Fresh white wines for those garden drinks and lunches - Richard Esling May 4
At last, we are starting to be able to get back to meeting a few friends again, albeit ‘al fresco’ for the time being.
At least the sun has been shining a reasonable amount which has made it warmer once out of reach of the biting east wind. To be able to share a bottle of wine on the patio with good conversation and some laughter is such a lift for morale and hopefully portends greater freedoms to come in the weeks and months ahead.
But for now, we can content ourselves with our outdoor spaces, perhaps with some lunch, or supper for the very brave.
Here are four wines which are ideal garden sipping, perfect to welcome in the spring weather and to enjoy for dinner inside with friends, once we get to the middle of May.
The first two wines are French white burgundies, still on the theme of supporting the wine producers of France as described in last week’s column. Although both made from the versatile Chardonnay grape variety, they are quite different in style. Chablis 2019 Cellier de la Sablière from Louis Jadot is the perfect, classic Chablis, with typical citrus and white flower aromas, honey and white peach on the palate and a firm, mineral finish. With fresh acidity and subtlety, this is an elegant ‘moreish’ wine from on of Burgundy’s top producers. £21 from Ocado or Amazon, and also available at Wholefoods if you are travelling to London.
The second of these two Burgundian Chardonnays comes from the Macon sub-region and goes by the name of Les Enracinés. With a somewhat wacky label, the wine is made with no addition of sulphur dioxide – a brave move since this normally protects the wine from oxidation. Still, the 2019 seems fresh enough and has that distinctive, buttery character of well-made Chardonnay. Indeed, the vineyard is sited in the village of Chardonnay, and the particular limestone soil gives a wine requiring minimal intervention and with very careful handling in the cellars the need for sulphites is eliminated. Deliciously fresh and elegant. Unoaked as with the Chablis. £15 online from Surrey Wine Cellar or Solent Cellars.
For my other two wines, we move to the other side of the world and to a country which has been particularly successful in combatting Covid 19 – namely New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc is this country’s white wine ‘par excellence’ and the 2019 Reserve from Vidal is top notch. Coming from the well-known Marlborough region of South Island, Vidal Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is elegant and distinctive, dry but with tremendous fruit. Herbs, pineapple and passion fruit flavours intermingle, giving a long, succulent finish. £16.45 from nzhouseofwine.co.uk or Cambridge Wine Merchants.
My other New Zealander is a lesser-known variety from this part of the world, but no less delicious. Esk Valley Pinot Gris 2020 comes from the Hawkes Bay region on North Island, in a slightly warmer microclimate. The colour is an interesting hue, which in France would probably be called ‘gris’, being golden but with almost a hint of pink. Dry and fruity, it is a truly mouth-watering, fresh wine with citrus and stone-fruit combined with ripe pears and honey. A small amount of barrel fermentation adds to the complexity and depth of flavour. £11.99 - £13.99 from a number of on-line merchants.