People who work in wine tend to be a bit sniffy about Sauvignon Blanc, partly because they’re tired of tasting bland examples from all over the world. But when the variety is good, it can be truly magnificent. This unwooded, non-vintage example from the excellent Fournier Père et Fils winery is flinty, focused and tangy with wet stone and nettle aromas, lemon zest and grapefruit flavours and a thrillingly bone-dry finish.
Wine Type: White
2020 Laurent Miquel La Vérité, IGP Pays d'Oc, Occitanie( £17.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )
Every bit as good as the much more vaunted (and expensive) wines of Condrieu in the northern Rhône, this is an appealingly rich, scented, heady Viognier from the Languedoc that still manages to keep its feet on the ground. Peach, citrus and honeysuckle notes are framed by nuanced, spicy oak and supported by acidity. Exotic, palate-coating stuff.
2021 Luis Felipe Edwards Macerao Naranjo Orange Wine, Itata Valley( £8.99, 13.5%, Waitrose )
It’s good to see a well-made orange wine making it into the Chilean mainstream thanks to Luis Felipe Edwards. And this is definitely at the cleaner, less funky end of the spectrum. Macerated on skins for 90 days, it’s an unfiltered Moscatel de Alejandría from the undulating, spectacularly beautiful Itata Valley, with black tea, honey and orange zest flavours and bright, tangy acidity.
2019 Martín Códax Cantigas Albariño, Rías Baixas( £15.99, 13%, Majestic )
Albariño is fast becoming one of my favourite grapes, not only in its native Portugal and north-west Spain, but in Uruguay and Argentina too. It’s a variety that’s drinkable young but ages really well too. This wine from Katia Álvarez and Martín Códax is a single vineyard expression that looks as good it tastes. Tangy, crisp and wonderfully focused, with citrus, green apple and sea salt flavours, wonderful texture and enduring palate length. Seafood heaven.
2021 Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling, Great Southern, Western Australia( £9, 13%, Tesco )
One of those wines that’s so good I still want to stop strangers in the street and tell them about it after all these years, Tingelup Riesling has been one of the very best – and best value – wines in the Tesco lineup for as long as I can remember. Made by ace winemaker Janice McDonald of Howard Park in Western Australia, it’s wonderfully tangy, bone dry Aussie white with lime and waxed lemon peel intensity, stony, mouth-watering acidity and a long tapering finish.
2020 Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande, Douro Valley( £14.00, 13%, Hedonism, The Old Bridge Wine Shop )
Portugal’s Douro Valley is best known for Port, of course, and increasingly for the quality of its dry reds, but its best whites can be every bit as exciting. This brilliant value blend combines four local grapes – Viosinho, Arinto, Rabigato and Gouveio – from vineyards at over 600 metres and is a stony, tangy, aromatic delight. Gracefully wooded in 500-litre barrels, it has notes of honeysuckle, lime and citrus peel, with a dusting of vanilla spice and a zingy finish.
2020 Chassaux et Fils Specially Selected Roussanne, IGP Pays d'Oc, Occitanie( £6.99, 13%, Aldi )
My friend Anita served this wine blind to me yesterday and asked me to guess the price? “£20?” I replied. “Try £6.99 from Aldi,” she said. So I have no hesitation in recommending this remarkable bottle as my wine of the week. It’s the kind of thing that deserves to sell by the container load. Peach, pear and fresh lime flavours are complemented by tangy acidity and a herbal undertone. The bottle looks great too. What are you waiting for?
2018 David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner The Bowline, Elim( £19.99, 13.5%, Waitrose Cellar )
A stunning white from the tip of Africa. Marrying Sauvignon Blanc with 31% Semillon to brilliant effect, this has a combination (grape) skin contact, lees contact, barrel fermentation and stainless steel ageing, all designed to add more layers of flavour to a remarkable white. Saline, herbal and understated, with vanilla and pink grapefruit flavours and a stony bite.
2020 The Society's Chilean Limarí Chardonnay, Limarí Valley( £7.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )
Chile is not as well known for Chardonnay as it is for Sauvignon Blanc, but it should be, given the quality of what’s being produced in places like Casablanca, Malleco and Limarí. This unoaked version from the country’s biggest winery, Concha y Toro, is ludicrously good value, with taut, tangy, chalky freshness, notes of lemongrass and melon and a creamy mid palate from time on its fermentation lees. Watch out, Chablis.
2020 Domaine Lafage Centenaire Vieilles Vignes, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon( £11.60, 13%, Vinvm )
A wine of the week for you to sip while listening to my latest cork talk podcast with Jean-Marc Lafage, this remarkable cuvée of mostly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and 20% Roussanne is one of the most exciting whites I’ve tasted from the Roussillon region in ages. Citrus, fennel and thyme flavours are embellished by stylish nutmeg oak, with stony intensity adding another dimension of freshness to the finish.
2020 Domaine Caroline Bellavoine Bourgogne Aligoté, Burgundy( £14.50, 12.5%, The Wine Society )
Aligoté used to be regarded as something of a second-class grape in Burgundy – fit for Kir Royale or impoverished white wine drinkers on a budget – but climate change is altering its status in a region where Chardonnay sometimes struggles to retain acidity in earlier, hotter vintages like 2020. This unoaked example is wonderfully fresh, taut and mouthwatering with no oak to clutter its pure, citrus and green apple flavours and some added texture from malolactic fermentation.
2020 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio Serro Cielo, Campania( £18.99-£21.90, 13%, Connaught Wines, Valvona & Crolla )
Falanghina is one of southern Italy’s oldest grape varieties – its name derives from the Latin word falangae (phalanx) as vineyards were said to resemble the military formation used by the Romans – and deserves to be better known outside its country of origin. This unwooded example comes from one of the best producers in the region and is a lovely combination of musk, white flower and wild herb aromas, racy, palate-cleansing acidity and some lees-aged derived richness.