December 10, 2010 10:21 pm

Do the white thing

From the fresh and zesty to the assertive, exotically rich and flamboyant, all of these white wines have some real distinction

All the wines below have some real distinction to recommend them. We have given UK stockists where known but do please check winesearcher.com for more, especially those outside the UK. Single-bottle prices are given (some UK retailers insist on a minimum order of six or 12 bottles). Big retailers are always introducing special offers; check with quaffersoffers.co.uk.

£15 and under

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Jancis Robinson

Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference 2009 Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine

Much more concentration and character than Muscadets of old, from Dom Jean Douillard – good stuff for a supermarket wine with real lees-driven character. Like Beaujolais, Muscadet rides again. 12% £6.29 Sainsbury’s

Argento Reserva Chardonnay 2009 Mendoza

Big and bold on the nose in California idiom. Round and slithery with some attractive stone fruit and mineral character. Argentina, unexpectedly, can be particularly good at Chardonnay if it’s grown high enough. £6.50 Bibendum, Slurp.co.uk , Grape Sense, DJ Foodfare

Concha y Toro Pinot Grigio 2009 Limarí Valley

Rather headier than the average – and much more fruit. Clever stuff from one of Chile’s newer, cooler wine regions. 13% £6.99 Marks & Spencer

Viña Leyda, Secano Estate Sauvignon Gris 2009 Leyda Valley

Cool, coastal Chilean from a grape that tastes like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Quite perfumed and rich on the nose. Lots of crunchy fruit. 14% £7.49 Marks & Spencer

Léon Beyer Sylvaner 2009 Alsace

Steely and lively. Firm and dry. Real earthiness: proper Sylvaner character. 12% £7.95 The Wine Society

Viña Costeira 2009 Ribeiro

Made from Treixadura grown in the north-west of Spain. Mouth-filling, even rather peachy, and softer than such other Ribeiros I have tried, but sufficiently fresh and zesty. 11.5% £7.99 Waitrose

Fairview, La Capra Chardonnay 2009 Western Cape

Fun, rich yet lime-juice soaked bottling with fairground-poster label and screwcap. Loads of personality.£7.99 Waitrose

M Chapoutier, La Ciboise 2009 Lubéron

Full, rich and smoky but with good tight herbal finish. Lots of southern French personality and a pleasing dry finish. Quite a bargain. 13.5% £8.25 Butlers Wine Cellar and others

Ch du Coing de St Fiacre, Cuvée Excellence 2009 Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine

The heaviest bottle of Muscadet I have ever encountered. Lots of character and masses of acidity – leaner than the average Muscadet but it does taste as though it has a future. Interesting. 12% £8.32 (£4.80 a half) OW Loeb

Domäne Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2009 Niederösterreich

Light, racy Federspiel or even Steinfeder style – to use the ripeness descriptions used in neighbouring Austrian wine region Wachau. Great refreshment and length. Versatile; with or without food. 12.5% £8.99 Waitrose

Tahbilk Marsanne 2008 Nagambie Lakes

Unusual full-bodied Australian classic from one of the oldest Victorian wineries. Rich start. Lots of gummy personality (Marsanne is a north Rhône grape). Taste history! 13.5% £9.95 Jeroboams

Gilles Berlioz 2009 Chignin

From Jacquère vines up to 80 years old. Very light and appetising with piercing acidity. (Sub)alpine zest indeed. Great apéritif. 11.5% £9.95 Vine Trail

Jean-Fernard Thibault, Les Genêts Gris 2008 Coteaux du Giennois

An upper Loire Sauvignon Blanc that is much richer than a Sancerre – almost oily in fact. Exotically rich, tropical fruit aromas. Just off dry and so much more fun than most Sancerres and Pouilly-Fumés. Very persistent. £10.28 Domaine Direct

Kloster Eberbach Riesling Trocken 2008 Rheingau

Tight nose but flamboyant white peppery fruit on the palate. Good to see the wines of this recently transformed historic Cistercian abbey in the UK. Very good balance. £10.50 Jeroboams

Mittnacht, Cuvée Gyotaku 2009 Alsace

Interesting new cuvée by the Japanese chef married to Christophe Mittnacht. To go with raw fish, with enough body to stand up to wasabi – a blend of 40% Pinot Blanc and 20% each of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Very rich arresting nose yet it finishes bone dry. 13.5% £10.80 Wines of Interest

Bodegas Ontañon, Vetiver Crianza 2007 Rioja

Sleek, sophisticated and unexpected. Viura aka Macabeo with six months in barrique. Interesting! Some strong vegetation notes. 12% £10.95 Jeroboams

La Réméjeanne, Les Arbousiers 2009 Côtes du Rhône

Quite complex with medicinal herbs in the ascendant. Rich start and then layers with a certain oiliness but it’s not, overall, heavy. 14% £10.95 The Wine Society

Cave de la Vigne Blanche, La Porte du Caillou 2009 Sancerre

Screwcapped, from the Chavignol co-op. Real tension with an attractively smoky finish. I’d be very happy to drink this. Good fruit in the middle. Minerals rather than Marlborough influence. Neat and dry but with firm fruit. 13.5% £10.99 Sainsbury’s

Dom Anne Boecklin Chasselas 2008 Alsace

Chasselas is far from the grape with the strongest personality but this wine shows that the producer can be more important than the grape. Interesting and wild-flavoured. £11.30 The Sampler

Dom André Kientzler Pinot Blanc 2007 Alsace

Chock full of flavour. Lightly honeyed and really compact. I’d rather drink this than many producers’ more noble varieties. Very assertive and well corseted. £11.50 Flint Wines

Dom Clos des Rocs 2009 Macon Loché

Well behaved stuff – good balance and not over-the-top ripeness. Attractive mineral whiff. Good stuff! Some complexity. £11.95 Flint Wines

Dom J & N Saumaize, En Crêches 2008 St-Véran

One of those Mâconnais wines that producers of much more expensive white wines on the much smarter Côte d’Or should be forced to taste and marvel at. From £11.50 The Wine Society, Montrachet, Earle Wines, Stone Vine & Sun

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett 2009 Mosel

Great value for such a sophisticated wine. Smoky and with real tingle. Full of Mosel fruit. Just 8.5% £12.50 The Wine Society

Pascal Pauget Chardonnay 2008 Mâcon

Quite rich and beguiling. Easy to like with lots of energy under the surface. So much exuberant fruit! £12.85 Vine Trail

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough

Admirably dry, minerally and serious from two Cloudy Bay émigrés. From £12.94 West Mount, James Nicholson, Berry Bros and many others

Millton, Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2007 Gisborne

Biodynamic. Smells like the honey and damp straw of proper Chenin. Clean but really interesting off-dry stuff. 12% £12.95 The Wine Society

Dom Bernard Defaix 2008 Chablis

Very fine, classic bracing aroma and not a bad price at all. Racy, dry and terroir-sodden. Perfect for early drinking, from a great Chablis vintage. £12.95 Flint Wines

Moss Wood Semillon 2009 Margaret River

Delicate on the nose and not ridiculously priced. Sweet start but with good fruity core, too. A very graceful and gracious Western Australian Semillon from a master of it. No tartness. No excess oak. Beautifully managed. £12.95 Jeroboams

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough

From Cloudy Bay’s winemaker’s own wine, named after the local soil type. Very clean, dry and mineral. Racy and juicy fruited. Good stuff. 13.5% £12.95 Wined Up Here

Albert Mann Muscat 2009 Alsace

Grown-up grape juice under screwcap that explodes in the mouth like a crushed Muscat grape but it’s also quite delicate. No headaches here. 12.5% £12.99 Waitrose Wine Direct

Dreissigacker Riesling 2009 Rheinhessen

Stunningly concentrated dry Riesling from low-yielding grapes in ambitious young hands. 13.5% £12.99 Noel Young, Secret Cellar, Flying Corkscrew

J M Brocard, Dom Pierre de Prehy 2008 Chablis

Firm nose with real vitality. Classic stuff, and really revitalising and dry. Couldn’t complain about this! Textbook 2008 Chablis. 12.5% £12.99 Marks & Spencer

Casa Silva, Paradones Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Colchagua Valley

Very cool and pungent. Smoky. Dry finish. Excellent Chilean from a new, ocean-cooled region. You could enjoy it now but I suspect it will be better in a few months... 13.5% From selected Wine Racks £12.99, £13.95 Frank Stainton Wines, plus Caviste, Averys, Field & Fawcett, The Naked Grape

Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken Riesling 2008 Mosel

Pure, cool and mountain-fresh. A bouquet of flowers that finishes dry. Light but crunchy and appetising. Mouthwash – so clean! 10% £13.31 OW Loeb

Pewsey Vale, The Contours Riesling 2004 Eden Valley

Great policy on the part of Yalumba to keep some of this back and release it with real bottle age at a fair price. Toast and lime marmalade with a dry finish. 13% From £13.49 AG Wines, Berry Bros and others

Dom des Entrefaux 2009 Crozes-Hermitage

Attractively dense, high-toned (nice) varnish nose. Lots of sometimes-fat Marsanne (80%), but lovely juicy raciness. A wine that sums up northern Rhône 2009’s appeal. 12.5% £13.50 Vine Trail

Dom Cheveau 2009 Mâcon-Solutré-Pouilly

Minerally, really luscious and interesting. Lots of personality with a chalky finish. Impressively persistent. 13.5% £13.95 Caviste, Field & Fawcett

Dom Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace

More savoury and refreshing than many Gewurzes. Very natural nose. Lots of richness but it finishes dry. Food friendly. Heavy enough to serve with goose? 13.5% £13.99 Waitrose

Ch des Vaults, La Jalousie 2009 Savennières

Slightly muted nose and then lots of youthful Chenin ripenes. Lots of acidity. Like biting on an explosive soft fruit – an apple with a peach skin? 14% £13.99 Waitrose (37 stores)

John Forrest, Collection Riesling 2006 Marlborough

Lots of complexity with tingly fresh acidity – some grapefruit. Bone dry. Very delicate and light-bodied with real interest. This stood up well in a blind tasting with some very smart German and Austrian Rieslings. £13.99 Adnams

Ch Pierre Bise, Clos de Coulaine 2009 Savennières

Deep gold. Spicy, energetic and bone dry. A real ramrod, thanks to its firm acidity. Still quite young – with lots of minerality. No hurry to drink this. £14.25 Bibendum, Ellis Wharton Wines

Gran Lurton, Corte Friulano 2009 Valle de Uco

Clever new name for Argentina’s widely planted Sauvignon Vert, reminding us it’s the same as the characteristic grape of Friuli in north east Italy (which used to be called Tocai Friulano until the Hungarians objected). Full bodied, lightly honeyed with a green streak and an imposing bottle. From £14.95 Robersons, Corney & Barrow, Harrods

Mullineux White 2009 Swartland

Complex full-bodied white from some of South Africa’s older vines in a thoroughly recuperated region. 13.5% From £14.99 Hand Picked Burgundy, Berry Bros, Cambridge Wine Co

Dom de Chevalier, Rosé de Chevalier 2009 Bordeaux

Smart pink. Tiny production made from juice free run from the production of this great red Pessac-Léognan. Good texture, dry and would be lovely with cold turkey. £15 The Sampler

£25 and under

Dom Séguinot-Bordet, Fourchaume Premier Cru 2008 Chablis

Very crunchy and appetising on the nose. Racy and mouthfilling. Would make a fine aperitif as well as a great wine for the table. 12.5% From £15.95, Colchester Wine Co, Berry Bros and others

Ten Minutes by Tractor, 10x Chardonnay 2008 Mornington Peninsula

Very grown-up indeed with real grip and density. No sweetness or obvious oak. White peach fruit with a dry finish. Excellent at reduced price. 14% £15.95 (usually £24.35) Bancroft

Cyril Fhal 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes

Unusually light for a Roussillon white. Very fine and interesting and delicately skeined. Really filigree. Long and fine. Very well done. 12% £16.30 Vine Trail

Dom Prunier-Bonheur 2006 St-Romain

Fine, reductive, focused nose. Neat and tense with an undertow of liquorice. Sleek, good stuff. £17.52 OW Loeb

Neudorf, Maggie’s Block Pinot Gris 2009

Nelson Has 100 times more character than the average Pinot Grigio. New Zealand’s top producers really have a way with these Alsace grape varieties – very crisp yet with real depth of fruit. £17.89 Zelas.co.uk of London N6

Luc Percher 2007 Cour Cheverny

Linear Touraine very crisp dry white with a lovely subtext of green fruits. The rare Romorantin grape is responsible. £17.90 The Sampler

Dom Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Molesme Premier Cru 2007 Rully

Much sleeker and more sophisticated than most Côte Chalonnaise wines and then real freshness and compactness. £17.95 Flint Wines

Mas de la Devèze, La Devèze Blanc 2007 Vin de Pays des Pyrénées Orientales

Olivier Bernstein of Gevrey-Chambertin’s original Roussillon property. Lovely old-vine bottling that I much prefer to the red version. Exciting rich, complex fruit but with good acidity underneath. 13% £17.95 Berry Bros

Kurt Hain, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling trocken 2009 Mosel

New style dry German with real intensity. Very vibrant and broad with a hint of passion fruit – quite explosive in terms of impact. Good balance and no shortage of fruit. Super refreshing. 13% £17.95 Tanners

Julien Labet, Les Varrons 2007 Côtes du Jura

Low yielding Chardonnay from an under-appreciated region. Deep-flavoured and subtle with the majesty found in the contained, dry finish of old-fashioned burgundy. Worth a look. Real quality. £18.45 Vine Trail

von Kesselstatt, Piesporter Goldtröpchen Riesling Spätlese 2007 Mosel

Really very interesting with the fruit completely integrated. Almost impossible to spit. Featherlight but very precise. 7.5% £18.50 OW Loeb

Domaine Roux Père et Fils, La Pucelle 2008 St-Aubin

One of Burgundy’s rare sources of bargains. Very dense and heady – lots of flavour packed in here. Broad start and then attractive lemon oil on the end. £18.75 Bibendum, Tivoli Wines, The Wine Chamber

Naudé White 2008 Stellenbosch

Struck-match aromas and then far more flavour than one would expect for 11.5% alcohol. Sophisticated blend of Chenin, Sauvignon and Semillon. £18.95 Berry Bros

Dom Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin, Montée de Tonnerre Premier Cru 2008 Chablis

Wonderfully correct and taut yet with lots of green fruit juice. Pretty good value really for a wine that is great already but clearly has a long way to go. No showing off. Just real purity. £19.68 Domaine Direct

Dom Gérard Boulay, Clos de Beaujeu 2008 Sancerre

Twice the price of most Sancerres, but twice as good. Much richer and more interesting. £20.50 Vine Trail

Dom Patrick Javillier, Cuvée Oligocène 2007 Bourgogne

Very rich yet lime-zested nose. Lots of depth – real excitement. And I think it has more to give. 13% £20.50 Bennetts of Chipping Campden and others

Grosset, Springvale Watervale Riesling 2009 Clare Valley

Herbs and grass on the nose – much more open than the 2010. Open and easy and more relaxed than the Polish Hill 2009. A good choice for current drinking. 12.5% £21 The Wine Society

Dom Jean-Marc Pillot, Les GouressesPremier Cru 2007 Montagny

Tight and savoury classic white burgundy that doesn’t know it’s not Cote d’Or! Fine and introvert. Long and tingly. £21.95 Flint Wines

JJ Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2004 Mosel

A good price for a six-year-old classic from one of the world’s great producers. Almost bone dry. Delicate yet with the currant undertow of pure Wehlen fruit. Such tingle and clarity. 8.5% £23.01 OW Loeb

Rochioli Vineyards, Rochioli Chardonnay 2008 Russian River Valley

Lots of terroir and tingle here! So much livelier than the average California Chardonnay. Very round and dangerous with lots of sweetness underneath. Not at all burgundian with just a hint of popcorn but well made and not flabby. 14.5% From £24.75 James Nicholson, Slurp, Flint Wines

Dom René Lequin-Colin, Les Charrières 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet

Mint and liquorice on the nose – very taut – not at all like the more typically gentle 2007 style. £24.95 Stone, Vine & Sun

Dom Bernard Moreau 2008 Chassagne-Montrachet

Quite rich and then transparent pure fruit – much more satisfying and delineated than his 2009 Bourgogne. Pretty good for now and the next year or so. £24.95 Flint Wines

£35 and under

Bouchard Père et Fils, Beaune du Château, Premier Cru 2006 Beaune

Correct, savoury start and nice refinement. Very refreshing and fully open and ready. Well chosen and not a bad price. 13.5% £25.49 Waitrose, 46 branches

Dom Hubert Lamy, En Remilly Premier Cru 2008 St-Aubin

Rich green fruit aromas. Full and broad and open. Satisfying. Lots of acidity and still slightly austere. From £28.95 Flint Wine, Lea & Sandeman

Dom Ballot-Millot, Narvaux 2008 Meursault

Full-on struck-match whiff with vibrant, rich fruit underneath. A very satisfying cocktail! Lots of give here. £31.95 Flint Wines

Dom Hubert Lamy, Clos de la Chatenière Premier Cru 2008 St-Aubin

Tight and focussed and very impressive. This has taken on a bit more fat than when I first tasted it. Lamy is very much a force to be reckoned with. Really pure and much more convincing than many Meursaults, Pulignys and Chassagnes. Long. But not cheap... £32.31 Domaine Direct, Lea & Sandeman and others

Dom Marc Morey, Virondot Premier Cru 2004 Chassagne-Montrachet

Light and surprisingly floral on the nose. Polished texture. Some evolution – savoury/toasty. Lots there. Good to find such a mature wine on sale. £33.80 Bibendum

Dom Boyer-Martenot 2004 Meursault Perrieres Premier Cru

Good, rich yet savoury on the finish. Classic mature Meursault. Great for now. £35 The Sampler

Dom Jean Pascal, Les Chalumeaux Premier Cru 2007 Puligny-Montrachet

International Wine Challenge white wine of the year. Hint of popcorn but very agreeable green-fruited, fine, lightly toasted white burgundy. Fine and fresh. £40 top Marks & Spencer stores

Vincent Girardin, Folatières Premier Cru 2005 Puligny-Montrachet

Almondy nose. Round, satisfying and fills all corners of the palate. Unusually for commercially available white burgundy, it seems at the peak of its powers now. £41.61 OW Loeb

Franz Hirtzberger, Singerriedel Riesling Smaragd 2009 Wachau

Excellent dry Austrian. Light and peppery with real sparkle. Racy and beautifully balanced. Long and lip-smacking. £74 Slurp.co.uk

Next week: strong and sweet wines

To see the full list of Jancis’s top festive white wines, go to www.ft.com/christmaswhites and jancisrobinson.com

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