Last of the summer wine: light whites to savour
John Wilson: Muscadet is enjoying a mini-revival, and Verdicchio is always worth a try
While the summer is still with us, another look at light whites. These are wines that may not fill the mouth with rich powerful flavours, but they more than make up for it with a subtle complexity that seduces and charms.
Tasted quickly before dinner, my bottle of Soave La Rocca 2015 from Pieropan was pleasant, refreshing and light, but little more. It was only half an hour later with food that it slowly revealed a wonderful multi-layered character. A few retailers have told me we are starting to drink less, but drink better wine, very welcome news. Sadly this doesn’t seem to extend to light white wines yet. A bottle of Pieropan La Rocca will set you back €36.99 (Redmonds, Ranelagh, 64 Wine, Glasthule) but it is worth it.
A vast quantity of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (usually sold in distinctive fish-shaped bottles) is produced each year. One producer alone, Fazi Battaglia, makes three million bottles annually. Verdicchio is a grape variety that generally produces refreshing wines with good acidity. If you restrict the yields and have the right soil, the wines can be subtle but excellent. Increase the yields and you get a decent crisp fresh dry wine, usually with a slight fizz.
At entry level, Lidl should have a few bottles of its version of Verdicchio for €7.99 as part of its Italian wine sale. There are plenty of very high quality wines too, including San Lorenzo (€23.70, SIYPS.com, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers) and Bucci. The Bucci wine below is excellent but the Riserva (€41), one of my desert island wines, will keep and improve for decades. Verdicchio goes well with lighter herby foods, antipasti, risotto primavera, prawns with linguini, or pesto Genovese.
I have always loved the pure, refreshing flavours of Muscadet. I even like some of the cheap stuff. Real Muscadet has been enjoying a welcome mini-revival recently. The less expensive versions make the perfect summer drink, light in alcohol with satisfying plump mouth-watering zesty green fruits. Move up a gear to the best single estates and you can enjoy some brilliant, expressive wines; at €20-€30 they may seem expensive, but they are certainly worth it. Muscadet goes well with seafood, a platter of fruits de mer, some oysters or a bowl of mussels.
All of the multiples should have a Muscadet, including Tesco (€10) and SuperValu, who offer two, one at €9/€12 and the tasty Domaine du Haut Bourg (€12.95). Mary Pawle (marypawlewines.com) has the fascinating sulphur-free Muscadet L’Air Innocent 2015, Vin Nature, Domaine de la Fessardière for €18.60.
Bottles of the Week
Aldi Exquisite Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine sur lie 2017 12%, €8.99
Light refreshing green apple fruits with a crisp dry finish. Perfect with a bowl of moules marinière and a few hunks of crusty baguette.
Verdicchio dei Casetlli di Jesi Albiano 2016, Marotti Campi 12.5%, €11.20 (down from €14.95 during August)
Plump rounded apples and nectarines with lively lime zest bringing it to life. With mixed antipasti or pesto Genovese.
Verdicchio Classico Superior, Villa Bucci 13.5%, €22
From the best producer in the region, an exquisite elegant wine with floral aromas, light vanilla, almonds and green apple fruits, and a lingering finish. Lovely with linguini with prawns, lemon and parsley.
Stockists: 64 Wine, Glasthule, Co Dublin, 64wine.ie; Redmonds, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, redmonds.ie; the Corkscrew, Chatham Street, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; wineonline.ie
Granite de Clisson 2012, Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine, Domaine de la Vinconnière 13%, €26.95
A superb mineral-laced wine with rich, elegant textured maturing fruits and the 2016 sur lie (€14.95) is also worth trying.
Stockist: Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com