Springtime white wines, virtual reality and twizzling sticks

I’VE got a red nose. Not a wine nose (or even a wino’s) but a sunshine nose.  I have a sunshine nose because we’ve had  lovely  weather and yours truly has  been sitting outside enjoying it.

I’ve bought myself a  little 99p windmill  on a stick and popped it in the ground so I can watch it spinning in the breeze. And I have some solar-powered bumble bee garden lights I’ve draped around a fence.

So I’m very excited this weekend is a Bank Holiday so I can watch things twizzle and buzzily twinkle  as it rains. I’m sure it will.

But I’ve thought of you,  my friends, by trying some springtime white wines to enjoy whatever the weather.

Gers (£4.99, M&S) is a fabulously refreshing white with pears, apples and lemons  to taste.  It comes from Gascony in the  south west of France and is a blend of fruity colombard and floral ugni blanc grapes. Really lovely.

It has  sister wines from Plaimont Producers,  made from the same grapes and  also stars at the price.

Grand Heron Grand Héron White 2013 (£7.99, Majestic)  wowed my mum-in-law. There’s a  crate of lemons and  grapefruit on the nose similar to a zingy sauvignon blanc. To taste, stone fruit too;  and plenty of it, including  pineapples and pears.

Another French Plaimont pocket-friendly white is Pujalet White 2013 (£5.49, Waitrose). There are floral hints and it has a simple, light, citrus appeal that shouldn’t disappoint at the price.

Wakefield Estate Riesling 2012 wine review
Wakefield Estate Riesling 2012

Riesling is one of my favourite varieties.  Wakefield Estate Riesling 2012  (£11.99,  M&S) is 100% riesling,  with grapes from riesling- perfect Clare Valley, Australia.  There’s a nose-dip aroma of dried honey which is enveloped in a cloud of juicy limes which tease and tingle as you sip. Riesling is perfect with food, not least spicy Asian prawns and noodles (that was me, sipping and twizzling).

Symington Family Estate Altano 2012 Douro DOC White   (RRP £9, www.vintagemarque.com and independents) is a fruity bundle made  from malvasia fina, viosinho and moscatel galego grapes from the Duoro Valley, Portugal. Pop a mouthful of mandarins, pineapples, with a refreshing   acidity  and a crisp finish. I wrote  “fruit cocktail” and indeed it was.

 My final springtime white, D’Arenburg White Ochre, McLaren Vale 2013 (£7.25, The Wine Society) is a blend of sauvignon blanc, riesling, marsanne and roussanne. It charms with pineapple and citrus,  with a  richness which made me think “oak”, but no.  Riesling adds  elegance, sauvignon the aromatics,  marsanne and roussanne  a nutty character.  Delicious.


Also  in my glass

Last  year  Virgin Wines was named   Innovator of the Year at the International Wine Challenge Merchant of the Year Awards for its Virtual Winemaker project.

Coeur du Ventoux, Virgin Wines
Coeur du Ventoux, Virgin Wines

 Virgin invites people  to vote during the winemaking processes,  from harvest through to bottling, to create a crowd-sourced wine. Thelatest theme was The French Connection, in partnership with the Famille Perrin winery in the Southern Rhone. The result is Coeur du Ventoux 2013 (£10.99,  www.virginwines.co.uk).

Voters opted for a majority blend of  50% grenache with syrah, cinsault and carignan.

To taste? Grenache isn’t a grape to be  backward in coming forward. There was a fair bit of chocolate at the forefront on the nose, with cherries and plums truckling along. Spice and pepper to taste. I’d hoped for a little more fruity, raspberry depth.

 But the fun with this is its the taking part that counts.

Published in the saturday extra magazine May 3rd 2014

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