I decided that this week I’d highlight wines that had mineral flavours. “Minerals,” I blurted out at the dinner table. “I’ll write about minerals this week”. My suggestion was met with derision.
“Minerals? That’s really boring,” said my youngest.
I suppose he’s right, minerals don’t make for the most riveting subject matter, despite the fact that the tasting term ‘mineral’ frequently appears in my notebook. But since I use the tasting term on a regular basis, I thought I should expand on it anyway, regardless of my 12-year-old son’s criticism.
Mineral, in my view anyway, refers to the salty taste in a wine, reminiscent of wet rock. This minerality comes from deep in the soil, as the vines suck up water that carries nutrients to the grapes.
Sometimes a wine’s minerality adds that extra dimension, hitting the taste receptors other wines can’t reach. For proof of this, you need only taste chardonnay from Chablis, with its pronounced and distinctive flinty flavours.
However, the riesling grape expresses its terroir, and thus minerals, perhaps more than any other.
Coupled with the fact that most riesling is produced without oak, allowing the natural flavours to shine through. Nowhere is this more true than in Germany.
Fritz’s Riesling 2009, named after and produced by Fritz Hasselbach in the Rheinhessen region, is a good wine to cut your teeth on if you are a stranger to the delights of German riesling. Just off-dry, clean tasting and buzzing with flavours of peach, white flowers, citrus, honey, minerals and a refreshing lick of acidity, this would make a perfect aperitif.
You could expect that the full-on flavours of New World sauvignon blanc would hide any mineral flavours in a wine. This isn’t always the case: try Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc 2010, a remarkably good value wine available from The Wine Society.
Intense, fresh and punchy, its goosegog, grapefruit, elderflower and lime flavours blend seamlessly with a long mineral finish. Perfect summer supping and a great match with asparagus.
I don’t usually advocate spending more than a tenner on a rosé, but make an exception for Provençal pinks. Wines from the region can be complex, added to by marked mineral notes. Domaines des Diables Rosé BonBon 2010 is a beautiful example of this. With a nose suggesting lavender and roses, it is fresh tasting and fruit-forward, think cherry, strawbs and citrus fruit. To cap off those lingering flavours, it has mineral notes in abundance. Pair it with salmon for a summer evening treat.
• Fritz’s Riesling 2009 Rheinhessen, £8.99 at Majestic 18/20.
• Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc 2010, £7.95 from The Wine Society 19/20.
• Domaines des Diables Rosé BonBon 2010, Côtes de Provence, £11.95 from Lea and Sandeman (leaandsandeman.co.uk) 18/20.