One of a series of impressive wines under The Shortlist label, this French oak-fermented cool climate Chardonnay has benefited from a little bottle age and is now showing some developed flavours and aromas. Pear, cinnamon spice and a touch of honey combine well on the palate here.
Made in an off-dry style that is typical of New Zealand, this has impressive concentration and depth of flavour. It’s perfumed and floral, with the fruit sweetness balanced by acidity and freshness. Lime and toast are the dominant flavours here with a hint of tannin on the finish.
It’s a pleasure to drink an Alsace Riesling made in a dry style like this one. Stony, minerally and unoaked, this is tangy and transparent with appealing bottle development but enough concentration to age for another four to eight years. Great with food.
Laurent Miquel has long been the leading Viognier producer in the south of France, making wines that are as good as most Condrieu but at less than half the price. This vintage is his best yet in my view, a rich, spicy, sumptuous, yet well balanced white, with sweet vanilla oak, just the right amount of acidity to temper the concentration of the wine and hedonistic flavours of apricot, fresh cream and fresh ginger. Available on line initially by the half case, so hurry.
Kleine Zalze deserves to be more famous than it is in South Africa. It consistently turns out a very good range of commercial wines, as well as smaller quantities of top end stuff. This belongs in the latter category and it’s a great example of ripe, tropically fruity Cape Chenin. Pineapple and melon notes are balanced by the refreshing acidity that’s the variety’s calling card and rounded out by subtle oak fermentation.
Neudorf is best known for its Pinots and especially its stellar Chardonnay, but winemaker Tim Finn can turn his hand to aromatic white grapes, too. This rich, musky, off-dry Pinot Gris is a case in point. Floral and intense, it combines notes of rose petal, sweet pears and quince, supported by acidity. Complex stuff with less residual sugar than many Kiwi examples of the grape.
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero are very close genetically, so why not combine them in a white wine, vinifying the latter without its skins? The result is rather tasty, with aromatic, Golden Delicious apple, pear and quince notes, and just a hint of wild strawberry. Unoaked, refined and well balanced, this is a real find for less than £10.
The price of this eminently gluggable Vinho Verde has crept up in recent years (although it’s sometimes on a deal at Majestic), but it was almost too cheap before, given its quality. It’s light and refreshing, with appealing spritz, a whiff of the Atlantic and delicious peach, guava and citrus notes. Just as good as many more expensive Spanish Albariños produced on the other side of the border.
With a name like Canyon Park, let alone a price tag close to £15, the last place you’d expect this blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier to come from is Bulgaria, but the country that gave us impossibly cheap Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1980s is emerging from the Eastern European doldrums at last. This is smoky, savoury and perfumed, with aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, ripe, pear and apricot flavours and subtle oak integration. A sign of very good things to come?
If you’re a fan of slightly old fashioned Aussie Chardonnays, rather than the Burgundian tastealikes that are increasingly being produced in regions like the Adelaide Hills and the Yarra Valley, you’ll love this peachy, ripe, pineapple fruity wine from Western Australia. It’s a big, bold wine with attractive, toasty oak and enough lemony acididty for balance.
You might be surprised to learn that Germany sells more Grauer Burgunder (aka Pinot Gris) in the UK than Riesling. The statistic is less depressing when you taste a wine like this soft, pear, fig and apple-like example from the Rheinhessen, however. A very appealing dry white with more acidity than is immediately apparent.
If your impression of German Riesling is that it tends to be sweet, try this off-dry number from one of the best names in the southerly Pfalz region. It’s very aromatic, with exotic, tropical fruit notes, a hint of carbon dioxide on the palate, lovely, crunchy, peach and apple fruit and bright, focused acidity.