ALISTAIR GIBSON: Tea Leaf is a steal for Christmas meal
When it comes to white wines for the festive season, my rule of thumb is the same as it is with reds.
It’s not a time for your best bottle. Crowd-pleasing wines that can rise above all the other distractions are the order of the day.
So here are a few suggestions: a couple of classics, two very food-friendly bottles and one that’s a little bit more left field, something for the more adventurous.
I tend to bring out chablis every Christmas and Waitrose Chablis 2015 (Waitrose £8.49 on offer from £12.79 until January 3) is produced by Waitrose in partnership with the Cave des Vignerons de Chablis and does exactly what it should at this price.
There’s a touch of grapefruit and minerals on the nose, followed by a very clean zesty palate with great elegance before a satisfying finish. Nothing flashy, just very drinkable white wine which would be perfect with oysters. It will work with most seafood and at this price it can be kept in the fridge for unexpected visitors.
Stepping up a little, Sancerre le Clocher d’Amelie 2015, Jean-Max Roger (Waitrose £12.99 on offer from £17.49 until January 3) is a gorgeous example of this Loire Valley wine.
From a top producer, this is everything a great sauvignon blanc can be, beautifully balanced with real intensity. There’s citrus, a touch of gooseberry and flint, followed by a crisp palate, with fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Serve with smoked salmon for a great start to proceedings.
For something more adventurous, godello is a grape from north-west Spain which we are going to hear a lot more about in the next year or so. It makes a fantastic partner with fresh fish and seafood.
Godello Caixas 2015 Martín Códax, Monterrei (Majestic £8.99 or £6.99 if one of six bottles) is full of citrus, pear and floral notes with a nice crunchy texture and fresh acidity to finish.
This is a great all-rounder, something refreshing to have in the fridge. It would be lovely with simple, plain grilled fish.
Lastly, a pair of chenin blancs from South Africa, a grape variety which is very food-friendly and has the ability to work through the Christmas meal for those staying on white.
Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 Western Cape (Majestic £13.49 or £9.99 if one of six bottles) is from one of the best South African vintages of the past decade and it certainly shows. It has spent 12 months in a mixture of new and old oak barrels . This gives it a lovely creaminess with fleshy peach, pear and melon. The acidity keeps it all in balance before a long, mouth-filling finish.
The intriguingly-named The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc 2014, Piekenierskloof (nywines.co.uk £12.49) is leaner than the previous wine, with apple and herbal notes, crisp acidity and a textured finish. Worth finding and it will certainly feature on my Christmas table.