Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Drinks Cabinet: Great white hopes for summer sipping

By Sam Wylie-Harris

Among the great line-up of white grape varieties, some are simply fun to drink, while others set the standard for quality and are so well polished they deserve a little more attention.

Whether you're fond of an elegant white wine, a casual neutral style or something sharp as a whistle, the flavours are out there and some varieties we usually enjoy on holiday in Europe (Old World) are starting to appear in places like California (New World).

And regardless of where in the world they come from, international styles (referred to as 'noble grapes'), such as sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, retain certain characteristics that you can always rely on for drinking pleasure.

Here are some refreshingly good expressions that highlight our favourite white grapes...


The trendy white grape from Galicia in the north west of Spain, albarino has a zesty, saline quality. Alba Signature Albarino, Spain (£5.98, Asda) is a great introduction to this fresh white - it pairs so well with seafood. Aromatic and youthful with peach and ripe apple flavours, there's a spritz of the Atlantic breeze on the finish.


A Campanian grape that feels most at home in the sun-drenched vineyards of Sicily (but is also starting to pop up in South Australia), fiano at it's best has delicious, honeyed citrus fruit, reflected in Fiano Mandrarossa IGT 2014, Sicily (£7.25, Waxy, honey aromas, delicate notes of basil, grapefruit, laurel and jasmine are seamlessly integrated into the fruity finish.


A breezy white to remind us there's more to Portugal than just port (and its must-try reds), Adega De Pegoes Colheita Seleccionada Setubal 2014, Portugal (£6.75, is a blend of three local grapes with a splash of chardonnay to bring a tropical note to the fore. Awash with a creamy freshness, there's a nice mix of ripe citrus fruit, backed by a subtle hint of oak. Great value.


A versatile Loire Valley grape used in sparkling and still wines that can veer from very sweet to bone dry, Vouvray in Touraine produces some of the best chenin with a minerally, lemony freshness to the apple core that's laced with honey. Try Clos du Gaimont Vouvray Sec 2014, France (£10.99, which is dry and elegant with a lovely purity to the rounded fruit, packed with depth and a hint of spice on the finish.


The most important grape in white Bordeaux and originating in the Loire Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand has become a powerhouse for nettly, tangy sauvignon blanc defined by gooseberry flavours that leap from the glass. Famous labels such as Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011, New Zealand (£37.50, Majestic) have extra complexity from spending time in oak and this fruit forward, intense style has richness and texture with a limey edge to the grassy, vivid fruit. A wowza wine.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph