FOOD & DRINK: First of the Summer Wine

Wine expert DAVID CLAY tastes the best of the summer wines to ensure readers make the most of the hot weather

SUMMER has just about arrived.

At the time of writing I’ve just managed two meals out on the patio and looking forward to more now the weather is picking up.

For me it’s not yet barbecue time so I go for the lighter — no 14 per cent — wines to drink with meals, or on their own, outside.

It’s a time when whites, rosés, and gentle fizz come into their own, so here are some decent wines for summer outside.

Firstly an old favourite, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2017 Italy (Sainsbury Taste the Difference £6). Very popular many years ago this elegant, refreshing white with its citrus notes and minerally finish deserves a comeback.

The two most popular whites at this time of year are probably Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

There are some excellent New Zealand Sauvignons but I am drinking two French ones from the Loire in France-Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Pierre Sauvion 12pc (Majestic £9.99, mixed six £8.49), with its lovely citrus fruit character, and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2016 12.5pc (£8) with its aromas of green apple, lime and gooseberry combined with lemony zesty flavours.

Similarly, instead of Italian Pinot Grigio I am drinking Pinot Gris from New Zealand.

Try Black Cottage Pinot Gris 2016, Marlbrough, New Zealand 12.5pc (Majestic £12.99, £10.99 mixed six) with its flavours of stone fruit, ginger and a hint of natural sweetness.

Then there’s Riesling. I like the limy Australian Rieslings from the Clare Valley.

Clare Valley Riesling, South Australia 11.5pc (Aldi £6.99) has bright lemon and lime juice flavours alongside green apple. Blind Spot Clare Valley Riesling 2017 (£9.50 The Wine Society) is dry, lime scented, minerally.

Tim Adams Clare Valley Riesling 2017 11.55 (Tesco £10) with its aromas and flavours of lime and lemon, crisp structure, nice acidity and a soft finish, is another favourite.

Another good and different white to try is “Finest” St Mont 2016, Gascony, France 12.5pc (Tesco £6) made from strange local grapes gros manseng, petit courbu and arrufiac. The result however is a lovely wine — quince, peach, grapefruit — it’s all there.

Others that go well with salads, salmon and chicken are Italian whites such as Fiano and those lovely, appley Chenin Blancs of South Africa, but now on to Rosé.

Rosé is one for summer, but the best ones for picnics are dryish, not the sweetish New World versions.

Wines such as Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé, 13pc (£12.99 Waitrose), a perfect aperitif with its very pale, delicate flavour, or go English with Chapel Down English Rosé, 10pc ( £10 Sainsbury's). From Kent, this has a strong strawberry aroma, yet a crisp acidity — making for a very refreshing wine that’s ideal for a summer’s day.

Another fine English rosé is Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé, 12pc: (£13.99 Waitrose).

From 100 per cent Pinot Noir grapes it is easy drinking but with delicate, juicy red fruit on the palette, making it a good choice with most food — as long as you’re dining al fresco.

As for fizz, Prosecco is the “in” wine but there are some poor ones about. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Coneglio Prosecco Superiore, Cantine Maschio 11pc is one of the better ones or Prosecco Brut I Duecento 11.5pc (The Wine Society) £9.95, fresh green apple, great for parties.

A good, and to my mind better alternative, is Pignoletto, Taste the Difference Pignoletto Brut, Emilia Romana, Italy 11pc (£9), zippy green apple and peach, or Chiarli Vecchia Modena Pignoletto NV Spumante Brut, 12pc ( Waitrose £9.99). Made from the Grecchetto grape this is soft, light and very fruity.

Finally a group of sparkling wines from eight regions of France made in the same way as Champagne. If you are on a budget these are lovely wines and great value.

Exquisite Cremant du Jura 12pc (£7.99 Aldi) is made from Chardonnay, is elegant and stylish, a zesty wine with a full-flavoured, creamy character with lemon and green apple flavours, lifted by some fresh acidity. Terrific value. Also there is very good Cremant de Loire from around Saumur and Anjou. Waitrose (£12.99), and Sainsbury Taste the Difference (£11) have very good ones around 85pc Chenin Blanc and 15pc Chardonnay at 12.5pc alcohol.

Fruity and refreshing with notes of ripe peaches and a hint of honeysuckle.

Lovely persistence of the bubbles, with a clean and crisp mouthfeel.

The Society’s Cremant de Loire 2015 (The Wine Society £12.95) is predominantly Chardonnay with Chenin Blanc and some Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc with persistent fine bubbles and an appley freshness. A great alternative to Prosecco.

This article was first published in CHASE magazine June 2018. You can read the latest edition of CHASE online now

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