Below are some stunning dry white wines for entertaining your
friends, family and, most importantly, yourself over the festive
I have assumed that white burgundy is still regarded as the
classic dry white wine and have listed below some of the
easiest to source in Britain today. There are many more
suggestions from recent vintages in the extensive tasting notes on
purple pages such as on my surveys of German
2002s and white
burgundy 2001 and 2000
(purple pages 2002). Readers outside Britain should consult WineSearcher
for international stockists of any wine.
Fine white burgundies are to be found from all three currently
available vintages 2000, 2001 and 2002 (on the last of which I shall be
reporting in detail next month). Chablis was particularly
good in 2002 and prices for basic Chablis, which is already
drinking well, are quite fair. In my opinion only the very
finest white burgundies, the best Grands Crus and
counterparts, are worth keeping for many years in a cellar.
This is in marked contrast to good quality Riesling which can
be kept for years and occasionally decades, slowly deepening
in flavour in bottle. These more aromatic wines, many of them
quite dry, are generally more food-friendly than standard
issue Chardonnay (including many white burgundies) and also
make more appetising, and less heady, aperitifs for serving without
Germany's 2002s are already deliciously open and gulpable, in
stark contrast to the 2001s. There are many more specific
recommendations on purple
Chablis 2002 Cave des Vignerons
Very good value and a testament to this vintage. Powerful nose. Very
fresh, punchy and characteristic Chablis. Not for
St Véran 2002 Blason de Bourgogne
£5.99 (reduced from £7.99 this
Very good price for this winning combination of vintage and
Chablis 2002 Vocoret
£8.99 (£7.99 if two are bought)
Very cool, true and well defined but don't hang on to this one.
St Véran, Terroirs de Davayé 2002 Verget
£9.49 Bon Coeur
Fine Wines of London SW8, £11.95 Roberson
of London W8
Rich, creamy, flattering and open though with masses of zesty acidity,
the hallmark of both vintage and producer in this
Pouilly Fuissé, Vigne Blanche 2000
£11.95 Stone, Vine
Big, very full and sweet with notes of lemon and liquorice.
Rully Premier Cru 2001 Vincent Girardin
£11.99 (£10.99 if two are bought)
Very correct winemaking. Tense, dense, long and great for now.
Pouilly-Loché 2002 Domaine Cordier
Full, a bit loose, lemon-scented and very explosive on the finish. This
style defines French structure: the opposite of
upfront. Downback? You can find many cheaper southern white burgundies
but Cordier is one of the top names and this wine
will still be good next Christmas.
St Aubin Premier Cru 2001 Domaine du Pimont
£12.99 top 50 Marks &
Proper, domaine-bottled, finely oaked white burgundy. Very appetising.
Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2000 Domaine
Northern outpost of Bouchard Père et Fils nowadays has a rock solid
track record in recent vintages (look out for the 2002s too). This
example is already very drinkable and lively but could easily be
cellared for another five years.
Bourgogne Blanc 2001 Domaine de la
£14.99 selected Thresher/Wine Rack
On paper this looks a rather high price for a basic white burgundy but
I actually preferred this utterly correct, open,
lemon-scented wine to the same producer's Meursault 2001 at twice the
St Aubin Premier Cru Les Frionnes 2001
Domaine Hubert Lamy
Lamy does a fine job and this wine is beautifully creamy in texture.
Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatières
2000 Joseph Drouhin
£25 top 58 Waitrose
White burgundy at its purest - so much so it is almost austere, but
infinitely preferable to yet another fat,
pineapple-chunk, barrel-fermented Chardonnay.
Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Vergers
2001 Domaine Marc Morey
£28.15 Haynes Hanson
Very fine, pure, well-delineated white burgundy. Could be drunk any
time over the next four years.
Bouchard Finlayson, Crocodile's Lair Chardonnay
2001 Overberg, South Africa
Very fine, lean, delicate - burgundian in fact. And a distinctly
Picardy Chardonnay 2001
Pemberton, Western Australia
wine seems very fine to me for the price, made by some of Margaret
River's pioneers who have moved to this new, cooler, more southerly
Cru Jarosa Chardonnay 2001 Lis Neris,
Alvaro Pecorari has a magic touch, whether it is Pinot Grigio or this
extremely fruity yet very lively single-vineyard
Chardonnay. For those who are tired of Chardonnay low-life.
Gravitas Oaked Chardonnay 2002 Marlborough,
About £14 OW
Wattisfield Wines of East Anglia
Definitively superior, and much-garlanded, producer giving us New
Zealand Chardonnay (and Sauvignon Blanc) with some real
depth and savour for a change. Could the low yields have anything to do
with this, perchance? Run by a London-based
MBA, wines made by Brian Bicknell, late of Errazuriz in Chile
More Aromatic Whites
Pheasant Gully Gewürztraminer/Riesling Bin 492
2003 South Eastern Australia
£4.99 Marks &
Most holiday households harbour at least one palate which favours easy,
perfumed whites that are not defiantly dry. This
is that wine - a grapey blend of cooler-climate grapes, including nine
per cent Muscat, without even a whiff of oak.
The Nackenheimer below would be more than three times as delicious
Gewürztraminer 2002 Cave de Turckheim,
£5.49 (reduced from £6.49 this
I was very impressed by this dramatic, risk-taking wine from one of
Alsace's best cooperatives. It finishes dry even
though there is almost 10g/l residual sugar. Definitely not for keeping
but it could be great with smoked salmon now.
Leiwener Laurentiuslay Spätlese 2002 Carl
Ripley of London SW18
Very rich and already quite open, like so many of the 2002s, with some
honeyed overlay. Gorgeous, luscious and quite a bit
Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling 1997 Eden
Great toasty mature Australian dry Riesling. Needs food but costs
hardly more than a good 2003 and you have the benefit of
six years' bottle age. Quite a bargain.
Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1996
Lively, zippy middle-maturing Mosel with hints of lime and just off dry
with masses of acidity and some development on
Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Heiligenstein
& Swiggot of London SW11 and Richmond, £16.50 Pont de
la Tour of London SE1, £13.95 The Wine Department of Wilmslow (tel
Mineral then fruity, all the dry-yet-full intensity of Austria's
wonderfully reliable fine dry whites from an
impeccable source. Take any Riesling or Grüner Veltliner from Wachau,
Kamptal or Kremstal seriously.
Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Spätlese
Very broad and ripe and exciting. Pears, blossom and some green
hedgerow notes from this outstanding Rheinhessen
producer (now joined by organic young Wittmann whose wines can be found
at The Wine Barn of Winchester).
Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese
2002 Josef Leitz
About £18 James Nicholson of
Ireland, Four Walls Wine of Chilgrove, Goedhuis
of London, Handford
Wines, Raeburn Fine
Wine of Edinburgh and Seckford
Just about any Leitz wine will give pleasure but this is already
gorgeous and particularly intense. You can find its
slightly less dramatic Magdalenenkreuz sister at Oddbins for just £9.99
- a great buy.
Next week - sweet and strong wines.