There can’t be many more complex Greek whites than this old vine Assyrtiko from the volcanic island of Santorini. Rich and textured, wtih aged flavours of toast and honey underpinned by steely acidity. There’s a lovely undertone of Mediterreanean herbs here, a hint of sweetness and a long, minerally finish. Very complex stuff.
The Riesling from this brilliant Nelson winery is often overlooked, such is the quality of its Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, but this medium dry style is a delight, all lime peel and stone fruit, with a steely backbone of acidity that wouldn’t look out of place in the Rheingau.
Neudorf’s status as one of the very best Chardonnay producers in New Zealand is only enhanced by this delicious new release: nutty, savoury, bready notes with well integrated oak, citrus acidity and nuanced lemon, vanilla and peach flavours. The wine has the concentration and structure to age further in bottle.
The qualty of Australian Chardonnay has leapt forward like a roo on heat over the last few years. This cool climate example from the Adelaide Hills is typical of the quality on offer from Down Under. Wild yeast fermented in older oak, some creamy lees on the palate and fine, citrus-tinged fruit with an echo of apricot. Subtle winemakin from Matt Gant.
The more I taste white Burgundies from the 2010 vintage, the more I love them. Frédéric Burrier’s unoaked Mâconnais white is very stylish indeed, with notes of stone fruit and citrus and a long, chalky aftertaste. Who needs barrels when the flavours are as good as this?
The wines of the Basque country don’t often leave Spain, partly because they are glugged so enthusiastically in the bars of San Sebastián and Bilbao, but also because they are difficult to pronounce. If you don’t know Chacolí as a wine style, it’s made from the Hondarribi Zuri grape, light in alcohol and often slightly spritzy. This one is tangy and refreshingly acidic, with a little fatness from lees contact and notes of apples and fresh lemons. Try it with sea food or a lip-smacking aperitif.
An unusual Sicilian blend of mostly Grecancio with 30% Chardonnay, and 10% each of Fiano and Viognier, this confirms Planeta’s status as one of the most innovative producers on the island. It’s aromatic and winningly tropical, with hints of pineaapple and guava, zesty, pear and apple acidity and a fresh, dry, unoaked finish. The whole is greater than the sum of the wine’s parts.
If you want to be patriotic this weekend, why not buy a bottle of this excellent English fizz, made from a combination of mostly Chardonnay with 30% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier. It’s fresh and malty, with small, pin head bubbles, tangy acidity, a touch of sweetness and a long, refreshing finish. One to take to a street party and share with any wine lovers who are there.
I haven’t tasted a generic Chablis as good as this in years, so bérets off to Canadian producer, Patrick Piuze, who rents vineyards in the region to make his hand-crafted wines. This has a little bit of added texture from older oak ageing, but it’s the fruit that sings on the palate: focused,tangy and lemon zesty with a chalky, minerally undertone, a savoury note from wild yeast fermentation, some cream from lees contact and incredible palate length. Imagine a Chablis mixed crossed with a dry Riesling and you have some idea of how good this is.
A delicious, unoaked blend of two under-rated Mediterranean varieties, Roussanne (80%) and Vermentino (20%) from a little known area in the Languedoc. It’s fresh and tangy with notes of wet stone, green olive, fresh herbs, stone fruit and lemon peel. Crisp and refreshing but with underlying weight and concentration in reserve.
2009 Vasse Felix Semillon, Margaret River (£13.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer). If you find some Hunter Valley Semillons a little austere, especially when they’re young, try a bottle of this western Australian example instead. Made by the talented Virginia Wilcock, it’s got lovely notes of toast, honeysuckle and cream soda, with zesty acidity and subtle vanilla oak. It’s very enjoyable now, but I suspect this will reward cellaring too.
If you’re not aware of the remarkable Chardonnays that Michael Brajkovich is producing north of Auckland, you’re missing out on some of the New World’s best white wines. This is very Burgundian indeed with fresh, mineral, butter and citrus fruit flavours, delicate oak and a long, harmonious finish. Great now but will age for at least another five years.