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Brilliant white wines from traditional red regions

The Pont Saint-Benezet, also known as the Pont d’Avignon, is a famous medieval bridge in Avignon
‘The huge Côtes du Rhône appellation produces whites as well as hearty reds.’ Photograph: Alamy

Do you ever buy white bordeaux, white rioja or whites from the Rhône? I ask because it’s easy to overlook some real gems by having it fixed in your head that a region is purely a red wine area. Dry white bordeaux is a particular favourite of mine – the blending of semillon with sauvignon transforms the sometimes aggressive edges of the latter into a much smoother, more sophisticated white. The aptly named Forgotten One Entre Deux Mers Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (12% abv) is a great deal at £6.99 from Aldi (and in fact features 45% semillon with a smattering of sauvignon gris and muscadelle), as is the more classically citrussy Château Perrail Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Gris 2016 (£8.50 Booths; 12.5% abv).

Morrisons The Best White Douro 2016: serve with salt cod.
Morrisons The Best White Douro 2016: serve with salt cod.

Another good sauvignon blend is the lush Domaine de l’Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc Viognier 2016 (12% abv) from the Languedoc, where, barring picpoul, you may rarely go looking for whites: at £7.50, that’s another good buy from Booths.

The huge Côtes du Rhône appellation produces whites as well as hearty reds, and generally featuring marsanne, roussanne and/or viognier. I love Plein Sud 2016, a peachy blend of viognier and roussanne from the enterprising Vignerons d’Estézargues co-op near Nîmes, which makes wine in a broadly natural way, using minimal sulphur; it’s £12 from Robersons, or £10.25 if you buy an unsplit case. And, for viognier on its own, snap up Majestic’s Jaboulet Viognier 2016 (13% abv) at the “mix six” price of £8.99, assuming your local store still has some knocking around.

Rioja? Most people immediately think of red, but the region also produces fresh and richly oaked whites and full-flavoured rosados that make for good winter drinking. Try Ramon Bilbao Rosado 2016 (£9.99, Great Western Wine; 12.5% abv), which I recently found sailed through some spicy Peruvian food.

Whites from the Douro in Portugal, better known for its port and blockbuster reds, repay exploring, too. Morrisons The Best White Douro 2016 is quite a find at £8 a bottle: it’s surprisingly rich for a 12% abv wine, and much more interesting than the average chardonnay at the same price.

Conversely, regions noted for their white wines can also produce appealing reds, and Germany is the prime current example. Oddbins has a couple of delicious wines from the relatively warm Pfalz region, of which I’d pick out the delectably juicy Weingut Gaul Dornfelder 2015 (£12; 13% abv) as a really appealing buy. (Expect more where that came from: German reds are on a roll.)

• Fiona Beckett’s latest book, Wine Lover’s Kitchen: Delicious Recipes For Cooking With Wine, is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £16.99. To order a copy for £14.44, go to

This article titled "Brilliant white wines from traditional red regions" was written by Fiona Beckett, for The Guardian on Thursday 12 October 2017 04.00pm

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