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Five of the best white wines for crisp, cold days – with not an over-oaked bottle in sight

White wine is not exclusively for summer months
White wine is not exclusively for summer months - iStockphoto

While there’s still a distinct chill in the air, I’m making the most of winter whites. By which I mean those with ripe flavours and fuller textures, built to go with hearty dishes like roast chicken, creamy fish pies, steaming risottos and spicy curries.

Ironically, you need a warm climate to produce a winter white. Look to Australia’s warmer spots, the south of France and California, for example, as regions that make rounded, bright and fruity labels.

And the grape varieties which give us these bigger styles are usually chardonnay, viognier, white grenache as well as the Rhône white grapes marsanne and roussanne.

That said, when choosing a white to take on richer food it’s crucial that it is well-balanced. The world has gone off over-oaked, sweet and vanilla-laced whites; instead I want my cold-weather choices to have firm acidity as well as ripe flavours, and only enough oakiness (if any) to add subtle texture and spice. They should taste fresh and finish dry, however mouth-filling and satisfyingly rich they are.

I’ve picked five which measure up and they all have this crucial balance. They include judiciously made chardonnays from Australia, France and California and (because not everyone likes chardonnay) appealing blends of grapes from Tuscany and the Languedoc. They are all on keen offers for the next week or two which should warm the soul.

Try these...

Château Tanunda Chardonnay 2022, South Australia

12.5%, Waitrose, £9.99 down to £7.49 until March 19

Château Tanunda Chardonnay 2022, South Australia
Château Tanunda Chardonnay 2022, South Australia

A well-balanced, relatively subtle Aussie chardonnay, fresh and brightly fruity with a light toastiness from just a portion of the wine fermented with oak staves. It’s mainly from the cool Lyndoch sub-region of (otherwise hot) Barossa Valley near Adelaide and on this offer it’s a serious bargain. One for a top-notch fish pie.

Piccini Memoro Bianco NV, Tuscany, Italy

13%, Morrisons, £8.50 down to £7 until March 10

Piccini Memoro Bianco NV, Tuscany, Italy
Piccini Memoro Bianco NV, Tuscany, Italy

An interesting and unusual Italian, not especially rich but bigger than pinot grigio. It’s a blend of 50% viognier with vermentino, chardonnay and pecorino in the mix. Aromatic and refreshing with a good weight of ripe lemon and peach and unoaked. I would drink this with a green vegetable risotto and a generous grating of parmesan.

Taste the Difference Languedoc Blanc 2021, France

13%, Sainsbury’s, £8.50 down to £7.25 until March 12

Taste the Difference Languedoc Blanc 2021, France
Taste the Difference Languedoc Blanc 2021, France

Another appealing blend of several grapes; this time the core is grenache blanc supported by vermentino and tiny amounts of marsanne and roussanne. The result is a scented wine that tastes of pears and citrus – a versatile food matcher for white fish and chicken dishes.

Taste the Difference Californian Chardonnay 2021, United States

14.5%, Sainsbury’s, £12 down to £10 until March 12

Taste the Difference Californian Chardonnay 2021, United States
Taste the Difference Californian Chardonnay 2021, United States

Fairly rich, ripe West Coast chardonnay which, although dry, is bursting with juicy, ripe yellow plums and peaches. There’s a rounded, full texture to take on creamy, mild Indian curries like chicken korma, or a buttery roast chicken with all the Sunday side dishes.

Les Boiseuils Montagny Vieilles Vignes 2022, Cave de Buxy, Burgundy, France

13%, Majestic, £16.99 or £14.99 as part of mixed six bottles, down to £11.99 as part of mixed six bottles until March 11

Les Boiseuils Montagny Vieilles Vignes 2022, Cave de Buxy, Burgundy, France
Les Boiseuils Montagny Vieilles Vignes 2022, Cave de Buxy, Burgundy, France

White burgundy, so chardonnay, from Montagny in the Côte Chalonnaise with a lovely soft texture, even a slight butteriness, over-ripe orange and green apples. It’s unoaked but has extra concentration from old vine fruit (mature vines or vieilles vignes produce fewer grapes but ones with more flavour, typically). Another one for chicken but do try this with baked lemony salmon steaks too.