With fine weather on the horizon, we thought we would look at some fine white wines that will make for superb summer drinking.  Even more so than red wines, if you know where to look and if you’re broad of palate as well as mind, there are a number of sublime whites that are of world-class quality at prices that are accessible to all. 

So, in this latest blog from MWH Wines – the home of affordable fine wines – we’ll recommend some wines that will bring an extra sparkle to your summer.

Affordable Champagne

Champagne isn’t a region that most people think of it when comes to good value wines.  If you look to the grand marques – Dom Perignon, vintage Bollinger, Roederer’s Cristal and the likes – then no, value isn’t the order of the day.  These cuvee de prestige are extraordinary wines and if you have an occasion such as anniversary or are looking for a fine wine gift, then these can be just the thing.  If, however, you are looking for something delicious and affordable then champagne can still deliver the goods.  The trick is to look to either a ‘grower champagne’ – so called as they own their own vines and create their own wines from these – or to small houses. 

We have been dealing with one such house for many years now and find their combination of quality and value hard to resist.  It’s Champagne Chauvet, a house that lies opposite Laurent Perrier in the famous region of Tours Sur Marne.  From their 10 hectares of vines they produce some serious, wonderfully characterful wines including their delightful summer sipper the Carte Vert Blancs de Blancs.   Made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes, it is given 3-4 years of bottle age before release to give a wine of richness and weight that retains champagne’s signature elegance.

German Riesling Brilliance

German wines have been a wine trade secret for years - especially the Rieslings – yet with relatively few exceptions, the wines enjoy neither the acclaim nor the prices that their quality warrants.  Advocates will point to the fact that an equivalent (often much lesser) white burgundy will cost you several times as much.  In recent years things have become even more absurd as Rieslings from places like Australia and wines like Grosset’s Polish Hill and Henschke’s Julius are fetching higher prices than the wines they freely admit to paying homage to. 

But enough indignation, however rightful, let’s look on the bright side: In Germany there lies a treasure trove of sublime wines that remain in every wine lover’s reach.  Take the wines from von Kesselstatt.  Widely regarded as one of the top producers in the Mosel and with a history that dates back to the 14th century, today you can enjoy mature examples of their dry wines from an outstanding vintage for a under £16.  £16: a bottle of second-rate Chablis would cost you more than that!   Von Kesselstatt are masters of dry Riesling and examples such as their Graacher Dry Riesling Von Kesselstatt 2012 is poised, crisp and astonishingly complex with notes of peach, red apple and pear melding with a complex minerality.  And you know what?  This will be even better with a couple more years in the cellar.

Margaret River: Australian Wine Gold

Australian wine forged its reputation largely on its incredibly good value, fruit-driven whites.  Since those pioneering days of the mid-1980s as winemakers have learned to appreciate and exploit their country’s extraordinary terroir, so their wines have scaled new heights.  Today, regions such as Margaret River can produce whites that are the envy of the world.  Names such as Cullen’s, Vasse Felix, Cape Mentelle and Leeuwin are now counted amongst wine’s nobility.  Lesser known and firmly lesser priced are the wines of Woody Nook.  This boutique winery has won a clutch of major awards and produces wines that show the elegance and class that has made the region such a standout.  The Woody Nook Chardonnay, for example, exudes the rich peach, melon and roasted almond notes you’d expect balanced by a firm, fresh restraining acidity.  Impressive.

White Bordeaux: An Overlooked Gem

Bordeaux’s whites have always had something of a poor-relation reputation.  Aside from the rare and pricey white Pessacs and southern Medocs such as La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Pavillon Blanc de Château Margaux, Bordeaux’s whites are often overlooked. 

Now anyone who has felt their tooth enamel dissolve under the green harshness of a cheap AC Bordeaux at a party will say this is with good reason.  But these days there are mid-priced whites that are things of true beauty.  Take the Caillou Talbot or even better the Blanc de Lynch Bages and you’ll see that these bastions of red wine greatness can turn out whites that are just as compelling.  The Blanc de Lynch Bages is a pearl of wine.  Fresh and floral on the nose, the attack is at once weighty and precise, with nuanced notes of peaches, pear drops, citrus and increasing tones of honey and acacia.  Were this from Pessac the price would be far, far higher I suspect.

Sancerre: Overshadowed, Under Valued

And finally, an old favourite that has seen its star outshone by a close relative.  The wine in question is Sancerre.  As recently as the ‘90s Sancerre was the preeminent Loire Valley Sauvignon.  It was famed for its grassy intensity, its whiff of blackcurrants and its clean, pure fruit delineation.  Then along comes producers such as Ladoucette – far from a slouch when it comes to Sancerre, it must be said - with their Baron de L and suddenly Sancerre looks like a wallflower compared to its bigger, brighter cousin from up the valley in Pouilly Fume. 

Now I’m not going to slate the wines of Pouilly Fume; they can be glorious and that whiff of flint smoke, the wine’s signature, is captivating and something that makes this wine unique.  No, all I’m saying is that if you are looking for something a tiny bit less showy, a tiny bit less powerful but every bit as enjoyable then Sancerre is where the value is.

In some respects, Pouilly has done Sancerre a favour.  In the same way that Chablis has become degraded by popularity to the extent that all-but the best wines from the best producers taste like a Bourgogne Aligote but without the value, so Sancerre was in a race to the bottom.  Unlike Chablis, which lacks a direct close competitor, Pouilly has dragged Sancerre up by the scruff of its bottle’s neck and the wines are shining brightly once again.

Like Some Fine Wine Help?

If you would like some help purchasing your fine summer white wines at genuinely good prices or would like some fine wine advice, then please get in touch.  You can call us on 0118 984 4654 or email us and we’ll be more than happy to help.