I have been scouring the New World countries for the freshest, most vibrant white wines I can find to add to the picnic basket. Many share the same zesty flavour which I always look for with really good natural acidity to balance the rich, ripe New World fruit – with a particularly good showing from Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.
TASMANIAN CHARDONNAY 2013
This is the best of the Lot Series from Aldi, a departure for this supermarket, which is aiming to capture a new market with higher quality wines. Made by Adam Higgins of Taylors Wines from grapes grown in cool northerly Tasmanian vineyards, here are lemon and melon aromas with a delicious creamy palate underpinned with good acidity. The Lot Series is a selection of boutique wines selected from smaller wineries around the world being offered “on allocation” with only 35,000 bottles available across stores.
ACONCAGUA VALLEY, CHILE
ERRAZURIZ ACONCAGUA COSTA CHARDONNAY 2013
www.thewinereserve.co.uk; Luvians, Cupar and St Andrews)
This is a superb Chilean chardonnay from the Manzanar vineyard of the Errazuriz family. Based just 12km from the Pacific Ocean with clay and weathered schist soils, this single vineyard produces fruit with intense citrus fruits, honeyed depth and vibrant minerality. It might well age a good few years in bottle, but it’s delicious to drink now at its peak.
LEYDA VALLEY, CHILE
SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013
Not quite as good as the Tassie chardonnay from Aldi, but I still enjoyed this crisp dry Chilean white – also from the new Lot Series collection – from grapes harvested in the cool of night from vineyards in Leyda Valley, very close to the Pacific Ocean. Winemaker Nicolas Bizzarri has had 20 years’ experience working in three different countries – he’s now based in Chile and working for Luis Felipe Edwards.
MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
HUNTERS PINOT GRIS 2014
(£12.50, www.michaeljoblingwines.com; Wine Importers Edinburgh; Laytons wine merchants)
One of my favourite wines, tasted with Jane Hunter herself at her Marlborough winery. It’s just off dry, but still fresh and zesty with red apple notes. According to her nephew Jamie Macdonald, now her winemaker, the pinot gris grape is easy to grow, but difficult to make into a good wine in the winery. He has certainly succeeded here.
MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
SMALL & SMALL SYLVIA’S RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014
(£13.99 bt or £10.49 for Naked Angels, www.nakedwines.com)
A well-priced well-made Kiwi sauvignon blanc named after the Smalls’ daughter Sylvia, this is very zingy with deep gooseberry fruits and mouthwatering acidity. Well done Naked team, for offering this gem.
ROBERTSON, SOUTH AFRICA
SPRINGFIELD SPECIAL CUVéE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013
(£11.99, Majestic Wine)
The Robertson region is renowned for its lime-rich soils which are perfect for producing intense vibrant whites. Vines have been grown here since 1688 when farmers from the Loire arrived. The Bruwer family at Springfield produce a range of fabulous white and red wines – and this passion fruit-flavoured fresh sauvignon blanc is one of my favourites.
CLARE VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
O’LEARY WALKER POLISH HILL RIESLING 2014
Clare Valley in South Australia might seem an unlikely place to find steely dry rieslings – alongside rich, weighty shiraz vineyards, but it is renowned as the place to find the best rieslings in Australia. The two main areas within the valley are Polish Hill and Watervale – but many of the top wines are expensive. This is one of the best value Polish Hill examples on the market; a racy, dry, highly rated riesling.
ELGIN, SOUTH AFRICA
IONA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014
(£12.49, Majestic Wine; Waitrose)
High on the Elgin plateau, also known as a popular apple-growing region, this Cape estate run by Andrew Gunn makes one of the most refined sauvignon blancs in South Africa with lemongrass, rich gooseberry and apple notes and a rich, spicy minerality.
ALMA ANDINA PINOT GRIGIO 2013
Argentina is way behind its neighbour Chile when it comes to quality whites, but it does seem to churn out the odd good bargain from high altitude grown fruit. The key here is to plant in microclimates with a good diurnal temperature, with cool nights high on the Andean slopes. This is a good value vibrant, fruity take on the Italian pinot grigio style.
MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
GREYWACKE DRY RIESLING 2013
(£19.99, Drinkmonger, Edinburgh; Exel Wines, Perth; Lockett Bros, N Berwick; Fine Wine Co, Edinburgh)
This is one of the best rieslings I tasted in New Zealand, made by ex-Cloudy Bay winemaker Kevin Judd. So delicate, floral with a rich, juicy, fruit palate and a balanced acid,
crisp, bite – it could benefit from a little time in bottle to blossom even further. It has 20 grams of sugar, but with its wonderfully fresh, natural acidity it tastes more like a crisp, dry 10 grams. Superb winemaking from a top Kiwi white wine estate.
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