Christmas white wine to chink as you open the pressies (or just because you neeeeed)

Limestone Rise English Christmas white wine

I can’t wait for Christmas Day and my first glass of white! Here’s a Christmas white wine selection to suit all pockets which you can pour as the family arrives, right through to Dad sneaking the last roast potato onto his plate.

Extra Special French Chardonnay (13.5% abv, £5, ASDA) This Languedoc  chardonnay is lightly oaked which brings some creaminess to the apple and citrus flavours, but don’t worry it’s not one of those in-your-face oaky assaults. It’s easy drinking but has enough personality to sit happily next to a plate of turkey and sprouts.
Christmas white wine factor: Pour a glass when you’ve finished the shopping

Limestone Rise (11% abv, £7.99 The Co-op) This is an English white from the Co-op, which 15 years ago was the first retailer to sell English wine before it became the “in thing”. This blend of bacchus and ortega grapes has sherbert, elderflower, a spring breeze and a really nice little bite of citrus and acidity.
Christmas white wine factor: Something different for the Christmas table

La Altelana Gavi di Gavi 2015 (11.5% abv, £7.99, Aldi) The label looks classy, take a bottle to a party and wow your hosts. Or save it for yourself and it’ll breeze through the prawns and be very happy with the turkey and crisp vegetables. It’s an Italian white with hints of green in the glass, with fresh lemon aromas and subtle minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Refresh those taste buds after a long day eating

Fief des Pierres Blanches Quincy, 2015 (13.5 % abv, £8.99 Lidl) Mmmm … zesty! A great wine from the Loire Valley which is fresh and full of lemony aromas and tropical fruit flavours. If you’re a bit dulled from Santa’s Christmas Eve sherry this will really perk you up. Delicious.
Christmas white wine factor: Really fresh and great with seafood

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Chapel Down Bacchus (12% abv £9.99 from £12.99, Waitrose) Bacchus is the ancient Roman name for the classical god of wine. Who would have thought that my fascination with ancient history would have a nice link to my love of wine.  Bacchus is similar to sauvignon blanc – think grapefruit, elderflower and gooseberry with a zesty woosh alongside. The 2015 vintage won bronze at the Decanter awards.
Christmas white wine factor: How about English zing for the Boxing Day curry

Wm Morrison Chablis Premier Cru 2014 (13% abv, £15) Toast your Christmas Day guests with this terrific Chablis from Morrisons which has just won gold (again) at the latest International Wine Challenge awards. Chablis is perfect with a seafood starter as the vines grow on an ancient seabed. This wine has minerality, melon and grapefruit flavours, with a soft touch of vanilla.
Christmas white wine factor: An amazing white which always wins praise

Domaine de la Mandelière Robert Nicolle 2015 (12.5% abv,  £14.49 or £13.04 in a buy six deal at This Chablis is from a small, family run estate on a ridge of limestone in the famous wine district. It is pale straw, with aromas of  crisp apple and a flash of citrus, which both appear on the palate with a signature wet stone minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Poached salmon? Yes please

The Society’s Exhibition Pouilly-Fuissé 2014 (13% abv, £18, Love, love, love! The Wine Society’s Exhibition wines aim to be the best examples of wine from a particular region – this one a classic Burgundian white.  This has bright citrus but with creaminess, cushioned by vanilla and an upright flash of minerality.
Christmas white wine factor:  Perfect with turkey and all the trimmings

Fess Parker, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (14.2% abv, from £13.95 at The Wine Society and OMG. Which in this case stands for Orgasmic, Melony, Golden. This chardonnay is barrel-fermented, aged in French oak and it’s utter heaven. You could have it with your turkey. It’s full and rich enough to go with Christmas pud. But forget that. Sit. On your own. When the house is empty. And drink it with lashings of self-indulgence. Quality Street are made for sharing. This isn’t.
Christmas white wine factor:  It’s just a wow.

These wine reviews were first published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express 



Christmas red wine to suit everyone’s pockets!

christmas red wine Novare Valpolicella Ripasso

 It’s not long to go to Christmas Day and I’m getting excited now.
If you’re looking for a Christmas red wine, here’s some thoughts; starting with some bargains and building up to a knock-out buy.


Christmas red wine on offer this month

Western Australia Cabernet Sauvignon  (Morrisons, 14.5% abv, RRP £7, down to £6 until Jan 1st) It takes me a couple of sips to make my mind up on a cab sav –  but this award-winner dug a defiant heel in the ground and said You’ll Like Me!! The earthy aromas, together with plum fruits and vanilla, perk up the senses before rich flavours of deep fruits take over.
Christmas red wine factor: Drink while you thrash everyone at Monopoly

Taste the Difference Pic Saint Loup (Sainsbury, 13% abv, RRP £8, down to £7 from Dec 13) A very drinkable number with a woody aroma and a hint of liquorice. It’s a decent wine at a reasonable price, which might make it a good option when friends and family arrive bearing gifts.
Christmas red wine factor: It will match sprouts and pigs in blankets.

Rioja Ursa Maior Reserva 2011 (SPAR, 14% abv, RRP £10.49, reduced to £7.50 from Dec 8) This is a yum-some oaky red, rich and fruitful with the traditional complexity that you get from a rioja. There’s smokiness alongside vanilla-edged cherry fruits, flecks of coffee and is easy-drinking to boot.
Christmas red wine factor: Sip while you wrap your presents.

Vignerons des Mont d’Aubune Vacqueyras (Asda, 14% abv, RRP £10.48,  but £9 from Dec 7) Powerful grenache takes centre stage in this southern Rhone blend. This red isn’t backward in coming forward and once it’s had an airing, black fruits, coffee and earthy depths tumble out of the glass.
Christmas red wine factor: If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape try this

Christmas red wine – pay a little more

Novare Valpolicella Ripasso (The Co-op, 13.5% abv, £9.99)  Ripasso is made by taking skins and grapes left over from making amarone wine and re-fermenting  them in valpolicella – it’s born out of a waste-not want-not culture. Novare is exclusive to the Co-op and is fruity but bold, with vanilla, chocolate and liquorice.
Christmas red wine factor: Great with roast beef or a platter of cheese.

La Sogara Amarone (Aldi, 15% abv £11.99) A really great price for a powerful Italian red full of flavour and gusto made traditionally from dried grapes. The wine has notes of chocolate, mint, sour cherry, raspberry and red berries, all swirling and sumptuous on the senses. Christmas red wine factor: Strong cheese or luxury on its own.

Blind River Pinot Noir 2014 Marlborough (Majestic, 13.5% abv, £16.99 or £14.99 in a buy six deal)  I love a pinot noir next to my turkey, cranberry sauce and roasties. I went all gooey-eyed at my first sip of this New Zealand wine. It is soft, slinky, earthy, intense, with raspberries, liquorice and a dabble of spice. Forget any prezzies, I just want this.
Christmas red wine factor: If you don’t like this I’ll eat my Christmas  hat.

Warwick Estate Trilogy 2012 (14% abv RRP £23.99,, Now this is a bit special. There’s a distinct whiff of freshly-baked bread, with  plum  and bramble fruit flavours and a warming, spicy finish. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, has produced a classy, complex wine, which would do Christmas lunch proud.
Christmas red wine factor: Worth pushing the festive boat out.  

I write about wine and other drinks in a handful of regional UK newspapers and I share my columns on One Foot in the Grapes. 
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals December 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express