Saturday, 14 January 2017

Winter wines on a budget

January is a tough time for the average wine lover. There are few excuses to celebrate and, post-Christmas, there is an underlying feeling that perhaps one should lay off the booze for a while, for the good of the liver - and wallet.

On the liver front, without going into too much laborious detail, 2 or 3 alcohol free days a week year-round are what’s required. A month-long moratorium on drinking is perhaps admirable, but will not benefit your liver in the longer term if you simply then return to a daily glass or two thereafter.

And for the wallet…here are some wines that can help to banish the winter blues, and which won’t give your bank balance a bruising.

Mesquiriz Navarra Rosado 2015, Spain - £3.99, Lidl
At this price, this winter-weight Spanish rosé will bring a smile to the lips of any skint wine drinker. The generous strawberry fruit with a little kick of white pepper makes is a perfect midweek wine for bangers and mash.

Trebuchet Chardonnay 2015, South Africa - £5.99 (mix six price until 30 Jan), Majestic
This South African Chardonnay tastes much more expensive than it is, especially at the reduced price. It has creamy fruit with a zesty lemon finish.

Tesco finest* St Mont 2014, France - £6, Tesco
The direction that Tesco’s wine range is heading doesn’t give much to cheer about, but this long-lived member of their own label finest* range is a welcome survivor of recent culls to the list. This blend of Southwest France’s native white varieties Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Petit Manseng and Arrufiac deliver a wine of character, combining grapefruit zing and apricot-tinged fruit.

Casal de Ventozela 2015, Vinho Verde, Portugal - £6.99 (mix six price), Majestic
This medal-winning Vinho Verde is fresh and spritzy with lemon and herbal flavours – a tonic for the jaded.

Setze Gallets Garnacha Monastrell, Spain 2014 - £7.25, The Wine Society
Full-flavoured, fruity and with a level of class that belies its price, this is perfect winter comfort wine. From the sunny climes of Valencia in Spain and aged in amphorae, this red combines the dense dark fruit of Monastrell with the rich liveliness of old vine Garnacha.

Falanghina Sassi del Mare 2015, Italy - £7.99, Lidl
This is part of Lidl’s Christmas wine collection, which you should be able to find until the next collection hits their shelves from 26th January onwards. Try this gem of an Italian white, from Campania, for a taste of springtime honeysuckle in winter.

Tesco finest* Tingleup Riesling 2015, Australia - £8, Tesco
Another long-standing Tesco listing, the wine’s flavour somehow matches the its name – though Tingleup is simply the name of the region of origin in Western Australia. Fresh, juicy lime fruit and waxiness combine in a wine which is dry but never austere.

Mesta Organic Old Vine Tempranillo 2015, Spain - £8, M&S
The same red grape, Tempranillo, as Rioja, but in a richer, riper style that is full of fruit with an edge of tomato leaf -  and without oak.

Zalze Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier 2015, South Africa - £8.29, Waitrose
For people who like their winter reds to pack a punch of both flavour and alcohol, this delivers the necessary with full-flavoured, juicy fruit.

Blason du Rhône 2015, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France - £8.99, Waitrose
The word “Villages” in the name is an important one, signifying a step up in quality from straight Côtes du Rhône. This soothing wine is soft and smooth with strawberry fruit and a hint of herbs on the finish.


Friday, 30 December 2016

Best Champagnes for New Year's Eve

If you want to toast the arrival of 2017 in style, but haven’t yet chosen what to drink, then Champagne should be top of the list as the instant shortcut to celebration and luxury. Here’s a selection of my all-time favourites and new discoveries from this year which you should be able to pick up between now and tomorrow evening. These tend towards the luxury end of the scale, so for more affordable bottles see my festive party fizz recommendations here: http://yourliquidassets.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/fizz-for-sparkling-christmas-parties.html


Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - £31 Cellar Wines Ripley (who also list magnums for £69), £31.99 The Wine Reserve Cobham, on offer until 3 Jan at £29.99 from Waitrose, £29.99 mix six price at Majestic, £34.99 Taurus Wines Bramley
Roederer’s style is all about finesse and elegance, but with a hint of underlying richness. Perfect as an aperitif, or with the bongs of Big Ben.

Mailly Grand Cru Brut NV - £29.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham
This Pinot Noir based Cuvée is more seriously structured and would be wonderful with food, even relatively hearty chicken or other fowl.

Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV - £31.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham, on offer until 3 Jan at £31.99 at Waitrose, £34.99 mix six price at Majestic. M&S have magnums for £79.99
Pol Roger was Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne, and I have always found it a beguiling mix of elegance and freshness, but with perfectly judged depth. Any time is a good time for a glass of Pol, and I love to savour it on its own. Or you could trade up to Pol Roger Vintage 2006 - £56.99 Waitrose, £54.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham. There are many layers of flavour with hints of maturity but still so lively.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV - £39.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham, £39.99 Taurus Wines Bramley
Charles Heidsieck may not be as well-known as the more celebrated grande marque houses, but it makes Champagnes of such quality and deliciousness that no Champagne fan should ignore them. The high proportion of reserve wines (from previous vintages, used to add depth and character) make this a sophisticated Champagne that is also incredibly food friendly and so much more than just bubbles. For a real treat I would heartily recommend Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995 - £139.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham. This mature vintage, 100% Chardonnay wine is a hedonist’s dream. Pure heaven.

Lanson Extra Age NV - £45 from M&S
I find the regular Lanson Black Label rather hard work, but this longer aged prestige cuvée, based on wines from the 2002, 2004 and 2005 vintages, is a treat. There are hints of almond and marzipan on the nose and it is rich, yet with no heaviness, thanks to Lanson’s hallmark high acidity. This would wow with seafood.

Bollinger Grande Année 2005 - £68 at Cellar Wines Ripley, £69.99 mix six price at Majestic, £64.99 (as part of a case of 6) The Wine Reserve Cobham
If you’re a fan of Bollinger’s non vintage Special Cuvée, then treat yourself to their vintage to find all the verve and intensity that you love, with added refinement.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 - £120 from M&S, £99.95 from Finest Bubble (next day delivery available). Taurus Wines have the 2005 for £139.99
This prestige cuvée from the famous house of Taittinger is a pinnacle of the Blanc de Blancs style of Champagne. 100% Chardonnay and 100% class - lovely, fine, refined and full of flavour.

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut - £126 Majestic, £129 Taurus Wines Bramley, £114.95 from Finest Bubble (who offer next day delivery outside London)
I have never not completely enjoyed a glass of Krug. If you are willing to give it your full attention it rewards you with a stimulating and beguiling feast for the senses. If, however, you just want to enjoy it, it is simply incredibly delicious.


Do magnums matter?
A magnum is exactly double the size of a regular bottle – 1.5l compared with 750ml. As you can see from the list above, there is usually a price premium for the magnum, which costs more than simply buying two bottles. Why should that be? And should you pay the premium?
Partly it is a matter of scarcity and prestige – magnums say celebration, with knobs on - but there are also genuine reasons why you might prefer a Champagne from magnum to a bottle.
Champagnes in magnum age more slowly and gracefully than those in bottle, partly because there is a greater volume of wine in magnum, yet the same amount of oxygen between the surface of the wine and the bottom of the cork as in a bottle. I can tell you from experience, that exactly the same Champagne aged in bottle and in magnum can and do taste different.

The champagne in the magnum combines the liveliness and freshness of youth, but with the depth and complexity that come with maturity. This effect becomes more pronounced over time, so it is especially important with longer aged vintage and prestige cuvées. 

Monday, 19 December 2016

Wines for the Christmas table

Here’s a handy guide to wines to make your Christmas Day go with a swing.

Smoked salmon
When you have your smoked salmon might determine your choice of drinking accompaniment.

Pouilly Fumé 2015, Masson Blondelet - £15.99, Ocado
If it’s as a starter to the Christmas Day feast, then a smart bottle like this could be the way to go. Sauvignon Blanc finds its most mineral, sometimes smoky, expression in the Loire vineyards of Pouilly Fumé. The fresh, tangy, slightly marine aromas give way to a textured, fragrant wine with zesty acidity, delicate structure and persistent flavour.

If, however, your smoked salmon crops up in a more brunchy setting – don’t look at the clock, it’s Christmas - a bottle of something sparkling might be more fun. There are plenty of fizz recommendations in my previous column (online version here: http://yourliquidassets.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/fizz-for-sparkling-christmas-parties.html). If I were to choose one perfect match from that list, it would have to be Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2007 Grand Cru - £33.99, Waitrose.  


The main event – Christmas dinner
Roast turkey (or goose), roast potatoes, sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy, pigs in blankets – is it really possible for a wine to match all the foods that we merrily pile onto our festive plates on Christmas Day? In truth no, so we can be liberated from embarking on that impossible task. The prime consideration is to choose something you know you’ll enjoy.

But there are wines that will cope with the kind of rich cornucopia of flavours better than others.

Pinot Noir is usually my choice of red for the occasion. It makes wines that are fragrant and full of red fruit with only a whisper of tannin, but with crisp acidity: a profile that makes for wines which can rub along happily with a wide range of flavours, rather than clashing with them.

Try one of these:

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2015 - £8.50, Morrison’s, £9, Asda
At its full recommended retail price of £13.35 this is no bargain, but at these special offer prices there’s plenty to recommend this New Zealand Pinot: aromas of raspberry and clove carry through to the palate, with barely there tannins. This is fruity and easy-drinking enough to take with you after the meal to the sitting room for slurping with a box set. In the same sort of vein is Ara Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 - £11.99, Waitrose.

Sancerre Rouge au Bois de l’Epine 2015 - £15, M&S
Red Sancerre, always made from Pinot Noir, has improved greatly in quality in recent years. This has lovely ripeness of fruit, body and texture.

Domaine Lucien Muzard Santenay Premier Cru Maladière 2014 - £21.49, Waitrose
Ultimately, no-one does Pinot Noir better than in Burgundy. This example, from the Côte de Beaune, the southern half of the Côte d’Or, has spent a year in oak and combines depth and intensity with a smooth richness.

Contino Rioja Reserva 2005 - £25, The Wine Society (Marks & Spencer have the 2010 at the same price, as do Waitrose)
You can’t go wrong with Rioja. The mellow nature of the wine, thanks to oak ageing, makes it slip in just fine with all manner of dishes. It’s renowned for matching with lamb, but, I would argue, is one of the most versatile of red wine styles. And who isn’t pleased to see a bottle of Rioja on the table?

Contino is a byword for quality in Rioja. Their wine is made from all their own estate-grown fruit (not the norm in Rioja) and the balance of flavour, ripeness and freshness is usually spot on.


Christmas pudding
Sometimes it’s hard to do justice to the Christmas pudding after all the conspicuous consumption that precedes it.

Royal Palace Colheita Port 2002 - £26, M&S
A Tawny Port, aged for a few years in oak, would make a good match for the dried fruits, nuts and spice of your Chritmas pud, and could happily continue on to the cheese course. Warre’s Otima (widely available at around £12 for a 50cl bottle) is a reliable introduction to the style, with some mellowing nuttiness alongside the sweet, spicy fruit. Single vintage, or Colheita, Ports are often a step up in quality and complexity. This one, from the 2002 vintage has a stimulating mix of berries and herbs with a medicinal hint.

Fontanafredda Moscato d’Asti Moncucco 2015 - £9.95 (50cl), Great Western Wine
Or you could go more leftfield and try a Moscato d’Asti. Rather than matching flavours, this is about providing a contrast. The fresh, lightly sparkling pear flavours of this delightful Italian charmer provide a foil to the richness of the pudding.  And if you can’t face the pudding at all, a glass of this (at only 5.5% alcohol) is a great post-prandial pick me up.

Cheeseboard
Harveys VORS Palo Cortado - £22.59 (50cl), Waitrose
VORS stands for Very Old Rare Sherry and this Palo Cortado, aged for a minimum of 30 years, certainly fits the bill. The label indicates medium sweetness, but I would say it is just off-dry and the long ageing brings wonderful complexity, with tangy nuttiness, caramel, dried fruits and more to savour. Sherry is perhaps not a classic cheese match, but try this and you might be converted. If I were Len, I’d give it 10.

Cook’s treat
Finally, and most importantly, the success of any Christmas Day should include something delicious for the cook(s) to sip at as they chop, stuff, steam and baste in the kitchen.

Dr Loosen Slate Hill Riesling 2015 – £8.99 on offer at Majestic (mix six price)

This zingy, fresh Riesling has a little lemon and peach fruity sweetness, but finishes dry. The perfect thing to have by your side as you cook and, at only 8.5% alcohol, you can have a glass of this without feeling sozzled before the turkey’s on the table.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fizz for sparkling Christmas parties

Your guide to the best wines for the festive season begins here.

If you’re planning on a Christmas drinks party, then bubbles have to be part of the picture. Here are some of my sure fire hits that won’t have your guests looking for the nearest pot plant to empty their drinks into – but which won’t be overly demanding on the pocket either.

I’ve also included some more expensive recommendations that might be a stretch for a party budget, but that I would certainly be happy to sip or to serve on any occasion over Christmas.

Sparkling Chardonnay Crémant du Jura - £7.49, Aldi
This has to be one of the best sparkling wine bargains around – and the fact that is has been included by the Association of Wine Educators as one of their 100 AWEsome Wines 2016 (see http://www.wineeducators.com/100-awesome-wines/ for the full downloadable list) tells you that it punches well above its weight. Light, fresh, fine sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne from the little-known Jura region in eastern France.



Franciacorta Brut - £8.99, Lidl
This is part of Lidl’s Christmas collection, one of their “when it’s gone it’s gone” selections. It has lovely creamy mousse and appley fruit, a touch riper than Champagne, coming as it does from northern Italy.




Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Brut Rosé - £11.99, Ocado

Pink bubbles certainly help to make everything more festive and this bottle, made from Cabernet Franc, has a lovely creamy mousse and a refreshing leafy edge to the fruit.
















Montes Sparking Angel Brut NV - £15.50, Oddbins
This is a blend of two of the traditional Chamapagne varieties, Pinor Noir and Chardonnay, and is made in the same way as Champagne. But the warmer Chilean climate makes for riper fruit flavours, along with toasty, nutty almond and even a hint of marmalade.





Definition Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV - £19.99 (mix six price), Majestic
I love the pure Chardonnay fruit, mineral finish, and the classic Blanc de Blancs profile of this Majestic own label Champagne. But I really don’t care for the actual label, so this is perhaps best kept in the ice bucket when not being poured.



Greyfriars Rosé Reserve 2013 - £21 from greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk
Keep it local with this award winning traditional method English fizz, made from vines grown on the Hog’s Back south of Guildford. Finely structured with poise and precision.


Furleigh Estate Dorset Coast Special Reserve NV - £22.50, Waitrose
Another English sparkler, this time from Dorset. Aromas of shortbread, peaches and cream lead onto a lively, fruity palate.


Waitrose Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut NV - £22.99, Waitrose
Good depth of flavour, nice linearity and an underlying minerality mean that this Champagne tastes much more expensive than it is.


Champagne Oudinot Brut 2008 - £30, M&S
Like all its wines, this Champagne is exclusive to M&S and delivers rich, savoury, egg-custard and baked apple fruit. The full flavours make this one for the table rather than an aperitif.


Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2007 Grand Cru - £33.99, Waitrose
Really lovely stuff, with pretty fruit, length and elegance, along with those bready, yeasty flavours that denote lengthy ageing on the lees.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Applause for La Clape

The vast expanse of Languedoc-Roussillon and its swathes of vineyards making a myriad of different wines can be daunting to get to grips with.

At its simplest, IGP Pays d’Oc is the catch all appellation for wines made anywhere across the region, often with varietal labelling. And while I’m pleased Pays d’Oc exists, there are many worthwhile wines to be found by digging deeper into Languedoc and Roussillon.

But there are so many names to remember! Here are just a few wine appellations off the top of my head: Fitou, Minervois, Pic St Loup, Faugères, Saint Chinian, Picpoul de Pinet – there are many, many more. Oh, and you might also come across AOC Languedoc; and IGP Côtes Catalanes functions like IGP Pays d’Oc for Roussillon. In short, the picture is, as always, complicated.

To help decode some of the mystique, here’s a quick guide to one of the appellations responsible for some of the most exciting and characterful wines from the region. It also helps that the name is simple for Anglophones to get their tongues round:  La Clape.

La Clape is a one-time island, which now forms a conspicuous bump of limestone on the coastal plain between the city of Narbonne and the Mediterreanean. The environment is harsh – the salt-laden wind, poor rocky soils and baking sun make it fit really for only for vines and olives.

Wines from here seem to have a unique character, which must be influenced by their singular growing environment. Flavours are ripe, but with a grip and freshness that might surprise you, given their southerly origins.

White
Château Rouquette Cuvée Arpège 2015 - £10.95 from the Wine Society
All white wines from La Clape must include some Bourboulenc – a variety native to the Rhône Valley. It can be rather characterless, but in La Clape it assumes a richness of flavour, while retaining all-important freshness, alongside “grip” – a certain texture that red wines usually have, but white wines tend not to. Here it is blended with Rhône bedfellow Roussanne, and is unoaked, making for vibrant, fresh fruit flavours that refresh and cleanse the palate.

Château d’Anglès Grand Vin Blanc 2012 - £19.80 from Hedonism Wines
Eric Fabre, ex of Château Lafite Rothschild, knows a thing or two about crafting fine wines. His Classique blanc is in the same mould at Ch Rouquette above, but this Grand Vin, a blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne has been fermented and aged in oak, giving a wine of power and complexity. You can also find Château d’Anglès Grand Vin Rouge 2010 at online merchant Vin Cognito for £14.50.

Red
Château Rouquette 2014 - £10.95 from the Wine Society
The red incarnation of Ch Rouquette combines old vine Carignan with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre – hardly an unusual recipe in this part of the world; but the singularity of La Clape gives the wine a saline tang and wonderful texture.



Upcoming wine events in Surrey

I'm involved in a few wine events between now and the end of the year. It would be great to see some readers at one or both.

6 December, 8pm – Wine Discovery evening at Cellar Magneval, Woking – a relaxed evening of wine tasting and learning at Woking’s cool and quirky wine bar, focusing on wines for Christmas. See: http://www.cellarmagneval.com/woking-events

15 December, 8pm – The fine wines of Burgundy at Cellar Wines, Ripley – do the ultimate Christmas Day wines come from Burgundy? More details and booking: https://www.cellarwines.co.uk/events/the-fine-wines-of-burgundy/





Thursday, 10 November 2016

Time for a Carignan rehabilitation

Carignan is probably not a grape variety whose name readily trips off the tongue. It’s not one of the highly regarded, “noble” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Nor is it, like Pinot Grigio, so ubiquitous that people ask for a glass of it by name in their local gastro pub.

So, a potted biography of Carignan is perhaps in order.

Carignan is mostly found in Languedoc-Roussillon, where it generally forms part of a blend and is rarely seen or its own, or, indeed trumpeted on a front label. It originates, however, in Aragon in northeastern Spain. Back in its native land, it is often known as Mazuelo (or Mazuela in Rioja) or, in Catalonia, Samsó, though you may also see Cariñena (which is also, confusingly, the name of a wine region). Outside France and Spain, you are most likely to come across it in Chile where, thankfully, it is called simply Carignan. There is some in North America, where it has acquired an extra “e” as Carignane.

Carignan has been recorded in southern France since Medieval times, but this longevity has not led to respect and it tends to be labelled a workhorse variety at best. At worst it is derided or even despised. Why?

Carignan needs a long, warm growing season to ripen fully, so it has never spread to cooler parts of France. Its influence in southern France has been waning in recent years, but it was valued by growers, especially up until the latter part of the 20th century, as a high yielding grape which added colour, alcohol and acidity to otherwise weedy wines.

The Carignan vine is a vigorous grower which will provide high yields, if allowed to, which give a deep coloured, high acid wine that is long on tannin and short on fruit. Sounds good, huh? But, but – lower yielding old vines that have not been irrigated and whose fruit has been treated carefully can give wines with distinct, rich inky black fruit, accompanied by present but pleasant tannins and that acidity gives a freshness that is welcome in wines from a warm climate.

Many Carignan vines have been pulled up in Languedoc-Roussillon, partly encouraged by government vine pull schemes. Those that remain are, increasingly, those older bushvines on better land away from the flat, fertile plains – and they make correspondingly better, increasingly very good, wines.

So, now is the time to discover and rehabilitate Carignan – say its name with pride.

3C, Cariñena 2015 (Spain)- £5.25 The Wine Society
Ignore the hideous label and tuck into the delightlful unoaked Carignan within. There is plenty of juicy black fruit and a lick of tannin that will hit the spot on many a chilly, dark night. You are unlikely to find another red wine that packs so much flavour in at this price.

Les Crouzes, Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2015 - £6.49 Co-op
Despite its ubiquity, it is still rare to find a 100% Carignan wine in the Languedoc. This is the essence of the Midi, where a certain rusticity meets fresh and fruity to great effect.

Torres Cordillera Carignan 2009 (Chile) - £13.99 Taurus Wines, Bramley
This is a brilliant example of Carignan made from old, unirrigated bush vines in the Maule region of Chile. Producers there have now banded together to form the VIGNO project, designed to highlight the wines made from these increasingly rare old (sometimes up to 100 years old) vines. This is full of black, brambly fruit with bay leaf herbal characters and a lipsmacking freshness.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Bordeaux rising

Bordeaux is a gargantuan wine region, its annual production of 5.5 million hectolitres accounting for over a quarter of France’s total. It is home to some of the most famous, prestigious and highly-valued wines in the world – but these wines account for less than 5% of the total.

What of the other 95%? A good deal of it is rather thin, weedy red wine that is made and sold cheaply. In between these two extremes, however, are winemakers struggling to make a living by making the best wine they can from their vines, in the face of prices that are pegged back by those lowest common denominator wines. The stratospheric, to merely high, prices of the top wines may feel geographically close, yet they are out of reach for these producers.

Could white wine be a brighter future for Bordeaux’s “squeezed middle”? It might at least be part of it. While a dampish, maritime climate like Bordeaux’s can struggle to ripen red grapes each year, it poses less of a problem for faster ripening white varieties.

So, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre and even white Burgundy fans, pin back thy lugs, as what follows could be of interest to you.

Bordeaux’s whites are predominantly based on Sauvignon Blanc, sometimes with a little of that under-rated but quality variety, Semillon too. The part of Bordeaux known as Entre-Deux-Mers (literally “between two seas” though the seas in question are actually the Garonne and Dordogne rivers) nowadays produces rather too much so-so red wine, which accounts for much of the everyday Bordeaux  and Bordeaux Superieur that we see on supermarket shelves. But it is also still home to some white grapes, predominantly Sauvignon Blanc.

West of there, south of Bordeaux, the Graves area has long been famous for both its red and white wines. Since 1987, the northern part of Graves was sliced off to be known as Pessac-Léognan, which is now home to Bordeaux’s most prestigious dry white wines.

Calvet Réserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - £8.99 at Waitrose (down to £6.74 until 11 October)
This wine, along with Dourthe No 1 (£8.50 from The Wine Society), makes a great case for Bordeaux’s ability to make fresh, zippy and appealing – but not green or underripe – Sauvignon Blanc at a sensible price. Both these négociant winemakers will choose parcels of wine from across the region to contribute to their blend, in order to get the flavour profile they want. These light styles are perfect on their own or are made for lighter seafood dishes like mussels, oysters, simply served crab and delicate fish dishes. See also Marks & Spencer’s own Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£8.50), sourced from Entre-Deux-Mers. It is understated enough not to fight with whatever’s on your plate, but delivers spritzy, lemon zest fruit and a nicely textured palate.

Laithwaite’s Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - £9.99 from Laithwaites
This wine is made from parcels of vines in the Entre-Deux-Mers and has the fresh, citrus flavour of the Calvet, but also a more delicate elderflower aroma and a touch of savoury, leesiness on the palate. This could stand up to more full flavoured dishes like roasted cod or possibly scallops.

Château Bouscaut Blanc 2009, Péssac-Léognan - £31 from The Wine Society

Here’s why the wines of Pessac-Léognan are so valued – they develop beautifully with age and deliver rich complexity combining lime acidity combined with toast and hay. This is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon that has been fermented aged in oak barrels, contributing texture and an extra flavour dimension to the wine. As well as rich seafood dishes like shrimp and lobster, this would be knockout with Christmas dinner. This one is for you, white Burgundy lovers.