ALISTAIR GIBSON: Dreaming of a white Christmas?

The shops already seem full of festive fare and with the arrival of Jack Frost over the past few days, it seems like Christmas is only just around the corner.

Saturday, 12th November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:57 pm
A perfect introduction to riesling
A perfect introduction to riesling

I’m not sure if it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas wines, but here are three whites that may offer something a little different this year over the more traditional selections.

Alsace wines are some of the most under-appreciated in this country, often referred to as ‘the wine trade’s wines’.

The great beauty of them is that they can be excellent food partners and there are always a few in my wine rack.

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A South African stunner

Riesling is perhaps the most important grape of Alsace, producing a very different style of wine from its close German cousins.

Clos Saint-Jacques Riesling 2014, Domaine de la Ville de Colmar (Majestic £11.99 or £9.99 as part of a mixed six), which comes from a unique single vineyard, is a perfect introduction.

The nose has lime, green apple, a touch of smokiness and minerals, followed by crisp almost steely acidity and more green apple on the palate, before a long finish.

Given the price, there is some real complexity here and this would work well with some festive smoked salmon.

A South African stunner

Soave is another wine that might perhaps not be an obvious choice.

To be fair there are some not-so-well-made wines coming out of this region.

But when it is made with care Soave is a very versatile food wine.

I really enjoyed Soave Classico 2015, Castel Cerino Coffele (Wine Society £8.75), made from the local garganega grape, which is grown organically.

It’s very fresh with lovely hints of apple blossom and almonds, before a nicely-textured mouth feel, which is well-balanced with refreshing acidity.

This is a real crowd-pleaser which would work with pasta dishes or perhaps cold cuts on Boxing Day.

Lastly, and pushing out the boat a little, DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch (Majestic £18.99 or £6.99 as part of a mixed six) is a stunner and shows just what can be achieved with this grape in South Africa.

From one of the best vintages in recent years, this was fermented in oak barrels, 25 per cent of which were new before ageing for a further 11 months in-barrel.

This is complex wine with pear, honeysuckle, spice and vanilla on the nose.

The palate is broad with an amazing texture, which fills the mouth.

There is lush fruit but it’s all balanced with crisp acidity, before a finish that is very long indeed.

This has enough about it to match a roast turkey with it – even with all the trimmings. Or why not try it with roast pork?

It would be interesting to come back to this gorgeous wine in a few years as it has the potential to mature beautifully.