Last of the Summer Wine: The Best Whites & Rosés for Late Summer
Grown tired of rosé all day? South London wine writer Wayne de Nicolo goes on the hunt for the perfect summer wine…
With the end of summer not far away, I decided to review a few wines that are perfect for the season, some of which come with interesting backgrounds to contemplate as you try them.
I find that the more you know of a wine’s ‘story’, the more pleasure it can give. The wines I’ve selected come from four continents, reflecting the massive diversity of wines available in London – the greatest wine market in the world.
While some can be drunk all year round, rosé definitely belongs to summer. The mere sight of the pink-infused bottle conjures up images of picnics in a country field. And Louis Jadot Coteaux Bourguignons Rosé 2017 (13%, £13-15 from Wholefoods, Noble Grape, Taylor’s Fine Wine) this one is no exception. From a respected maker, has good depth of strawberry and hedgerow fruit, with a hint of lemon. Sunshine in a glass. Unusually for a rosé it is made from Gamay. Yes, the Beaujolais grape.
Miraval Rosé 2017 (13%, £15-£20 from Majestic Wine) comes with a sprinkling of stardust, as it is produced in Provence on an estate owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Naturally there’s a lovely chateau there too which was once owned by Bach-playing jazz legend Jaques Loussier. Soft strawberry and citrus flavours feature here too, with a bit of lurking oak making it good company with food, and it has the charm that you’d expect with that provenance.
A little continent hopping takes us to South Africa, and the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2018 (13%, £11 from Asda) which, despite its youth, is already impressive with clean white fruit flavours and elegance. While it’s enjoyable now, ideally this is one for next summer, so buy a case now and you’ll be glad you did. By then its quality will really shine through.
Another chardonnay, another geographical leap – this time to California. Chateau Souverain 2016 (14%, £9.50- £10.50 from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose) has been a staple for me over the last two years, not least because, for a Californian wine of this quality, it seems modestly priced. That’s because inexplicably it’s been flying under the radar. Gently peachy and not over oaked, it has finesse and some richness. A bargain.
‘Chateau Souverain 2016 has been a staple for me over the last two years, not least because, for a Californian wine of this quality, it seems modestly priced’
Now to New Zealand and these last two are the pick of the bunch. That’s not chauvinism talking – given that I grew up there – just a bit of national pride! The first is a real show stopper. Main Divide Pinot Gris 2015 (14%, £13-15 from Majestic Wine) reveals some exceptional wine making. It is off-dry with rich fruit oozing ripe pear and lychee flavours, spice and complexity, due in part to late-picked grapes and hints of botrytis, the noble rot that’s the hallmark of Sauternes. It is made in the style of some of the great pinot gris in the spiritual home of this grape – Alsace.
Surprisingly, given its class, this is made under the second label of highly regarded Waipara producer, Pegasus Bay. Founded by former consultant neurologist Ivan Donaldson in the 1970s, it is now run by his four sons, one of whom is the winemaker. The beautiful winery building can be seen in the picture I took on my last visit in 2017. They even stage opera performances in a natural ampitheatre in the grounds in summer, no doubt accompanied by the clink of glasses.
On a tour of Marlborough wineries in 2006 with a friend who is local grape grower, the one that stood out for me in terms of quality across their range was Villa Maria. They are one of the biggest and best producers in New Zealand, and their top wines have had much success in wine shows.
This last wine demonstrates why. Made from grapes grown in Hawkes Bay in a vineyard situated on an ancient riverbed, Villa Maria Keltern Chardonnay 2017 (13.5%, £22-£24 from nzhouseofwine.co.uk and winedirect.co.uk) offers biscuit and cashew aromas leading to a very fine, fairly concentrated nectarine palate that will develop further complexity over the next few years.
This top drawer wine would not be out of place among white Burgundies selling for three times the price.