MY whites for Christmas all have one thing in common. They have wonderful natural acidity – essential for serving with rich festive food to freshen up the palate after each delicious mouthful.
Most chosen are from the cooler climates of the Old World, as I find New World wines can often lack the right level of acidity to cut through our traditional fare.
I appreciate that not everyone serves turkey at Christmas, so I have included suggestions for goose and salmon too.
To go with turkey
Burgundy, France CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU LA ROMANEE 2006 Morey-Coffinet
(£36, Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
The most expensive in our selection, but if you buy just one bottle this Christmas, let it be this one. It’s an absolutely delicious example of classic white Burgundy from a serious appellation in the Côte de Beaune, drinking at its prime. Very rich, succulent, citric fruits from a warm vintage, but it has such a fine length and beautiful acid balance.
Bordeaux, France G DE GUIRAUD 2011
(£13.25, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com)
Chateau Guiraud is a famous Sauternes chateau producing sweet whites – and a small amount of excellent dry white from sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes. Vivid fruit, intense honey with pure long finish.
Marlborough, New Zealand GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 KEVIN JUDD
(£16.99, House of Menzies; Aitken Wines; WoodWinters; Luvians; Lockett Bros; Henderson Wines; Fine Wine Musselburgh)
A versatile Kiwi sauvignon blanc which would go well with goose or salmon too. Kevin Judd, who made his name as Cloudy Bay’s winemaker for 25 years, now has his own wine label in Marlborough, including this very sleek sauvignon which has pure poised fruits showing his meticulous attention to detail.
Piedmont, NW Italy ROERO ARNEIS 2011 Cornarea
(£15.95, Berry Bros & Rudd)
I am often disappointed with the arneis grape as the Italians tend to make them rather lumpy, high in alcohol or too oaked. This has intense citric fruit, good clarity and just a hint of an unusual salty minerally undertone. Surely Roero’s best example of the grape – expertly made by the Bovone brothers.
To go with with goose
Loire, France CUVEE HENRI CHENIN SEC 2010 Domaine de L’Aumonier
(£12.99, Lockett Bros, North Berwick)
I adore Loire chenin blanc with goose: it has just the right honeyed mouthfeel with crisp appley acidity to cut through the richness of the bird. This is a superb example of how good chenin blanc can be – forget the mass of cheap quaffing bargains from South Africa – this is serious chenin. If you don’t live near North Berwick, Raeburn Wines stocks superb Loire chenin blanc from Huet, another excellent producer in Vouvray.
Burgundy, France BOURGOGNE COTES D’AUXERRE BLANC 2009 Jean HUGUES-GUILHEM GOISET
(£14.99, Lockett Bros)
This humble chardonnay hails from a small grower’s vineyards close to Chablis in the Yonne in the northern outreaches of Burgundy. It has a classic combination of grapefruit/citric fruits and nervy acidity, perfect for cutting through the fattiness of goose. Better value than many chablis.
Friuli, NE Italy FRIULANO 2009 Vignai da Duline
(£16.99, Raeburn Wines)
A very unusual Italian from a grape formerly known as tocai friulano – now just called friulano. It has exotic pear/almond/herby aromas combined with zippy, fresh acidity. Friuli is a forgotten corner of Italy with an amazing array of crisp quality whites. This hails from producer Frederico Duline with just seven hectares on the border of Colli Orientale del Friuli, a subzone with a partly alpine climate near Slovenia’s border.
To go with salmon
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany: SAAR RIESLING 2011
(£8.95, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com)
Riesling is one of my favourite grapes, particularly when it comes from cool enclaves in Germany such as the Saar valley. I love the vibrant, nippy, high acid of this riesling – it is a very refined example from the von Kesselstatt vineyards in Scharzhofberger and Wiltinger Braunfels. With a long, distinguished history – founded back in 1349 – the new generation have upgraded quality recently by reducing yields.
Veneto, NE Italy TURRANIO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 Bosco del Merlo
Not an obvious destination for sauvignon blanc: there are around 3,000 hectares of the grape in Italy – mainly in the north. This is a delicious new find with richness and fresh acid, introduced to Scotland by a new Edinburgh-based Italian wine importer. It is made by the Paladin family in little known Lison Pramaggiore DOC, tucked between Veneto and Friuli.
Rueda, Spain K NAIA 2011 Bodegas Naia
(£9, WoodWinters, Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh)
From my favourite bodegas in Rueda, north of Madrid. This bodegas picks late, achieving a much richer textural mouthfeel in their verdejo than many of their rivals – but balanced with beautiful juicy acidity. I was spoilt for choice with all the excellent albarinos and godellos coming out of northern Spain, but this is the best value buy.