Summer has truly begun and it is hot outside! In this heat, it is hard to go for anything else other than a refreshing white wine, unless you are lighting the BBQ when of course a hearty red is sometimes required to match a mountain of meat.
Around this time of year, I cannot help but pop the cork on a bottle of crisp, zesty white – preferably dripping in condensation on the outside so I can press it to my face and cool down. Different wines are required for different occasions and below are some of my top recommendations to get you through the humidity in the heat of this late summer.
Askos Verdeca 2015, Masseria Li Veli – This Puglian variety is taken to its maximum potential from one of our favourites, Masseria Li Veli. Verdeca is usually a light and neutral variety but Masseria Li Veli know how to work this variety and extract more from this than other expressions that I have tried. The Askos Verdeca maintains the usual light and refreshing qualities, but is a little more expressive than its counterparts. There are hints of stone fruit, flowers and mint all brought into focus by a fresh line of acidity and thrilling minerality that carries through onto the finish providing a lengthy, mouth-watering conclusion. A spectacular wine with enough complexity to please the oenophiles and enough joyful qualities to satisfy the crowd.
Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel 2015, Weingut Eichinger – Austrian wine is on the rise and Grüner Veltliner is the variety leading the way. The combination of texture, fruit and spice make these wines incredibly versatile and food-friendly. Birgit Eichinger is one of the stars of this renaissance and her focus on terroir driven wines is exemplified by her four single-vineyard Gruner Veltliners and three single vineyard Rieslings - she also makes an astounding single-vineyard Roter Veltliner that is worth seeking out. My recommendation is the introduction to her estate the Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel 2015. This wine is just over £13 a bottle duty paid and delivers so much quality at the table. If you’re having a summer salad or eating some seafood this summer, you cannot go wrong with the delicately spiced, fruity and mineral Gruner Veltliner of Birgit Eichinger.
Bourgogne Blanc Les Perrières 2014, Domaine Simon Bize – The wines of Simon Bize are crystal pure, clear cut in flavour and full of character. I am a big fan of this estate and have been blown away in the past from tasting back vintages that had no business displaying the youthful qualities on show. In short, the wines of Domaine Simon Bize are built to last. A glimpse into their inherent quality however would not go amiss with this beautiful Bourgogne Blanc Les Perrieres from the outstanding 2014 vintage. Certainly at this level, this 2014 can be enjoyed young and the precise house style is still on display. Savigny les Beaune is a hugely undervalued part of Burgundy and is one of the few places where wines from exceptional terroir and historic estates can be obtained at reasonable prices. At £17 a bottle duty paid, you cannot go wrong here for an excellent white Burgundy to enjoy this summer.
Chenin/Verdelho 2014, Momento - This has been one of my favourite discoveries at Armit Wines in the past couple of years. The story behind the wines adds to the charm of this collection. Momento is a one woman show. In her spare time from working with well-known South African producer Beaumont, Marelise Niemann started experimenting with French, Spanish and Portuguese varieties. The results of her efforts have yielded a remarkable set of micro-bottled wines from both the Bot River and Swartland. Her wines are genuinely hand-crafted and this Chenin/Verdelho (85% Chenin, 15% Verdelho) is cool, fresh, crisp and vibrant. The fruit and floral aromas are expressive and enticing. The Verdelho compliments this providing the wine with a beautiful texture. Once again, it is the food matching qualities of wines that really grab my attention during the summer months. This is a time that I like to host, usually with a smorgasbord that does not lend itself to any one style of wine. Therefore, versatile and joyful wines are required – Marelise’s handcrafted bottles from the Bot River fit this bill perfectly.
Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec 2012, Domaine Huet – Domaine Huet are quite simply the finest producers of Chenin Blanc that I have tried anywhere in the world. Their rich Moelleux and Moelleux 1ere Trie wines reach the zenith of complexity for the variety and are otherworldly when given the time to blossom. The single vineyard secs however are extremely popular; especially during these summer months when you require freshness and clarity in your wine. If you are looking for a clear, dry style with aromatic fruit and a deeply mineral, complex palate, then this Clos du Bourg Sec 2012 certainly does the trick. The mouth-watering freshness leaves you reaching for another glass. Seafood in the summer is a match made in heaven and this wine is no third wheel. There are not many opportunities to drink a world-class wine for £25 a bottle. This is one of them.