December 14, 2012 5:57 pm

Top 100 festive wines – part three: blanc beauty

France continues to hog a lot of recommendations but top marks to one retailer for sourcing in strange-but-satisfying places
Illustration by Ingram Pinn showing bottles of white wine in the snow©Ingram Pinn

France seems to hog an even higher proportion of recommendations here than it did for last week’s reds – perhaps not surprisingly in view of so many stunning wines from Alsace, the Loire – and Burgundy. It is worth remembering that, above £10 or so a bottle, smaller, apparently more upmarket merchants can often offer better value than the mass-market retailers – though top marks to M&S for sourcing in strange-but-satisfying places.

Verus Furmint 2011 Stajerska Slovenija

Verus Furmint 2011 Stajerska Slovenija

Verus Furmint 2011 Stajerska Slovenija

Tokaj’s most important grape but grown in western Slovenia not Hungary. Broad, spicy and pretty on the palate but convincingly tense with clean, fresh fruit. Tart on the finish but none the worse for it. 13%

£9.99 Real Wine Co, 0800 0322 992, www.therealwineco.co.uk

Producteurs Plaimont, Le Passé Authentique 2010 St-Mont

More

Jancis Robinson

Bravo les Gascons, for having rescued their indigenous Arrufiac and Petit Courbu grape varieties and blended them with Gros Manseng to produce this tense, vibrant, scented, herbal dry white. 13%

£9.99 Waitrose (257 branches), 0800 188 881, www.waitrose.com

Sevilen Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Turkey

The most unexpected wine of all? A high-altitude Aegean that tastes almost more like Chablis than Sancerre. Quite broad across the palate but bone dry and hugely respectable. Great value. 12.5%

£9.99 Marks & Spencer (140 stores), 0845 609 0200, www.marksandspencer.com

Yering Station, Little Yering Chardonnay 2010 Yarra Valley

Very well made, New Oz-style, bright Chardonnay. Delightfully balanced. Not concentrated but a lesson in winemaking and cleanliness to the winemakers of Burgundy. Very satisfying. Low key but excellent value. 13%

£10.25 Oddbins, 0800 328 2323, www.oddbins.com

Argyros, Atlantis 2011 Santorini

Argyros, Atlantis 2011 Santorini

Argyros, Atlantis 2011 Santorini

Another great eastern Mediterranean bargain from M&S based on the fabulous Assyrtiko grape. Mineral, tight and lemony. Very dry finish. A great example of a classic wine allowed to express itself without being shoehorned into a supermarket shape. 13%

£10.49 Marks & Spencer (177 stores), 0845 609 0200, www.marksandspencer.com

Vincent Carême, Grenouilles Demi Sec 2009 Vouvray

Exciting, fresh, nervy, off-dry Loire Chenin Blanc with a lovely mix of almond and apple flavours. 13.5%

£10.95 The Wine Society, 0143 874 1177, www.thewinesociety.com

La Grange de Quatre Sous, Bu N’Daw Petite Arvine 2010 Vin de Table

La Grange de Quatre Sous, Bu N’Daw Petite Arvine 2010 Vin de Table

La Grange de Quatre Sous, Bu N’Daw Petite Arvine 2010 Vin de Table

100% Petite Arvine, an ancient Swiss vine from the Valais grown in Assignan, Languedoc. How enterprising, to plant this variety here. Scented, herbal and with no shortage of either body or acidity. Really alpine and with great delicacy and freshness. Underpriced! 13%

£13.40 Vine Trail, 0117 921 1770, www.vinetrail.co.uk

Von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Kabinett 2011 Mosel

Son Max von Kunow’s second vintage. Sweet, featherlight, lovely Saar classic with blackcurrant leaf aromas. For reviving flagging appetites? 8.5%

£13.50 The Wine Society, 0143 874 1177, www.thewinesociety.com

Marcel Deiss, Pinot d’Alsace 2010 Alsace

Real attack and dimension. Racy and intense. Great value. The Riesling 2010 (£19.95 Roberson) is also outstanding. 13%

£14.95 Lea & Sandeman, 0207 244 0533, www.leaandsandeman.co.uk

Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer 2011 Alsace

No wonder this wine is so good; 20% of the fruit comes from the Furstentum Grand Cru. Heady rose-petal aroma. Tastes quite sweet (residual sugar is only 10g/l in fact) but it’s gorgeous and not at all flabby. There is decidedly smoky tension. 13.5%

£14.99 Waitrose (259 branches), 0800 188 881, www.waitrose.com

Roger Champault, Le Clos de la Cure 2011 Menetou-Salon

Roger Champault, Le Clos de la Cure 2011 Menetou-Salon

Roger Champault, Le Clos de la Cure 2011 Menetou-Salon

Lovely smoky/reductive Sauvignon Blanc nose with masses of terroir influence. Great breadth of ripe fruit across the palate. A certain green creaminess (gooseberry fool?) on the finish. Sufficient but not intrusive acidity. A very serious answer to Sancerre, not overpriced. 12.5%

About £15 Domaine Direct, 0207 837 1142, www.domainedirect.co.uk

Richard Kihl, 1728 454 455, www.richardkihl.ltd.uk

Butler’s Wine Cellar, 1273 698 724, www.butlers-winecellar.co.uk

Vincent Delaporte, Chavignol 2011 Sancerre

Fine, mineral and so different from the average varietal Sauvignon Blanc! Blackcurrant-leaf flavours. 13%

£15.95 Lea & Sandeman, 0207 244 0533, www.leaandsandeman.co.uk

JM Brocard, The Society’s Exhibition Vaillons Premier Cru 2010 Chablis

Fabulous purity. With typical wet-stone flavours this is racy, cool, and you could actually enjoy it already. Great stuff. 12.5%

£16 The Wine Society, 0143 874 1177, www.thewinesociety.com

JJ Prüm Riesling Kabinett 2010 Mosel

JJ Prüm Riesling Kabinett 2010 Mosel

JJ Prüm Riesling Kabinett 2010 Mosel

Lovely pure, open, clean, dry-tasting wine because, presumably, there is so much fresh acidity to counterbalance any fruitiness here. Knocked spots off many more-expensive French wines served alongside when I tasted it. 8.5%

£16.25 Corney & Barrow, 0207 265 2400, www.corneyandbarrow.com

Cinque Terre, Costa da Posa 2011 Liguria

A bottling of an individual vineyard on the much-photographed steep coastal terraces southeast of Genoa. Very scented and yet delicate. Really delightfully poised. Floral but with fine structure. 13%

From £18.50 Butlers Wine Cellar, 1273 698 724, www.butlers-winecellar.co.uk

Highbury Vintners, 0207 226 1347, www.highburyvintners.co.uk

Corks of Cotham, 0117 973 1620, www.corksof.com

Dom François Carillon 2010 Bourgogne Chardonnay

An early wine from one of the two successors of Louis Carillon bodes well. Some good-quality oak and almost Chablis-like precision. Pretty fine for a Bourgogne. 13%

£18.85 Corney & Barrow, 0207 265 2400, www.corneyandbarrow.com

López Heredia, Viña Gravonia 2003 Rioja

López Heredia, Viña Gravonia 2003 Rioja

López Heredia, Viña Gravonia 2003 Rioja

100% Viura. Unashamedly oaky nose. Soft with low acidity but sufficiently lively on the finish. Still swimming along with a mix of wax and lemon and like nothing else.

£18.95 Berry Bros, 0800 280 2440, www.bbr.com

Meerlust Chardonnay 2009 Stellenbosch

Some leesiness on the nose, but good, savoury, confident fruit. Serious wine with lovely texture. Refreshing acidity and intriguing almond flavours. Much more open, approachable and lively than many a 2009 white burgundy at this price. Shows just how good Cape Chardonnay can be. 13.5%

£18.99 Wine Rack, 0203 356 4753, www.winerack.co.uk

François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux Demi Sec 2009 Montlouis-sur-Loire

François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux Demi Sec 2009 Montlouis-sur-Loire

François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux Demi Sec 2009 Montlouis-sur-Loire

Not the sort of wine you expect in a supermarket. Lovely tang and toast. Fabulous old Chenin vines. You could drink this with any savoury white wine dish. Or on its own. Hugely satisfying and only at the start of its life. 13.5%

£18.99 Marks & Spencer (65 stores), 0845 609 0200, www.marksandspencer.com

Dom Rapet Père et Fils, Les Combettes Premier Cru 2010 Pernand-Vergelesses

I actually tasted this chez Marks & Spencer, where it was one of the most outstanding wines in their selection – but it costs considerably more at M&S than when ordered from Domaine Direct (where, admittedly, you have to buy at least 12 assorted bottles). Very satisfying with just a trace of oak but masses of truly Côte d’Or character. Racy and bone dry but not skinny. Should seduce any white-burgundy fan. 13%

£21.30 Domaine Direct, 0207 837 1142, www.domainedirect.co.uk ,

£26 M&S, 0845 609 0200, www.marksandspencer.com

Dom Anne Gros, Cuvée Marine 2009 Hautes-Côtes de Nuits

Deep gold. Very lifted, cool, savoury/lemony nose. Racier than most 2009 white burgundies, and richer than this bottling usually is. An attractive lemon-sherbet note but real breadth on the palate. Smoky top note. No obvious oak. Lovely current drinking – though I wouldn’t hold for much longer. Not trying to be Meursault; presented on its own terms. Quite persistent. 13%

£22.20 Domaine Direct, 0207 837 1142, www.domainedirect.co.uk

Bründlmayer, Ried Steinmassel Riesling 2011 Kamptal

Thanks to its recent acquisition of Richards Walford, Berrys now has excellent Austrians, including such aristocrats of Wachau as Hirtzberger, Emmerich Knoll, Nikolaihof and Prager, as well as this over-deliverer from Kamptal next door. Racy and open. Herbs and dried grasses on the nose. Very dry and delicate. Really gets the saliva flowing. The Heiligenstein at £26.95 is also delicious. 12.5%

£23.95 Berry Bros, 0800 280 2440, www.bbr.com

Dom Jean-François Ganevat, Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes 2009 Côtes du Jura

Really quite mainstream for Jura and Caves de Pyrène! But delicious with a sort of mineral twang and lovely sleek polished fruit. Great stuff and so different from most Chardonnays. Very persistent. 13.5%

£28.99 Les Caves de Pyrène, 1483 554 750, www.lescaves.co.uk

Ch Simone 2008 Palette

Provençal blend of 80% Clairette, 10% Grenache Blanc, 5% Ugni Blanc, 5% Muscat Blanc from a historic estate outside Aix. Full, subtle and exciting. Both ready and lively, a real jewel. 13.5%

£30 Yapp Brothers, 1747 860 423, www.yapp.co.uk

Tardieu-Laurent 2008 Hermitage Blanc

Tardieu-Laurent 2008 Hermitage Blanc

Tardieu-Laurent 2008 Hermitage Blanc

A potentially glorious wine style from the northern Rhône that is always full- bodied but can last for ages. Scented, smoky and heady. Round, a little salty and hugely enjoyable. Clean, intense, multilayered. A white to drink with goose even? Very accomplished. 13.5%

£39.55 Corney & Barrow, 0207 265 2400, www.corneyandbarrow.com

.......................................................

Top 100 festive wines: fine fizzes

Top 100 festive wines: well-bred reds

Top 100 festive wines: sweet and strong

More at winesearcher.com .

.......................................................

FT Seasonal Appeal

Dine with an FT writer

To raise money for the Global Fund for Children, you can bid for a chance to lunch with Jancis Robinson and other FT writers, or in the ‘A Sommelier in Your Cellar’ auction (from January 2013). Go to www.ft.com/sommelier and see ft.com/appeal for more details.

.......................................................

Win a magnum of Grand Cru champagne

We are offering two readers a magnum of champagne each, kindly donated by Berry Bros. To enter the prize draw, you will need to collect four passwords. One will appear here each week until December 22. Password 3: transparency.

To enter, see terms and conditions at www.ft.com/fizzes. Start date December 1, close date December 29. Participants must be 18 years+ & UK residents to be able to win the prize.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

LIFE AND ARTS ON TWITTER

More FT Twitter accounts