White wine for the Christmas table – Alistair Gibson

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Christmas is not necessarily the time to open the treasured bottles that you’ve kept for special occasions. 

Generally speaking, the dinner table is full of so many flavours and there are so many other attractions – not to mention distractions – that that bottle you’ve been keeping gets totally lost.

Pouilly-Fuisse 2017, Louis Jadot

Pouilly-Fuisse 2017, Louis Jadot

It makes sense to have some crowd-pleasers but that doesn’t mean you have to play it completely safe, as I hope my festive white selection for this year shows.

Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Marlborough (Waitrose £10 on offer from £14.99 until December 12) is from one of New Zealand’s best producers and this is great value while on offer.

It’s a little more restrained than many Marlboroughs, which is no bad thing, but it still shows the lovely passion fruit, gooseberry and lime aromas 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.

Domaine Sainte Rose La Marin Blanc 2015, Pays d'Orc

Domaine Sainte Rose La Marin Blanc 2015, Pays d'Orc

Serve this as an aperitif or with some smoked salmon. For something a little different Domaine Sainte Rose La Marin Blanc 2015, Pays d’Oc (Waitrose Cellar £9.99) is a Rhone-style blend of marsanne and roussanne with just a touch of viognier which has enough weight to carry on further into the meal. 

The nose shows some ripe melon, pear and a little vanilla spice, followed by some richness on the palate but with well judged, crisp acidity and a flavoursome finish. This would work well with a smoked fish paté and could also be paired with the turkey.

Perhaps the most traditional white wine on the Christmas table is white Burgundy and here are two to consider.

Pouilly-Fuisse 2017, Louis Jadot (Tesco £17) is made by one of Burgundy’s most famous names, and is probably the most well-known wine of the Macon region.

Contino Blanco 2016, Rioja

Contino Blanco 2016, Rioja

It has been partly barrel fermented and then aged for a short period in oak barrels. The  nose offers melon, citrus fruit and some toasted hazelnuts, followed by a creamy mouth feel with some richness on the finish. 

Chablis Premier Cru Montmain 2016, Domaine Pinson (Berry Bros & Rudd £30) is classic chablis from a great producer. This is not cheap but, for me, worth every penny.

There are notes of minerals, oyster shell and citrus and a wonderfully poised palate with great length.

Both of these wines would work well with oysters or seafood such as lobster.

Lastly, white rioja is a wine which will be finding its way onto my Christmas table.

Contino Blanco 2016, Rioja (Waitrose Cellar £24.99, ministryofdrinks.co.uk £23.99) is a single vineyard wine, produced mainly from viura, which is Rioja’s most widely planted white grape and is one of the best white Riojas produced. 

It has a floral, spicy nose with a beautifully textured palate, real complexity and a long, silky finish. Try not to serve this wine too cold, maybe even decant it first, and it would work happily with the turkey.