Dreaming of a white Christmas? 2023.In terms of the weather, considering what’s happened so far this year, I think that a snowy Christmas is a forlorn hope. But a white wine Christmas is certainly more achievable, with different styles pairing perfectly with much of our seasonal fayre.
At this time of year, Portugal’s most famous wine, namely port, is on many people’s radar, but Portuguese white wines naturally don’t come to mind. Overshadowed by the fabulous reds, both dry and sweet, there is a wide variety of whites whose quality has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years.
One of them is Esporão Monte Velho Branco Alentejano 2021 from the Herdade de Esporão in the warm Alentejo region, established in the 13th century. It’s a wonderful blend of indigenous grape varieties that most people, even in the wine trade, have never heard of: Antão Vaz, Roupeiro and Perrum. Some of the vines are over 40 years old, which significantly increases the quality profile of the resulting wine. Intense flavors of melon and ripe peach, with good balancing acidity of citrus. A great appetizer or with seared tuna steak or rolled herring. £8.95 from The Wine Society.
Another highly intense white comes from the Villa María stable in New Zealand. Seaspray Sauvignon Blanc 2021 is a single-vineyard wine from the Marlborough region, near the rugged east coast of the Awatere Valley. Cooled by the sea breeze, the Sauvignon grapes develop slowly, resulting in great power and intensity of flavor, with a combination of fresh acidity, herbaceous, citrus and soft tropical fruit. Very different from most Sauvignon de Marlborough, this is a spicy dry white, perfect for all seafood dishes, with the concentration to blend lighter and stronger flavours. £13.99 mix six Majestic prices.
For more traditional Christmas whites, there is no better region than Burgundy. Chardonnay reigns supreme here, from Chablis in the north to Macon in the south. One of my favorites is the slightly lesser known Saint Véran. One of the best is produced by noted Burgundy producer Louis Jadot based in Beaune and established since 1859. Vinified in stainless steel tanks, this is a crisp, dry white with considerable elegance and finesse. Hints of stone fruit and melted butter, with a subtle hazelnut character and a long finish. Perfect for roasting turkey, chicken or ham. £18 from Tesco (£2 off with club card until 4th December!).
Another white burgundy from a more central part of the region is Maison Edouard Delaunay’s Septembre Chardonnay 2020. Very different from the previous wine, this is an oak-aged Chardonnay, producing a fuller, creamier wine with a deeper texture. The choice of the Orient Express and many fine restaurants in the past, the company has recently been acquired by Edouard’s great-grandson, restoring the business to its former glory. Great value at £13.99 mix six Majestic prices. Pair with lobster thermidor, garlic prawns or honey glazed roast ham.
Although clearly not a white wine, Maison Edouard Delaunay also produces a twin to the Chardonnay – Septembre Pinot Noir from the classic red Burgundy variety. With grapes sourced from both the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, this is a fresh yet complex wine with typical flavors and aromas of raspberry, strawberry and red cherry, from one of Burgundy’s rapidly growing growers. A rack of lamb or duck fillets would be delightful. £14.99 mix six from Majestic. A white Christmas, with a touch of festive red!