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The delights of le vin blanc
I don’t know about you but for me, white wines are put on the back burner during winter.
Yes of course I still drink whites but those dark, cold, long nights seem to suit big, warming reds more.
Then all of a sudden, around this time of year, I notice the first signs of spring. Snowdrops, bird song and a hint of warmth in the afternoon sun are the trigger. The trigger to unleash and rediscover the delights of le vin blanc.
Such was my enthusiasm, to get stuck in to some white wine tasting, that I’ve included one more than my customary selection of three wines. So here are four aromatic whites that will have your tastebuds singing It Might As Well Be Spring by Frank Sinatra.
All the wines have an Antipodean influence this week. Even my first choice, Monteforte Passo Avanti Soave 2008, which is of course an Italian wine, but it’s made by New Zealander Matt Thompson. With a slightly oily texture, it is bone dry and suggestive of orchard fruits, citrus, white pepper and honey. A cracking choice with chicken you can find it at Waitrose, where there is £2 off starting this Wednesday.
By way of comparison how about a Kiwi pinot grigio? Villa Maria’s Private Bin East Coast Pinot Grigio 2010 demonstrates more than a nod to the popular, steely, Italian style of the grape. But this Kiwi example beats most of the Italians I’ve tasted, hands down. Fresh, crisp and mineral with green apple on the nose, it has flavours of pear, lemon and honey notes too.
The relatively cool climate of the Adelaide Hills in Oz is good for growing varietals that don’t like it too hot, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir being prime examples. Nepenthe Altitude Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is decent enough, and if you don’t like the aggressive Kiwi style, you will find this is more elegant. It touts grassy aromas, tropical and citrus fruit flavours and a fresh acidity.
Impressive wines costing less than a fiver are as rare as rocking horse manure. Thus I was delighted with the aromatic Karri Oak Estate Semillon Sauvignon 2008 which, at £4.99, delivers terrific value for money. This white Bordeaux blend from Western Australia, delivers concentrated, long flavours of lime, grapefruit and tropical with a spoonful of honey. It’s available online from Find Wine.
Monteforte Passo Avanti Soave 2008, Veneto, £5.99 down from £7.99 at Waitrose 18/20.
Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Grigio 2010, £8.99 at Tesco and Waitrose 17/20.
Nepenthe Altitude Sauvignon Blanc 2010, £8.49 at Waitrose, Majestic and The Cooperative 16/20.
Karri Oak Estate Semillon Sauvignon 2008, £4.99 from Find Wine (findwine.co.uk) 19/20.