the lychee-flavoured grape. Great spine and structure - far from flabby.
Valentin Zusslin Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes 2004 Alsace
£11.95 Gauntleys of Nottingham
Very intense and exciting with hints of ripe apricots.
Schloss Johannisberg Rotlack Riesling Kabinett 2005
£11.99 Tesco Fine Wine
Is this a joke? Germany’s poshest property in Britain’s biggest supermarket. Earthy, with good balance, delicate and tingly.
Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Semillon 2003 Barossa Valley
£11.99 largest Waitroses from 15 Nov
Big, full, verging on heavy but full-on pleasure and not too much oak. Serve with powerful foods, even stinky cheese.
Auntsfield Estate, Long Cow Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Marlborough
£11.99 Handford of London W11 and SW7
Much more density and personality than most. Attractively smooth texture, too.
Clos du Roc, Roc L’Abbaye 2005 Sancerre
Fascinating wine that tastes like a cross between a Sancerre and a Pouilly Fuissé. Very round and fruity. Lots of flavour and only 12.5%.
Huet, Clos du Bourg 2004 Vouvray Sec
£12.99 larger Waitroses
Very exciting biodynamic wine that can already be enjoyed but you need to be a fan of Chenin’s honey and tingle.
Fourchaume 2003 Chablis Premier Cru
A wonderfully pure, unusually nervy 2003 top quality Chablis from La Chablisienne co-op.
Verget, Terroirs de Chablis 2004 Chablis
£14.49 Oddbins special parcel
Seriously exciting wine that somehow glistens with potential. I’d drink it any time over the next four years - great vintage and a producer that was on top form in 2004. Tight and fine. This screwcapped wine tasted so much better than the Verget St Véran Terroirs de Davayé 2004 under synthetic cork tasted alongside it.
Finca Allende Blanco 2004 Rioja
£14.95 Berry Bros (the 2003 is £16.99 Oddbins Fine Wine)
Very intense with a lovely texture and light French oak. Creamy and excellent value compared with many white burgundies. The 2003 is also impressive but very soft.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2005 Mosel
£14.95 Berry Bros
Already notably open from a great vintage - use as an aperitif pick-me-up. Thoroughly bracing.
Château de Puligny, Le Clos 2004 Bourgogne
£14.95 Berry Bros
Cool, zesty, fresh and classic.
Dom Gérard Thomas, Les Murgers de Dents de Chien, Premier Cru 2005 St-Aubin
£14.99 Waitrose from 20 Nov
Very pure, intense white burgundy with attractive lemon and smoke character. Clever to have secured enough for 187 branches. Bone dry.
Dom Cordier 2005 Pouilly Fuissé
£14.99 (£13.99 until 5 Feb) Majestic
Dense, creamy, racy and complete, this wine should still be delicious for the rest of the decade.
De Bortoli, Gulf Station Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 Yarra Valley
A bit loose textured but fun and definitely Pinot. Drink as soon as possible. Screwcap.