Thursday, 27 June 2013

Grape Expectations: 7 Summer Must-Try White Wines

Photo: Wicker Paradise (CCL)

- By Sam Green

It seems as though summer is trying it's best at the moment. So with this in mind, I thought we should all try our best with our summer drinking. It's easy to choose the obvious old favourites (New Zealand Sauvignon, Aussie Chardonnay, a nice chilled glass of Alsace and all those others we've tried billions of times before) but there are so many more exciting grapes out there. I know it's tough when you read an obscure-looking label and think "Huh?", but that's what we're here for. Whether you're a seasoned wine lover or just want something different to try,  all of these under-appreciated grapes are screaming out for summer drinking.

1. Torrontes
Argentina's chief white grape, it produces lively perfumed aromas and beautiful ripe fruit flavours. Of everything I've had the pleasure I've trying, I have to recommend the Faldeos Nevados Torrontes at £7.95 a bottle from The Wine Society. It has a nose of citrus blossoms and apricots and on the palate is a wonderful combination of stone fruits and subtle citrus notes. Superb value and really quite special.

2. Fiano
Italy produces some absolute crackers when it comes to whites but sadly, most only see as far as Pinot Grigio. A perfect example of an Italian unsung summer hero is Fiano. More specifically, Tesco Finest Fiano. It's beautifully soft and full of peachy fruit with a lovely dry but not bone dry finish. Excellent balance in the acidity, it's not only pleasant to drink, but pleasant to buy - it's only £5.99 from Tesco (until 1st July 2014! Then it's £7.99)

3. Falanghina
Staying in Italy (why wouldn't you? It's beautiful this time of year) my next summer white to try is Falanghina Terredora. With 3 months lees ageing, it has a complex depth of flavour including green apples, citrus fruit and a satisfying nutty finish. With no use of oak, this wine retains it's crispness making it one of the most versatile whites available. £11.99, or just £8.99 when you buy 2 or more bottles from Majestic.

4. Godello
Now we make our way out of Italy and touch down in sunny Spain. While Spain is mostly noted for it's fine Riojas, a gorgeous Godello is definitely one to try sitting in the garden on a sunny evening. Mara Martin Godello de Monterrei 2011 at £9.10 from The Drink Shop boasts bold apple and pear flavours with hints of citrus and crisp finish.

5. Gruner Veltliner
Gruner Veltliner is an Austrian beauty, and one that's finally getting some recognition. Due to the location of the vines, Gruner wines are packed with minerality. For a really good example, try The Societys Exhibtion Gruner Veltliner for £12.95 from The Wine Society. Waxy citrus notes and hints of white pepper make for an ultimate sunny day white.

6. Bacchus
As well as being the Roman God of wine (what a cool job), Bacchus is one of England's best grape varieties. I know of none better than Chapel Down Bacchus, a tropical fruit bomb with great acidity that's crying out for a goats cheese salad. It's available direct from the vineyard for £83.94 per six, or The Wine Society sells Chapel Down Bacchus for £11.50 a bottle or £12.99 from Waitrose.

7. Picpoul
This may be one of the better-known of the seven listed here, but it's absolutely key you get your chops around some pronto if you haven't already. A southern French variety, it's become as fashionable as the likes of Sancerre, with lovely green fruit and citrussy character. A bottle of Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet is a great place to start, and is only £7.99  from Tesco Wines plus you get 20% off if you're buying 2 or more cases of 6 Finest wines!

So there you have it folks! 7 white grapes that are perfect for summer and ready to be explored. No excuses now!

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