TOP TEN SUMMER WHITES

TOP TEN SUMMER WHITES image

by Rose Murray Brown MW

Published in The Scotsman 10 May 2014

Now that the sun is shining, we need refreshing vibrant whites to quaff through the long summer evenings – so I have been scouring the world for the best value whites under a tenner:

ITATA VALLEY, CHILE:  DAYS OF SUMMER 2013 Miguel Torres
(£7.49 Co-op; Majestic Wine)
Grape: Moscatel
Alcohol: 12%

A delightful new wine from the famous Torres family.  This unoaked Moscatel hails from the rough cold windy mountain slopes of Chile’s Itata, so not only is it aromatic and floral but also vivid, fresh and moderate in alcohol.  Moscatel is believed to be the first ever grape cultivated in ancient Greece, now being revived in high altitude plantings in the New World.  It has hit the USA by storm, now its third most popular white wine – and might well become a hit in the UK too soon at this price.

LEYDA VALLEY, CHILE:  SANTA EMA RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013
(£6.99 each for 2 bts or £9.99 bt Majestic Wine)
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13%

Another cracking buy from South America.  Sauvignon Blanc vines are planted close to the Pacific ocean to catch the cool afternoon sea breezes in Leyda Valley.  I do often find Chilean Sauvignons can be too one-dimensional, but this has bags of fruit and flavour for the price.  Always a winner at our tastings.

LANGUEDOC, SOUTHERN FRANCE:  TESCO FINEST* PICPOUL DE PINET
(£5.99 Tesco)
Grape: Piquepoul
Alcohol: 12.5%

Perfect for lazy summer evenings, this rare grape grows only near Sete in Languedoc where it is a great match with the local seafood.  Known affectionately by locals as ‘lip-stinger’ due to its high natural acidity, this vibrant bright tart quaffer made by Jean Luc Lavergne is excellent value at under £6.

SICILY, ITALY: VENTURER VERMENTINO 2013
(£4.99 Aldi)
Grape: Vermentino
Alcohol: 12%

Part of Aldi’s new series for the ‘adventurous’ wine drinker exploring less well-known grape varieties.  Vermentino grows in Provence and Languedoc in France where it is called Rolle.  In Sardinia, Liguria and Sicily in Italy it tends to make richer styles but still with the lemony flavours.  Note the moderate alcohol – this was one of the cheapest in our tasting.  Well done Aldi.   STAR VALUE BUY

BURGUNDY, FRANCE: MACON VILLAGES 2012 Domaine Talmard
(£9.50 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com)
Grape: Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13%

A superb example of unoaked Chardonnay from southerly Maconnais.  Previously labelled as Macon Farges, the Talmard family have crafted a fantastic wine for under a tenner.  Creamy rounded with hints of the warm south, but with an elegance and natural acid you cannot find in many parts of the New World.  Superb value.   STAR BUY

LANGUEDOC, SOUTHERN FRANCE: DOMAINE DU BOSC VIOGNIER 2012
(£7.25 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com)
Grape: Viognier
Alcohol: 13.5%

This beat a Viognier from Sainsbury’s in our tasting on price and quality.  Popular with tasters for incredible peachy aromas and mineral notes, nothing too fleshy and flabby.  Viognier is grown on volcanic soils near Cape d’Agde by Pierre Besinet, who used to be a chemical engineer, now making Languedoc Viognier to turn heads at remarkable prices.

TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA:  PIRIE SOUTH RIESLING 2008
(£7.99 Luvians, Cupar & St Andrews www.luvians.com)
Grape: Riesling
Alcohol: 13%

Yes - the vintage is correct – it is a 2008 Tassie Riesling still drinking as fresh as a daisy.  Perfume, honeysuckle and lime with a touch of residual sugar (3.5g/l), but basically dry.  Made by ‘Mr Tassie’, Andrew Pirie has been making wine in Tasmania for 30 years.  I notice that some retailers are selling this same vintage at £11+, so at £7.99 this is a bargain.  Delicious with Thai fishcaskes Hurry whilst stocks last.

PELOPONNESE, GREECE: MOSCHOFILERO LEFKES 2011
(£8.99 Marks & Spencer)
Grape: Moschofilero
Alcohol: 12.5%

Full marks to Marks & Spencer for offering a fascinating range of Greek whites (clearly they have been popular as their wonderful Malagousia and Atlantis Santorini seem to have sold out).  Moschofilero is a high acid grape with moderate alcohol; lively floral herby – would suit those who love white southern Rhones.

SWARTLAND, SOUTH AFRICA: TESCO FINEST* SWARTLAND CHENIN BLANC 2013
(£6.99 Tesco)
Grape: Chenin Blanc
Alcohol: 12.5%

Adi Badenhurst has created a brilliant Chenin Blanc for the price.  Swartland, north east of Cape Town, is the hot new region for Chenin Blanc and Mediterranean style whites with great young dynamic wineries like Badenhurst, Mullineux, Lammershoek and Eben Sadie.  I do find some of Tesco Finest whites are a little dull and commercial, but this is minerally vivid and beautifully made.

WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA: KLEIN ZALZE CHENIN BLANC 2013
(£7.99 Waitrose)
Grape: Chenin Blanc
Alcohol: 13.5%

I have lost count of the number of people who have asked me if I have tasted Klein Zalze whites and reds (try their Shiraz).  They are basically tasty approachable easy going quaffers.  Made by John Joubert at this Stellenbosch based winery, he also makes Family Reserve and Vineyard Selection ranges.  Their Zalze range are even better if you can find them on offer at £5.99.