Christmas wines Part 2: Six chardonnay choices for your festive table

christmas wines white Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

In Part 1 of my Christmas wine posts for 2018 I was fresh and fruity. Now I have more depth and complexity. If you’re just catching up with me then … no …. I’m not describing the ups and downs of feminine emotions, but white wines for Christmas.

You might be thinking “what is this depth and complexity of which this woman speaks” – “and why is it interesting for my Christmas feasting?”.

Winemakers can call on a heap of different production methods to turn what could be a humble fruity white wine into something with a bit of interest. That can include aging or fermenting in oak, or stirring on the lees.

Chardonnay loves such treatment. Whatever winemakers choose to do, this grape always puts its hands on its pips and says “go on then, bring it on”.

All my Christmas choices in this post are chardonnay wines, more by coincidence than design, as I went on the look-out for wines which sit perfectly alongside food.

My first three chardonnay Christmas wines

I’ll start with Extra Special Barossa Chardonnay 2018 (Asda, £5.98) which is partially fermented in French oak. This is a great value white as there’s some complexity but not too much if you’re nervous about wines with statement. My notes said “apple, lemon, with a hint of baking spice”.

The Co-op has introduced several new wines this season and one is Vandenberg Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2018 (£10) which is a refreshing, not-too-heavy chardonnay from South Australia’s Adelaide Hills region. Aged in French oak, it boasts a creamy texture and you can taste the citrus and pear without your palate  being overpowered.

Tesco finest* Gisborne Chardonnay (£9) is nurtured in the Gisborne region on the North Island. Grapes are fermented in oak and the result is a wine which has lovely tropical fruit notes and a zesty finish alongside a nuttiness that intrigues.

My final three chardonnay Christmas wines

We’ll leap over to France for Macon Villages, Burgundy Chardonnay (£10, Marks and Spencer) which is a comforting hug of a white wine. A rich unoaked chardonnay, it is creamy and smooth with a sharp hit of apple and a whisper of peach and a long, delicious buttery aftertaste.

When I met Spar’s wine consultant Philippa Carr MW the other week, she told me her favourite wine in the retailer’s new range was Bourgogne Chardonnay (£9) and it is indeed rather tasty. It is unoaked and has a nice bite of apples and a good acidity.

We’ll stay in France for the classy Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2017 (RRP £20, Tesco, Morrisons, Nisa) where half of the grapes were partly fermented in vats and the other in oak barrels. This gives layers of freshness and fruit, but has a creamy, nutty mouthfeel which cushions those same delicious fruits. It is elegant and special.

All this talk is making me crave a glass of something with a mound of parsnips, sprouts, turkey and potato. Can’t wait.

Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 3: Six light, fruity, savoury, spicy reds

First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

The Aldi wine team takes the game up to another level

Aldi Champagne Monsigny review

WE’RE funny, aren’t we, people. We can make decisions based on preconceived ideas; decisions based on perceptions, not fact. Take Aldi wine.

Remember that advertising slogan “it is a Skoda honest” …. well how about, “it is from Aldi, honest”.

Maybe Aldi is the retail equivalent of Skoda; in the public’s mindset it may not necessarily be synonymous with good wine. But perhaps the public should think again.

This year, the Aldi wine, beer and spirits range has received 92 accolades from internationally recognised competitions, including 22 awards at the International Wine Challenge; 37 at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and 13 at the International Spirits Challenge.

It has also been crowned Which? Supermarket of the Year 2012. Are you thinking again?

Aldi wines’ core range has made its mark – and now it is taking its game up to another level.

Later this month (November 22) Aldi is releasing a number of “premium wines”. It will include a grand cru non-vintage champagne and a sweet tokaji.

More on those later. My “it is from Aldi, honest” moment came this week as I tried three bottles from the Aldi wine core range.

They may not be stunners; but each is an award-winner, good value for money and very enjoyable too. So what’s not to like.

Macon Villages, Henri De Lorgére Chardonnay (£4.99) is a good example of the body and character of Burgundy white wines from the Mâcon Villages appellation. Made entirely from chardonnay, it is medium bodied and has the mouthfeel of a light, lemony, creamy sauce but with hints of hazelnut. Very nice.

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006 (£5.99) is medium bodied with balanced, smooth, red spicy fruits from the tempranillo grape.

This was a good match with my Sunday lamb roast and a sweet partner to a crunchy parsnip.

Despite 13.5% ABV, it was not overpowering and very easy to drink.

A classic rioja reserva – aged for three years in oak barrels.

Aldi Champagne Brut NV by Philizot review
Aldi Champagne Brut NV by Philizot

Champagne Brut NV by Philizot (£12.99) is a blend of the classic Champagne grapes, with chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, each making up a third of the wine.

There’s apple and brioche on the nose, and a fizz-bomb of apples and red fruit to taste with a slate of minerality.

This is fresh and fantastic value for money.

Don’t expect fireworks, but if you want a party champers without a high society price, you can’t go far wrong.

So back to Aldi’s upcoming range, on the shelves in time for Christmas. I haven’t had chance to taste these (I add Aldi’s own tasting notes) but on the basis of the core range, they’re worth seeking out.

Champagne Grand Cru NV £22.99 – intense and complex, with an almond nuttiness

Puligny Montrachet £16.99 – fresh and taut with balanced spicy oak and butter intensity

Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Grand Cru Classé £22.99 – silky texture and deliciously complex fruit

Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2000 £17.99 (50cl) – sublime orange marmalade, honey, lemon and dried apricots.

Another Champagne Charles Mignon Brut Premium Reserve NV Magnum £34.99 is to be released on November 29, – and, just in time for parties – Prosecco D.O.C. Extra Dry 2011 Magnum £14.99 is on sale from December 6. As too is Barolo 2008 £9.99.

This article first appeared in the Liverpool Post in November 2012