The best white wines to buy for Christmas 2020

From bargain bottles to something special for the big day, these are the bottles to buy for your Christmas festivities

best white wines buy christmas 2020
'Tis the season...

A couple of months ago I was talking to a wine merchant about its Christmas wine hampers. “You might want to rename the party one…” I suggested.

One of the many tricky things about this year has been the inability to plan, but it’s clear parties are off the agenda.

And on the agenda? Treating ourselves to a few good bottles, perhaps. Because even if we don’t yet know where we’ll be for Christmas or who we’ll be spending it with, we do know that no one is going to be trying to quench the thirst of the 5,000 from the rapidly depleting contents of their kitchen fridge.

That said, I’m also mindful that, for many, this year has been financially tough and so I have also hunted out some of the best cheap bottles of wine – among these wonderful whites, which will be followed by festive reds next Saturday – to bring cheer to every table.

Best white wines for Christmas 2020

Baron Am arillo Rioja Blanco 2019

Spain (13%, Aldi, £4.49)

Already sold out online but still available in store, at least at the time of writing. A white with soft edges and gentle flavours of vanilla, honeysuckle, lemon and clover.

From left: Baron Am arillo Rioja Blanco 2019; Domaine Boyar Deer Point Chardonnay 2019; Specially Selected Gavi 2019; Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2020; Vieille Ferme Blanc 2019

STAR BUY Domaine Boyar Deer Point Chardonnay 2019

Bulgaria (12.5%, Booths, £5.50)

A light chardonnay with lots of freshness and just a suggestion of rounded warmth. A very complete wine considering the price – and also the most beautiful, Christmassy antler label. This would make a good budget house wine.

Specially Selected Gavi 2019

Italy (13%, Aldi, £6.69)

Gavi is made in north-eastern Italy. The grape is cortese and the flavours are lemon juice, candied lemon rind and the vaguest hint of bay. This is a pretty decent example for the price and it makes a good, cold crisp glass of white.

Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2020

South Africa (13%, Tesco, £7)

A vigorous and bracing sauvignon blanc from the Cape that tastes of wet river rock and green tomatoes. A lively palate-cleanser of a white wine that’s best drunk icy cold.

Vieille Ferme Blanc 2019

France (Booths £6.50 down from £8.50 until Jan 3; Waitrose, £6.59 down from £8.79 until Dec 1; Tesco, £7.50; Co-op, £7.50)

All three colours of the Vieille Ferme wines offer outstanding value for money but I have the softest spot for the white. A blend of bourboulenc, grenache blanc, vermentino and ugni blanc, this mingles soft flavours of peach stone and almond blossom with freshness. A perfect winter – and turkey sandwich – white.

From left: Gunderloch Red Stone Riesling 2017; Famille Mantler Grüner Veltliner 2019; Finest Falanghina del Sannio 2019; Domaine Saint Gayan Argiles 2019; St Cosme Micro-Cosme Sauvignon-Viognier 2019

Gunderloch Red Stone Riesling 2017

Rheinhessen, Germany (11.5%, Co-op, £8)

Riesling remains so unpopular that it’s easy to find iterations that offer remarkably good value, such as this dry, lime-and-lilac wine from the Rheinhessen. Try it with smoked salmon.

Famille Mantler Grüner Veltliner 2019

Niederösterreich, Austria (12%, The Wine Society, £8.50)

I’ve put two grüner veltliners in this list because not everyone is a member of The Wine Society (although many of you are) and not everyone lives near a Booths supermarket. This one’s a light-hearted, easy-drinking joy – streamline with a touch of white pepper.

STAR BUY Finest Falanghina del Sannio 2019

Campania, Italy (13%, Tesco, £9)

Falanghina is an Italian grape grown in the area around Naples where it makes crisp whites that seem tinged with the flavour of orange zest and orange blossom. This is a very good example, made by the renowned producer Feudi di San Gregorio.

Domaine Saint Gayan Argiles 2019

IGP Mediterranée, France (13%, yapp.co.uk, £9.75)

Yapp says, “this was originally devised by the Meffre family as a refreshing in-house aperitif. Pleased with the outcome, they decided to extend production for a wider audience, hence its debut with us this year.” I like it: a blend of half picpoul (for a saline, fresh quality) with bourboulenc and grenache bringing subtle texture.

St Cosme Micro-Cosme Sauvignon-Viognier 2019

France (12.5%, Majestic, £9.99/£11.99 mix six/single bottle price)

Micro-Cosme is a project from the family that owns the highly-regarded Château de St Cosme in Gigondas. The grapes are sourced from the Languedoc and it’s a clever blend – a clean-edged, grassy sauvignon that blossoms out with some of the apricot and florality of viognier but still keeps a fresh line.

EH Booth & Co Gruner Veltliner 2018; Domaine Gonon Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2019; Vasse Felix Classic Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2020; Château Argadens Blanc 2018; Domaine de l’Idylle Savoie Vieilles Vigne 2019

EH Booth & Co Gruner Veltliner 2018

Wachau, Austria (13%, Booths, £10.50)

This incarnation of Austria’s signature white grape is made for Booths by the very good Domaine Wachau and it’s a beauty – sleek and with plenty of the white pepper and radish (or moulis!)-like flavours. Bring on the hot-smoked salmon and horseradish.

STAR BUY Domaine Gonon Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2019

France (13.5%, The Wine Society, £10.50)

This excellent, unoaked Mâcon was the talk of the Wine Society press tasting back in September, “Isn’t it brilliant?” being the main theme. Reminiscent of a Pouilly Fuissé and TWS tasting note of “baked apple with a hit of honey” is spot on.

Vasse Felix Classic Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Margaret River, Australia (13%, Tesco, £12)

Margaret River is a remote and beautiful peninsula, situated in the south-west corner of Australia where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Here’s one of the excellent wines made there: a softly luminous semillon and sauvignon blend with no oak. Try it with hot smoked salmon, rice noodles with Thai herbs or lemony roast chicken.

Château Argadens Blanc 2018

Bordeaux, France (12.5%, Tanners, £12.30; Davy’s Wine, £12.50; Private Cellar, £12.95)

From Ch. Argadens in the Entre Deux Mers, this is a zesty and satisfying blend of sauvignon blanc (65%) and semillon (35%). Matured in new oak barrels, it tastes of white grapefruit pith and baked pink grapefruit with hints of pine and dill.

Domaine de l’Idylle Savoie Vieilles Vigne 2019

France (11.5%, yapp.co.uk, £13.50)

A mountain white, made from old vine jacquèyre grapes grown in an Alpine climate in vineyards that overlook the Isère valley. Refreshing like icicle meltwater, with hints of yellow citrus and white flowers, and just a touch of textural hinterland. Fondue wine but better.

Rings Riesling Kalkmergel Trocken 2019; Château Barbanau Clos Val Bruyère Cassis 2019; Château La Négly La Brise Marine 2019; Masson-Blondelet 2019 Pouilly Fumé; Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Rings Riesling Kalkmergel Trocken 2019

Pfalz, Germany (12%, Tanners, £13.70)

Light refreshment is the spirit of this dry and linear riesling from the Pfalz which tastes of green apple, yellow plum and white pepper. It’s very mouthwatering, and almost feels as if there’s a tiny spritz in its light step.

Château Barbanau Clos Val Bruyère Cassis 2019

France (12.5%, The Wine Society, £13.95)

Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur but also a wine made around the Mediterranean fishing port from which it takes its name. It’s quite rare and it’s very good. This one’s a gorgeous blend of ugni blanc, clairette, marsanne and sauvignon blanc; subtle, evocative and amazing with a plate of seafood.

Château La Négly La Brise Marine 2019

La Clape, France (13.5%, Quercus Wines, £16; Lay & Wheeler, £13.48; Highbury Vintners, £15)

An unusual, aromatic and almost wistful wine made in the Languedoc, in the region of La Clape, close to the Mediterranean. Saline at first, but rounds out with flavours of almond blossom. Super-delicious. 70% bourboulenc with 30% roussanne. Hello turkey sandwiches.

Masson-Blondelet 2019 Pouilly Fumé

France (13%, Waitrose, £15.99)

Loire sauvignon blanc is a much loved classic and this Pouilly Fumé comes from a well-established and respected producer. Grassy and crisp, but with a satisfying mineral undertow.

STAR BUY Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Margaret River, Australia (Private Cellar, £16.50)

Semillon-sauvignon blanc is known as a white Bordeaux blend but Margaret River takes it, gives it a glide and sherbetty freshness and makes it its own. This is superb; fresh and sleek like white asparagus and lemongrass sorbet. I love this.

From left: Boschkloof Chardonnay 2019; Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Clos Saint Pancras Mâcon Villages 2018; Domaine Daniel Barraud Saint Véran En Crèches 2018; Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus 2018; Domaine des Saumades Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2018

Boschkloof Chardonnay 2019

Stellenbosch, South Africa (13%, greatwine.co.uk, £16.95)

Reenen Borman joined his father on this small, family-owned farm in 2010 and rapidly began making waves for the quality of his wine. This is a chardonnay with subtle oak and lots of soul. Try it if you like Burgundy, you might be surprised.

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Clos Saint Pancras Mâcon Villages 2018

France (13%, Lea & Sandeman, £18.95)

Whites from the Mâconnais have become much grander and more respected. I’ve picked two very good contrasting examples here. The first is from a small estate run by a husband and wife team (Caroline Gon is also winemaker at Comte Lafon). Delicate, elegant and detailed, yet it has a floaty feel.

Domaine Daniel Barraud Saint Véran En Crèches 2018

Burgundy, France (13.5%, Lea & Sandeman, £21.25/£23.75 mixed case/single bottle price)

Brother and sister Julien and Anais are the latest Barrauds to join the family domaine. This cuvée, from a south-easterly facing parcel of vines, is a more intense, bold wine than the Chagnoleau, barrel-aged and gleaming.

Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus 2018

France (12.5%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, £24.20)

Jacky Blot is a revered producer in the Loire and this is a very special wine made from chenin blanc, picked from 50-80 year old vines, aged in oak. Think of the waxy florality and fragrance of quince, allied to a lively current of acidity. Beautiful.

Domaine des Saumades Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2018

Rhône (13.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, £28.95)

White Châteauneuf is a wine I love to drink at Christmas and this one is a beauty. It’s 50% grenache blanc, 25% clairette and 25% bourboulenc so quite different to northern Rhône marsanne/roussanne – offering floaty layers of flavour, all dried flowers and white peaches.