Seafood & I

POSTED ON 14/03/2015

Why in the bleakish mid-winter am I about to bang on about appetite-whetting white wines? Well, firstly because there is life after meat and it’s called fish, glorious fish, and this and next month promise fish and shellfish heaven. Secondly, because we’re within a wine writer’s spitting distance of the vernal equinox on Friday. Since there’s so much more to dry white than chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, what better way to whet the appetite for oysters, moules marinières and dressed crab than with a deliciously crisp dry white or three.

Off the Atlantic coast of Galicia where the shellfish are queuing up to be devoured, Rias Baixas produces some of Europe’s most delightfully refreshing dry whites from the albariño grape. There can be a refreshing, effervescent prickle on the tongue as in the case of the 2013 Conde de Albarei Albariño, £10.74 - £13.39, Michael Jobling, ThirtyFifty, with its apple and pear fruit and and lipsmackingly dry, appley bite. The same goes for the 2013 Esencia Divina Albariño, £13.06, winecellarclub, whose zing-fresh spritz is complemented by a mouthwateringly grapefruit-zesty finish.

Austria’s signature grape variety, grüner veltliner, is one of Europe’s most consistent quality dry whites, usually unoaked for optimum aromatic freshness and flavour. Freshness and a juicy, citrus-etched peachiness is the hallmark of the 2013 Felsner Klassik Moosburgerin GV, £10.99, Waitrose, while Rainer Wess’ 2014 Klassik Wachauer GV, £13, Harvey Nichols, Vino Vero, shows floral, peppery notes and the tongue-tingling zing of new vintage GV. Schloss Gobelsburg’s 2013 Reserve Steinsetz GV , £22, Haynes Hanson, Wine Society, is opulently peachy with an appetisingly crisp finish, while Birgit Eichinger’s exotic 2013 Reserve Lamm GV, £27.61, Amazon, is yet another exceptional example of this most delicious of Austrian grape varieties.

Now that Istria is in the EU, it’s not just more white truffles we’ll be seeing from this neck of the Croatian woods, but refreshingly crisp malvazija istarska such as the grapefruit-citrusy 2013 Gerzinic Istrian Malvasia, £10, Marks & Spencer, while Greece too has a wonderful local variety in volcanic Santorini’s assyrtiko grape, one of the best examples of which is Gaia’s Thalassitis 2013, Santorini. Noel Young,, Corks and Cases, a floral blossom, Spring-fresh fragrant dry white with an opulently ripe yet minerally dry finish.

New Zealand meanwhile is showing there is life after sauvignon with more diverse aromatic grapes. Villa Maria’s 2013 Arneis, for instance, £9.99, Morrisons, shows that Piedmontese Alpine quality of ripe pear and peach fruitiness underlined by a lively zip and zing. Finishing on a fish and chippy note, luxury style, all the Cox’s apple deliciousness of fruit and richness of mousse in the 2006 Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Champagne, £32.99, Waitrose, acts like a squeeze of lemon, the perfect foil for the essential battery crunchiness.

Something for The WeekendSomething for The Weekend

Night In

2013 François Lurton Janeil Gros Manseng and Sauvignon

Think Loire Valley sauvignon herb and gooseberry and then add a sherbet-grapefruit zest to this lively Côtes de Gascogne with its Spring-like crackle of crisp dry freshness thanks to the contributing Pyrenean gros manseng grape. £7.75, Oddbins.

Dinner Party

2013 Iona Chardonnay

From Elgin’s cool, ocean-misty vineyards in the Cape, this is a beguiling chardonnay made in the burgundian mould, its elegant citrus-rich fruitiness shot through with a delicate oak toastiness and elegantly nutty finish. Around £15, Marks & Spencer, Hennings, Davis Bell McCraith.

Splash Out

2012 The Lane Block 14 Basket Press Shiraz, Adelaide Hills

Polished Aussie shiraz showing a herby / spiy mint and lavender fragrance in an accomplished red whose blackberryish richness is complemented by a bright, peppery fruit edge and energetic, vivid freshness. £24.50, Corney & Barrow.

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