By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 8 December 2018
Gascony, SW France: TERRA SANA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (11.5%)
I have never featured a Gascon white in my Christmas column, but this zippy zesty new organic white is a great festive party bargain. Frenchman Francois Lurton owns vineyards from Argentina to Australia, but he clearly sees the potential of forgotten vineyards of Cotes de Gascogne near his Bordeaux homeland. With its grassy aromas, gooseberry fruits and vibrant acid, this reminds me of a cross between Loire and Bordeaux Sauvignon.
Tokay, Hungary: CARPINUS HARSLEVELU DRY WHITE 2017 (11%)
Made from rare exotically perfumed Harslevelu grapes grown in north east Hungary – a grape usually lost in blends. This varietal expression is deliciously citric, sweet sour, rich sappy minerally dry white with a hint of fieriness to the finish. If you like Austria’s Gruner Veltiner grape, you will love this. It tastes weightier and richer than its modest 11% alcohol. Serve as aperitif, with smoked salmon or fish pie.
Stellenbosch, South Africa: BRADGATE CHENIN BLANC 2015 (13%) ***STAR VALUE***
(£9.99 Rude Wines)
A cracking Chenin Blanc made by the dynamic Jordan family. Gary and Cathy Jordan have created a zippy fresh fruity Chenin Blanc from their cool south and east facing vineyards of decomposed granite in Stellenbosch. Loved its tropical notes and creamy lees richness – and with bottle age it has matured into a succulent mellow white without loosing freshness. Good bargain buy for turkey or slow roast pork.
Languedoc, France: LA NUIT BLANCHE CABERNET BLANC 2016 Francois Pugibet (12%)
Bit of an oddity – from a new grape called Cabernet Blanc. Francois and Vincent Pugibet from La Colombette in Beziers collaborated with Swiss grape ampelographers to come up with a new Cabernet grape with white skins and white flesh. Delicate finely structure, delicious apricot and green apple flavours, creamy leesy palate with good grip to the finish. A match with roast turkey or chicken.
Loire, France: MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE CHATEAU THEBAUD 2014 Domaine La Haut Fevrie (13%)
(£15.99 Virgin Wines)
From a leading single vineyard in Muscadet in western Loire. Winemaker Sebastien Branger has matured this for an astonishing three years on lees creating superbly rich succulent creamy example of the much-maligned Melon de Bourgogne. Both richly citric and zingly fresh considering its age: serve with roast turkey.
Rheingau, Germany: RHEINGAU RIESLING TROCKEN (DRY) 2016 Eva Fricke (12%)
(£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd www.bbr.com)
I am a big fan of Eva Fricke’s German Rieslings and this is no exception. Eva did not come from a winemaking family, but discovered her love of wine in South Africa – and she has worked at prestigious estates in Spain, Italy, Australia and Bordeaux. She now tends her own 45 year old vines on Rheingau’s slate and quartz slopes. Richer and zestier than her usual style with vivid floral and diesel notes. Delicious with smoked salmon.
Marlborough, New Zealand: GREYWACKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (13%)
(£17.50 The Wine Society; Henderson Wines; Luvians; NZ House of Wine; The New Zealand Cellar)
If you had to pick one Sauvignon Blanc in the world which produces the highest quality and epitome of the grape, Kevin Judd’s Greywacke is high on my list. This 2017 is one of his best – a blend of two vineyards in Wairau and Awatere valleys in Marlborough. Beautiful vivid gooseberry and nettle aromas, elegant rather than overpowering with texture and complexity.
Burgundy, France: CHABLIS VIEILLES VIGNES 2015 JM Brocard (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
(£18 The Wine Society)
In a line-up of ten Chablis (including some Premier Crus), this old vine example stole the show (pictured above). From vines planted in late 1940’s just after WW2, Jean Marc and his son Julien Brocard produce this exceptional example of deliciously rich concentrated creamy citric-fruited Chablis. Serve with rich-textured seafood, salmon in rich sauce or rich creamy cheeses.
Burgenland, Austria: GREINER 2007 Schrock & Kracher (14%)
(£18 reduced from £24 www.alpinewines.co.uk)
If you love rich mature whites from unusual locations, this extraordinary Welshriesling is deep powerful and complex. Two Neusiedl residents’ Heidi Schrock and Gerhard Kracher, who live on either side of the lake in Rust and Illmitz, have teamed up to make a traditional white wine. They pick late in November with 20% noble rot on the bunches, ferment in large acacia casks followed by long bottle age. Amazing aromas with marmalade notes, honeyed, rounded and dry. Serve with roast goose or savour on its own.
South Australia: EDEN VALLEY RIESLING 2016 Powell & Co (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
(£22.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh)
One of the best Eden valley Rieslings from a five acre vineyard in high Flaxman’s valley over 400 metres altitude. Dry grown (unirrigated) 80 year old vines tended by David and Callum Powell produce exquisite floral and limey aromas, crisp crunchy green apple and grapefruit flavours, ripe shimmering fruit with underlying minerality. Superb example with smoked salmon.
Douro, Portugal: QUANTA TERRA GRANDE RESERVA BRANCO 2016 (12.5%)
(£22 Wine Line Edinburgh www.thewineline.co.uk)
Celso Pereira is well known for his Vertice Douro fizz, but his own Quanta Terra wines from high altitude plantings in Alijo of Viosinho and Gouveio are worth seeking out. Wonderful tropical fruit and apricot notes, vivid fresh, creamy rounded with long length: rich enough for the turkey roast. One of the best whites tasted on our recent Portuguese wine tour.
Alsace, France: HERRENWEG PINOT GRIS 2010 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (14.5%) ***STAR BUY***
If you like your Pinot Gris rich and intense, this mature Zind-Humbrecht bottling is exceptional. Herrenweg vineyard between Turckheim and Wintzenheim produces rich ripe fruit always the first to be harvested. Citric, almonds and honey aromas, real fruit focus, slight smokiness with gentle sweetness but no cloying notes – but like all great wines it finishes dry and clean. My favourite with roast goose or slow roast pork.
Sonoma Coast, California: RAMEY SONOMA CHARDONNAY 2013 (13.5%)
(£39.99-£42 Berry Bros; Oddbins; Majestic)
David Ramey’s Chardonnays are my current Sonoma favourites. He uses full Burgundian techniques from whole cluster pressing, wild yeasts, lees stirring and ageing in new French oak (and a little Hungarian oak) the result is intensely rich seamlessly elegant, honeyed, beautifully textured with well integrated oak. Shows how elegant Californian Chardonnay can be.
Join Rose’s Rioja v Ribera del Duero wine tasting in Edinburgh on Thursday 7 February 2019 £45 www.rosemurraybrown.com