As per my last post, the spices are out and we are all getting ready for the cold weather as we steamroll towards the festive period. The spice of Syrah (or Shiraz), the deep, warming body of New World Bordeaux blends seem to be the obvious choice of style at this time of the year, and for good reason.
But there is a much paler alternative. Robust, heavy styles of white wine that will wrap you up in an oaky rich duvet and keep you there until the bottle is empty!
Of course, when one thinks of oaky styles of white wine, the tendency is to go straight to Chardonnay, which has really put its stamp on this style in the wine drinking market. Unfortunately there are still a few ABC (anything but Chardonnay) drinkers out there who refuse to indulge arguably the world’s most versatile varietal.
To be honest I would be more than happy to talk about Chardonnay until the turn of the New Year. It is a phenomenal powerhouse in the wine world. It grows in pretty much every country that cultivates vines; it can be made in a lean, crisp, un-oaked style fit for any summers’ day. Or, a rich, creamy over oaked approach that in a hedonistic way (although out of balance), I love!
Lets not forget it is also one the principle grapes of Champagne- the all round functionality of Chardonnay is unmatched.
There are other varietals that take well to oak; and we have some great examples in store. Chenin Blanc, for example. Again, versatile and comes in a range of styles. Historically it is South Africa’s sweetheart white variety, but in recent years I feel that there has been a natural step away from Chenin. Drop in to see some of the awesome Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay & Semillon’s we have in the enomatics and you will see where I am coming from.
Another overlooked region in terms of rich, white wine production is the Rhone Valley. I more than touched upon this appellation in my last post. As much as it is the home of Syrah- it is also the home of Viognier, Marsanne & Roussanne, Grenache Blanc (and a few others).
Viognier has by far been the biggest success outside of France, with impressive examples being made in Australia and north/south America to name a few. But get your hands on a Marsanne/Rousanne/Viogner white from the Rhone, whether it’s a blend or 100% single varietal, and you will be met with a viscous, funky, oily slap in the face.
The white Rhones are so distinctive, and much like white Bordeaux, are as overlooked as they are impressive. I love the herbal flavour profile to these wines. The fennel & aniseed notes. With a beautiful backdrop of white blossom and peach. The texture is always outstanding with good examples and something very hard to replicate elsewhere.
To the south of the Rhone Valley we come to the Languedoc. This is France’s most versatile wine region. Some of my best French finds in recent years have come form this viticultural area. White, red and sweet wines are all made here in a range of styles across countless varietals. The Languedoc offers drinkers high quality wines at far more accessible prices than the more prolific appellations of Bordeaux, Rhone, Burgundy and so on.
Special mention needs to be given to the Borie de Maurel estate, located in Felines Minervois, Languedoc. Owned by an ex-sailor and his wife, Michel Escande started with five hectares and now boasts 35 hectares of quality vines- now dubbed “the wizard of Felines”
Organically farmed for the last few years; the land at Borie is worked traditionally by two horses. The cooler, higher vineyards of the estate are home to Syrah and Marsanne, and it is the Marsanne (see below) that gets a huge thumbs up from us here at M!
This month is Winter Warming Whites November!
The heavyweights are out and on sale so don’t miss out! From Chardonnay to Chenin, Rhone to Friuli. There are some wonderful wines to explore this month. All the wines below are available to buy online and in the M Wine Store, drinking beautifully, and are the perfect alternative to heavy reds for this time of year.
Don’t forget this is just a few of many. Click on the links to follow them to the M Wine Store.
Predominantly Marsanne with a drop of Muscat lending the floral notes to the nose. Rich stoned fruits dominate the palate with perfumed, florals from the Muscat in the background. It is rich a fat with underlying minerality giving this wine a wonderful balance. An absolute steal for £15.00!
A brilliant blend from Covela. Officially this wine comes from the Vinho Verde, but this is very much a step away from the traditional ‘spritzy’ style associated with the region. Chardonnay and Viognier mix with two more local varietals to give the wine a wonderful, complex nose of honeycomb, white blossom and oaky notes of baking spice give great complexity. The palate is kept fresh with lean acidity offset by a waxy, oily viscosity. This is a wine you don’t find everyday and we are delighted to have it. MUST TRY!
This is a wine lovers wine. Southern Rhone white blend. Zack describes this wine as funky. Flinty and metallic. The nose also has concentrated quince and apricot notes. The palate is floral and Zesty with the familiar stoned fruit synonymous with the Rhone. The evolution in the glass is unbelievable with this wine. A re-visit every 10minutes will reward you with added complexity and aroma. One for food however.
Thanks for reading and happy drinking!