I’m pleased to bring you the May edition of my Top 5 Whites. This month features a combination of a prized English wine, some rare wines from specialist suppliers, and some bottles you can pick up easily in supermarkets. As ever, we’ll be breaking down what’s in the bottle and directing you to where you can pick them up.
There was a superb turn out at the recent English Wine Producers tasting with representation from all the big names of English wine. English sparkling wines are rightly generating a global buzz, but there’s also some splendid still wines to be found as well. The Denbies Bacchus was our favourite White poured on the day. Originally a German grape, Bacchus is the second most planted grape (behind Chardonnay) in England and produces a structured, refreshing wine. This example is a real beauty, The aromatic nose is full of juicy tropical fruit, elderflower and white blossom and the fruity palate delivers grapefruit, ripe peach and honeydew melon. There’s something really clean and pure about this wine, with a Loire-like texture and elegance. It’s easy to see how it scooped silver at the recently announced IWSC Awards.
Origin: Surrey, England
Where To Buy: Denbies
How Much: £14.95
Saint Chinian is the fourth largest Languedoc appellation. However only 1% comes in White form (89% Red / 10% Rosé) so this is a pretty rare find! This is a blend of Grenache, Roussane and Rolle (aka Vermentino). In the glass, it’s a striking tangerine hue, as dark as any young White I’ve ever seen. I found it to be stonefruit dominant, especially apricot, combining with prevailing grapefruit, light herbal notes and almonds. It has a stoney and zesty backbone with some oaking also adding structure. A big wine due to the broad grapes from which it’s made, but it’s very accessible. Whilst it’s no Pinot Grigio or Verdejo, I would call it a Languedoc quaffer.
Origin: Languedoc, France
Where To Buy: Swig
How Much: £11.95
I was pleased and slightly surprised to see this Thai wine on the wine list at the Mango Thai Tapas Bar in Southampton. Whilst I haven’t drunk many Thai wines, I have drunk Colombard varietals from Bordeaux and the South West and found this to be stylistically comparable to them. A very pleasing and refreshing wine showing green apple and citrus flavours, with a touch of minerality. Some good crispness in the finish, whilst keeping acidity in-check. It paired well with appetisers, but not so well with the curry. Well worthy of trying to expand your vinuous horizons.
Where To Buy: Slurp
How Much: £10
Stand aside easy-drinking Rioja Blanco. This is not your typical fruity style – this is something more macho! The barrel fermentation (in new American oak) results in a strong, woody character which bear hugs the wine imparting deep, nutty character all around the wonderful fruity notes from the Viura (90%) and Malvasia (10%) grapes. Texturally it’s also a bit more fleshy and generous in mouthfeel than typical White Rioja which is a bit front-to-back. An interesting wine with contrasting qualities to relax with on the sofa.
Origin: Rioja, Spain
Where To Buy: Waitrose
How Much: £10.49
Following our recent blinding tasting, we picked the top 10 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s for under £10. Aside for SB, Marlborough also has enviable conditions for growing many other white grapes, including Gewürztraminer. This example from the acclaimed TWR winery has a wonderful tropical nose that’s not as flowery as other Gwertz, but it’s still a gorgeous heady perfume. Into the mouth and it’s vibrant and ripe with kiwi and mango showing over everything else. It has a pert, plump mouth feel and a long off-dry finish. It’s not really all that sticky (residual sugar at 35g/L) , just an unctuous, plush, coaty feel. Dreamy with a scallops and chorizo appetiser.
Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Where To Buy: Swig
How Much: £22.95