Why would someone visit Oxford’s Trinity College if not for a wine-tasting? The event was organized by specialist importers Clark Foyster and featured about forty wines, mainly by small producers whose bottles don’t appear on Britain’s supermarket shelves.
I decided to do a themed tasting of ‘green’ white wines, those that always feature at the beginning of tastings and wines that I typically approach with no expectations. Green wines have a young, fruity, aromatic style with lots of zesty acidity. They please a certain audience but the stereotyped, judgmental east European evil elf always tells me not much excitement is to be had here.
Evil elf was wrong. I was intrigued to discover how, while these wines were obviously variations on a theme, they were very individual and distinct variations. Below are my descriptions of the ones I have found most interesting.
Pale lemon with a confectionery, green fruit nose, with a hint of the characteristic rubberiness of Riesling. The palate surprises with its lively acidity, which I believe will give this wine great ageing potential. The flavours are pretty standard, peaches and pears and green apples, and subdued, but there is something about the acidity, the mouthfeel, that makes this wine delightful to drink. Smoky, mineral finish. A very young wine still, but with a long career ahead of it, I believe.
Adega Vinho Verde Portugal, 2012
Attractive, perfumed nose with intense youthful fruitiness. On the palate it’s lean, with great acidity and some vegetable notes – cooked cabbage and asparagus – accompanying the green fruity flavours.
Grapes and pears on the nose, and some vegetal character. The palate has a richness which must come form the skin contact (the grape juice was left on its skins for 12 hours before fermentation), undercut by tangy citrus fruit. Very sharp and lean body, so refreshing!
Arenae Malvasia de Colares Branco Portugal, 2010
The organizers described this as a ‘classic’ wine that comes from ungrafted vines growing on sand near the sea by the town of Sintra. I’m not sure about classic, but it was certainly interesting. The colour is a deeper shade of lemon. The nose doesn’t give away much: fairly generic fruit, pure, youthful aromas, though with a hint of savoury saltiness. Bone dry palate with the same salty character, almost cheese-like, with the youthful fruit relegated to the background. Some buttery notes – oak-aged? Flinty, mineral finish. Lots of character.
Les Demoiselles, Touraine France, 2012
Sauvignon Blanc. Pronounced, prickly, grape and elderflower nose. The palate is surprisingly gentle with good but not aggressive acidity, and a good intensity of flavours. A beautiful example of a Sauvignon Blanc. Refreshing, but has a roundness, softness about it.
Very pungent, savoury, vegetable nose – so promising, you want to bite into it! Beautiful and intense on the palate – an excellent Sauvignon Blanc. Tasty vegetable and fruit, gooseberry and asparagus. Lovely.
Confuron Gindre Bourgogne Aligoté France 2011
Savoury, unintense nose with some pears and grapes. On the palate the fruity confectionery is overwhelmed by salty flavours. Lean and straight and transparent, uncomplicated but well made. Mouth-watering acidity, flinty finish.