The Society’s White Rioja, Spain 2020 (£8.95, thewinesociety.com) My choice of wine for Christmas dinner this year begins with a pair of elegant Iberian wines that are among the best out there at the moment. The Portuguese selection from the Dão region, home to encruzadro, is one of the most distinctive white grape varieties in a country not far from it, with the Aldi Specially Selected Encruzado 2021 (£7.49) showing impressive citrus cut, drive and brightness alongside fleshy white peaches. Hailing from Spain, White Rioja from The Wine Society is a deliciously sweet morsel of toasted nuts and apple with an elegant feel. These are excellent alternatives to a pair of traditional French Christmas Chardonnay classics, respectively steely Chablis and oak-aged white burgundy. But if that’s the real thing you’re after, Domaine Daniel Dampt Chablis 1er Côte de Léchet (£26.75, hhandc.co.uk) is star-shine and sparkling yet focused while Domaine Trouillet aux Chailloux Pouilly-Fuissé Premier Cru, Burgundy 2020 ( £29.99, or £26.99 as part of a mixed case for six, Majestic) Rich with honey oak blossoms on toast, juicy freshness and luminous balancing acidity.
Troupis Gris Moschofilero Route, Mantinea, Greece 2021 (£16.99, nakedwines.com) For me, the most versatile drink to go with food is orange wine, a dry style made from white grapes that have been in contact with the grape skins for much longer than when making white wine. They have a sort of red wine, or green tea-like tannin, but a white-wine-like freshness, and streak of bitterness, to use a technical term, that’s more tangy and incredibly refreshing, but they’re also a superior foil for many foods including the perfect Christmas roast. Three I’ve enjoyed recently: the fennel and gentian-infused Qvevris Kisi Orange Wine, Kakheti, Georgia 2020 (£14.99, Waitrose); citrus peel and floral musk; Troupis Route Gris Moschofilero; and Steitz Orange Zéro RS, ultra-dry but sweet, bitter and fun, Rheinhessen, Germany 2018 (£17.49, vidawines.co.uk). Any of this trio is also great with a cheeseboard, although my particular, definitely Christmas preference is for something sweet like the Majestic Definition Sauternes Fruit, Bordeaux, France 2014 (£9.99, 37.5cl, Majestic).
Domaine des Ormes Saumur Rouge, Loire, France 2018 (£8.50, co-op) For the red, I’m going to go from light to full spice, reflecting the fact that some of you prefer a kind of palate similar to cranberry sauce in a red wine Christmas dinner, and others want something strong and properly rich that counters all the different flavors. To start on the lighter end, Domaine des Ormes is a great example of the crunchy currant fruit and snappy acidity you find from reds made using Cabernet Franc in the Loire, while the specially selected 2021 Chilean Pinot Noir (£5.79, Aldi) is amazing value from Cherry. -berry pinot noir, Rhys Vineyards Alesia Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA 2018 (£42.67, justerinis.com) is gorgeous, amazing, and distinctive. Moving on to the weight department, Doña Paula El Alto Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2021 (£10, Waitrose) is a classic, velvety malbec, and La Fiorita Rosso di Montalcino 2020 (£33.70, hedonism.co.uk) is surprisingly beautiful. Stunning, deep Tuscan herbs. Finally, for those looking for strength and warmth, a blend of rosemary, spiced licorice and fruit flavored with the southern Rhône: Abrbousset Lirac 2020 (£12, Tesco).
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