I hope everyone is enjoying spring weather. More sunshine typically means more White wine, so I hope my April Top 5 Whites installment provides some useful suggestions for UK readers. As per last month, I’ll be telling you exactly where you can find them, how much they go for as well as all the information you need to pick up some conversational tidbits along the way.
This Loire charmer was all about grapefruit, green apple peel and plenty of nettles. These are Sauvignon Blanc hallmarks, but it’s delivered in a super clean and refreshing way. A lovable quaffer with a good steak of minerality combining with racy, edgy acidity. This is a Vin de France, which means it has no AOC/appellation. It’s a stone throw from the Touraine appellation border, which explains the grassy nature. I’ve drunk many Touraine’s, and for me this is as good as many of them at a higher price point.
Origin: Loire, France
Where To Buy: Laithwaite’s
How Much: £7.99
I drank this during an evening when I met up with 8 Vivino users in London. For me this was the most satisfying White of the evening. The swirling flavours were inescapable – mango, passion fruit, lime, honeysuckle a surprising touch of blackberry. The wide array of flavours arrive and depart in a delicate, understated way. It lingers on and on. A sublime balance of ripe sweetness with sea shell minerality preventing it from being overly sticky. I had the last pour and with it some sexy crystal sediment indicating minimal intervention in this Mosel beauty.
Origin: Mosel, Germany
Where To Buy: Hedonism
How Much: £28.70
20 years ago Cloudy Bay had a cutting edge reputation and cult following, since this time the explosion of popularity of the brand, and of Marlborough as a whole, has pushed production to a mass scale but nonetheless it enjoys a global reputation as one of the best producers in New Zealand. A quick sniff of this Chardonnay gave a rubbery scent as the wine stretched it’s legs and opened up. The palate revealed bountiful oaking and buttery richness. It was charged up with an attack of peach and taut tropical notes before the finish introduced secondary toasty notes and pistachio. A well-structured wine which is still rather racy for it’s age. Majestic have received a special parcel of reserved stock of this 2005. They are currently selling it for just £2.50 more than the latest vintage (2013). This price for a 10 year old Cloudy Bay is very good.
Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Where To Buy: Majestic
How Much: £30
That’s not a typo – this Sauvignon Blanc for Martinborough, not Marlborough! The 2014 Naked Winemaker of the Year, Rod Easthope, has recently released this maiden vintage of well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc from the other side of the water, at the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand. It’s almost transparent, like a Pinot Gris, which is quite fitting given how pure it is. Grapefruit and gooseberry scents carry through to the palate where the flavours develop into a lilty, leafy, oily finish. Only a hint of sharpness at the back. This is more understated and gentle, differentiating it from the typical Marlborough entry-level offering. The toned down acidity and citrus make it less narrow. Everything feels more integrated. The bounce and zing don’t dominate. All the best qualities of New Zealand SB, and none of the bad ones.
Origin: Martinborough, New Zealand
Where To Buy: Naked Wines
How Much: £10.99 (Angel price)
This is a real hidden gem which affirms Yapp’s reputation for finding brilliant French wines off the beaten tracks. It’s 100% Grenache Blanc, fermented on the lees for complexity. White Grenache is more commonly used as a blending grape, mostly notably in White Cote du Rhone, or Rioja Blanco. It’s known for its masculine and earthy character, which is evident in this wine. It’s comparatively light in mouth feel, but with low acidity the flavours are heavyweight. I found lemon, apricot, white flowers, soy, sage and other dried herbs. Concentration and richness not too dissimilar to a Viognier. Big evolution and angular character that brings different flavours with each mouthful. It’s hard to deny that Languedoc has the best value wines in France with bottles like this.
Origin: Languedoc, France
Where To Buy: Yapp
How Much: £10.75