By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 18 April 2020
Now that Spring has arrived, here are a dozen white crackers from around the world to quench our thirst in the coming warm months – with many of the merchants listed online and still delivering to your door:
South West France: TESCO FINEST ST MONT 2017 Plaimont (13.5%)
Deliciously juicy and zesty with crunchy grapefruit flavours and finishing with a good creamy weight of fruit. This brilliant value blend from the little-known St Mont appellation is made from rare native grapes: Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Petit Courbu and Arrufiac. The Plaimont co-operative, based south of Bordeaux in the Gers, is a great source of affordable quaffable whites. Great value springtime aperitif.
Rias Baixas, NW Spain: ALBARINO PAZO TORRADO 2019 Terra de Asorei (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£10 St Andrews Wine; Fountain Hall Wines, Aberdeen; Wine Trust 100
Spain’s Albarino grape has become a mass crowd-pleaser – and this is a fabulously priced example. Typical of the grape is its crisp zesty with vibrant acidity, rich peachy bouquet and a richly textured mouthfeel. Grown in vineyards near Cambados near the Arousa estuary, it benefits from the Altantic ocean influence and long dry summers to ripen grapes. Terra de Asorei are a family of 8 growers who only focus on growing one grape.
Languedoc, France: VILLA BLANCHE PICPOUL DE PINET 2018 Calmel & Joseph (13%)
£11.49 De Burgh Wines
The famous ‘lip-stinger’ grape, Picpoul, was named after its naturally high acid and traditionally used in the Cognac and Armagnac regions. Now with its own appellation stretching along the Mediterranean’s Thau lagoon, there are ample good example. Calmel & Joseph make a range of superbly affordable wines; this has floral notes, zingy freshness, light spice and aniseed undertones and green apple fruit palate. Would suit Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio drinkers.
Loire, France: MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE SUE LIE 2018 Ch de la Bretonnerie (12%) ***STAR BUY***
£11.99 Luvians; Red Squirrel Wine
Remember the 1980’s when Muscadet was so popular? It fell out of favour due to over-production, marginal climate and competition from elsewhere. Now it is swinging back into fashion thanks to excellent small growers like Frederic Guilbaud in the Sevre et Maine heartland, helping revive and reinvent this forgotten appellation. Loved this unoaked Muscadet with its minerally palate, crisp fruits, appley notes and such a creamy lees palate. This is superb stuff from the ripe 2018 vintage (pictured above).
Western Cape, South Africa: BLANC DE MER 2018 Bouchard Finlayson (13%)
£12.49 Great Grog; Frontier Fine Wines; Lea & Sandeman
This smells like nothing I have tasted before – basically because it is made from such a cocktail of grapes. Most prominent on the nose is Riesling with floral hints and apricot peachy notes from Viognier – on the palate it has pristine grapefruit and zippy length from Sauvignon Blanc, citric notes from Chardonnay and light honey notes from Chenin Blanc. Made by the legendary Peter Finlayson in Hemel-en-Aarde valley near Hermanus. A fabulous match for rich textured seafood.
Wagram, Austria: RIED EISENHUT ROTER VELTLINER 2018 Eschenhof Holzer (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£13.99 Luvians; Red Squirrel Wine
For those who like exotically fruity whites with plenty of spice and honey on the palate. Roter Veltliner, makes more complex richer styles than Gruner Veltliner (no relation). An excellent example made by the young Arnold Holzer who grows this rare grape on loess clay soils in the grape’s home region of Wagram, just west of Vienna. Top scorer at our recent virtual tasting.
Stellenbosch, South Africa: CHENIN BLANC 2019 Kaapzicht (13%)
£11.85 Great Grog; Gerrard Seel
I am a big fan of Danie Steytler’s Kaapzicht wines – particularly for his muscular Pinotage – but this old bush vine Chenin Blanc from weathered granite soils is a really well-made example. It comes from the second oldest Chenin Blanc vines in South Africa, planted back in 1947. Pineapple and mango notes, with a hint of savouriness. Nicely balanced with just a hint of sweetness finishing brisk and fresh. Danie calls this a juicy poolside sipper (but we will just have to imagine that last bit).
Niederosterrerich, Austria: THE DOT AUSTRIAN PEACH RIESLING 2019 Pfaffl (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£11.50 St Andrews Wine; £10 Villeneuve Wines
Austrian Riesling from a warm site has such power and charm; loved the combination of rich intensity, juicy freshness and sweet floral notes with a rich dry finish. Calls itself an Austrian Peach & it certainly lives up to its name with its pronounced peachy flavours. The Dot label is designed to highlight the wine’s purity. Produced by enterprising Roman Pfaffl and his sister Heidi Fischer at their winery in Stetton in Weinviertel in lower Austria.
Martinborough, New Zealand: THE EDGE PINOT GRIS 2018 Escarpment (13%)
£11.85 Great Grog; Frontier Fine Wines £12.50 Stone Vine & Sun
I have visited this winery twice – and both times I got lost amongst the vineyards around Martinborough. Eventually I tracked down the entrance to Larry McKenna’s Escarpment with its big ‘E’, 5 km away from the village on alluvial gravel terraces on the Huangarua River. McKenna’s wines are always affordable and beautifully made – like this aromatic zesty unoaked Pinot Gris, just off dry with a voluptuous broad palate – not quite as intense as an Alsace example – but gorgeous ripe flavours.
Marlborough, New Zealand: YEALANDS RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 (13%)
Passionfruit, mango and peas on the nose with lovely citric core of fruit, zippy, weighty with a touch of minerality. This exemplary Kiwi Savvy comes from Yealands’ coastal Seaview vineyard in southerly Awatere Valley which experiences harsh conditions, keeping yields in check producing small thick-skinned berries with lovely intensity. 2019 in Marlborough was hot and dry with little rain – so when vintage began in mid-March the weather was stable and blocks of vineyards picked in one go at optimum ripeness.
Waipara, New Zealand: ORGANIC PINOT GRIS 2019 Greystone (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£18 Great Grog; Frontier Fine Wines
Waipara in North Canterbury north of Christchurch offers some of New Zealand’s best aromatic whites. This honeyed, peachy silky lightly spicy unctuously textured Pinot Gris comes from a single block of vines grown on a mix of sea fossils and limestone picked over four passes, aged with a touch of oak and lees contact to add complexity; it is one of the best Pinot Gris I have tasted from down under. Made by winemaker Dominic Maxwell for the Thomas family, who first planted Pinot Gris 20 years ago.
Campania, Italy: GRECO JANARE La Guardiense (13.5%)
£10.49 De Burgh Wines
My favourite from the Janare range from Campania’s San Giorgio del Sannio subzone. About 60 km northeast of Naples this is not tourist country, but on Apennine mountain slopes at 350 metres vines produce some of Italy’s most interesting whites on a mix of volcanic and gravel soils. This unoaked dry Greco has a beautiful floral nose, lemon peel, grapefruit and pineapple notes, full and weighty with honeyed creamy notes and a pleasing saline twist to finish.
Join Rose’s virtual wine tastings on Organic & Biodynamic Wines with Woodwinters winemerchants via Zoom in the comfort of your own home on Fridays 15 & 22 May and Saturdays 16 & 23 May www.rosemurraybrown.com