Fresh whites to prolong those hazy days of summer.
As I write, the heat is upon us and I am not too surprised to find my body – rather than my brain – telling me to drink less (alcohol). What interests me is that I find it hard to even contemplate red wine and buttery, barrel-fermented, malolactic Chardonnays, no matter how well made. What my body tells my brain to choose is fresh white wines with decent acidity.
? Mid-priced: Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, McHenry Hohnen 2004 (£7.65 per bottle ex-VAT from Louis Latour, 020 7409 7276). Subdued aromas of honey and haybarns, tropical fruit, clean as a whistle.
Textbook example of an Australian classic.Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Point Vineyards 2004 (£9.32 per bottle ex-VAT from Yeo & Co, 020 8962 2845 www.yeo-co.com). While it's not hugely aromatic, this South African Sauvignon has clear varietal character, with plenty of youthful gooseberry fruit and a squeak of chalk. It's weighty but not clumsy and on the evidence of a recent vertical tasting will actually improve in your cellar.
Probably better with food. Tocai Friulano, Roncùs 2004 (£9.50 per bottle ex-VAT from HS Fine Wines, 01223 234604). Having lost out to the Hungarians in the use of the name Tocai, the Italians have not told us what they will replace it with, but apparently this interesting grape from Friuli will soon be appearing on labels as Friulano. This version is initially tight and ungiving.
Its compact, tangy fruit flavours include greengage and citrus and there's a refreshing minerality.
? Trading up: Malvasia, Venica & Venica 2004 (£11.00 per bottle ex-VAT from A Moveable Feast, amoveablefeast1@onetel.
com). A rare, pure varietal version of this ancient grape, this NE Italian has a musky, grapey nose, followed by a mouthful of restrained but delicious fruitiness.
There's some breadth, but decent acidity and nice balance. It's a little off-beat but all the better for it. Roussette de Savoie, Domaine du Prieure Saint Christophe 2004 (£13.00 per bottle ex- VAT from Yeo & Co, 020 8962 2845, www.yeo-co.com).
Smelling like an apple store with an undertone of spice, this rich yet bone-dry wine rewards with subtle, elusive complexity. If you can, let it open up in a decanter and try not to serve it too cold. ‘Signature'
Chenin Blanc, Jean Daneel 2003 (£14.98 per bottle ex-VAT from Yeo & Co, 020 8962 2845, www.
Nowhere outside the Loire Valley seems to make as much of Chenin Blanc as South Africa. This version has a funky, waxy, musky aroma, with a hint of vanilla oak. In the mouth it is very attractive with a teasing tropicality. The acidity, which is fresh and lively, also keeps it tightly together and gives considerable aging potential. Really needs food to shine. Drink with meaty fish or creamy sauces.