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06 August 2021

Bubbly and white wines of the moment

Photo from saint-chinian.pro
Château Viranel Intuition blanc 2020 Saint-Chinian Languedoc (60% Grenache blanc, 15% Roussanne, 20% Vermentino, 5% Bourboulenc, 13.5% abv): This delicious mix of southern French grape varieties undergoes a modest 15% of the blend fermented in barrels (and all the better for it) with the completed wine stored and stirred on the yeast-lees for three months to maximise flavour and texture. Lovely aromatic floral nose with grapey honeysuckle and aniseed tones, lightly lees-y palate with full rounded and oily mouthfeel then fresh and zesty finish, concentrated flavour too. Tasty and classy. €10-€11 France and Belgium, £16.99 Bancroft Wines London, 185 KR Sweden, €12 Germany.
On another note, not impressed with the Saint-Chinian wine authorities who apparently sent this sample in chunky polystyrene packaging (straight in the landfill bin, not recyclable), not the winery which is HVE certified (the highest level of environmentally friendly farming and production without being organic). From now on, I'll be calling out producers, shippers and retailers for any inconsistent or hypocritical behaviour like that, or for using unnecessarily heavy showy bottles for instance! However, a spokesperson for St-Chinian has since confirmed that "They are still actively searching for alternative solutions."

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2020 South Australia (13.5% abv) - Yalumba first planted Viognier in the Eden Valley forty years ago, so they have a lot of experience with this variety. Aromatic floral nose and palate with apricot and ginger notes and underlying yeasty tones adding texture, full-bodied but refreshing and dry as well. Good with Chinese, Malaysian or Thai food. Two for £16 at Winemark (otherwise £10 or more per single bottle); elsewhere (quite widely available) it's about £7.50 to £9.50 in the UK depending on quantity discount, about $10 in the US and $15 in Australia.

Chablis 'Extra Special' 2019 France (Chardonnay, 13%) - Pungent yeast-lees tones give way to subtle buttery toffee flavours, medium-bodied rounded palate with characteristic crisp 'mineral' finish. Decent Chabbers. £9 on offer / £12 Asda.

Cava Brut Reserva Vintage 2018 Spain (12% abv) - A classy member of Tesco's 'Finest' team made by well-known quality Cava house Sevisa aka Segura Viudas based in Torrelavit in the Penedès hills (northwest of Barcelona), which is shaped by the traditional Catalan grapes Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello in addition to 'minimum of 15 months' ageing in contact with the (yeast) lees.' Enticing toasted almond notes, light and refreshing with nice dry finish. Quite 'serious' Cava, definitely worth paying the not-much extra and totally reasonable price tag of £8.

Prosecco Conegliano Superiore Brut 2020 Italy (Glera variety, 10.5% abv) - Recommended Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' label produced by Cantine Maschio in the 'Conegliano Valdobbiadene area in the heart of Prosecco country', i.e. one of the original and much smaller Prosecco zones before the P name was expanded to include most of the vast Veneto region. This one is much drier and more stylish (despite the low alcohol), with attractive nutty brioche flavours, than many other Proseccos (which I wouldn't usually buy because they're mostly boring and tasteless) - look out for Brut rather than the confusing 'Extra Dry' type which isn't at all (about time Italian wine laws, or EU even, made it clearer for consumers to understand what style of fizz they're getting). And a specified vintage should also be a clue in a Prosecco context, but not necessarily price: this one is £10 / was £8 on offer at Sainsbury's; some of the big wishy-washy brands cost more than that, when not on promo at least.

Hart of Gold 2014 English Sparkling Wine (12% abv) - A classic Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend selected from a vineyard in Herefordshire and made at the Ridgeview winery in East Sussex. The finished base wine 'spent nearly six years in the bottle in contact with the lees before disgorgement in March 2020' (when the sediment is removed and the bubbly recorked), which means much longer ageing than many currently available 'traditional method' bubblies. Classy and elegant with quite rich toasty notes vs long crisp lemony finish. Like all good quality English fizz, it is expensive (£28 members' price, £35 retail) but that's a good deal less than say Bollinger and equivalent to the price of own label or small grower vintage Champagne. Hart of Gold is created by the people behind Domaine of the Bee from Maury in the Roussillon - notes and update to follow soon on their latest Roussillon vintages - including the tasty white wine called Field of the Bee 2020, also highly rated (£13.20/£16.50).

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