Wonderful white wines to drink this Christmas, and where to buy them

Here’s a list (checked twice) of wonderful white and fortified wines and food pairings

 

This week, as we head towards Christmas, here are some suggestions for white wines to start off the festive meal, and a few fortified wines to provide a finale. I will cover drinks for the main course next week.

I divide white wine into two camps; firstly, lighter more refreshing aromatic wines such as New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, that go very well with lighter seafood starters including smoked salmon. Alternatively, if you go for a richer, more textured wine, it will go nicely with a wide range of starters, as well as the turkey to follow. It makes life easier, and I tend to prefer bigger white wines in winter anyway.

Lighter choices include the delightful Sauvignon Quincy Quartz 2019 (€22.95, O’Briens), or, if you want to push the boat out, the Jonathan Didier Pabiot Prédiliction (€48, elywinebar.ie) is one of the finest white wines I have tasted this year. The Paul Vattan La Grande Côte (€20.18, winespark.com) is very good, and I adore the Vouvray Domaine des Aubuisières 2020 (€17.95, jnwine.com).

Rueda in Spain produces some great, refreshing, aromatic white wines. The José Pariente 2020 (€18.50, winesdirect.ie) offers great value for money, as does the delicious vibrant Cucú (€19.95, independents). I reckon Paul Flynn’s whipped goat’s cheese with apple and cranberry would go nicely with any of the above wines. With the smoked trout or the prawns with smoked paprika, I would go for one of the richer wines. 

I list two great richer white wines below, but there are plenty of options. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne from warmer regions usually have the necessary body to go with turkey and more full-bodied starters. There are few wines better than a good white Burgundy. The Ardhuy Hautes Côtes de Beaune (€22.50 Grapevine, Dalkey) and the Bourgogne Blanc from Vougeraie (€39.95) and de Montille (€44.95, independents) would all provide a special start to your feast.

To finish off, a few fortified wines to enjoy by the fireside, with your plum pudding or cheese. You could try a dessert wine. Mitchell & Son has the toothsome tropical fruit-laden Château des Arroucats (€17.95), O’Briens the delicious Disnókö Late harvest Furmint (a bargain at €14.95 for a half bottle) and Aldi the well-priced Specially Selected Sauternes (€8.99 per 50cl bottle).

The Trudy Nat Cool, from one of Portugal’s greatest wine producers, is a one-litre bottle of lighter, more refreshing, ruby-style Port. Vintage Port requires long ageing and decanting before drinking. If you have a little time over the festive period, why not dust off your finest decanter? 

Lastly, I always have a bottle of meditation wine, usually a dry sherry, to dip into when nibbling cheese over the festive period. This year I have a bottle of the delicious Valdespino Amontillado Tio Diego (€31.99, independents) – my present to myself. 

Domaine Begude Étoile 2020, Limoux 
13.5%, €21.95
Succulent, voluptuous peach and apple fruits with the merest touch of oak to add extra interest, and plenty of refreshing acidity. This trumps any white Burgundy at the price. Perfect with scallops, prawns and the festive turkey. 
From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie     

Etienne Pochon Crozes-Hermitage 2020
14%, €25
Rich, succulent textured peach and apricot fruits kept in balance by a refined acidity. As with the Étoile above, this would partner nicely with richer seafood such as scallops, prawns or even lobster, as well as turkey.  
From Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie

Trudy NV Nat Cool Ruby Port
19.3%, €30-€31 for a one-litre bottle
Deliciously fruity, with fresh morello cherries and plums. Sweet but never cloying, you could serve this with most Christmas desserts and cheeses. 
From Café Rua & Siopa, Castlebar, caferua.ie; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Avoca, Ballsbridge & Rathcoole, avoca.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Pinto Wines, D9, pintowines.ie; Redmonds, D6, Redmonds.ie; The Wine Pair, D8; Toonsbridge dairy, D2 & D4, toonsbridgedairy.com

Quinta do Vesuvio 2011 Vintage Port
20%, €100
Masses of rich, powerful, swarthy sweet fruits and savoury dark chocolate with structured tannins. Wonderful wine. Decant a few hours before drinking with plum pudding or cheese. 
From Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com.

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