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wine Portuguese Whites

Still criminally under-represented on UK

shelves, Portuguese wines are perfect for

those who are bored with mainstream wine

life. Much of their appeal is down to the 250strong

roster of local grapes, and while most

of the stars of that extensive portfolio are red,

plenty of white varieties deserve just as much

attention. If there's a theme running through

many of the best wines, it's that a whi€ of the

briny Atlantic is never far from the surface…

Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013, Vinho Verde,

Portugal (£14.95, The Wine Society)

Take Spain's Albariño over the Minho river

into the Vinho Verde region of Portugal and it

becomes Alvarinho. As this zesty youngster

shows, the wines can be every bit as good as

their Spanish counterparts. It balances citrus

notes with a richer, peachier, tropical side,

Whites from Europe and reds from the New World make

the cut when it comes to perfect wine styles to enjoy in

this most changeable of seasons WORDS SIMON WOODS

what to

drink now

and chucks in notes of herbs and minerals for

good measure. Built for rich ‰sh dishes.

Casal Figueira António 2012, Lisboa,

Portugal (£17.99, Bottle Apostle, Vinoteca)

Made from a grape called Vital, this certainly

lives up to its bracing billing. It has an

intriguing briny aroma and a hint of aniseed,

and there's a streak of almost Chenin Blanclike

minerality and acidity to freshen up the

lemon peel and vanilla ‹avours. Try drinking

it with a plate of mussels.

Greek Whites

You'd think much of Greece would be too

warm for white wine, but the country has

several white grapes that thrive under the

hot sun. Banish thoughts of bad Retsina from

your mind. Yes, the Greeks have been a little

slower than winemakers in other parts of

Europe in bringing their standards into the

modern era, but now they've arrived in style.

Thymiopoulos Malagouzia 2013,

Central Greece (£9, Marks  Spencer)

The Malagouzia grape o€ers the exotic

spicy ginger, rose petal and orange blossom

‹avours you ‰nd in Gewürztraminer. This is

an excellent example that adds in touches of

apricot and thyme, and there's also a smoky

element that emerges as the wine opens up

in the glass. Seared scallops, please…

Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2014,

Santorini, Greece (£17.49, Selfridges,

The Sampler)

Don't be surprised if you see many other

producers around the world following the

example of Jim Barry in Australia's Clare Valley

and planting Assyrtiko in their own vineyards.

However its home is the island of Santorini.

Some wines put the emphasis on an almost

Sauvignon-meets-Riesling-like freshness, but

this one, fermented partially in barrels made

from both oak and acacia, is wilder and more

saline, with the citrus and vanilla ‹avours

infused with an edge of the stark volcanic soil. Chilean Pinot Noir

While Chile has still to fully convince with

Pinot Noir at the very top end of the market,

at more a€ordable levels it's as reliable

as anywhere in the world. There's been a

welcome move in recent years away from

dark and sturdy styles to gentler, more

aromatic wines, and this, combined with

the development of vineyards in cooler

regions, has produced a surge in quality.

Morandé Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2011,

Casablanca, Chile (£12.60, D Vine Cellars,

Oxford Wine Company)

Lovely dark berry fruit is the ‰rst thing you

notice here, but dig further and you'll detect

notes of red cherries, the sweet ‹oral lift of

rose hip and a hint of cinnamon. Try pairing

this with seared tuna or con‰t duck.

Montes Alpha Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua

Costa, Chile (£12.99, Whole Foods Market)

From vineyards close to the chilly Paci‰c, this

is a lighter, daintier wine than the Morandé,

but one that doesn't stint on ‹avour. The red

berry, plum and cherry fruit is ripe but never

too jammy, there's the merest hint of toasty

oak, and a peppery, violet-like touch livens

up the ‰nish. All the better for an hour in

a decanter - and for some rare roast beef.

Margaret River

Cabernet Sauvignon

Australia's most consistent wine style? I'd

put in a word for Margaret River Cabernet

Sauvignon. There's a cool con‰dence about

so many of the wines, and while the fruit

intensity marks them out as hailing from

sunny climes, they're not afraid to show o€

the leafy freshness and ‰ne tannins found in

more traditional Cabernet territory. Both of

these wines have a healthy dollop of Merlot

to make them approachable when young,

and both would be terri‰c with roast lamb.

Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2013,

Margaret River, Australia (£16.99, Laithwaites)

The Watson family loves its red Bordeaux,

so the gentle perfumed elegance here, hints

of herbs and tar, and subtle oak come as no

surprise. However, the richer bramble and

berry ‹avours speak of its Aussie origins.

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2012,

Margaret River, Australia (£15.99, Majestic)

A bolder, richer style than the Woodlands

Cabernet Merlot, with cassis and red berry

‹avours to the fore, and notes of vanilla,

mint and dark chocolate lurking behind.

Welcome to spring.

The sun is shining,

but the temperature

can't decide what

it wants to do.

With that in mind,

I've chosen four styles of wine that are

neither too bold for hot weather nor

too wimpy for chillier days. While the

two white styles come from opposite

ends of the Mediterranean - Greece

and Portugal - they share a reliance on

local grapes rather than more famous

names. The two red styles see familiar

varieties performing impressively in the

southern hemisphere. Maybe try the

Chilean Pinots on those warmer days

when you're tempted to eat outdoors

and save the Margaret River Cabernets

for when you're tempted to reach for

that extra jumper…

ILLUSTRATION: ANDREA D'AQUINO

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