Wine & Food

    Drink white wine in the great outdoors this winter (Vanessa Barcia)

    The perfect white wines for winter

    2 February 2017

    It looks as if, thanks to Storm Doris, Britain is finally getting the cold snap we deserve. It’s been a suspiciously balmy winter so some sub-zero temperatures feel welcome, somehow. And when it’s really cold, there is nothing better than white wine. Most people enjoy a warming red indoors when it’s chilly out, but I like drinking cool white wine outdoors when it’s freezing — on a park bench if necessary — and I know I am not alone.

    The wine doesn’t have to be too cold — good white wine is better when you don’t near freeze it, as any sommelier wannabe will tell you. But it can be worth spending a little but more to get a really good white wine. Many of us tend to guzzle white wine much too quickly, so drinking something that costs lots slows you down and makes the experience a bit more satisfying. Below are some of the absolutely best white wines we at the Spectator have found. You can drink them indoors of course, but really I recommend going out into your garden on a cold evening, or just on a balcony, or maybe just stick your head out a window.

    — Puligny-Montrachet has been called the ‘Grace Kelly of wines’, but it’s better than that. It is almost always and everywhere sublime. You can spend hundreds of pounds on the stuff, but that’s just showing off. Try Justerini and Brooks’s Puligny Montrachet Champs Canet Chateau de Meursault (£58.50) for a particularly fine example. It has a powerful yet somehow subtle taste. It’s like drinking flowery nectar through a stone.

    — Condrieu wines, Auberon Waugh wrote in the 1980s, ‘are not at all cheap by the standards of the Rhône because the French tend to fall over themselves to buy them. But only the French have heard of them and they, poor lambs, are not quite so rich as some of us and if you are lucky enough to find some, you will pay only about half the price of a grand cru white Burgundy.’ That’s not quite true any more, but the gist of it is. You can still pick up some seriously delicious Condrieu for under £40. Berry Brothers & Rudd’s sell the Condrieu, Domaine Pierre Gaillard for about £37, which might be one the best white wines I have ever drunk. It comes in a beautiful bottle, too, which is a plus.

    — Chardonnay. Don’t listen to the snobs who still talk about ‘footballer’s wives’ and sneer at Chardonnay for being too oaky or buttery. Chardonnay is great. Obviously, some large wine-makers take the flavouring too far, but a really delicious and full-tasting one is hard to beat. Berry’s do a delicious 2013 Ladoix, Bois de Gréchons, Sylvain Loichet for £35. Or for more value, try the new worlds: for instance, Chardonnay Bodega Ruca Malen 2015 (Corney and Barrow, £13.50) is from Argentina, and it’s superb.

    — Other Rhône gems. Côtes du Luberon: Château la Canorgue 2015 (£14.60) from Yapp Brothers, the Rhône specialists, is an excellent and distinctive white, or they sell a similarly appealing Côtes du Rhône Sablet 2015 for £13.50.

    Get these delivered before the roads freeze over. Winter whites can keep you going all the way to spring.