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Summer is here … time to try some different wines

It is always easy to reach for that familiar, refreshing bottle of white, but this summer why not try something new?

We will start off by taking a trip to the island of Sicily and visiting a winery known for their work with little known ancient grape varieties, in this case grillo.

The Reverse Wine Snob describes 2018 Donnafugata Sur Sur Grillo as “dreamy”.

“This begins with a pleasing aroma of peach, melon, citrus, lemon and some lovely floral notes. The wine tastes fresh, fruity and delicious. Medium-bodied with a lovely soft texture, it has similar flavours to the nose with lots of depth, some nice herbal touches and good acidity. It ends with an excellent salty touch on the long, dry finish. Highly recommended!”

I should not take sides here, but I really put this lovely winery – whose name translates as ‘woman in flight’ – among my favourite producers. For another opinion Wine Enthusiast rated this grillo 91/100, put it on its list of top 100 wines in the world for 2019 and said this: “Loaded with fragrance, flavour and finesse this savoury white pushes all the right buttons, starting with inviting aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and white spring flowers. The fresh, medium-bodied palate doles out honeydew, Meyer lemon and Mediterranean herb alongside crisp acidity and a hint of saline.” $25.60 (Stock #8764)

Now it’s off to Spain to visit Rias Baixas, which is a denomination created in 1980 specifically for the albarino grape that now produces a much asked for white wine. This north-west corner of the country shares a similar climate with New Zealand and the Loire Valley of France. The 2019 Martín Códax Rías Baixas Albariño is delicate and medium-bodied with a crisp, dry finish. On the palate, flavours of pear, passion fruit, ripe apple, peach and lemon zest are framed by bright minerality and hints of spice. Its attractive floral aromatics and brisk acidity make this a versatile, food-friendly wine.

Here is what Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has to say about it: “One of the most reliable and regular wines from the zone, the 2019 Martín Códax, is also affordable and widely available, the first contact of many consumers with Albariño and Rías Baixas. It's always clean, expressive and approachable, with clean aromas of white flowers and fruit and recently cut grass, and it has a soft palate, balanced, with moderate alcohol, good acidity and a touch of sugar that makes it quite mellow but not sweet”. $22.35 (Stock #9400)

We are standing in the Casablanca Valley less than 30 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, and we can see how the gentle ocean breezes and cold morning fog help organically grown grapes reach perfection. The country is Chile, and the winery is Veramonte. This property, as far as I know, has always grown in this nature-friendly fashion, but they have only recently become fully certified.

Their 2020 sauvignon blanc is crisp and fresh. On the nose it is vibrant and aromatic with citrus aromas of lime and tangerine blended with subtle floral notes. Smooth and fresh this wine has a great mouthfeel and a long finish.

Wilfred Wong of Wine.com writes: “The 2020 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc offers excellent purity of this grape variety. This wine is bright with aromas and flavours of dried herbs, rustic spices, and a hint of candied notes. Try it with grilled halibut with cracked black peppercorns. 89/100.” $17.80 (Stock #6195).

Next stop is off to visit legendary Austrian winemaker Kurt Angerer and sample his spicy and exotic 2019 Kies Gruner Vetlinger. Be prepared for lime marmalade, ripe pear, ripe stone fruits, minerals, and freshness. This is “the” white wine grape of Austria and in this instance, they are grown using sustainable farming methods. $24.50 (Stock #7260)

France should be included on this trip, and I suggest 2019 Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc as this is from a very well-respected producer of sancerre and pouilly fume in the Loire Valley. This wine is remarkably aromatic with pleasant flower and fruit fragrances, and it shows what a family that has crafted wines for the past ten generations can do. Citrus, apple and gooseberry and hints of passion fruit make sure that this grape is well represented. $21.35 (Stock #7923)

I cannot end our journey without visiting a state in the United States that has always been so dear to my heart, and so we find ourselves among the 442 inhabitants of the small, riverside town of Clarksburg that is inland from San Francisco.

Here we meet the Bogle family that farm all their 1,000 acres of vineyards by sustainable methods. We will taste their 2019 Bogle Clarksburg Chardonnay that is the epitome of a handcrafted wine: harvested by hand and whole-cluster pressed. Half of the grapes go directly into stainless steel tanks to retain their crisp, fresh nature. The other half are fermented in new American oak, where they age on the lees for eight months, with monthly stirring. The finished wine is blended together just before bottling, bringing together a complex yet delightful offering.

Green apple and pear aromas classically characterise this wine as Clarksburg, while honeycomb and vanilla heighten the first impression. The rich, round entry rolls into a viscous and silky mouthfeel, surrounded by Asian pears and Honeycrisp apples. The finish lingers long and soft, like the wafting aromas of grandma’s warm apple pie. Wine Enthusiast rates this 2019 vintage 89/100. $21.55 (Stock #8035)

As you are enjoying this full-bodied white, if you have the TV on, you may just spot influential senator Dianne Feinstein who was born here.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Michael Robinson says that grillo, a little-known grape variety from Sicily, is well worth a try

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Published June 18, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated June 15, 2021 at 1:37 pm)

Summer is here … time to try some different wines

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