The thirst Noel

A cool climate and old vines in the Clare Valley give fabulous flavours in Jim Barry Lodge Riesling
A cool climate and old vines in the Clare Valley give fabulous flavours in Jim Barry Lodge Riesling
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With visitors, neighbours and relatives poised to descend on your household in the next few weeks it is time to stock up with a few bottles to carry you through the festive season. It is always tempting to look for the most spectacular reductions on the shelves and there are plenty of big brands at half price, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they are the best bargains. Sometimes the liquid inside those bottles is disappointing, even at half price. Instead select from my list of the 20 best white wine buys of the season.

£6 and under

House Muscadet NV, Loire, France, Sainsbury’s, £4.79: Muscadet has had its ups and downs in quality terms but this has all the right, clean, yeasty notes and because it has been aged on its lees for several months it has texture too.

Mâcon Villages, Burgundy, France, Marks and Spencer, £5.99: Down from £8.99 to just £5.99 until January 1 and there’s and extra discount when you multibuy this wine has flavour well above its price point. Ripe, almost peachy fruit with nutty complexity on the finish.

Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2012, South Africa, Co-op, £5.99: Grapes for this wine were grown at Cape Point Vineyards, one of the most blustery, wind-swept vineyards in the Cape and its cool-climate shows in the fresh-tasting gooseberry and pineapple fruit. Pour as an aperitif and carry through to serve with starters, fish and salads. Normally £7.99 it is great value on offer until January 1.

Tesco Finest Chablis 2011, Burgundy, France, £6: Down from £9.99 to just £6 until January 1, it is worth stocking up with this wine. It has crisp, clean apple and citrus fruit with a background of minerally crunch. Serve it with canapés, fish or a cold turkey salad.

Under £8

The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Waihopai River, Marlborough, New Zealand, Waitrose, £6.99: Down from £9.99 until 2 January, this is a terrific wine, even at full price. With bright gooseberry and tropical fruit and a touch of herbal complexity it goes perfectly with lightly spiced tiger prawns and most canapés.

Tesco Finest Denman Semillon 2011, Hunter Valley, Australia, £6.99: Down from £9.99 until 1 January, this has honeysuckle fruit layered with lemon and just a touch of honey. ■ Alsace Gewurztraminer 2011, Cave de Turckheim, France, Morrisons, £7.99: Packed with lively, spice-driven fruit with an edge of sweetness, this will go with Thai-spiced starters and even a mild turkey curry.

Caixas Albariño 2011, Martin Códax, Rías Baixas, Spain, Majestic, £7.99: With light white peachy flavours, backed by clean acidity and with a streak of minerality running through, this has enough texture to take on food such as scallops, sea bass and salads. Down from £9.99 until 4 February.

Under £10

Dourthe La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Bordeaux, France, Waitrose, £8.49: Stylish French Sauvignon Blanc with grapefruit and grassy notes and a clear minerally finish. Food friendly, team this with fish and goat’s cheese.

Gavi, La Battistina 2011, Piedmont, Italy, Hoults (01484 510700), £8.99: Gavi can be a bit hit and miss, but not this one. Made from older vines which have had time to get their roots down and develop some flavour, it has fresh-picked apple aromas with a lemony zing.

The Lodge Hill Riesling, Jim Barry, Clare Valley, Australia, Majestic, £9.99: It was good to welcome Tom Barry to Yorkshire earlier this year and to taste his terrific range of wines. This was one of my favourites, packed with zingy complex fruits – white peach, lime and nectarine with a clean, dry finish that makes it perfect to accompany all kinds of foods. Try it with Christmas oysters or shellfish.

Taste the Difference Hunter Valley Semillon 2006, Australia, Sainsbury’s, £9.99: Fabulous, old-fashioned aged Semillon with waxy, lemon fruit and nutty complexity on the finish.

Under £12

Falanghina Beneventano 2010, Veveso, Campania, Italy, Field and Fawcett (01904 489073), £10.95: If you haven’t tried this grape then this is where you start. Aromatic and almost spicy in an understated, elegant way with crisp apple and ripe pear fruit. Delicious.

The Black Pack Roussanne 2011, Painted Wolf, South Africa, Roberts and Speight (01482 870717), £11.99: Northern Rhône flavours at a fraction of the price. Aromatic citrus notes, white peach and honey with a delicious rounded texture.

Pouilly Vinzelles “En Paradis” 2011, Louis Latour, Burgundy, France, Majestic, £11.99: Only a small reduction when you multibuy but it is well worth its money. Plump, creamy fruit with notes of hazelnuts and oatmeal. Good enough for the main event.

Under £15

3 Amigos 2007 McHenry Hohnen, Margaret River, Western Australia, The Wright Wine Company (01756 700886), £12.40: I love the texture and complexity. Made from Marsanne, Chardonnay and Roussanne it has a gentle aromatic nose with herb-spiked fruit and an almost savoury finish. A food wine.

Pouilly Fuissé, Vieilles Vignes, 
Vincent Girardin 2009, France, 
Bon Coeur (01765 688200), £14.49: 
You have to buy by the case but this 
can be mixed and there is plenty to choose from at this Masham-based merchant. This Pouilly Fuissé comes from old vines and it shows in its concentration and elegance.

Redoma Branco 2011, Niepoort, Douro, Portugal, Harrogate Fine Wine (01423 522270), £14.99: Perfectly assembled, tight, apple blossom and citrus fruity wine, backed by minerally crunch and just a touch of smoky oak. Great with cheese.

£15 plus

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand, Halifax Wine Company, 01422 256333, £15.95: Made by Kevin Judd who was chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay for several decades. Now he is on his own and creating some of the stylish flavours which used to appear in the more famous wine. This wine is gradually climbing the price scale, solely on quality, not marketing hype.

Vincent Giradin Le Lemozin 2010, Meursault, France, Waitrose, £23.99: . Super concentration, elegance and balance. Down from £29.99 until January 2.