As the passing of the longest day has been and gone the full effect of summer is still round the corner.
It’s a time to be indulgent in crisp dry fresh light white wines before the onset of cold dark nights that cry out for those big bold autumnal flavours of red wines.
So set aside the usual plethora of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay and head for wines made from more unusual sounding grape varieties.
To start off, try PICPOUL de PINET, often just referred to as Picpoul. This is the jewel in the crown of the Southern French area of the Languedoc. Both Majestic and D. Byrne stock this around the £7.99 to £8.59.
With its intriguing nose of lemon and lime fruit, underpinned with grapefruit acidity, the flavour on the palate resonates with green apple fruit and a bright, herby tang. Perfect for an aperitif, or drink with salads or even better with a dressed crab or Asian cuisine.
Next on my radar is THE country for full flavoured white wines; Portugal, with its mass of indigenous grapes, most of which never get planted outside the country.
We could start off with MONTE VELHO from the estate of ESPORAO in the south of the country - the Alentejo. It’s a savoury white representing great value for money around £7.00 a bottle, from D. Byrne or the Wine Society if you belong to it.
A blend of three grape varieties – Antao Vaz , the aromatic Roupeiro, and an old grape variety the Perrum – this offers a light straw colour, fresh fruity aroma with notes of white peach and orange peel. A well balanced wine with a richness and roundness that is well balanced, it’s made by an Australian wine maker – David Haverstock – who married a Portuguese lady and made Portugal his home. Australia’s loss is Portugal’s gain. He never makes a poor wine.
Finally, to complete the trio of potential new flavours, we head to New Zealand where Esk Valley have been experimenting with another Portuguese grape variety from the island of Madeira, The Verdelho.
Not for the faint-hearted, this is a fully oaked, high alcohol wine.
Part of the juice was fermented in stainless steel for freshness and the other fermented in French oak barrels for richness.
The resulting wine has mineral overtones of gravel with rich tropical fruits of pineapple, guava and mango, with some gentle acidity providing extra length on the palate; a pure expression of this variety with its unique aromatic quality. Here we have to pay a little more at about £12.99 but it is worth experimenting with something new.
Monte Velho – great value.
Picpoul – an intiguing nose.