As this weirdly summery Summer continues we stay on subject and focus on white and orange wines. This should get you through the heat and encourage long evenings with good food and even better friends.
There's also a Mediterranean feel to this month's recommendations with many bottles ailing from Homer's land. May them inspire great musings and odisseys.
Luis Pato Maria Gomes Espumante Bruto NV- 91pts
Bairrada, Portugal, Sparkling White (Cork), 12.5% abv
Pairs nicely with: soft cheeses, seafood, crispy salads
Time to go beyond the "either Prosecco or Champagne" syndrome! There are beautiful sparkling wines being made around the world, from indigenous varieties and with great personality.
Luis Pato, the iconic producer from the Portuguese region of Bairrada, works exclusively with indigenous local grapes grown mostly in very old vineyards. This sparkling, made of Maria Gomes, beams with citrus freshness and saline savouriness. It has a beautiful smooth texture and a touch of brioche in the after palate. A discovery that does not disppoint.
£17.00 from Bottle Apostle - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)
Cantina Tramin Stoan 2016 - 92pts
Tramin, Alto Adige, Italy, Dry White (Cork), 14.2% abv
Pairs nicely with: nutty seasoned salads, spicy fish dishes, chicken, medium cured cheeses.
A blend of Chardonnay (60%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%), Gewurtztraminer (8%) and Pinot Blanc (7%).
Cantina Tramin follows an enviously sustainable cooperative model working with and supporting around 300 small growers. Over the past few years winemaker Willi Stürz, backed by a great management team, has operated a dramatic change from a volume-focused to a quality-driven operation.
This wine is a testimony to that. Each of the different varieties grow in plots situated at between 500 and 600m altitude. Late picking allows for ripeness, warmth but the acidity and mineral structure haven't been lost. Luscious nose of lemon curd, lemon pie, marzipan and pink peach. The mouth shows rich taste of apple-strudel but the fine grain texture provides enduring freshness. Strong mid palate and medium finish revelaing elegant, ethereal floral notes.
£19.47 (+VAT) from Hallgarten & Novum - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)
Cantina Tramin Moriz Pinot Bianco 2017 - 90pts
Tramin, Alto Adige, Italy, Dry White (Cork), 13.9% abv
Pairs nicely with: lightly smoked fish, light fresh salads, fresh goats cheese
A mono-varietal showing the elegant and structured potential of Pinot Bianco. The vineyards are situated at 400-700m altitude, on steep calcareous soil with very good drainage. The grapes are therefore fairly concentrated without loosing freshness. After careful whole-bunch pressing, 80% of the fruit is fermented in stainless steel while the remaining 20% goes in old oak casks.
The result is Moriz: a wine with rich aromas, soft texture and a surprising acidity kicking in at the end. Without this final lift it might become dully aromatic with prominent yellow apple, lemon curd, brioche and glazed pineapple. Such is not the case, making this a fresh yet substancial wine perfect for a tasty summer meal.
£13.20 (+VAT) from Hallgarten & Novum - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)
Hatzidakis Santorini Cuvée no.15 2015 - 94pts
Santorini, Cyclades Islands, Greece, Dry White (Cork), 14.5% abv
Pairs nicely with: lightly smoked fish, seafood, grilled oily fish, white meat
To understand the fascinating particularity of Santorini's terroir be sure to read Jo's blog post describing her trip to this Greek island. You will understand how Assyrtiko, the local indigenous grape, has developed such a particular profile on the volcanic soils caressed by Mediterranean breezes.
Hatzidakis' Santorini Cuvée no.15 is a supremely elegant example of what can be achieved with such high quality and idiosyncratic fruit. Aromas of lemon zest, apple blossom, white peach are combined with fresh salinity and lingering acidity. Without an almost Burgundian character, the finish is long and luscious. A rich, elegant richness proving that you can never go wrong with the classics.
£28.00 at Isle of Olive - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Tetramythos Retsina NV - 87 pts
Northern Peloponnese, Greece, Dry white wine with pine resin (retsina) (Cork), 13% abv
Pairs nicely with: mezze, spicy salads, grilled chicken
The once (still?) infamous Retsina became a hallmark of many a British tourist's experience while on holiday in Greece. The fact is that for a long time adding pine resin to fermenting grape juice was an easy way to hide bad viticultural and oenology practices.
Fortunately, an increasing number of producers are realising the uniqueness and elegance that a good retsina can have. Tetramythos has released this fine example: made of 100% organically grown Roditis grapes, the wine is fermented in small clay vessels without any added sulphur. Just before fermentation ends, the juice is infused for a short period with locally harvested pine resin. Roditis' fruit profile (peach, ripe lemons, yellow apple) is elegantly topped by herbal aromas of pine, thyme and dried oregano. A great summer companiom to hot evening and fresh food.
£11.00 at Isle of Olive - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Domaine Stoeffler Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 2016 - 91 pts
Alsace, France, Dry white (Cork), 13% abv
Pairs nicely with: sushi & sashimi, cured fish, semi-hard cheeses, ferments & pickles
Family-run Domaine Stoeffer produces, helmed by winemaker Vincent Stoeffer, a range of wines that fully express the nature of the Alsatian terroir. Certified organically and farmed biodynamically the vines are carefully worked by hand. The grapes are also hand-harvested, hand-selected and gently pressedselected. No wonder therefore that all wines show amazing cleanliness, elegance and ageing potential.
Such is the case with the Pinot Gris made with the fruit from a 60-y-o plot. You'll hardly feel the 45 gr of residual sugar, expeetly balanced by light texture and acid lift. Fine rich aromas of roasted pear, honeydew and canteloupe melon.
£19.50 from Montrachet - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2015 - 95 pts
Chablis, Burgundy, France, Dry white (Cork), 13% abv
Pairs nicely with: fish, red meat, grileld chiken, goat's cheese
A beautiful toddler showcasing all the fine traits of the parenting terroir of Montée de Tonnerre. The hallmark spicy finish (ginger, fennel seeds) expands the sensory experience that begins with aromas of lime juice, lime zest and crunchy green apple. Intense acidity and chiselled texture.
£32.00 from Montrachet - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Kitma Ligas Gaia Pella Amphora 2016 - 94 pts
Macedonia, Greece, Skin-fermented Dry White (Cork), 13.0% abv
Pairs nicely with: white meat, mezze, fermented dishes, medium cured cheeses
Kitma Ligas is a uncompromising natural domaine from the northern greek region of Macedonia, run by a family passionate about the local ecosystem. This wine is the ultimate proof that a natural wine can (and should) be elegant if properly made.
Made exclusively of hand harvested Kydonitsa grapes, fermentation happens in clay amphoras with 1-month skin maceration, followed by 6-8 months ageing in old barrels. The extended skin contact allows for the rich aromas of Kydonitsa to be extracted: quince (Kydoni is actually the greek word for quince), cooked red apples, glazed peach weaved together by grainy and fleshy texture.
Chilled it makes for a great aperitif on its own. Serve it a bit warmer in lieu of a red as a perfect companion to food.
available from Dynamic Vines - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Value choice of the Month
Delica Cinquanta Filari 2016 - 88 pts
Pavona, Lazio, Italy, Skin-fermented Dry White (Cork), 13.0% abv
Pairs nicely with: mezze, salads, pickes & ferments, roast chicken, hard cheeses, charcuterie
Fifty rows ('Cinquanta Filari') of co-planted and co-fermented Falanghina and Grechetto supply the fruit for the 4000 bottles made of this wine each year. Winemaker Marco Colicchio works with minimum intervention but careful precision (this is his personal project but his day job is a demanding head-winemaker position at Castelli Romani). The product of his labour is en intense wine full of texture and character. Strong aromas of pink grafefruit, nectarine, red apple. Three days of maceration allow enough extraction for a crunchy and lightly tannic bite. A great value wine for the more adventurous.
Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Domaine Thymiopoulos Rosé de Xinomavro 2015 - 92 pts
Trilofo, Naoussa, Greece, Dry Rosé, 13% abv
Pairs nicely with: mezze, spicy salads, charcuterie, pasta, roast fish
This August list would not be complete without a rosé, would it?! Let's make it a good one then.
Apostolos Thymiopoulos become famous for bringing new standards and a fresh outlook to winemaking and viticulture in North Western Greece. Farming biodynamically and working exclusively with indigenous varieties he is particularly known for his expertise with Xinomavro, the region's grape par excellence.
If his classic Xinomavro reds are nothing short from exquisite, this rosé certainly doesn't disappoint. A serious, truly gastronomic wine with structure and lovely acidity. The aromas show different layers: red fruits (rasperries, wild strawberries) underpinned by Xinomavro's tipical savoury character reminiscent of tomato leaf and tapenade. Soft ripe tannins support the medium finish and make it the ideal companion for your Summer meals. Think of it less as a rosé and more as a lighter red.
£14.50 at Isle of Olive - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Cantina Tramin Classic Lagrein 2017 - 83pts
Tramin, Alto Adige, Italy, Dry White (Cork), 12.9% abv
Pairs nicely with: charcuterie, strong cheeses, spicy pasta, grilled red meat
Lagrein, one of the oldest Sud-Tyrollean indigenous varieties, has long been unfavored by both drinkers and winemakers.
Throughout the years many vineyards where torn and replanted in favour of more commercial varieties. It is therefore a joy to see that some producers, like Cantina Tramin, are making a conscious effort to source existing plantations and change the perception of what is in fact a cépage with great potential. Lagrein's strong tannins and concentration can be used to great advantage if worked correctly.
Tramin's entry level Classic Lagrein shows a hint of what can be achieved. Fermented and aged in concrete tanks (a small percentage aged in used oak barrels) this is a crunchy wine perfect to accompany your grilled vegetable and meat at a summer barbecue. Rich aromas of crushed violets, cranberry sauce and red cherry jam, with a vegetal and spicy background (caspsicum, black pepper, salty liquortice)
£12.75 (+VAT) from Hallgarten & Novum - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)
Jean-Paul Dubost Brouilly Vieilles Vignes 2017 - 91 pts
Brouilly, Beaujolais, France, Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv
Pairs nicely with: charcuterie, pasta, grilled red meat
A Beaujoulais with some punch, not surprising for lower yileding 60 to 80-yaer-old vines producing concentrated berries. Crunchy mouthfeel with aromas of red cherry jam and ripe strawberries. Tannins are firm and medium grained. Sliglty spicy liquoricy finish.
£15.00 from Montrachet - Reviewed July 2018 (IS)
Cantina Tramin Terminum 2015 - 92pts
Tramin, Alto Adige, Italy, Dry White (Cork), 10.0% abv
Pairs nicely with: cheeses, foie gras, spice and fruit desserts.
Elegant and balanced sweet wine made exclusive of hand-harvested, highly selected Gewurztraminer grapes, 60% of which botrytised. 2015 was a warm vintage producing fruit with a lot of concentration but you would have trouble guessing that this vintage's Termimum is at a whooping 300 gr of residual sugar. The acidic balance (6.3 gr/L total acidity) and the vibrant aromatic profile bring freshness, elegance and drinkability. Expect lingering aromas of nectarine, honey glaze, lemon curd, candied orange and dried apricot.
£28.04 (+VAT), half bottle, from Hallgarten & Novum - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)
Filipa Pato & William Wouters Espírito de Baga...Uma Saga 2015 - 93pts
Bairrada, Portugal, Fortified Red (Cork), 18.0% abv
Pairs nicely with: cured and blue cheeses, chocolate desserts
We started with a wine made by Luis Pato, Filipa's father. We'll end with one produced on the estate she runs with husband and sommelier extraordinaire William Wouters. Determined to unleash and prove the potential of the local grape variety Baga, they have released a fortified monovarietal in addition to the outstanding dry big brothers. Even the spirit used for fortification is from distilled Baga, for a truly pure and elegant product. Intense black fruit aromas of blackberries and blueberry jam, with smokey bints of tobacco leaf and dark chocolate. Intense but still fresh. Serve slightly cooled.
£27.00 (50cl) bottle from Bottle Apostle - Reviewed August 2018 (IS)