Made for the first time in 2006, this was grafted over from Cabernet Franc vines to produce a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with 20% Semillon and 15% Muscadelle. Proving that you don’t need a swanky address in Pessac-Léognan to make tasty Bordeaux Blanc, it’s tangy, aromatic and sappy with hints of struck match and grapefruit and a waxy, herbal undertone from the Semillon.
One of a trio of still Xarelo-los from Cava producer, Gramona, this was fermented in concrete eggs (hence the name) and is a thrilling wine that puts the variety on a pedestal where it belongs. Bone dry, rich and complex, with spice, texture and focused minerality, even at a comparatively modest 12%, it’s an unbelievable bargain. You can order it from Spain, but (to my knowledge) it’s not available in the UK. It should be.
Grown on granitic soils close to Cambados – the self-styled capital of the Albariño grape – this is a remarkable old vine cuvée from one of the best producers of the grape in Rías Baixas. Scented, pure and beautifully balanced, with undertones of lime and apple, it unfurls impressive richness on the palate with pear and stone fruit flavours and a fine, linering finish.
Saint Péray tends to get overlooked as a source of excellent northern Rhône whites, lost in the shadow of more famous (and expensive) Hermitage and Condrieu. But this pure Marsanne from one of the region’s best known names is delicious: aromatic and floral, with notes of wild herbs and honeysuckle, a touch of oak, hints of fennel and aniseed and a long, stylish, refreshing finish.
One of an excellent line-up of regional delights from an exciting new Spanish venture, this tastes as good as it looks. Made from biodynamically farmed, old vine Verdejo, it’s a savoury, textured white with subtle oak, tangy acidity and just a hint of oak framing the pear and citrus fruit flavours. Almost Burgundian in terms of weight, concentration and complexity, this is a remarkable Verdejo.
It’s great to see an Austrian Grüner of this quality in a major supermarket. It’s not a power packed wine, but what it lacks in weight, it makes up for in freshness. Floral and medium weight, with some pepper spice, pear and citrus fruit flavours and a zesty, tangy finish. A really good food wine – and I don’t say that very often.
Light, elegant and refreshing, this is a south-west French wine that wouldn’t look out of place in Provence, give or take a slightly green, grassy undertone that’s typical of the Braucol grape. Summer berries, tangy acidity and bone dry with a note of capsicum and a long, tapering finish.
Pinot Blanc tends to get overlooked in Alsace behind Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but when it’s as good as this biodynamically farmed example, it’s delicious. Textured, rich and focused with a touch of appealing bitterness, presumably from skin contact, and notes of white flowers, honey and beeswax. The wine finishes refeshingly dry.
This is my white wine discovery of the year in my recently published South Africa report. Sourced fromthe little-known area of Montagu, it’s a brilliant Chenin Blanc (Steen) made by three friends, including the talented Reenen Boorman of Boschkloof. Formerly sold off to the local co-op, these grapes have produced something remarkable in the first vintage under their own label: saline, textured and mealy with some skin tannins, wax and spice and perfectly judged oak. One of the Cape’s best Chenins.
Anyone who doubts that the Australian Chardonnay revolution is one of the most exciting trends in the world, right now, booting the old “sunshine in a glass” cliché into the Great Southern Ocean, should join The Wine Society and get hold of a bottle of this remarkable wine from the cool climate Adelaide Hills. Burgundy could only dream of providing such value at under £10. Fresh, minerally and yeasty, with subtle oak and a savoury undertone, it tastes like a really good Saint Aubin. Drink over the next five years.
Bruwer Raats makes some of the best Chenin Blancs in South Africa, expressing precision and place rather than tropical fruit flavours. This Fairtrade-accredited example is very lightly oaked, with just a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla to complement the pear, citrus and stone fruit nuances. Tangy and refreshing with a stony bite.
Assyrtiko is one of the most under-rated grapes in the world, especially when it’s grown on the volcanic soils of the island of Santorini. Bone dry, minerally and deliciously austere, this example from Gaia shows the variety at its delicious best with notes of quinine and lemon zest and incredible extract and concentration. A total bargain at £14.95.