By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 26 January 2019
If you are trying out a vegan diet for Veganuary or are a full-time committed vegan, you might be interested to try the growing range of Vegan-friendly wines now available on our shelves.
Vegan wines are nothing new, but more supermarkets are now highlighting them on their labels and websites, so it is much easier for vegans to search for wines that suit their diet. The two supermarkets with the best Vegan wine ranges are Marks & Spencer and Co-op, but others like Aldi, Lidl, Sainsburys and Waitrose – as well as independent wine merchants - are following the trend.
It might come as a surprise to some to learn that vegan wines actually exist at all. In definition, they are basically made without the use of animal-derived fining agents.
Winemakers have been using animal products for centuries to filter out organic particles which might affect flavour, colour or texture. The most common are isinglass (from fish bladded membranes), gelatin (from boiled animal parts), blood, bone marrow and egg albumen.
Now as more people are turning to vegan - and vegarianism - winemakers are focusing more on using mineral and plant agents like silica gel or bentonite clay.
So to celebrate Veganuary – check out my favourite twelve vegan wines from around the world.
Champagne, France: CHAMPAGNE LES PIONNIERS BRUT NV (12%)
A clear winner in our recent fizz tasting – and certainly the best supermarket non-vintage cuvee on the market currently. Rich toasty aromas, creamy citric palate, vibrant with good length. It is a badly kept secret that this award winning cuvee is actually made by the well known Champagne house, Piper Hiedsieck.
Western Cape, South Africa: THE PROJECT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (12.5%)
Exceptionally good value Sauvignon Blanc made by two up-and-coming winemakers Duncan Savage, previously of Cape Point Vineyards, and Thys Louw of Diemersdal estate. Tropical fruit, grapefruit hints with a minerally core – a good match with asparagus or artichoke.
Burgundy, France: MACON VILLAGES 2017 (13%)
£10 Marks & Spencer
Unoaked great value white Burgundy made by Georges Brichon of Cave de Prisse. Citric aromas, decent depth of fruit on the palate, both creamy and fresh. Easy to drink and very versatile as aperitif and with light fish dishes.
Limari Valley, Chile: DE MARTINO LEGADO CHARDONNAY 2017 (13.5%)
From my current favourite Chilean winery, de Martino made in up-and-coming Limari north of Santiago. They focus on old world elegance rather than just new world fruit and power. Superbly made with a clean citric mouthfeel and almondy toasty notes. Hard to find Chilean Chardonnay to beat this in quality at this price.
Rhone, France: CAFÉ TERRASSE MUSCAT VAUCLUSE BLANC 2017 (13.5%)
Typical Muscat with its grapey sweetness on the nose, but crisp dry and refreshing on the palate – one of the better wines in Lidl’s new range of vegan-friendly wines from the Rhone Valley. Quaff on its own or with avocado salad.
Piedmont, Italy: CO-OP IRRESISTIBLE GAVI 2017 Broglia (12.5%)
Cortese is the grape behind famous Gavi from the Monferrato hills in south east Piedmont. Co-op’s version is crisp, dry with a piercing lemony freshness made by the esteemed Broglia family, who made their money in textiles and bought the winery in the 1970s just as Gavi was starting to become popular.
Setubal, Portugal: TEN MILE BRIDGE ROSE 2017 (12%)
Named after Lisbon’s impressive Vasco de Gama bridge that links the capital with Setubal peninsular. Setubal was once known only for its sweet fortified wines, but this region is now gaining a reputation for great value reds and roses like this bright cherried fruited zingy dry rose blend.
Douro, Portugal: ANIMUS 2017 Vicente Faria (13%)
Brilliant value jammy spicy blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional & Touriga Franca. Made from the same grapes as Port in the famous Douro valley, it shares a similar damson plummy character with fresh vibrant acidity on the palate.
Rioja, Spain: D-12 RIOJA 2015 Bodegas Lan (£13)
£16 The Wine Society
Smooth soft sweet herby Rioja goes well with vegan stews – and this is a really fine example from Lan’s top Rioja Alta vineyards. Unashamedly modern and fruit forward in style, with prominent sweet clove and cedar notes from a mix of American and French oak
Casablanca Valley, Chile: CO-OP IRRESISTIBLE CASABLANCA VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2016 (14%)
We all love a good Pinot Noir bargain. Delicious easy-drinking Chilean Pinot with sweet ripe fruits, nothing too jammy, pure raspberry and cherry fruit flavours with lush soft flavours. A good match with bean or lentil stew.
Yecla, Spain: PARCELAS ECOLOGICO MONASTRELL 2017 Bodegas Castano (14%)
£7.50 The Wine Society
A great winter warming Monastrell from up-and-coming Yecla region. For those who like gutsy juicy deep coloured reds with forest fruit flavours, spicy depth and smooth finish. Monastrell is the same grape as France’s southern Rhone Mourvedre. Exceptionally good value and organically made.
Aconcagua Valley, Chile: MONTES ZAPALLAR OUTER LIMITS SYRAH 2016 (14%)
£21.99 Cornelius Wines, Edinburgh
One hectare of Syrah is all Montes has planted in coastal Zapallar vineyard in Aconcagua and it makes this delicious lightly oaked smoky blackberry-fruited red; shows what potential Syrah has in Chile.
Join Rose’s Portugal: Douro v Dao wine tasting on Thursday 21 February at Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh £45 www.rosemurraybrown.com