May all your Christmases be white
The turkey's on order, the Christmas cake and pud are maturing quietly in the larder, while being '˜fed' vast quantities of brandy or rum to '˜mature' them and the red wines (last week's column) are stocked in the cellar.
What about the whites, I hear you ask?
White, of course, is another colour of Christmas – think snow, candles, icing or Bing Crosby – so a decent selection of white wines is also a must for the festive season.
Food and wine pairing is one of those pastimes that is never-ending and may often pose certain difficulties. Hence the need for a range of wines with different flavours and characteristics in you cellar – or under-stairs cupboard, whichever it may be.
Here is my selection of six white wines, which should suit many occasions at this time of year and every pocket.
Firstly, is non-Italian Pinot Grigio, a very well-priced easy-drinking wine from South Africa. Nederburg based in Paarl on the Western Cape, produces 56 Hundred Pinot Grigio 2017, which is light, fruity and very food-friendly. Great for drinks parties and with cold ham and mango chutney. Tesco, £6.
Another white from South Africa is an unusual Grenache Blanc from the long-established firm of KWV.
Also from the Paarl region, the Mentor’s 2015 has delightful tropical fruit aromas and flavours of pineapple, citrus, mandarin and orange blossom. It has a deep, textured palate with a vibrant, creamy finish. Perfect with fish or poultry in a creamy sauce. You can get this online from www.slurp.co.uk at around £15 a bottle. It’s a fabulously elegant IWSC gold medal winner.
Two other whites come from the top Chilean wine producer – Errazuriz.
The Max Reserva Chardonnay 2016 may need some tracking down, but is worth it when you do. First-class, elegant, silky Chardonnay, from a superbly chosen terroir in the cool climate Aconcagua Valley. A combination of minerality and intense tropical flavours, a match for roast turkey with cranberry and all the trimmings. Buy a bottle for £15.35 from winedirect.co.uk.
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2017 comes from a vineyard only 12km from the Pacific Ocean. The cool, maritime climate, together with top winemaking skills, produces a herby, mineral Sauvignon, with hints of passion fruit and tropical fruit notes. A long, delicious finish. This wine costs £13.75 from Waitrose and it’s excellent with cold cuts and spicy relish.
Last week’s red selection was decidedly ‘old world’ with a nod to the New. This week’s whites are the opposite, so from a classic French region comes a wonderful white burgundy from Pouilly Fuissé (Exhibition wine from The Wine Society £22). This one is ripe and rich, with a balancing freshness, great finesse and beautifully integrated oak.
An alternative Chardonnay, back to the New World, is Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2015 from Marlborough in New Zealand. A single vineyard wine, it is fermented and aged in French oak barrels, giving a buttery, biscuity character. Aromas of honeysuckle, with a deep, mineral palate and long, satisfying finish. (Ocado and Waitrose £17.95).
Either of these would do justice to your turkey – or perhaps both?
Whatever you choose, white, red or sparkling, may I wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and great New Year.
Propino tibi salutem!
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
Some dishes cry out for a bottle of red. Click here to read last week’s wine column.