See also my selections of champagne and sparkling wines. A much shorter version of this article is published by the Financial Times.
Hand-picked whites and one delicious, unusual rosé below, among which I have tried to find the white burgundy bargains (mainly but not exclusively Chablis) and highlighted the increasingly impressive dry white bordeaux category. The most expensive wine is – no surprise perhaps – from California, but it’s superb. The best hunting ground for true value is South Africa, especially wines made from the country’s rich legacy of old Chenin Blanc vines.
The good news is that there seems a discernible move towards lighter bottles, thereby substantially reducing the carbon emissions associated with wine.
Pagos del Rey, Marqués de los Zancos 2021 Rioja 12.5%
Viura (aka Macabeo), which doesn’t age too fast, that’s simple but notably crisp and fruity for a fiver. Bottle looks more expensive.
Greco di Tufo 2021 13%
Bottled-in-Bardolino decent example of this firm, dry, ageworthy Campanian white.
£6.99 Lidl, part of their Christmas Wine Tour while stocks last
Cady, Résilience Chenin Blanc 2021 Vin de France 12%
No hurry to drink this Loire product of fire and frost, a wine with great purity and acidity.
£9.95 The Wine Society
Adega de Pegões, Selected Harvest 2021 Peninsula de Setubal 13%
Lightly oaked Portuguese blend. Creamy, satin-textured, not unlike an especially light marmalade. Great evidence of the value to be found in Portugal.
Monte Schiavo, Organic 2021 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 12.5%
Certified organic with a fine line of lime-flavoured fruit. A good ambassador for the Italian white-wine revolution from a generally reliable appellation. Best served pretty cool. Lightly salty finish.
Tbilvino, Qvevris Kisi Orange Wine 2021 Kakheti 12%
Very pale orange. Lots of bite, floral chew and texture from ageing in Georgia’s traditional clay vessels. Really good fun as an introduction to the style. Peachy fruit compensates for the astringency.
£10 Marks & Spencer
Josef Leitz, Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Kabinett 2021 Rheingau 7.5%
Beautifully pure and minerally. With its very low alcohol, could this be a perfect afternoon or postprandial drink? An underpriced delight with great fruit/acid balance even at the full price. Very youthful.
£10.49 (reduced from £13.99 until 29 November) Waitrose
Tons de Duorum 2021 Douro 12.5%
Another underpriced Portuguese blend, this time from high-altitude vineyards in port country – a blend of northern Portuguese grapes has yielded an amazing array of aromas. Great value.
£10.60 Tanners Wine Merchants
Dom de la Chauvinière 2021 Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 12%
An unusually characterful white based on a grape variety that’s a member of the greater Pinot family, grown round the mouth of the Loire. Usefully low in alcohol.
£10.95 Haynes Hanson & Clark
Château Bel Air Perponcher, Réserve 2021 Bordeaux 12%
The Despagne family’s blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle is so much more interesting than most varietal Sauvignons. Lively fruit, bone dry.
£10.95 The Wine Society
Cramele Reças, Orange 2021 Romania 13%
‘Orange’ generally refers to the colour but this skin-contact blend really does taste slightly orangey. Good balance and just a little bit of chewiness on the end. This would be a great introduction to the style.
Blütenreich Grüner Veltliner 2020 Niederösterreich 12%
Lively, easy, not that concentrated, but a pure expression of Austria’s signature grape with relatively low alcohol.
£11.49 MJ Wine Cellars
Javier San Pedro Ortega, Viuda Negra Las Levantadas 2021 Rioja 13.5%
Another Iberian blend with real complexity and ageing potential. The red equivalent is excellent too.
£11.95 The Wine Society
Vasse Felix, Classic Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Margaret River 12.5%
Smells much more of Sémillon than Sauvignon with the vague waxiness that would make this a great food wine.
Oenops, Apla 2020 Greece 12.5%
A great demonstration of the sophistication of modern Greek wine. A fresh, interesting, blend that’s a bargain.
£12.88 Lay & Wheeler
Baleia Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Cape South Coast 13.2%
From an interesting new outfit on the extreme south-east coast of South Africa’s wine-lands. Appetising marine influence and integrity here with savoury structure and some ageing potential.
£13.99 Bancroft Wines
Stellenrust, Stellenbosch Manor Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2020 Stellenbosch 14%
Light struck-match character, high acidity, real interest on the mid palate, and obvious potential for ageing. In fact I’d hold this trophy winner for a few months.
Ch d'Arche, A de Château d'Arche 2020 Bordeaux 13%
Sauternes grapes are increasingly made into dry wines and this is a great example. Rich Sémillon palate but a bone-dry finish. Very smooth texture. Quite seductive!
£14.95 The Wine Society
Douloufakis, Dafnios Vidiano 2021 Crete 13.5%
Floral, exuberant nose and a teasing, especially fruity palate that slides into a certain leafiness. Long and pungent with smokiness on the end.
£14.95 The Wine Society
Great Heart Chenin Blanc 2020 Swartland 13%
A South African classic that’s the product of a staff-empowerment project at Mullineux & Leeu. A great initiative that deserves support, but the wine has real lift and personality too.
Ch Suduiraut, Lions Sec de Suduiraut 2021 Bordeaux 13.5%
Another dry wine from Sauternes grapes but not as heavy as others. Smells like a dry white Pessac-Léognan. A real success for immediate enjoyment but needs a chill.
£15.68 fine-wine traders Latimer Vintners, who would probably prefer to sell a case; single bottles at £21 will be available from Cambridge Wine Merchants next month.
Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2020 Alsace 13%
Trimbach make wonderfully tense wines and give them considerable bottle age before release. I often recommend a good Alsace Pinot Blanc, a please-all which can be enjoyed by anyone with or without food, as a suitable wine for large gatherings such as weddings.
Sybille Kuntz Riesling trocken 2020 Mosel 12%
Gosh! So chock-full of wild-flower (biodynamic) flavours. Really beautiful. Gorgeous already. Vital and unlike the Mosel Rieslings of old (more potent and drier) but such a well-balanced joy.
£15.99 De Burgh and others
Yalumba, Samuel's Collection Viognier 2017 Eden Valley 13.5%
60% barrel-fermented in old hogsheads. Smoky nose. A very distinctive style of Viognier that is much tenser and long-lasting than most Condrieus but there is real savoury Condrieu character here that opened up rapidly in the glass. With delicacy too. Great value for a wine more than five years old.
£15.99 Taurus Wines, £18.54 Four Walls Wine Company
Famille Brocard, Organic 2020 Chablis 13%
Almost irresistible classic Chablis with those liquid ‘green’ notes and stoniness – evokes water flowing over stones in a cool country stream. No one could object to this delightfully accessible, true-to-type Chablis. No excess ripeness despite the hot vintage.
£16 Marks & Spencer
Dom Cordier, Clos du Four 2020 Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine 12.5%
(Southern) white burgundy under £20 from a cool site that results in a wine with real race, pace and tension. More lithe than many white Mâcons today.
£17.50 The Wine Society
Moschopolis, Aióra 2021 Greece 13%
Scrummy! Unusual blend of Greek grapes results in a lovely blend of freshness and laurel leaf from a newish winery near Thessalonica. Beautifully composed.
£17.99 MJ Wine Cellars
Daniel Dampt 2020 Petit Chablis 12%
Super-crisp but with good, ripe fruit. Very gentle and flattering but with the recognisable cut and minerality of Chablis. Now that summers are warmer, Petit Chablis need no longer be skinny.
£18.50 Ellis Wharton
Dom Vaudoisey 2020 Bourgogne 13%
From one of the newer, younger producers who are bubbling up in Burgundy, thank goodness. This is Chardonnay grown round Volnay. Many white burgundies from grander appellations aren’t nearly as satisfying as this.
£19.50 Private Cellar
Kumeu River, Estate Chardonnay 2021 Kumeu 13.5%
This family outfit in the Auckland suburbs make some of the best Chardonnays in the world and in 2021 the Estate blend is exceptionally good, and cheaper than the single-vineyard bottlings. A fair copy of a fine Chassagne!
£20.68 Lay & Wheeler
Markovitis, Alkemi Xinomavro Rosé 2021 Macedonia 14%
Stunning Greek rosé. Imagine a cross between Barolo and the creamiest rosé overlaid with Christmas spices.
£21.50 The Sourcing Table
Inama, Foscarino Classico 2020 Soave 12.5%
So, so different from standard-issue Soave. And when I tasted it in a Waitrose line-up I noted how much more focus and confidence it had than the white burgundies shown. Very fair price.
André Ostertag, Vieilles Vignes Sylvaner 2020 Alsace 13%
Much, much richer than most examples of this grape, sometimes accused of being neutral, with a refreshingly long, dry finish.
£23.99 Bancroft Wines
Verum, La Tinadas Airén 2020 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 12.5%
Really intense fruit from ungrafted 72-year-old vines, with definite richness but no heaviness. Proof that La Mancha can produce fine wine.
£25 The Great Wine Co, also Great Wines Direct
Rebel Rebel, Old Vine Colombard 2021 Bottelary, South Africa 13%
Great character and lots of fruit from 35-year-old vines of a variety more usually grown to be distilled. Eat your heart out, Côtes de Gascogne… Really unusual for current drinking, though by no means underpriced.
£26 The Sourcing Table
Simonnet-Febvre, Montmains Premier Cru 2020 Chablis 13%
Just a little fuller than some vintages but truly Chablis-esque. Neat and approachable. Some hint of molten honey over those wet stones! A good buy compared with so many white burgundies…
£34.70 Great Grog
Dom Françoise et Denis Clair, En Remilly Premier Cru 2020 St-Aubin 13%
Really very exciting wine but with overall delicacy. Excellent acidity with a bit of chewiness on the end. This should age rather well.
£48.50 Haynes Hanson & Clark
Kutch, Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 Santa Cruz Mountains 13%
From 45-year-old vines in the mountains above Silicon Valley. Real texture and drive and with comfortable fruit/acid balance. Crystalline structure and hugely appetising.
£58 Roberson Wine