White wine lovers, don’t miss these European treasures!
4 bottle rating average
European Whites Dozen
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Beyond the Labels
This exciting dozen of character-filled whites from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain will really ignite the senses. From France, savour Jean Marc Sauboua’s luscious JMS Chardonnay and a vibrant Rhône Sauvignon, elegantly crisp and refreshing. Northern Italy presents a racy Pinot Grigio and citrussy, tangy Cortese, both wonderful food wines you will love discovering. Head to Spain for a gorgeous Gold-medal Moscatel Sauvignon from the cooling shores of The Mediterranean, and last, you’ve a deliciously crisp and fresh Fernão Pires from Portugal – just waiting to be paired with some freshly caught seafood. Yum!
Wine critic for The Times Jane MacQuitty wrote: “Go to Portugal for great value.” That’s certainly true of the Rainha do Mar wines from multi-award-winning Jaime Quendera. The name means Queen of the Sea, and in terms of sheer seafood-matching class this wine reigns supreme. It’s made from the aromatic, lemony Fernão Pires grape, from the Setúbal Peninsula. Centuries ago, Vasco da Gama set sail from here and discovered the sea route to India. Today Setúbal is better known as a surfers’ paradise and a winemakers’ nirvana. A sunny climate and cooling ocean breezes provide perfect grape-growing conditions. This white is deliciously fresh and crisp. Serve chilled like the locals do, solo or with grilled fish, simple noodles or a crisp salad.
Manera reveals the Cortese grape’s citrus and almond tang in all its refreshing glory. The wine comes from Castel Boglione, the only town in the region on the valley floor. Once covered in thick woodland, and often dense fog, the area had an unsavoury reputation for bandits and thieves. Today its reputation is based solely on quality wines. This is the closest thing to a steal here these days – a well priced ‘little Gavi’ that winemaker Claudio Manera is proud to put his name to. It has a freshly sliced green apple aroma with hints of almond. And, like great Gavi, it has what the experts call ‘energy’ in the glass – meaning it’s pure, tangy and fresh. A lovely aperitivo that's also great with tuna carpaccio or pea and fennel risotto.
A rich, top class Chardonnay from Le Chai au Quai, without a lofty appellation or price tag, but with Gold medal heritage! How do the winemakers at our grand 19th century cellar in Castillon manage that? They search every remote corner of France for fruit with superb ripeness and intensity, and aren’t bothered by the appellation on the label. So their top Chardonnay is unlikely to come from Burgundy. In fact this luscious white uses grapes gathered from the hills close to Carcassonne in the Languedoc. It’s an ultra rich style, the wine fermented and aged in barrel. And, just like all the finest Burgundies, it went through a malolactic fermentation, which makes the wine even creamier. Gently chilled, it’s superb with white meats or salmon.
Welcome to the Vaucluse, a southern Rhône wine region, just on the edge of Provence. Its sunny vineyards nurture an array of native grapes like Grenache, Clairette, Roussanne and Colombard, that make vibrant, bright-fruit whites. The nearest neighbours are famous wine regions Rasteau, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s lucky enough, too, to enjoy the same climate and have similar soils. In the case of Willem the Silent and Châteauneuf, it shares an award-winning winemaker as well. Thierry Ferlay has won scores of Gold medals for many of his wines – from vins pays to Châteauneuf. Enjoy the tantalising aromas of fragrant white flowers, and abundant, fresh peach and apricot fruit. Ideal as an aperitif or with risottos.
Artiga was founded in Spain’s Vilafranca del Penedès in 2002 by Martí Quer. Prior to founding Artiga, Martí spent over a decade as Head Sommelier of Aureole in Manhattan’s spectacular Bank of America Tower, before taking his knowledge to Japan, where he introduced the country’s top importers to Spain’s most exclusive wines. These Mariona grapes were hand-selected from coastal vineyards in La Marina. As the name suggests, La Marina is the sub-zone of the Alicante wine region whose vineyards slope towards the The Mediterranean. Here, the sea breezes help to produce richly aromatic, ripe and healthy grapes with a crisp acidity. Richly floral with a crunchy bite. The sea breezes cool the grapes enabling them to maintain maximum aroma, flavour and balance. A vibrant lime zest core and subtle hints of lychee and other tropical fruits – the archetypal summer apéritif!