Carol Brown checks out some crisp varieties to enhance our enjoyment of the warmer weather.
As gardens spring back to life, and we are spending more time in the fresh air than we perhaps usually would at this time of year, I’m looking for lively, vibrant white wines to match the good feeling of being outside with a little heat from the sun on my face.
I don’t always mention the alcohol percentage, but as many of these are hovering around the 12 to 12.5% mark then they can fit in with an alfresco lunch or picnic.
The Assyrtiko grape hails from Greece, in particular the volcanic island of Santorini where it grows close to the ground in nest-like trained vines.
By way of a change, the duo below are both from mainland Greece.
The typical zingy acidity and citrus freshness make Assyrtiko a perfect partner for simply grilled seafood and feta salads.
Atma Assyrtiko 2019, PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) Macedonia, Greece £11.99, Waitrose, 12.5% abv.
Fragrant with lemons and limes with peach and floral jasmine touches, this is crisp, dry and refreshing with a well-balanced mineral and pink grapefruit tang.
Filos Estate Single Vineyard Assyrtiko 2020 PGI Florina, Greece £6.99 from Aldi, 13% abv.
Aromas of white flowers, almond and pear lead on to a textured taste of ripe orchard fruits and nectarine. It’s dry, zesty and lingering and great value.
The Gruner Veltliner grape often has a place in my fridge.
It’s the signature white grape from Austria. My suggestion is firmly in the dry white wine camp and does everything I want a GV to do.
M&S Classics No.30 Gruner Veltliner 2019, Niederosterreich, Austria £8.50, M&S, 12.5% abv.
Fragrant with peaches and pears, spice and a trademark pinch of white pepper.
Dry in style, the acidity is zingy and there is an intensity to the minerality with a balancing fruitiness of citrus and white peach.
Keep your food match local to the country of origin with a wiener schnitzel and potato salad dressed with vinaigrette rather than mayonnaise.
Riesling is a cool-climate loving variety with a naturally high acidity and again can range from bone dry to beautifully crafted sweet.
Mostly associated with Germany, great examples are also produced in Alsace in north-east France where the local climate intensifies the characters.
The Clare and Eden Valleys in Australia produce some stunning, often bone-dry examples and maritime-influenced New Zealand Riesling tends to be dry or off-dry.
Check out emerging cool-climate Chile Riesling as well. Riesling is also such a food-friendly grape and is often what I reach for when I’m enjoying Chinese or Thai food.
Schieferkopf Riesling Trocken 2018, Baden, Germany £12.95, vinowines.co.uk (Edinburgh), 12.5% abv.
My last wine trip was to the southern German region of Baden with the Germany Wine Academy and this wine takes be right back there.
The fruit is forward and the warmer location brings out a pineapple-like ripeness to the scent with honey and a squeeze of lime. It’s dry and textured with a grapefruit tang and a mineral almost saline-like note with a touch of toast and honey at the end.
Esk Valley Riesling, 2019 Marlborough, New Zealand £12.99, nzhouseofwine.co.uk, 12% abv.
Floral with mineral and petrol touches. The fruit is generous with lemons and limes and a honey hint. Nearly dry, the acidity is well-tuned. Use that touch of sweetness to complement the spice of Cajun chicken and the fruitiness of mango salsa.
Stepp Riesling ‘S’ 2019, Pfalz, Germany £14.99, M&S, 13% abv.
From the Kallstadter Saumagen vineyard, this is floral with passion fruit, honey and a flinty edge.
Complex, the acidity is refreshingly lifting and there are ripe apples, light mango and a minerality to the dry, long-lasting flavours.
Last week, I went to a Canadian wines webinar and while I made a point of drinking Canadian wines when I was there on holiday a few years ago, my experience of them has been quite limited, mainly because we see very little Canadian wine in the UK.
Wine regions are far apart; key areas include the Okanagan Valley in British Colombia and Ontario. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir both perform well in the cool Canadian wine-growing areas and Gamay (the grape of Beaujolais) and also Cabernet Franc are well suited too.
My final wine was mentioned at the webinar so I really wanted to give it a try.
The Falls Riesling 2019, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Canada £9.99, aldi.co.uk (online only), 10.5%.
This just-dry Riesling is produced by Henry of Pelham. The scents are of ripe citrus, apples and honeydew melon. It’s well balanced with a fresh acidity and elegant fruit.