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Three cracking whites made from unusual grape varieties
DON’T get me wrong, I love chardonnay. In fact, I intend to pen a column dedicated exclusively to the grape some time soon.
For the record, I also love riesling, even more than chardonnay. I could go on, making a list of white grapes that are all well known. Popular varieties that you will find in abundance in the supermarket wine aisle. But I’m not going to.
Instead, I’ve picked three cracking whites to recommend this week, that are made with lesser-known grapes. All three are perfect for drinking now there is a hint of spring in the air.
Let’s start in the south of France with Domaine Cros Les Costes 2010, Minervois. This is made by rugby player turned winemaker Piere Cros, who grows traditional Languedoc varieties at his vineyard in Badens, near Carcassonne.
A blend of vermentino, grenache blanc, picpoul, muscat and grenache gris, this is an elegant white, which is quite concentrated and long. Aromas of white flowers lead to flavours of citrus and apple with a spicy, peppery, finish.
I cannot recall ever having recommended a wine from Slovenia in this column, but there’s always a first time. Dveri-Pax Šipon 2010, listed by The Wine Society, is bone dry, light and zesty, charming with flavours of orchard fruit, lemon and mineral notes too.
Šipon is the Slovenian name for the furmint grape, which is used to make the luscious, sweet, Tokay wines in Hungary. The two styles could hardly be further apart.
I’m a big fan of the Austrian signature white grape grüner veltliner, good examples have bags of character. Grüner veltliner, or gru-vee as it is sometimes called, accounts for 30 per cent of Austria’s plantings, making it the most widely grown grape in the country.
Waitrose has Felsner Grüner Veltliner Moosburgerin 2010, from the Kremstal region, the grapes coming from a single vineyard overlooking the Danube. This wine leaps out of the glass, with a fresh acidity and a hint of effervescence. It suggests white flowers on the nose, with flavours of pear, apple, lemon, honey and the grape’s characteristic white pepper notes.
• Domaine Cros Les Costes 2010, Minervois, £8.50 from HC Wines (hcwines.co.uk) 18/20
• Dveri-Pax Šipon 2010, £9.95 from The Wine Society 17/20
• Felsner Grüner Veltliner Moosburgerin 2010, Kremstal, £10.99 (£8.49 from March 21 to April 10) at Waitrose 18/20