Mistletoe and Wine (The Whites)

Christmas – unapologetically one of my favourite times of the year. The presents, the food, and of course the wine. I had the great pleasure of not working on Christmas Day this year (unlike last year), so was determined to really enjoy the lovely wine that was on offer over the festive period. Here are the highlights (and no, I promise I didn’t drink them all myself!).

 We enjoyed this Chilean Sauvignon Blanc courtesy of my Uncle who is a member of The Wine Society. It was a great light, lunchtime drink which went very well with our smoked salmon, freshly baked bread and general eating up of leftovers. I’m not usually a big one for South American wines, but this was very good. For similar options try this Sauvignon from Waitrose, or this Taste the Difference bottle from Sainsbury’s.

Ah, back to my old favourite and all-time best bottle of white wine (in my humble opinion!). This New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is produced by Bill and Claudia Small for Naked Wines, and is quite simply gorgeous. You can see me harping on about why I love NZ Sauvignon here, but this one – to me at least – is the best example I’ve drunk. Worked brilliantly with traditional turkey.

Now I didn’t get to try more than a few sips of this Marsanne Viognier, as I was driving home after lunch. But from what I did have, it was a very nice, if different white. A more rounded and fruity offering than a traditional French Viognier, the Marsanne grape has a pear-like flavour and is richer and darker than other more commonly drunk whites. Give examples like this one from Majestic Wines a go with pork or turkey.

And of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some fizz … although maybe more unusually this one was of the English variety. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the biggest fan of English wine. Usually I find it doesn’t live up to expectations, leaving me wishing I’d stuck to a French / Australian / Californian etc. But, to my pleasant surprise, this bottle from a Kent vineyard was brill. Much more comparable to Champagne than Prosecco or Cava, it was very tasty and made a great pre-Christmas lunch celebration. Interestingly, some vineyards in Kent are only 90 miles or so from the Champagne region in France, and have fairly similar, chalky soil. The smooth flavours of vanilla and buttery toast combined with the ‘pop’ of those lovely bubbles really was very enjoyable. And it might just have been enough to persuade me to try some more English wines with an open mind.

A Vivacious Viognier

Having very nearly cracked and opened a gorgeous (and yes, rather expensive) bottle of Pomerol on Friday night, I came to my senses just in time and decided that actually a Californian Viognier was much more appropriate for the evening.

 

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I love Viognier – have first tried it on a family holiday a couple of years ago in France, it always reminds me of long, warm and lazy evenings by the Canal du Midi

ViognierBut it is worthy of praise in its own right, wistful memories of holiday aside, This particular bottle came from Naked Wines (more about them in another post), and is from a vineyard in California. Think smooth, fruity and tasty white. Different from a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, more fruity than a French Chardonnay.

I was being treated to a home-cooked dinner of pork loin steaks with mash and veg, and this was the perfect match. It almost has an apple  flavour – a great match for the pork.

Whereas a New Zealand Sauvignon might taste quite sharp, and even make your mouth tingle and water, this is much more rounded and smooth.

A good equivalent in the shops at the moment is this bottle from Ocado – a steal at £5.99, half-price. Give it a try with pork or chicken, and savour the tasty flavours and golden colour.