By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 12 December 2020
My top white wines for serving this Christmas:
Languedoc, France: TERRET BLANC VILLA BLANCHE 2019 (12%)
£6.49 reduced from £8.49 Waitrose
Ancient Languedoc Terret Blanc grape was once used for Vermouth and Eaux-de-Vie in the 1960’s, then abandoned when they fell out of favour. It has been cleverly revived by crafty negociant duo Jerome Joseph and Laurent Calmel who nurtured it in the Cevennes foothills of Faugeres to create a zippy herby dry white with plenty of fresh acidity and moderate alcohol; bargain white for those on a tight budget.
Campania, Italy: MURRINA GRECO DI TUFO 2019 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£12.50 Marks & Spencer
My favourite amongst Campania region’s racy unoaked whites. Greco is another ancient recently-revived grape with vibrant acidity when grown at 700m on tufa soils. Loved its herbal apricot notes, delicious hazelnut and apple blossom flavour, intense orange-and-tangerine zest, galia melon flavours and smooth honeyed finish. Fresh enough for an aperitif, but enough weight and richness to match with roast chicken or turkey.
Burgundy, France: CHABLIS STE-CLAIRE 2019 JM Brocard (13%)
£14.95 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com
If you like your Chardonnay bone-dry and sinewy with fresh natural acidity and creamy leesy palate, this unoaked Chablis is stunning for the price - with enough tart zippy acidity, rich limey fruit, lemon oils and mineral notes to match well with turkey. Jean-Marc’s son Julien is now taking over the reins at this impressive domaine which farms up to 180 hectares. Note its Diam cork – one of the more reliable closures for bottle maturation.
Wagram, Austria: RIED EISENHUT ROTER VELTLINER 2019 (12.5%)
£13.99 Luvians www.luvians.com; Graft Wine www.graftwine.co.uk
If you want to impress your guests with a rare grape, Roter Veltliner makes richer more complex styles than most Gruner Veltliner (no relation). Scored high points at our virtual tasting for its exotic fruit flavours and spicy honeyed palate. Made by a young winemaker Arnold Holzer who grows it on loess clay soils in the grape’s home region of Wagram, west of Vienna.
Elgin, South Africa: PAUL CLUVER ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2018 (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£18.95 Great Grog; Frontier Fine Wine; Chesters Wine Merchants
Paul Cluver admits he is obsessed with Chardonnay – and quite rightly so as I think it is Elgin’s best grape. Grown since 1987 on Elgin’s high plateau, Cluver and his winemaker (and brother-in-law) Andries Burger have crafted an oaked Chardonnay with such elegance and finesse. They build texture and finesse by fermenting in barrel with lengthy lees contact and stirring. Smoky citric brioche nose, nectarine, honey, vanilla undertones – a vivid fresh Chardonnay with cool-climate acidity.
Loire, France: VOUVRAY SEC RENAISSANCE, SEBASTIEN BRUNET 2018 (13%)
£19.35 L’Art du Vin www.aduv.co.uk
Superb example of Vouvray made with low intervention winemaking by up-and-coming Sebastien Brunet near Vouvray on Loire’s Brenne tributary. Chalky notes, bright citric fruits with a honeyed depth and racy acidity so typical of Chenin Blanc grape grown on tuffeau yellow sandstone-rich chalky limestone. Rich enough with a superb long minerally finish – a good match with roast goose or nut roast.
Malgas, South Africa: SIJNN WHITE 2017 (13.5%)
£24.25 Raeburn Wines
Refreshing change from most Cape Chenin Blanc, with 13% Viognier and 3% Roussanne in the mix. Owner David Trafford discovered an ostrich and wheat farm for sale in a remote location near Swellendam on the banks of the Breede river. Its stony alluvial and shale soils reminded him of Chateauneuf du Pape, hence the white Rhone grapes. His super-talented winemaker Charla Bosman crafted this enchanting stone-fruited blend; honeysuckle, nutty, minerally, slightly herby undertones, layers of complexity from rich barrel ferment.
Burgundy, France: BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2018 Domaine Francois Carillon (13%)
£23.50 Corney & Barrow
This might be an own label Bourgogne, but don’t let that put you off. This is a serious stuff – and a cut above many other Bourgogne Chardonnays. Rich lush fruits, toasty oaky densely concentrated Chardonnay with a fine ribbon of mouthwatering minerally acidity running through. Made from two plots in Puligny Montrachet by a legendary Burgundian domaine. Serve it with roast turkey or goose – and buy another case to lay down for a few more years.
Mosel, Germany: MAXIMIN HERRENBERG 1896 WHITE LABEL ALTE REBEN RIESLING TROCKEN 2016 (12%)
£26 Raeburn Wines
An absolute steal at this price. Made by talented young winemaker Christopher Loewen from his family’s legendary south-facing vineyard in the southern part of Middle Mosel, planted with 124 year-old-vines (planted in 1896) on red slaty soils. Spicy grapefruit and lemon zest bouquet, succulent crystalline yellow fruits, hints of salinity, lingering length and dry finish – from the miraculous 2016 vintage.
Lebanon: IXSIR GRAND RESERVE WHITE 2019 (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£25 Great Western Wine; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Fat Pigeon Inverness
Viognier-dominant blend with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grown on calcareous soils in the highest vineyards in the northern hemisphere (1800m) in northern Lebanon, an area previously used for table grapes. Ixsir’s President Etienne Debanne and winemaker Gabriel Rivero say the challenge in Lebanon is to keep freshness in their whites. Loved Grand Reserve’s floral nose, zippy freshness, rich rounded fruits, rich textural seam and light smoky undertones – a good match for fatty fish.
Sonoma, California: MARIMAR TORRES LA MASIA CHARDONNAY 2017 (13.5%)
£34 Harvey Nichols; The Drink Shop; Fareham Wine Cellar
I recently spent a happy hour with Marimar and her daughter Cristina in their Sonoma kitchen – well virtually that is, as I was in Scotland. We talked about everything from their beautiful vineyard dogs to election results, but when it came to the wine I was so struck by this superb rich savoury Chardonnay with a name to suit Marimar’s Catalan heritage. Rich citrus, nutty undertones which demonstrates her clever bridge between ripe Californian fruit and the elegance and poise of the Old World.
Join Rose’s virtual Burgundy & Bordeaux wine tasting 5 & 12 February 2021 www.rosemurraybrown.com – Gift vouchers available