Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weird Weekend Whites

A week at the International Wine Challenge hasn't diminished my enthusiasm for decent juice. However, a final day of first round judging that saw our panel bin a number of bland, boring wines - fault-free but character-free too - left me craving something decidedly left-field (when did I start using the term 'left-field'? How many Brits are aware that the phrase relates to the University of Illinois College of Medicine?)

So it's been weird white weekend - not a plethora of them, but just a couple that are off the beaten track. The first will probably always be so. Nero di Troia is one of those intriguing grapes that is making southern Italy such a happy hunting ground for fascinating red wines. Cantine Carpentiere does make a red version, but they also use it for a pink and a white too. The official authorities don't recognise the white form, so the 2006 version available from For The Love of Wine (01359 270377, doesn't state its vintage. But for a tenner, it's a delight, and if you'd told me it was an Alsace Pinot Gris with a hint of Gewurz, I'd have believed you - plump, lush smoky peach with floral edges, naughty but nice, like Bet Lynch in her prime. Fatty pork, pongy cheese or - if your conscience will stand it - foie gras.

Hopefully the second will become better known. Galicia - north west Spain - is best known wine-wise for the AlbariƱos of Rias Baixas. The Spaniards hail them as their country's finest whites, but I'm still to be fully convinced. I'd put in a word for the Verdejos of Rueda - look out for Bellondrade y Lurton in particular - and the Godellos of Valdeorras. Am currently squaffling my way through the Val de Sil Godello Sobre Lias 2006, a white with punch, personality, grip and authority, and a big peachy booty to boot. It's too butch for most seafood, although a lobster wouldn't carp (might as well remain on the marine side - and marine is an anagram of remain). But I had a glass of this lunchtime with an extremely pleasant and equally garlicky chicken salad butty - yum to the power of yum***. Find it for £10.75 at Laymont & Shaw - the web-site says 2005, but they should be on 2006 by now.

*** yum>1, for the mathematically-minded

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