Saturday, 4 June 2011

Whites for the summer...

Summer is finally arriving (and here in UK we all hope it's going to last!) and it's time to drink crisp, refreshing and thirst-killing white wines. But instead of going for the usual, common Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc why not trying something different like some less known and maybe never tasted indigenous grapes?
As I don't want to be told that I am always writing about Italian wines, this time I'll choose one French and one Spanish...No, I can't resist, please let me add an Italian one as well!!

I will start with the lightest in structure: Picpoul de Pinet produced in Languedoc, a small and sunny region of  South France. The homonymous grape is grown on a limestone plateau overlooking the Bassin Thau in the middle of a triangle created by the towns of Agde, Pezenas and Sete. It is a very ancient varietal: vineyards of Picpoul can be seen on a painting of 19th century shown at the Louvre museum.
The climate of the area is really warm but the cooling effects of the sea breezes during the day helps the grape to reach is lively acidity.
The wine has generally elegant flavours of flowers and citrus and a hint of vegetal sometimes. It's a wine to be drunk young and it excels with mussels and oysters or as an aperitif.
Also if you like jazz, and are maybe planning a trip  to South of France, every year in July in Languedoc there's an event called Jazz in Meze, and apparently the only wine available to drink is the Picpoul.

My second wine will be the Spanish one and its name is Godello.
It is not that famous (at least not as much as the Albarino), but it is growing in popularity after heading to extinction at the beginning of 1900. It is a native white variety from North West of Spain in the region of Valdeorras, formerly Galicia. It grows on a mountainous and inhospitable terrain, in extreme conditions. The wine is graceful, has a medium body and a quite important mineral background. There is plenty of citrusy and flowery flavours but also apples and herbal aromas. It is fresh and persistent and can age quite well even if not that long.
Some producers are using oak barrels but most Galicians (and me as well) prefer it pure, fresh and fruity. No doubts about the food to match: this is the wine for shellfish!

Now, here we are to my last choice: the Italian. The wine is named after the grape and the region, and the grape has really ancient origins. It was brought by the Greeks in the South of Italy. Ancient Romans used to call it Vitis Apiana, to indicate that the bees used to love it. It is now cultivated in Campania in the area around Avellino (called Irpinia). The area is probably the coolest of the region and the climate is perfect for white wines, having cool winters, warm summer days and fresh summer nights. The soil is volcanic, and it's the best to enable the grape to express its full potential.
Fiano di Avellino is produced under the DOCG appellation (the most prestigious Italian one) since 2003, and it is one of the most elegant white wines of South of Italy. It has fine aromas of fruit especially pear with undertones of toasted hazelnuts and sometimes hints of aromatic herbs. In the mouth it's juicy, rounded and soft. It will surprise you with its harmonious and balanced acidity and its long and satisfying finish. It can age fantastically.

I won't say that this is my favourite one of the 3 as it wouldn't be true. They are all different in taste and style and all perfect drinks for summer (and not only!).
Well now I just can hope that I've made some white wine lovers happy!

Interesting producers: Picpoul de Pinet (Roc BlancBaron de Badassiere), Godello ( Mara Martin, Bodega Godeval, Rafael Palacios), Fiano (Feudi di San Gregorio, Ciro Picariello)