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31 December 2013

S Africa, Italy, France, Chile: 'whites of the mo' Chenin, Fiano, Sauvignon.

Following in the red-tinted wake of my previous New Year-y Italians of the mo type posting, here are a few gratuitous and varied white recommendations sampled recently hailing from the deep Italian south (Puglia, Sicily), South Africa, Chile and France...

The Garden Route Chenin blanc 2013 Western Cape (13% abv) – the latest vintage of this popular favourite round my way gives you lively zesty yeast-lees edged style with 'sweeter' honeydew melon flavours coming through, has some weight (is perhaps a tad lighter than previous years though) vs crisp zingy finish making it a good seafood in a sauce white, e.g. mussels in garlic butter and white wine were a tasty match. A fiver on offer at Asda (which it often is, usual price is £8). For the real CB aficionados out there, Asda's 'Extra Special' Fairtrade Chenin and De Bos 'sur lie' Chenin are pretty good as well.
Carmen Stevens Angel's Reserve Chenin blanc 2013 Western Cape (14% abv) – closed up at first (I over-chilled it though), developing fairly rich honeyed flavours with yeasty/buttery touches, full-bodied and rounded/oily with a bit of oomph vs crisp bite on the finish. Nice style Chenin. Naked Wines £9.99 or £6.99 'Angel' price. Photo of Carmen pinched from their site...

Dominic Hentall Fiano 2012 Puglia, Italy (12.5% abv) – enticing apricot with spicy yellow flower notes, ripe and juicy with crisp dry bite and nutty flavours vs 'sweeter' fruit side, attractively light yet has a nice richer mouth-feel too with hints of pine/nutmeg (almost like a touch of spicy wood texture, although you wouldn't expect it probably?). Obviously a hit with Naked's customers as it's now 'sold out'!
A couple of other southern Italian dry whites – from Sicily in fact – which are also worth mentioning and widely available: Inycon Pinot grigio - Grecanico 2012 and Tesco 'Finest' Vermentino 2012, both made by the very reliable Cantine Settesoli co-op.

Sancerre Villebois 2012 Loire Valley, France (Sauvignon Blanc) - nice classic style but softer, elegant and less acidic than some Sancerre, lots of moreish gooseberry and citrus fruit though showing good depth, tasty mouthwatering finish vs softer very approachable side. £11.49 @ Naked Wines (don't imagine anyone would pay the 'normal' £15.49 though).
Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012 Casablanca Valley, Chile - I've tried various vintages of their Sauvignon before but not recently, good to see they're keeping up a high standard. Really aromatic grapefruit, gooseberry and "white blackcurrant" (if you see what I mean...), lively refreshing and crisp with a softer ripe green fruit side too, quite intense finish and flavour. £8.50 - £10 independents.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.