The 20 best Christmas wines for 2022

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Waitrose Loved & Found AlbarossaPiedmont, Italy 2020 (£7.99, Waitrose)Given there are fewer than 10 hectares planted in the world, it’s no surprise I’d never tasted a wine made from albarossa before this. A crossing of two great Piedmont grapes, nebbiolo and barbera, it has something of both here: crunch, tang, delightful red fruit, refreshing finish.

Best value redTesco Finest Puemo CarmenèreCachapoal, Chile 2019 (£8, Tesco)Always a safe bet in Tesco’s Finest range, this is a textbook example of how Chile’s adopted flagship red grape variety carmenère is in excellent form this vintage: with subtle herbal shading to the sumptuous ripe blackcurrant, it’s great with Boxing Day roast beef.

Domaine le Roc Les Petits CaillouxFronton, France 2019 (£9.95, thewinesociety.com)A ubiquitous feature of bars and restaurants in and around Toulouse, the spicy reds of Fronton rarely make it beyond south-west France, but this blend of the local négrette and syrah is bursting with fragrant berry and pepper in a Rhône-like style to match any roast.

Villa Nardelli Cuvée CarolinaTuscany, Italy 2019 (£9.50, the Co-op)John Matta makes an impressive range of swish, smart reds from his Castello Vicchiomaggio estate in Chianti, and this collaboration with the Co-op, with its classic Tuscan notes of sour cherry and oregano coupled with ripe juicy plum, is typically expressive and great value.

Salvaje del Moncayo La GarnachaSpain 2020 (£11.49, or £8.99 as part of a mixed case of six bottles,majestic.co.uk)Consistently one of the best-value reds on the high street, this brilliant example of modern Spanish garnacha hails from old bush vines high up in Aragon’s Moncayo mountains. Fragrant, fresh and lithe of tannin, it’s filled with soft, paprika-seasoned raspberry and strawberry. Best for leftovers

Best redLópez de Heredia Viña Cubillo Rioja CrianzaSpain 2013 (from £15.50, thewinesociety.com; cambridgewine.com; bbr.com)An exceptionally smart red for the money from the finest of Rioja’s traditionalist producers. At nearly a decade old, this is at just the right point in its evolution with a fundamental mellowness and perfect pitch between brambly fruit and savoury and vanilla-oak flavours.

Best with turkeyFabrice Gasnier Les Graves Chinon RougeLoire, France 2020 (£17.70, fieldandfawcett.co.uk, clarkfoysterwines.co.uk)The cabernet franc-based red wines of the Loire make for brilliant foils for turkey and trimmings. In this perfectly just-ripe example, the perky acidity cuts through the fat, and the subtle graphite and sappy red and black currant fruit provide a cranberry sauce-like accompaniment.

La Cayetana MalbecMendoza, Argentina 2019 (from £19.99, goodwineonline.co.uk; quaffwine.com; corksofbristol.com)At its best, few wines are more immediately, sensuously pleasurable than Mendoza malbec. The talented Emilia Soler’s example, made from a small parcel of very old vines, is a real stunner, with a polished silky feel and delightfully pure, subtly floral-scented fruits of the forest.

Best value whiteChassaux et Fils Specially Selected RoussanneIGP Pays d’Oc, France 2020 (£6.79, Aldi)Generally found as one of the ingredients in the classic Rhône Valley white blend, roussanne is here given a starring role in the Languedoc and it carries it off beautifully: ripe and round and nicely mouth-filling with plump, fleshy pear and peach and a waft of honeysuckle.

Found Ribolla GiallaFriuli, Italy 2021 (£7.50, Marks & Spencer)Dry whites made from the north-eastern Italian grape variety ribolla gialla are increasingly cropping up in merchant’s ranges targeting, perhaps, punters tiring of pinot grigio. This has a delightfully fresh and flowing character, with notes of white peach, ripe apple and citrusy acidity.

Best for cheeseSamos Vin DouxNorth Aegean, Greece 2021 (£8.99, 37.5cl, Waitrose) Gently fortified to stop the fermentation, which leaves a good 200g per litre of sugar (and 15% abv), this delightful Greek sweet wine made from muscat on the island of Samos offers fragrant orange blossom honey, crystallised lemon and cinnamon, maintaining perky freshness to offset the sweetness.

Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Grenache BlancFranschhoek, South Africa 2022 (£9.99, or £8.99 as part of a mixed case of six bottles, majestic.co.uk)Marc Kent is best known for the red wines he makes from syrah but his estate’s Wolftrap brand does a nice line in whites, too. A beautifully balanced, rounded, mellow dry white with soft-focus peachy flavours.

Le Sabbie dell’Etna BiancoSicily 2021 (Reduced from £12.99 to £9.99, from 16-29 Nov, Waitrose)The reds and whites made from grapes grown on the volcanic soils of Mount Etna can be as exhilarating and distinctive as their surroundings, crackling with electric acidity, minerals and, in this local variety blend of carricante and cattaratto, pithy lime and juicy yellow plum.

Best for fishVasse Felix Classic Semillon-Sauvignon BlancMargaret River, Australia 2021 (£12, Tesco) One of the pioneers of fine wine in Margaret River, Vasse Felix remains one of this Western Australian region’s standout producers. This Bordeaux-influenced white blend, mixing nettle-herbal aromas with a full savoury palate and grapefruity raciness, makes a fine match for fishy starters.

Best Christmas dinner whitePepe Mondoza Pureza MoscatelAlicante, Spain 2021 (from £15.50, thewinesociety.com; winefiend.co.uk)One of Spain’s standout winemakers, Pepe Mendoza here conjures a wonderfully nervy, aromatically complex dry white from muscat that has been fermented and aged in clay amphorae. There’s a pleasing touch of red wine-like chew, yellow plum and orange citrus with a long, mineral finish.

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Roche Roulée GewurztraminerAlsace, France 2019 (from £21, thewinesociety.com; cambridgewine.com)With its fluent mix of rosewater perfume, ripe exotic fruit, velvety tannin, slight sweetness and a hard-to-pin-down savoury dimension, there’s something almost decadent about this magnificently intense and powerful gewurztraminer that is absolutely in tune with Christmas feasting.

Sparkling

Best for opening presentsMarks & Spencer ProseccoItaly NV (£10, Marks & Spencer) A standout among the dozens of lookalike proseccos in UK supermarkets, M&S’s house version delivers real brightness and clarity of citrus-freshened, gently floral pear fruit with just the right level of sweetness in its icing sugar bubbles for an early Christmas Day tipple.

Best party wineL’Occhiolino Sparkling Red LambruscoItaly 2021 (£12, Laithwaites.co.uk)Attractively packaged to make you feel like you’re in some kind of hip Bologna enoteca, this sweet, low-alcohol (7.5%) fizz is immensely fun and easy to drink, with crunchy berries and currants and just enough grip and snap from the tannins to match with antipasti nibbles.

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de BourgogneBurgundy, France NV (£15, Tesco)The quality of France’s “other” bottle-fermented sparkling wines has greatly improved in recent years, but prices are still significantly lower than in Champagne. This super-brisk, green-apple crisp example from a leading name in Chablis is a stylish, invigorating aperitif.

Champagne Henriot Brut SouverainChampagne, France NV (from £29.95, tanners-wines.co.uk; thewinesociety.com)It may not be one of the region’s biggest names, but Henriot is consistently responsible for some of Champagne’s best-value wines, with the house’s flagship non-vintage brut an artful combination of subtle floral, buttered toast and richer stone-fruited tones with never-less-than-scintillating acidity.

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