Festive whites 2023

white wine in glass

A much shorter version of this collection of recommendations is published by the Financial Times.

A huge variety of styles, prices from £6 to over £80, and alcohol levels from 7.5 to 15% are recommended below. This year I’ve included the odd rosé in recognition of its popularity – but have concentrated on pink wines with real personality. No apologies for including so many South African wines – they are on a roll! Do remember that buying in quantity usually results in substantial discounts, especially from independent wine shops.


Pagos del Rey, Marqués de los Zancos 2022 Rioja 12.5%
100% Viura, aka Macabeo, and it does smell of this potentially fine grape variety. This is it in its simplest, unadorned, lemony form but is remarkable for the price.
£6 Tesco

HER Wine Collection, Amandla Sauvignon Blanc 2023 Western Cape 12.5%
Another crisp house white with a little bit of sweetness but this is positively sleek, lively and appetising with even a hint of fashionable ‘minerality’. Made by a team of skilled Black women.
£9.50 Tesco

Producteurs Plaimont, Grande Cuvée Tradition 2020 St-Mont 12.5%
Blend of grapes special to south-west France made by the progressive co-op in the region responsible for Armagnac. Really interesting, underpriced wine with notes of gooseberries and wild flowers, and crunchy texture.
£9.50 Tesco

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2023 Marlborough 12.5%
Very light, even delicate! An effect of last February’s cyclone? Unlike many a New Zealand Sauvignon, this is bone dry and should stimulate a jaded festive palate.
£10 Tesco

Viña Leyda, Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc 2022 San Antonio 13%
There is real energy here and no extremes. Really punchy fruit from Chile’s Pacific coast and the right amount of pure acidity to keep it refreshing. Green-fruit flavours but no copy of Marlborough. Long finish.
£11 Tesco

The Blind Spot Riesling 2022 Clare Valley 11%
Dry, nervy Clare Riesling like this is an Australian classic.
£11.50 The Wine Society

Kumeu River, Village Chardonnay 2022 North Island 13%
From the address that makes NZ’s answers to fine white burgundy. Blend of fruit from the outskirts of Auckland and the Brajkovich family’s new vineyard in Hawke’s Bay, this vintage has a bit more substance than previous ones. A streak of lime and a certain stony quality. Incredible value.
£12.50 The Wine Society, £15.21 Lay & Wheeler

Corte Mainente, Vigna Cengelle 2022 Soave 12.5%
A distinctly superior, single-vineyard Soave that owes its refreshing citrus character to keeping the skins in contact with the juice longer than usual. Very well made.
£12.50 Stone Vine & Sun

Domäne Wachau, Katzensprung Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2022 Wachau 12%
Very clean, pure example of Austria’s signature grape variety. Just the job for proof of this producer’s neat, pleasing, varietally true style. Not a fancy wine but absolutely hits the button for varietal expression and early drinking.
£13 Tesco

Rustenberg, Wild Ferment Unwooded Chardonnay 2022 Stellenbosch 13%
Not unlike a Chablis but with an overlay of the South Atlantic. Lots of fruit. This would be an attractive aperitif and would really get the appetite going.
£13 Tesco

Château Courbin Héritage, Grande Réserve 2022 Graves 13.5%
Mainly Sémillon with 15% Sauvignon Blanc and just a little bit of oak, this is a great-value alternative to white burgundy. Pungent, green-fruit flavours with a little bit of a smoky overlay. A really fine, quite complex wine to drink with food.
£13.95 Stone Vine & Sun

Joostenberg, Myburgh Bros Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021 Paarl 13%
Tense and lively. Lots to grab the attention for the money! Green apples and honey – classic South African Chenin.
£14.05 Corney & Barrow

Parisio 2022 Gavi 13%
Complete, broad aroma but not at all fat. Good wine with real structure. A little note of bitterness on the end after a pure, long, melon-fruited palate based on Cortese grapes.
Stone Vine & Sun

Domaine de Pierre, Les Sauterelles 2022 Touraine 12.5%
Classic Loire Sauvignon Blanc that’s a little lighter and drier than many an NZ Sauvignon. Gooseberry flavours with verve and grit.

£14.50 Lea & Sandeman

Zugober, Belezos 2020 Rioja 13%
Oak-aged but the oak is not overdone and makes this wine creamy and satisfying – especially at this price. Salted lemon flavours. Fun and interesting.
£14.60 Corney & Barrow, £15 Hic!

Amoterra 2022 Verdicchio di Matelica 13%
Organic wine from Italy’s Marche on the Adriatic coast. Youthful creamy fruit. Who needs French white when you have this quality from Italy? There is such pleasure here already but the Verdicchio grape variety also has a track record of ageing beautifully. 

£14.75 Songbird Wines, £15.50 Seven Cellars, £15.99 Guildford Wine Co

Origin, Grand Vin de Stellenbosch Village Viognier 2023 Stellenbosch 13.5%
15% fermented in amphora. For a true example of the heady, blossomy grape of Condrieu this is good value.
£14.99 Majestic

Tutiac, Calhavera Sémillon 2022 Graves 12.5%
Sémillon from a single gravelly vineyard and made by the Blaye co-op in Bordeaux. Eight months’ oak-ageing after barrel-fermentation. Excellent varietal character on the nose and palate. Just the job for fans of the ‘green grape’. Green fruits and lanolin and a suggestion of quite a long life.
£14.99 Majestic

Wynns Chardonnay 2022 Coonawarra 13.5%
Aged in both tank and used French barrels. A charmer from a South Australian Cabernet specialist that’s nothing like burgundy but has a good fruity core and lots of creamy acidity.
£14.99 Majestic

La Comarcal, Delmoro 2022 Vino de España 11%
Certified organic, very pure wine that has squeezed every ounce of flavour from the local Merseguera grape grown in the hills of Valencia. But usefully low in alcohol.
£16.70 The Sourcing Table

Braunewell Riesling trocken 2021 Rheinhessen 12%
Blend from several vineyards and several soils. Light and steely for those who treasure acidity – the last grapes weren’t picked until 11 November.
£16.95 Lea & Sandeman

Pazo da Maga, MG 2022 Ribeira Sacra 13%
Real excitement from almost impossibly steep Galician vineyards, with lots of lime flavour and structure. So appetising and interesting. Very long and complete.

£17.95 Lea & Sandeman

Les Vins de Vienne 2022 St-Péray 13.5%
Fresh and tangy, this is one of those wines that builds towards the long finish. Really individual blend of 80% Marsanne with Roussanne grapes. Racy and filigree-textured.
£17.99 Waitrose

Zambartas Xynisteri 2021 Lemesos 13%
Proof of Cypriot winemaking expertise in this wine made from the island’s characteristic white wine grape grown at 850 m. Such a confident, assertive wine! More than a hint of grapefruit zest here but lots of interesting fruit to explore too.
£19.49 M J Wine Cellars

Savage, Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2022 Western Cape 13.5%
Duncan Savage is a star of South African wine. This is unlike any other Sauvignon in its focused aromatic, crisp, gentle rendition that really gets the saliva going.

£19.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

Farmer’s Leap Chardonnay 2019 Padthaway 13%
Classic, pure, cool-climate Chardonnay that reminds me more of a good New Zealand Chardonnay than a typical, tight Australian Chardonnay. This may not be worth cellaring forever but it's nicely evolved and just lovely now. Lime and blossom and beautifully balanced.
£19.96 Private Cellar

Acústic 2021 Montsant 14%
Mainly Garnacha Blanca grown in the hills of Catalunya just outside Priorat. Much more structured than most white Grenache-based wines.
£20.75 Lea & Sandeman

Camille Braun, Melting Potes Edelzwicker 2022 Alsace 13%
Organic and biodynamic. Intense blend of five grape varieties with such a lot of fruit it almost tastes sweet! I’d defy anyone not to like this wine. Very impressive. Fruity but tense on the end. 
£21 Wine Freedom of Birmingham

Elephant Hill Chardonnay 2019 Hawke's Bay 13.5%
An antique! Was this left behind in the warehouse? Anyway it’s attractive now and not expensive. For NZ fans this will hit the spot. Very slight sweetness but quite enough acidity to make a balanced wine.
£21.05 Corney & Barrow

Supernature Pinot Gris Orange Wine 2022 Upper Hemel-en-Aarde 13.5%
Very pale orange. South African Pinot Gris seems to respond well to skin contact; this wine had 10 days on grape skins. The nose is perfumed and intense and the palate has quite enough freshness to counteract Pinot Gris’ insistent fruit.
£21.60 The Sourcing Table

Domaine des Deux Vallées, Clos du Petit Beaupréau 2020 Savennières 14%
From the Loire’s most intense Chenin Blanc appellation. Interesting nuts and hay on the nose. Very pure expression of dry Chenin that’s extremely refreshing and chock-full of character.
£20.85 Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £21.99 Majestic

Charles Frey, Granite Riesling 2020 Alsace 12.5%
Certified biodynamic. Very pure, mineral Riesling fruit with a bone-dry finish, as advertised on the sweetness scale on the back label. This throbs with vitality! Lovely elegance.
£21.99 M J Wine Cellars

Zugober, Belezos Finca La Malgranda 2017 Rioja 13.5%
Unusually mature with a distinctively nutty nose and really tangy palate. Not for neophytes but this should be of real interest to wine nerds. The Viura, from a single estate in Rioja Alavesa, was aged for 20 months in French oak to develop lanolin flavours and structure.
Corney & Barrow

Quinta da Romaneira Gouveio 2021 Douro 13%
Firm, confident and distinctive wine from higher vineyards in port country. Still youthful with lots of citrus elements. 

£22.50 Lea & Sandeman

Tensley, Fundamental Chardonnay 2021 Central Coast 13.5%
Manages to combine the tension of Santa Barbara fruit on the nose and the glorious creaminess and come-hither quality of California Chardonnay on the palate. Great value.
£23 Berry Bros & Rudd

Fabbrica, Newton 2020 Toscana 13.5%
Equal parts organic Vermentino and Viognier. Very fruity and fun with a twang. Lots to enjoy here. Hedonistic.
£23 The Wine Treasury, £25 D Vine Cellars

Domaine Denis Carré Chardonnay 2020 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 13%
Affordable white burgundy. Lightly nutty. Fresh and nicely balanced with recognisably burgundian savour. Not for long-term keeping but good for now.

£23.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

Domaine Gilles Lesimple 2021 Sancerre 13%
Smoky nose and very tense on the palate. A Sancerre that
s trying hard and not just depending on the name.
Corney & Barrow

Domaine René Lequin-Colin, Back to the Roots Chardonnay 2020 Bourgogne 12.5%
Crystal-clear fruit and fine but not painful acidity. Probably not a very long-term wine but good value.

£24.95 Stone Vine & Sun, £28.99 Nine Elms Wines

Klein Constantia, Metis Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Constantia 13.5%
The result of winemaker Matthew Day’s stint with Pascal Jolivet in Sancerre. There is real interest and a creamy texture here as well as that undertow that the Cape seems to imbue in Sauvignon. But it’s more expensive that the real thing from Corney & Barrow!

£24.99 Majestic

Domaine Jérôme Fornerot, Champ Tirant 2019 St-Aubin 13%
Affordable white burgundy with some maturity that is bracing rather than rich.

£25 The Wine Society

Familie Mantler, MAMA Skin Contact Grüner Veltliner 2022 Austria 12%
Seven days’ maceration before fermentation in small, old barrels has resulted in a really interesting, pungent, quirky-but-recognisable Grüner with an appetising dry finish.
£25.99 M J Wine Cellars

Schloss Gobelsburg, Zöbing Riesling 2022 Kamptal 13%
Really gorgeous for lovers of intense Riesling that expresses a single vineyard. Offers pleasure now and well into the future.
£26.80 Hedonism

Domaine Marcel Deiss, Riquewihr 2020 Alsace 13%
Field blend of Riesling and Pinot Blanc grown on clay. Lovely satin-textured, extremely racy wine that’s still very youthful. There’s real tingle here.
£27.95 Lea & Sandeman

Salomon, Wachtberg Grüner Veltliner 2020 Kremstal 13%
Intense, concentrated, screwcapped Austrian wine grown on gneiss and schist – really very rewarding. Gherkin and herb flavours – a lovely single-vineyard wine for drinking with or without food. 

£27.95 Lea & Sandeman

Domaine Jean-Marc Vincent, Premier Cru 2019 Montagny 14%
Top Santenay producer’s holding in the Côte Chalonnaise but, being a racy, layered and savoury wine, it tastes more like a Côte d’Or white burgundy. Eminently likeable.
£29 The Wine Society

Domaine Besson, Vaillons Premier Cru 2020 Chablis 12.5%
Light nose but on the palate it’s very recognisably Chablis and thoroughly appetising with green-fruit flavours and light wet-stone flavours too. This would make a great aperitif.

£29.95 Berry Bros & Rudd

Prager, Hinter der Burg Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2022 Wachau 12.5%
Light and pure. A wine that positively dances on the palate. Fresh and floral with real impact. In a warming climate, are the lighter Federspiel wines more appealing than the more expensive Smaragds?

£32 Berry Bros & Rudd

BlankBottle, Smaug the Magnificent 2021 Voor Paardeberg 13.5%
Blend of five different – mainly Rhône – grapes aged in a mix of old oak barrels, amphora and concrete. Richly satisfying in terms of fruit yet extremely refreshing. Well done!
£32.50 Swig

Domaine Émilian Gillet, Quintaine 2020 Viré-Clessé 15%
Quite potent! This late-picked Mâconnais wine tastes deliberately rich and opulent with an undertow of Granny Smith apples. Pure pleasure … A nice savoury note on the end.
£32.50 Lea & Sandeman

J J Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2021 Mosel 7.5%
So pure! So delicate! So unique! Lovely, compelling delicate fruit on the front palate. No sign of the obvious sulphur that used to characterise young J J Prüm wines. You could drink this now but I know from experience that they can last for decades.

£35 Berry Bros & Rudd

Savage White 2022 Western Cape 13.5%
Honestly, this is worth it. A beautifully sculpted, refined oak-aged blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon
that recalls the sleekest, least-fat Pessac-Léognan. Great stuff! Apparently the 2013 is still in great shape in 2023.
£36 Swig (arriving end November 2023)

Danbury Ridge Chardonnay 2021 England 13.5%
All I’ll say is that you have to taste this Essex newcomer and game-changer.
£39 Padstow Wine Co,
£40 Swig

Kumeu River, Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2022 Kumeu 13.5%
This is the raciest of Kumeu’s world-famous single-vineyard Chardonnays. It tastes like a cross between a Chassagne and a St-Aubin. You could definitely enjoy it already if you liked a leaner style but it would benefit from further ageing ideally.
£41.90 One More Wine Shop and others

David Moret, Sous La Velle 2021 Meursault 13%
Exceedingly pure white burgundy from a promising micro-négociant.
£81.45 VINVM, £106.65 Alexander Hadleigh, £110 Mother Vine


Domaine d'Arbousset 2022 Tavel 13.5%
Big and bold with such low acidity that it seems a bit sweet but there is bite here and this could be a usefully versatile partner to all sorts of foods, even highly spiced dishes.
£12.50 Tesco

Guigal 2021 Côtes du Rhône 14%
Crisp but mouth-filling Grenache-based fruit from the Rhône’s leading blender-bottler with a little chewiness on the finish. This is another rosé for the table with so much more guts that most pink wines.
£13.49 Waitrose

Domaine Maby, Prima Donna 2022 Tavel 14.5%
From a highly respected family wine producer in the southern Rhône, this substantial wine is based on juicy Cinsault grapes and holds its alcohol well.
£14.50 The Wine Society

Benegas, Carmela Cabernet Franc 2022 Maipu 12%
Firm with a real core of obvious aromatic Cabernet Franc fruit. Mouth-filling. A really satisfying rosé. Great for the table – any table.
£16.50 Seven Cellars of Brighton

More detailed tasting notes, scores and suggested drinking dates in our tasting notes database. International stockists at Wine-Searcher.com.

Image by Lillya Krueger via Getty Images.