• Shelley Boettcher

Four white wines for the holidays

Track down this foursome of reliable white wines, just in time for Christmas. They won't break the bank and they will be crowd-pleasers. Promise.

Barone Ricasoli, 2016 Albia Bianco

(Tuscany, Italy)

A quirky, light blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia bianco, this fresh white wine has notes of flowers and citrus, and it comes from one of my favourite Italian producers. (I have many, I know, but still.)

The Riscasoli winery has been producing wines since 1141 and in 1874, Baron Bettino Ricasoli helped to develop what is now known as Chianti Classico. Francesco Ricasoli, the family's charming 32nd Baron, has been heading up the winery since 1993.

And now, back to the wine. Serve chilled with a variety of simple appetizers: smoked salmon on rye toast, perhaps, or scallops. About $18.

Sandhill Wines 2017 Pinot Gris

(Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

A versatile Pinot Gris that will pair beautifully with turkey at Christmas, or, for that matter, roast chicken any time of the year. Also one to try with grilled wild salmon, pork tenderloin or rich seafood dishes. A medium-bodied white wine with notes of spice and citrus. Charming.

And should you find yourself in the Okanagan Valley, stop in at Sandhill's very cool tasting room, especially on a Friday afternoon for one of the happiest happy hours around. About $19.

Vanessa Vineyard 2017 Viognier

(Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

Viognier is still under-appreciated in Canada, but every time I pour it for people, they love it. And no wonder, when they can try such beauties as this one from the beautiful Similkameen Valley in British Columbia.

Founded in 2012, Vanessa Vineyard is a newer Canadian winery, but winemaker Howard Soon is legendary for his former work at Sandhill in the Okanagan Valley.

Only 200 cases of this aromatic, rich Viognier were produced (the winery only produces 3,000 cases in total!), so don't wait if you're interested in trying it. It's just what you want to sip on with soft white cheeses (Brillat-Savarin, perhaps, or Chateau de Bourgogne), or seafood.

Best, you can order the wine online now, and you'll get it in time for Christmas. About $25.

Hillside Winery 2017 Muscat Ottonel

(Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

A dry, aromatic, food-friendly white wine with notes of white flowers and spice. It will pair with so many foods — seafood, Thai green curries, sushi, or a creamy soft French cheese and a nice baguette. (That's possibly my favourite combination.)

From Hillside, a winery located on the gorgeous Naramata Bench, just above Penticton overlooking Okanagan Lake. Muscat Ottonel was the first variety planted at the winery, in 1984. About $22. And serve chilled, of course.

#wine #whitewine #Ricasoli #Chardonnay #Albia #Sandhill #Vanessa