All the white wines that are on the current list complete with some very long winded waffle.
1 Vina Oropendola Rueda, Spain, 2018, 13% 4.90 22.00
It is only relatively recently that Spain has gained a reputation for its white wines which is a little bit ridiculous when you think about it. Firstly Spain makes great white wine and always has, secondly it’s a bloody hot country and there is only so much red wine that you can enjoy chilled so white wine is really very important. Rueda is one region which is at the forefront of the boom in Spanish white wine. This higher climate area is perfect for growing grapes with good acidity add to this the fact that Verdejo is a terrific grape in its own right and you end up with a wine which can best be described as Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. Also this wine has a very nice bird on the label and as I was once a member of Bill Oddies’s Young Ornothologists then it’s an all round winner for me.
2 Orballo Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2018, 13% 4.50 21.00
Not only is the wine utterly delicious with its crispy, crunchy fresh acidity and its stone fruit and wild herb notes but it also happens to have one of my favourite labels. It is meant to depict the fine misty rains of Galicia but the image of a man sheltering under his umbrella whilst the rain lands directly on it and nowhere else, in the style of the Pink Panther cartoons, just reminds me of Yorkshire, and that can only be a good thing. So if you’ve just wandered in out of the rain on a dank October evening then a glass of this lovely will put a little Spanish sunshine in to your life, briefly.
3 Castel del Lupo Pinot Grigio, Italy, 2018, 12.5% Vg 4.50 21.00
The colour of wine is not just red, white and pink, there are shades from brick red to violet and beyond. Admittedly we’re not quite in Farrow & Ball territory yet but give it time. The amazing thing about this wine is that the colour falls in to what we would call ‘water white’, it looks like you’ve picked up the wrong glass but don’t let that fool you. That innocuous looking colour leads to a palate which just bursts with the liveliest fruit, the sort of wine that immediately puts a smile on your face. This is not what you normally expect from Pinot Grigio but then again this is a long, long way away from what you would normally get and it is an absolute riotous joy. By the way my favourite Farrow & Ball colour has got to be Elephant’s Breath! I’m sure they’re just getting stoned and throwing darts at a notice board.
4 Este Alvarinho Reserva, Vinho Verde, Portugal, 2018, 13% Vg 5.30 24.00
Yummy, yum, yum. There you go that’s the sort of tasting note that the great Robert Parker is afraid to write but it perfectly sums up this lovely wine. This isn’t the green and aggressive style of Vinho Verde from the 80’s this is so much more engaging and rounded and yet still possesses that invigorating freshness. There is delightful tropical fruit notes and a really well balanced zesty acdity.
5 Joseph Mellot Menetou Salon ‘Les Thureux’, Loire Valley 2018, 12.5%, Vg 6.40 30.00
I know that Sancerre is the wine that everyone recognises from the central Loire but sod Sancerre and drink Menetou-Salon, you’ll have much more fun. Sancerre has some excellent neighbours such as Pouilly-Fume, Reuilly, Quincy and my favourite, this one, Menetou-Salon. This appellation sits a little further south from Sancerre just near the magnificent Bourges and this little extra sunshine results in a wine with a lovely weight of fruit balancing out that zesty acidity, herbaceous notes, a little tropical fruit and a touch of minerality. An absolutely beautiful wine and to my mind a much more grown up alternative to Sancerre, and a perfect partner to crumbly cheeses.
6 Il Cascinone ‘Fontanino’ Riesling, Piedmont, Italy, 2016, 12% Vg 4.20 19.00
Bridget recently spent three days visiting this winery and tasting loads of lovely wine. This all sounds great until you find out that the three days were mostly spent in a minibus, on motorways (complete with Italian drivers) in torrential rain, rain so bad that one vineyard visit was cancelled as the road was impassable. You see it’s not all fun in the sun, although it is still better than a day at the desk. This wine was Bridget’s favourite and it is an absolute belter. Classic Riesling with that lovely mineral nose and a palate which is complex and broad but also taut and lime fresh. There is so much going on and if you’ve never really got into Riesling then this is where to try. Remember it’s not sweet, it’s dry.
7 Nieto Winemakers White Blend, Uco Valley, Argentina 2017, 13.5% Vg 4.70 21.00
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier
Winemakers make wine, simple. Winemakers also make wines that are designed to sell and this sometimes involves doing as they are told. What winemakers really love though is to have the shackles taken off and being allowed to do whatever the heck they like and that is what you have here. Instead of the regular single varietal driven slightly more commercial offerings this is a winemaker having some fun and making the sort of wine that he wants to make. The result is an absolute triumph and an utter joy to drink. The prefect balance between fruity and fresh, between textured and elegant. Think of it as the vinous version of the Chef’s Table.
8 On Reflection Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, South Africa 2017, 13.5% 4.50 20.00
Chenin Blanc, Semillon
I bloody love Chenin Blanc, so much so that I think it is the most exciting grape variety out there. And if you want full on excitement from this grape then you need to go to South Africa. In the Cape they have really grasped the amazing potential of Chenin and the results are so exciting. With this wine the delightful textural nature of Chenin is given a 10% dollop of ancient vine Semillon from Franschoek which lends a racy, mineral edge. Even with this edge it is still all about the Chenin, so if you want something that really gives your palate a cuddle and will make your taste buds do a little highland jig then this is the wine for you.
9 The Liberator Episode 19 ‘The Teeth of The Dog’, South Africa 2017, 13.5% 5.90 27.00
Now you may think that calling a wine ‘The Teeth of The Dog’ is a little modern and silly but it is in fact a translation of a very traditional name. There is a parcel of 1er Cru Chardonnay that sits just next to the vineyards for the ludicrously expensive Le Montrachet in Burgundy and this parcel is called ‘Les Dents Du Chien’. Now I have no idea how it came by that name but I do know that the wines from this vineyard are wonderfully big and rich and complex. This wine might hail from the other side of the world but it is crafted in the same style as those great Burgundies and has that classic toasty, rich, rounded, complex mouthfeel. There is perfect acidity that never dominates and the finish is longer than the Humber Bridge. As with all Liberator wines it is a one off and as such stocks are limited so get it while you can. Awesome label too.
10 Cline Cellars North Coast Viognier 2018, California, USA, 2018, 14.5% Vg 5.10 23.00
Every time this grape variety is written about it is mentioned that it is really difficult to grow and whilst this is true to a degree there is the fact that there is so much really great Viognier around so it can’t be that bloody hard. Anyway whatever super hard work they have to do at Cline they’ve done and you don’t have to do anything taxing as this wine comes jumping straight out of the glass at you. There is an immediate smack of jasmine and honeysuckle and the palate is a riot of peach and apricot and the finish is rich, textured and deliciously dry. So just sit back and let the wine do the work.
11 Valenciso Rioja Blanco, Spain, 2017, 14%, Vg, Natural 6.50 29.00
Viura, Garnacha Blanca
I don’t know when the trend for squeezing two halves of names together, such as Brangelina and Beniffer, began but this winery may well have been at the forefront of this titular revolution. Named after its two founders Luis Valentin and Carmen Enciso this is a winery with a very, very focused approach. The initial idea was to produce a red Rioja Reserva and that would be it but they then decided to have a go at a white wine and what a go they’ve had. They only produce three barrels so this is small production but it allows wonderful attention to detail. This is a completely minimal approach to winemaking so it falls under that ‘natural’ wine tag. Despite the minimalism there is a lot of wine here with such breadth of flavour. It is completely and utterly engaging and that oak, which hails from the Caucasus, adding both toast and savoury notes. This is without a doubt the finest white Rioja that I’ve ever tasted.
12 Cave de Turckheim Pinot Gris Grand Cru ‘Brand’, Alsace, 2013, 13%, Vg 6.90 31.00
So this wine replaces a wine from the same estate and the same Grand cru region but with a different grape. The reason for this is that the Grand Cru wines from Turckheim are such ridiculously great value that they belong on here almost permanently. Last time it was the floral richness of Gewurztraminer and this time round it is the rich floral notes of Pinot Gris. That might sound as though there is no difference between the wines but whilst Pinot Gris has some musky richness it is a little toned down and has a little more acidity but it is still all about the sheer weight of flavour. This is a wine just crying out for some cold meats so order this and order them and then just revel in the combo.