FOOD & DRINK: Try out some lesser known grape varieties

ARE you a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio fan? The shelves of our supermarkets are full of both.

But do you try some of the other excellent whites that are not so obvious?

Here are six or so good French, Italian and Austrian grape varieties used in wines of both the Old and New Worlds.

Starting with a French variety getting more popular: the appellation and the wine called Picpoul de Pinet.

This is the largest white wine producing area in the Languedoc, the vineyards situated by the Étang de Thau, a string of lagoons stretching from the coast to the Pyrenees.

Picpoul translates as “lipstinger”. The grape’s acidity can cut through rich foods like cheese. Terrific with fish.

Picpoul de Pinet 12.5pc (Asda £7)

Granny Smith apples, aromatic nose, crisp and fresh.

Picpoul de Pinet Villamarin 2017, Coteaux du Languedoc 12.5pc (Majestic £9.99)

Youthfully pale lemon yellow, with a nose of lemon and lime fruit.

Taste of green apple fruit with a refreshingly dry and acidic finish.

Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet 2015 12.5pc (Morrisons £8)

Tangy apple, pear and lemon with a light dry finish makes this the ultimate wine to go with seafood.

Domaine Felines-Jourdan 2017 Picpoul de Pinet 2017 13.5pc (The Wine Society £8.50)

Crisp, full flavoured citrus.

The second of my French grapes are Roussanne and Marsanne, with Viogner the main white grapes of the Rhone Valley.

Paul Mas Réserve Grenach Blanc/Marsanne/ Vermentino 2017, Languedoc 13.5pc (Waitrose £9.39)

A delightful fresh peach and citrus wine going brilliantly with spicy dishes and tapas.

Tahbilk The Tower MVR 2016, Victoria, Australia 13pc (The Wine Society £9.50)

A lovely Aussie Rhone type blend of Rousanne, Marsanne and Viognier.

Crisp, dry, apricot and peach.

Roussanne is a difficult grape to grow but is doing well in South Africa.

It produces powerful white wines that can have scents of fresh flowers, peaches, herbs, spice, nuts and hints of pepper.

Bellingham Bernard Series Roussanne 13pc (Sainsbury £10.25)

Herbal tea aromas embellished by soft kiwi, tropical pineapple and peach.

Barrel matured for a slight oak spiced finish laced with hints of honey.

This is a fantastic wine for gastronomy with power and weight to add.

The Search 2018 Grenache Blanc/Marsanne/ Rousanne 2018, Voor Paardeburg, South Africa 13pc (Waitrose £9.99)

Fresh flowers, peach, herbs, lovely texture and depth.

There is even a Californian one: Sainsbury’s Central Coast Californian White, Taste the Difference 2017 13pc (£10)

From two of my favourite Californian winemakers, Jake and Josh Beckett of Chronic cellars, it is full of vibrant flavours of peach, pear and lychee and made from an astonishing mix of grape varieties – Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, Picpouul, Muscat, Grenache Blanc and Viognier ending up more a wine for Chardonnay lovers.

On to Italy. Falanghina is one of Italy’s great but little known white grapes.

The main area is around Mount Vesuvius in volcanic soils.

The wine usually has citrus aromas, classic taste of apple and pomegranate, bright and refreshing.

Falanghina Terredoro Di Paolo 2016, Campania 12.5pc (Majestic £11.99, mixed six £9.99)

Light and fruity after three months less ageing, some apple, quince and citrussy fruit.

Cantine Torrio Taberna Falanghina del Sannio 2017, Campania, Italy 13.5pc (£13.50 Cannon Hall Farm Shop, Barnsley)

A lovely nose of flowers and slightly pineappley, exotic fruits, fresh with pleasant acidity.

The Society’s Falanghina 2016 13.5pc (The Wine Society £8.75)

Tangy, fresh, citrussy.

Triade Fiano/Falanghina/Greco 2017, Campania 13.5pc (Waitrose £8.99)

A superb blend with the other two local varieties. Crisp, a nose slightly almondy with nectarines and apricots which follows through on the palate with a touch of vanilla.

Fiano is a another high quality grape from southern Italy, mainly in Campania but some in Puglia and Sicily.

Best in volcanic soils, it has a rich, almost waxy texture, usually with floral and honeyed notes and tropical fruit flavours.

Fiano Sannio 2017, Benvenuto 13.5pc (M&S £9.50)

Has lovely pear and citrus with a touch of almond.

Wine Atlas Fiano, Terre Siciliane 12.5pc (Asda £5.50)

Nose of passion fruit and lemon, floral, fragrant, fruity.

Fiano Paololeo Fiano del Salento 2017, Puglia 12.5pc (Waitrose £9.99)

My third Italian variety is Vermentino.

Some is also produced in Corsica and Provence.

This is a variety that can come in two styles, rich and creamy or light and floral.

As well as grown in mainland Italy, it is the best white of Sardinia.

The Vermentino grape thrives in warm, sunny conditions and produces fresh, dry wines like this one. Sometimes a bit oily, it can have flavours of grapefruit and citrus, some minerality and saltiness.

From France: Cotes de Provence, Chateau Barbanau 2017 12.5pc (The Wine Society £10.95)

Fresh, bone dry.

From Sardinia: Cantina del Vermentinno Nord Est 2017 12.5pc (Majestic £11.99, Mixed six £9.99)

Light and refreshing with flavours of lemon and almond.

Finally to Austria. Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s most widely planted white grape, can produce some wonderfully steely white wines from the best regions of Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal.

The main flavours are lime, lemon, grapefruit and a hint of white pepper.

RABLGrüner Veltliner 2017 Kamptal, Austria 12pc (M&S £9.50)

Apple and elderflower.

Brilliant with risotto or chicken salad.

Grüner Veltliner 2017, Wachau, Austria 12.5pc (Aldi £7.99)

Vibrant, tropical aromas, mineral finish.

Great with seafood and poultry.

The Society’s Exhibition Grüner Veltliner 2017, Willi Brundlmayer, Kemptal 12.5pc (£13.95)

Concentrated , complex, minerally, peach, pepper and citrus notes. A lovely wine.

These are grape varieties that should be tried more often. Why not have a go?

David Clay has been a member at various wine clubs, travelled extensively round the world visiting growers and vineyards and attended many trade and press tastings.

He has now been writing wine columns for the Rotherham Advertiser group for over 20 years.


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