In part two of The UnUsual Suspects, Languedoc-Roussillon wine expert, Decanter World Wine Awards judge and Wright Wine Company wine geek, Gemma Crangle, delves into white wines for your summer tipple recommendation.
Part two: White wines
The Summer months cry out for light, zesty, refreshing and aromatic white wines for al fresco drinking or dining but surely we’re ready to experiment and discover some alternatives to the usual suspects? The likes of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio certainly have their place (who would say no to a top Sancerre?) but I can assure you that broadening your horizons and trying some new and different wines will open up a whole new vinous world for you.
Instead of Sauvignon Blanc, try;
Sauvignon Blanc originates in the Loire Valley and is now almost synonymous with the Marlborough region in New Zealand. A highly popular grape that’s at home in cool regions, Sauvignon Blanc produces wines with instantly recognisable notes of grass, gooseberry, apple, pear and lime, sometimes with herb aromas, too. It’s understandably a very popular and widely accessible varietal wine which the nation will, of course, continue to drink but there are some excellent zesty alternatives which are itching to be tasted.
For a similarly high in acidity, equally aromatic and mouth wateringly lime fresh alternative, I would recommend that you try a dry Riesling. It isn’t called “The Queen of Grapes” for nothing and, once tasted, I defy to you to look back. Tarred with negative history in Germany under the guise of Liebfraumilch, Black Tower, Blue Nun, this regal German grape variety has shaken off its bad reputation and has reinstated its place as a noble grape variety producing wines with the most exquisite balance of high zesty acidity and aromatic, floral fruit flavour. Being a very versatile grape and susceptible to noble rot the grape can produce anything from dry sparkling to intensely sweet ice wines but it is the mineral dry, fresh, crisp, vibrant, floral and zesty wines that I am urging you to try (with Thai food if possible).
Riesling, Highness, Eden Valley Rolf Binder, Australia £14.50
Save Water Drink Riesling, Dry, Rheingau, Weingut Allendorff, Germany £13.50
For a more charismatic Pinot Grigio, try;
This, of course, is a bit of a cheat as Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are one and the same grape. In Italy, Pinot Grigio generally tends to produce a neutral, refreshingly acidic wine which is almost unrecognisable as the very same grape when grown in Alsace or some new world countries such as Tasmania, Marlborough, South Australia where the Alsatian style is replicated. Here Pinot Gris shows spicy characteristics, moderate to low acidity and a full bodied almost oily texture which lends itself so well to Asian and spicy food. We suggest you try one of these excellently expressive examples of Pinot Gris:
- Pinot Gris, Reserve, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Marlborough, New Zealand £13.80
- Pinot Gris, Domaine Gocker, Alsace £13.50
And if you really want to push the boat out try:
- Pinot Gris, Domaine Rolly-Gassmann, Alsace £22.00
Instead of Muscadet or Picpoul de Pinet with your shellfish, try;
We all love the clean, light, fresh citrus and saline notes of Muscadet and Picpoul, and believe me, being their biggest fan, I am by no means suggesting you ever forego these faithful wine friends. I do, however, feel obliged to introduce you to the new sommelier- favoured kid on the block which goes by the name of Txakolina (pronounced chock-oh-LEE-nah). This is a bracing, refreshing, often fizzy white of a wine that is enjoyed throughout Basque country; it’s found in restaurants and pintxos bars, on terraces overlooking the sea or in dark, rustic wood-and-stone cellar throughout the Atlantic coasted Basque region. You can’t help but notice Txakolina everywhere, especially as it is often poured in an exuberant arc from a bottle held high above the shoulder into tumblers to create a burst of bubbles in the glass. This tongue twister of a wine has now hit the lists of every Michelin-starred restaurant in the country and can be found in the hippest of wine bars in most European cities. Made predominantly from the Hondarrabi Zuri grape this crisp, zesty wine lends itself perfectly to the fresh fish and shellfish or Tapas of the region from which it originates. Dare we even suggest you try it with a more local suggestion of fish and chips from Bizzie Lizzies?!
- Hondarrabi Zuri, Txakolina Getariako, Hiruzta Txakoli, Spain £16.50
Rich aromas of crisp apples, pear, grapefruit and tropical pineapple are enhanced by a subtle effervescence. Balanced and fresh on the palate, with a well-integrated crisp acidity, hints of citrus and tropical fruits followed by a long aromatic finish.
We stock all of the wines listed above in our shop and will be showing some of them in our Summer Wines Tasting on Saturday 27th July from 12-4pm. It’s free of charge so please do pop in and try some of these Unusual Suspects.