78 surefire whites for the holidays

This is a longer version of an article also published in the Financial Times.

Following on from last week's orgy of red wine recommendations, time for whites.


Dolphin Bay Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Western Cape

£3.99 M&S

12.5% Surprisingly fruity for such a cheap wine, made from 65% Semillon, one of South Africa’s under-appreciated assets.


Casa Mia Pinot Grigio 2006 IGT Sicilia

£4.99 Sainsbury

13% From the innovative Settesoli co-op, a much more interesting (screwcapped) Pinot Grigio than most. Admirably delicate fruit. Pretty dire label, as so often chez Sainsbury.


Tesco Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine 2006

£4.99 Tesco

12% So fresh it’s positively saucy. Convincing evidence of the quality of both the 2006 vintage for French whites and Muscadet’s rising fortunes.


Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Valle Central, Chile

£4.99 Sainsbury

13% Certainly very fresh (screwcapped) even if it tastes slightly sweet. The opposite of classic but good value.


Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Casablanca Valley

£4.99 M&S

13% Not dissimilar to the Cono Sur Sauvignon but with some greengage fruit. Made by Pablo Morandé.


Stamford Brook Viognier 2006 South Eastern Australia

£5.99 Sainsbury

13% Good value. Classic opulent Viognier perfume and admirably fresh on the palate.


Tesco Finest Albariño 2006 Rías Baixas

£5.99 Tesco

12% Refreshing taste of the Atlantic from north west Spain via Condes de Albarei at a great price. A good shellfish partner.

Tesco Finest Pinot Gris 2005 Alsace

£5.99 Tesco

13% Perfumed, quite rich Pinot Gris from the Cave de Turckheim. Much racier than Tesco Finest Gewurz.


Saam Chenin Blanc 2007 Paarl, South Africa

£5.99 Bibendum, £6.99 Wines of the World

13.5% Flinty, passion fruit, so fruity!


Ch St-Jean-des-Graves 2006 Graves

£6.49 Waitrose

12% First class evidence of the Bordeaux white wine revolution, with equal parts of Semillon and Sauvignon.


Farina Colegiata Malvasia 2006 Toro

£6.49 Bibendum, Bacchanalia, Hiccup Wines, £6.75 Source

12.5% Serve not too cold. Lots of fruit. Exciting with a slightly tight finish.


Alois Lageder, Riff Pinot Grigio 2006 Alto Adige

£6.98 Asda

12% Admirable concentration of fruit – miles better than most Pinot Grigios.


Tesco Finest Kenton Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Adelaide Hills

£6.99 Tesco

13.6% Green fruited zesty wine is given ballast by some Chardonnay grapes.


Crow’s Fountain Chenin Blanc 2007 Stellenbosch

£6.99 M&S

13.5% Mouthfilling fruit and exciting freshness from Villiera, famous for their Chenin.


Limari Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Limarí

£6.99 M&S

13% From Concha y Toro and Chile’s exciting new northern fine wine district where Pacific influence cools otherwise desert conditions. Very discreet, dry and intriguing.


Dourthe Barrel Select Bordeaux Blanc 2006

£6.99 Tesco

12% Intense concentration and very fine texture. Better than the least impressive Pessac-Léognan whites.


Darting Estate Riesling 2006 Pfalz

£6.99 M&S

12.5% The current vintage of an M&S speciality does not disappoint: lots of body but pure, driven, tightly focussed fruit which tastes only just off dry.


Les Quatres Clochers Chardonnay Réserve 2005 Limoux

£6.99 Tesco

13% Underpriced, very fine copy of white burgundy from hills south of Carcassonne.


Nadine et Maurice Guerrin, La Roche 2006 Mâcon-Vergisson

£7.40 Tanners

13% Smoky, well balanced, fully open classic southern burgundy.


Dom Lafage, Cuvée Centenaire 2006 Côtes du Roussillon Blanc

£7.90 Beaconsfield Wine Cellars, £7.99 Bibendum,

13.5% Stunning blend of ancient Grenache Blanc with Roussanne vines. Wonderfully satiny texture and intense fruit.  


Dom de l'Orviel Viognier 2005 Vin de Pays Duché d'Uzès

£8.25 Jeroboams

14% Delicate apricot and yellow peach aromas with a touch of spiced honey even though it is bone dry.


Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2006 Rapel Valley

£8.49 Thresher (£5.66 in their 3 for 2 offer)

14.5% Fragrant, aromatic, pure, modern Chilean Viognier.

Leitz, Rüdesheimer Drachenstein Riesling Kabinett 2006 Rheingau

£8.49 (until 1 Jan, then £8.99) Waitrose

8.5% Respected young Rheingau producer delivers extra-clean, bright fruit in the popular ‘Dragonstone’ bottling. Medium dry.


Villa Maria Private Bin Gewürztraminer 2006 East Coast

£8.49 Waitrose

14.5% Good example of the drier, fine aromatic wines now emerging from New Zealand.


Schloss Saarstein Riesling trocken QbA 2006 Mosel

£8.50 SVS

11.5% Very lively, frank – bursts with life. Dry and persistent.


Stefan Winter Riesling trocken 2006 Rheinhessen

£8.50 Swig

12.5% Super pure, almost dry and relatively full bodied Riesling from one of the Rheinhessen’s up and coming stars.


Marmesa Chardonnay 2005 Edna Valley, California

£8.50 Hailsham Cellars, £8.99 Bibendum, £9.99 Oddbins, Whole Foods, Noel Young Wines

13.6% Sweet and fresh and fab value. A great example of a Central Coast Chardonnay.


Tabali, Chardonnay Reserve Especial 2005 Limari

£8.75 SVS

13.5% Slightly reduced nose but very different from the Chilean mainstream. Good value.


Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Marlborough

£8.95 Tanners

13.5% Mineral, tangy, interesting. A rarity too: a New Zealand wine stoppered by natural cork.


Springfield Special Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Robertson

£8.99 Sainsbury and Waitrose

12.5% Piercing minerality on the nose then admirably juicy fruit. A South African classic.


Dom Ste Barbe, Les Tilles 2006 Mâcon Villages

£9.25 SVS

13.5% Easy fruit that fills the palate.


Cave de Morgex, Vini Estremi 2006 Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle

£9.28 Caves de Pyrène

11.5% Aromatic, mineral, biodynamic.


Vigna dell Oche 2005 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore

£9.28 Caves de Pyrène

13% Fresh and lemony and organic. They also produce whacky aged examples.


Steenberg Semillon 2006 Constantia

£9.99 selected Waitrose

14% Distinctively leafy style from the Antarctic influenced eastern rim of the Cape of Good Hope. Biodynamic.


Elgin Vintners Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Elgin, South Africa

£9.99 Maj

13.5% Fresh, marine, sleek, lean – and the same price as a good Pouilly Fumé (see below).


Dom Jean-Pierre Bailly, Les Griottes 2006 Pouilly Fumé

£9.99 Maj

12.5% Mineral flavours quiver on the palate – or try Majestic’s Sancerre Clos des Bouffants at the same price which has green and juicy fruit.


Joseph Mellot, Le Clos du Pressoir 2005 Menetou-Salon

£10.25 C&B

12.5% Angular and lively. Very fine and racy.


Dom Andre Bonhomme 2005 Viré-Clessé

£10.90 Domaine Direct

14% Big, round and exciting. Bold and peachy but should not disappoint.


Quinta dos Roques, Encruzado 2006 Dão

£10.95 SVS

13.5% Tingly yet full, with lots of rich local character from northern Portugal.


Dom Vincent Dampt 2006 Chablis

£10.95 C&B

12.5% Very bright fruit, very direct. Very successful New World directness of fruit with the class of classic Chablis raw material.


Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2006 Margaret River

£10.99 Waitrose

13.5% This company’s signature blend, grassy and refreshing but very positive on the palate.


Howard Park Riesling 2006 Great Southern, Western Australia

£11.49 Bibendum

12% Some evolution already. Tight and bone dry.


Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2006 Robertson, South Africa

£11.49 Bibendum, £11.99 Quaff of Brighton, £12.50 Swig,

14% Very, very lively and dry.


Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Kabinett 2005 Nahe

£11.75 SVS

10% Tingly off-dry grapefruit and smoke flavours. Tense. Excellent.


Fairbank Viognier 2006 Victoria

£11.80 Tanners

14% All estate fruit from Bendigo – copybook Viognier. Persistent.


Dom Gavoty, Cuvée Clarendon 2006 Côtes de Provence

£11.95 Jeroboams

14.5% All Rolle grapes – very Provençal. Lots of substance. Popular at Le Gavroche. 


M&S 2006 Pouilly Fuissé

£11.99 M&S

13.5% From the Cave de la Colombe and a very good drink indeed. See also their Meursault at £20 which is a solid rendition at a fair price: molten gold, lemony with a hint of dry toast.


Isabel Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Marlborough

*£12.50 Harvey Nichols

13% Fine. Layered yet still delicate. A very transparent, fine version of a popular combo.


Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2005 Margaret River

£12.95 Jeroboams

12% Tighter than many previous vintages with strong smoky and citrus notes but lots of potential.


Dom Cordier 2006 Pouilly Loché

£12.99 Maj

14% Well worth the supplement over common or garden Mâcon whites. Really rich and revelatory. Big, showy, round and hugely rewarding but good citrus acidity. Good value compared with many a Côte d’Or white.


Dom Labet, Les Varrons 2004 Côtes du Jura

£13.25 Vine Trail

13% Pale straw. Super tangy Chardonnay. Really intense acidity and extraordinary persistence.


Collovray & Terrier, Tuiléries Orchys 2005 St Véran

£13.45 Jeroboams 

13% Delicately honeyed melon fruit. Quite modern, and reasonable value.


Olivier Merlin, La Roche Vineuse Vieilles Vignes 2005 Mâcon

£13.50 DeFine Food & Wine, £14.30 Noel Young

13.5% Very broad and easy and well made. Glossy. Some green fruit flavours.


Chablis Premier Cru Montmain 2004 Chablis

£13.99 M&S

12.5% Super clean, green, fresh, unoaked expression of unadorned far northern Chardonnay from La Chablisienne co-op, Marks & Spencer’s longstanding partners in the provision of Chablis to hurried hostesses.


Bois du Pied Redon 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

£13.99 M&S

13.5% Full blown but not flabby blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc from Ogier – a real southern Rhône cocktail and just as stimulating as a gin fizz. At the same price, their Le Fussier white Châteauneuf 2006 is even more herbal and juicy.


Dom Vincent Dampt, Vaillons Premier Cru 2005 Chablis

£14.79 C&B

12.5% Young Dampt is trying to make wines to drink early – and succeeding. Deep flavoured, even quite rich.


Les Noels de Montbenault 2005 Anjou Blanc Sec

£14.95 Vine Trail

13.5% Appropriately named rich but dry Loire Chenin from an extinct volcano. Excellent acidity, length and life from Richard Leroy in Rablay sur Layon. Well scouted!


Dom Huet, Le Mont Sec 2005 Vouvray

£14.99 Waitrose

12.7% Prime biodynamic exponent on an historic domaine – piercing but rewarding bone dry Loire Chenin Blanc.


Bruno Sorg, Grand Cru Eichberg Gewürztraminer 2005 Alsace

£15.70 Tanners

13% Rose petals and very slightly oily. Very good texture. Undertow of lime flavour.


Dom Dirler-Cadé, Cru Schimbert Pinot Gris 2005 Alsace

£15.95 BBR

13% Deep flavoured, nervy and persistent.


Allende 2004 Rioja Blanco

£15.99 Harrogate Fine Wines, £16.25 Harvey Nichols 

13.7% Creamy with lemon acidity. Quite fat but well corseted.


Qupé Marsanne 2006 Santa Ynez Valley

£16.50 BBR

12.5% Very rich on the nose – lemon curd, perhaps, thanks to the 13% Roussanne included? A good package and not too alcoholic.


Roc d’Anglade 2006 Vin du Pays du Gard Blanc

£16.75 A&B Vintners

13% Very distinctive smoky aromas on this exceptional Chenin Blanc from the Languedoc/Rhône border. Of interest to those who cannot afford Coche Dury’s Meursaults? 


Ken Forrester,The FMC Chenin Blanc 2006 Stellenbosch

£16.99 Waitrose

14.5% Another fine vintage for this concentrated off-dry speciality, now matured in larger, 400 l barrels of new French oak.


Dom Pierre Gaillard, Les Gendrines 2005 Côtes du Rhône Blanc

£17.25 Jeroboams 

14% Peachy but finishes very fresh. Interesting, from the greater Condrieu area.


Craiglee Chardonnay 2005 Victoria

£17.50 BBR

11% Very respectably evolved wine from near Melbourne, even if a little sweet.


Landmark Vineyards, Overlook Chardonnay 2005 Sonoma County

£18.25 Jeroboams

14% Plenty of spicy oak and sweet ripe melon fruit. As reliable as ever though no longer cheap.


I Clivi, Brazan 2003 Collio

£18.75 Oddbins

13% Exotic Friulian blend of local grape varieties with great depth of flavour.


Dom Zind Humbrecht Riesling Heimbourg 2004 Turckheim, Alsace

£19.50 top Waitrose stores

13.5% Positively humming with intense biodynamically-raised fruit.


Yves Colin-Morey, Les Champlots Premier Cru 2006 St-Aubin Blanc

£19.68 A&B Vintners

13.5% Lovely balance and nerve from this relatively lowly appellation. Both richness and tension in an already delectable package. Great stuff for the price.


Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon 1999 Hunter Valley

£19.99 selected Waitrose

10.4% A toasty New South Wales classic, first produced in 1963, from a superlative vintage just entering its mature phase.


Guigal 2005 Condrieu

£21 Waitrose

14% Dependable expression of Viognier on its home ground.


Chivite Colección 125 Blanco 2005 Navarra

£21 larger Waitrose

14% Slightly oaky but very ambitious northern Spanish answer to white burgundy from the region’s leading wine company’s smart new winery.


Moret-Nominée 2005 Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy

£24.95 Tanners

13% Quite chunky, fresh, lemony, sleek – very correct and long.


Ramey Chardonnay 2005 Russian River Valley

£26 Whole Foods, £26.50 Philglas & Swiggot,

14.5% Very well balanced. Spicy but restrained too. Deep and dense.






Dom Bunan, Moulin des Costes 2005 Bandol Rosé

£10.99 larger Tescos

13.5% This very pale wine has lasted remarkably well and still has both enormous herby Provencal local character and real intensity of flavour.


Dom Emmanuelle Mellot 2006 Sancerre Rosé

£11.99 Sainsbury

13% Not cheap but this is actually how a pink Sancerre should taste as opposed to tasting like a watery Pinot Noir: very pretty, from Alphonse Mellot’s biodynamic vineyards.