While most of us love the crisp, thirst-quenching flavours of Sauvignon Blanc, especially on a warm sunny day, there comes a time when the taste buds need a rest from those vibrant, zesty flavours.
Monday, 1st June 2020, 11:45 am
There are hundreds of alternative grape varieties that will provide the same kind of refreshment. Here are a few ideas.
Easy to say and definitely easy to drink, Albariño is a light, refreshing, white peach and apricot-edged wine that is soft enough to drink on its own or can easily accompany fish, shellfish, salads and, at a push, chicken and vegetarian dishes.
Originally from the wet and breezy top left-hand corner of Spain known as Rías Baixas, it is grown on pergolas to catch the breeze and resist disease.
The posts holding up these pergola
wires are made of local granite and they glint in the sunlight and absorb the daytime heat. Other regions around the world are starting to grow Albariño, with New Zealand, South Africa and California making the most progress.
Viña Taboexa 2018, Rías Baixas, £8.79, Waitrose: Soft, aromatic peachy aromas lead into tangerine-zest and lime flavours.
Left Field Albariño 2019, Gisborne, New Zealand, York Wines, £13.75: New Zealand has embraced Albariño with enthusiasm and is making some serious wines. With slightly riper flavours, positive peach notes, melon and lime freshness, this is well worth seeking out.
Pazo Señorans Albariño 2018, Rías Baixas, Latitude Wine, £19.50: Most Albariño wines are best enjoyed young, but this producer makes wines that can keep, developing savoury complexity along the way. The 2018 is showing well now, with nectarine and white floral notes.
Mar de Frades Albariño Atlantico 2019, Rías Baixas, Harvey Nichols, £22: Chill this bottle down before drinking and a boat appears on the label when it reaches the right temperature. With that, the blue bottle and the picture of Atlantic waves, this wine really does tell you that it is perfect for matching with seafood. Crisp and fresh with apple, peach and lemon notes a rounded, mouth-filling texture and a touch of sea-salt on the finish.
The name means “lip-stinger” on account of its high acidity, but this is not a wine
that will make you wince.
Instead it is like a cold shower on a hot day, totally refreshing and invigorating. It acts like a squeeze of lemon on oysters or prawns, lifting flavours and adding interest to food.
Picpoul is largely confined to southern France, especially close to the coast around Pinet where co-operatives dominate, mostly making excellent wines, but there are some small independent producers too.
Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2019, Languedoc, France, £7.50: Consistently one of the best Picpoul wines to open on a hot sunny day. Its crisp, zesty flavours combine perfectly with anything fishy.
Duc de Morny Picpoul de Pinet 2019, Roberts & Speight, £8.29: Crisp and lively with melon fruit flavours and a sea-salty finish.
Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2019, the Wine Society, £8.95: Softer in style than most Picpouls, this has apricot notes with a streak of lime freshness and a crunchy, minerally finish.
If you haven’t bought a bottle of Riesling for a couple of decades it is about time you did. Styles have changed and it no longer harbours those over-sulphured, mid-sweet flavours you may remember.
Riesling is one of the most fantastic grape varieties in the world, but sadly it lost its popularity some years ago and has had to struggle ever since, but that works to the advantage of anyone who is brave enough to give it a try. Quality is high, and prices are low.
Nervous types should head for Clare Valley Rieslings where flavours are clean and bright and absolutely dry. As you gain confidence head for Germany and its dry wines.
Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2019, Australia, Aldi, £6.99: One of the best-value Riesling wines around, with fresh, floral fruit and a clean freshness on the finish. Good enough to drink on its own with canapés or with a summer salad.
Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2019, Clare Valley, Australia, Waitrose, down from £12.99 to £9.99 until Tuesday: Pick up a bottle or two of this lemon and lime, pineapple-tinged wine while it is of offer. Crisp and snappy with floral aromas, it has clear, fresh acidity with a long finish.
Dry Riesling 2018, Villa Wolf, Pfalz, Martinez Wines, £11.99: A straightforward introduction to German Riesling with yellow stone fruit aromas and fresh citrus on the palate. Try this with smoked salmon canapés and then move on to creamy fish or roast pork.
This is not a wine to ask for if you are at all worried about its pronunciation. Try saying Chacoli, and you will find it a crisp, fresh-tasting wine, with a light spritz, which is sometimes dispersed by pouring it from several inches above your glass. It comes from the Basque region of Spain and teams up wonderfully with seafood and fish.
Txakolí Aizpurua 2018, Spain, Field & Fawcett, £14.70: Crisp green apple and grapefruit notes with a distinct herby, minerally freshness.
Just over the river from Rías Baixas is the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, and Albariño – now renamed Alvarinho – is a major component in these wines.
Vinho Verde (pronounce it vaird, not verdy) is often a blend of Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura grapes, each grape providing a touch more aroma, acidity and minerality to support the mix. Sometimes less aromatic than its cousin Albariño across the river, but always fresh and lively, Vinho Verde often has a touch of spritz.
LB7 Vinho Verde 2019, Portugal, Majestic, £7.99: A wine that is as cheerful as its colourful label. At only 10pc alcohol, with fresh, lively, lemon and stone fruit flavours, this is a great value introduction to the region of Vinho Verde.
Soalheiro Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2019, Harrogate Wine Co, £19.99: A clear step up in quality, this 100pc Alvarinho wine comes from one of the top properties in the region. It has refined citrus fruit, layered with hints of passion fruit and apricot, with a clear minerally structure.
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