Bearing in mind that most of us are broke at this time of year, I’ve decided to keep things simple and affordable this Christmas, restricting my choices to just a dozen bottles, all of them under £10. What I’ve focused on is great value, which is not always the same thing as what a carpet salesman in a Turkish bazaar once described to me as “big cheapness”. These are all wines that I would be happy to serve myself during the coming festivities (I’ve actually bought two of them) and they’ve all been tasted and chosen by me. As ever, rest assured that I have no commercial contracts with any of these retailers, so my choices are completely free of any potential conflict of interest. I hope you enjoy them!
2010 Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Chardonnay, Vieilles Vignes (£7.99, down from £11.99, 12%, Majestic)
This unoaked blend of Chardonnays from the Côte d’Or and the Chalonnaise is the best generic white Burgundy I’ve had this autumn, especially at the reduced price: restrained nut and lemon rind fruit notes with tangy, citrus-fresh acidity and a creamy texture from old vines.
2010 Tierra y Hombre Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley (£7.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer)
Chile’s coastal Sauvignons are getting better with every vintage. This has notes of grapefruit and boiled sweets, with aromatic elderflower and green bean on the nose and a crunchy, mouthwatering finish.
2010 Laurent Miquel Viognier, Vendanges Nocturnes (£8.29, 13.15%, Waitrose)
Picked at night to preserve freshness in a grape that can easily get a little oily and fat, this unoaked Viognier from the south of France is typically well made by Monsieur Miquel: bright peach and apricot fruit is balanced by fresh acidity and minerally focus.
2006 Taste the Difference Hunter Valley Semillon, McWilliams (£8.99, 10.5%, Sainsbury’s)
It’s still remarkable that you can drink Hunter Semillon of this age and quality for less than £9, but it’s true. Unoaked and light-bodied, this has more than enough flavour, with toast, honeysuckle and a twist of citrus combining nicely on the palate.
2010 Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling, Western Austalia (£9.29, 11%)
A little sweeter than in previous vintages, but still a stunner from Howard Park Wines. This combines juciy, lemon and lime fruit with zingy, zesty almost chalky minerality. The sweet-sour combination is deliciously long and harmonious.
2010 Moraitis Sollogi, Paros (£9.95, 12%, The Wine Society)
An organic Greek blend of Assyrtiko and Malagoussia from the island of Paros, this has impressed me hugely on two occasions this year. Elegant, floral ginger spice aromas segue into a complex, minerally, almost Chablis-like palate. Amazingly long finish.
2010 Perrin Côtes du Rhône, La Grange St Martin (£5.99, down from £10.99, 13%, The Co-op)
This is one of those (near) half price deals that actually delivers in the bottle: a deeply coloured, Grenache-based blend with ripe black fruits saturated with Mediterranean herbs and sweet spices. There’s no oak here, but the wine doesn’t need any more structure to strut its stuff.
2010 Asda Extra Special Malbec (£6.48, 14%)
Sourced from Trivento, this is exactly the sort of wine that should help Malbec achieve a breakthrough in the UK, especially at this price. It’s ripe, soft and plummy, with a touch of smoky oak, supple tannins and oodles of smoky blackberry fruit.
2009 Corbières, Castelmaure (£6.99, Morrison’s)
If you’ve ever taken a walk through the hills of the Corbières, you will know exactly what this wine smells like: wild thyme and rosemary with a hint of juniper. It’s a peppery, palate-warming red with lovely, supple fruit and a lift of fresh acidity on the finish.
2010 Asda Extra Special Dão (£6.49, 13.5%)
Dão tends to get overlooked in favour of the Douro Valley in Portugal, but its wines are just as good and generally fresher on the palate. This nuanced, lightly oaked red has fine tannins, tangy acidity and ripe, plum and bramble fruit.
2007 Torre del Falco Nero di Troia, Puglia (£7.99, 13%, Waitrose)
One of the star wines of my recent trip to Puglia, this is aromatic and cherry-scented, with more than a touch of Pinot Noir about it. Refreshing, minerally and unoaked with layer after layer of red fruits and minerality on the palate.
2008 Château de Saÿe, Bordeaux Supérieur (£9.49, 14%, Marks & Spencer)
If you’re looking for a claret to drink with the turkey, this is spectacularly good value at under a tenner: a Merlot-dominated, sweetly oaked blend with firmish tannins softened by attractive oak and ripe cassis, fruitcake and mulberry fruit. Fresh, despite the 14% alcohol.