WITh spring on the way, my thoughts have turned to warm weather wines. But I wish people would think outside the Sauvignon Blanc box. If you like SB, shake it up a bit with these grapes:
Albariño: When I started my career in London in the late 90s this was just starting to make an appearance on wine-lists; it’s now relatively easy to find. A grape grown in Galicia, in the extreme North-West of Spain, it has a charming, stone-fruit, citrus and floral character and is nice and dry with fresh, zippy acidity.
Verdejo: Rueda, in Northern Central Spain, is a source of great wines made from Verdejo. It has some of the exotic fruit character that Sauvignon often shows in the New World, like a fruit salad of passionfruit and mango but without the accompanying grassiness and green capsicum flavours. So if you like your Sauvignon fruity, give it a try.
Verdicchio: On the Adriatic coast of Italy the two subzones of Matellica and Castelli di Jesi (the latter is generally easier to find in the UK) are the areas of production for Verdicchio (ch in Italian is pronounced hard, like a k). It has a pronounced citrus quality, grapefruity with a floral note, that reminds me of the leaves that come still attached to posh lemons. It also has a kind of subtly salty, saline quality that makes it a fantastic match with seafood.
Scheurebe: The Silvaner I wrote about in my last column is well worth a try for Sauvignon lovers but the rather more obscure German grape Scheurebe is also worth seeking out. It is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner and has a pink grapefruity and exotic fruit quality along with some floral and herbaceous notes that isn’t a million miles from Sauvignon though generally not quite as dry.
Finally, I can’t talk about spring/summer drinking without beating my chilled red drum. If you like your Sauvignon green and herbaceous why not try a chilled Cabernet Franc? Something like a light Chinon or Bourgeuil makes fabulous, and versatile, summer drinking while keeping the red wine drinkers happy too.
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