ALISTAIR GIBSON: Here's some crackers for a perfect white Christmas
When it comes to white wines for the festive season, my rule of thumb is the same as it is with red wines.
It's not a time for your best bottles and crowd-pleasing wines that can rise above all the other distractionsÂ are the order of the day. It's tempting of course to stick to the classics but don't forget other wine regions,Â there is literally a whole world out there.
Sauvignon Blanc is a good way to wake up the taste buds on theÂ day, with lots of fresh fruit and bright acidity. The Loire Valley is the traditional home of Sauvignon Blanc,
however Sancerre Les Ruettes 2015 (M&S Â£12.00 on offer from Â£15 untilÂ January 1) has definitely beenÂ made with more than a little nod to the new world.
It's very fresh with citrus and grassy aromas on theÂ bouquet, followed by minerals and lovely acidity on the palate but there is also an extra layer of citrusyÂ flavours on the finish. Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Marlborough (Waitrose Â£9.99 on offer from
Â£14.99 until December 26) is from one of New Zealand's best producers and this is top value while onÂ offer.
It's a little more restrained then many Marlborough examples, which to my mind is no bad thing, butÂ it still shows the lovely passion fruit, gooseberry and lime aromas that the region is so well known for.
There is also just a touch of tomato leaf, with minerals and a fine line of acidity running through it. Both ofÂ these wines would work well with smoked salmon and oysters if there your thing or just make a greatÂ aperitif.
White Burgundy is probably never far away from the Christmas table and it does have theÂ advantage that it can potentially go onto the pair with the turkey for those who want to stick to white wine.
Waitrose Chablis 2015 (Waitrose Â£9.19 on offer from Â£13.79 until December 26) is what the wineÂ trade would call '˜good, honest wine', which is not to belittle it. It's good value while on offer and its simple,Â honest flavours will work very well on Christmas Day.
There is a touch of citrus and minerals on the nose. The palate is nicely balanced with bright acidity and a nice dry finish.
From the other end of Burgundy, Macon Villages 2016 (M&S Â£8.00 on offer from Â£10 untilÂ January 1) is another 100 per cent chardonnay and, like the chablis, sees no oak ageing.
What it offers is a little riper fruit with peaches and apricots andÂ maybe just slightly nutty notes in the background.
It's one of those wines that could only come fromÂ France and is unquestionably easy to drink. Both would work with smoked salmon but also have enough character to work you though lunch.
Lastly and perhaps my all-round white for Christmas wouldÂ be Cune Blanco Barrel Fermented 2016, Rioja (Co-op Â£6.99 on offer from Â£8.99 December 13 to January 2) made from the viura grape.
Having spent some time in American oak this is a lovely modernÂ white Rioja with just a touch of a more traditional style.
Citrus, summer fruits and a little vanilla on theÂ nose with a creamy, textured palate and long, well rounded finish. It's very food-friendly and a bargain atÂ this price.
'¢ Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail