What’s Hot in the World of Wine: Grüner Veltliner, Malbec & Cortese





Once a fortnight, CellarVie Wines kicks back with the weekend’s newspapers in an effort to determine what’s hot in the world of wine, offering up views and possible alternatives to the nation’s big-hitting publications and their wine suggestions. In the fourth instalment of ‘What’s Hot’, a number of venerated wine journalists purport their thoughts and interests within the industry and the likes of the Austrian grape Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, Moscato and the Italian white grape Cortese all get a mention…

Weird Whites

The august Bob Tryer returned from a brief hiatus to extol the virtues of “weird whites”. Citing the improvement in Austrian wines amongst others, the whimsical Sunday Times scribe also praises the “appley and smoky flavours of Vinja Barde” - an Italianised Slovene wine – as well as making three wine suggestions; from the Cotswolds (who would have thought it), South Africa and Argentina.

CellarVie Wines says: The Austrian grape varietal, Grüner Veltliner, is very much in-vogue on the London restaurant scene at the minute. The light and scented wine it produces boasts plenty of pure fruit flavours and is an interesting alternative to the norm, and we agree with Tryer’s thinly veiled sentiment that there are number of charming whites to try that perhaps veer off the wine industry’s well-beaten track. Tryer cites an interesting Argentine wine from the Andes made using Torrontés, and the Etchart Privado Torrontes 2011, voted ‘Best Dry Aromatic white under £10’ by Decanter, is a wonderful example of this grape varietal.

Why not try:

Soellner Fumburg Grüner Veltliner 2008, Wagram (£16.99)

Flagstone Noon Gun Chenin Blanc-Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier 2009 (£8.99)

Etchart Privado Torrontes 2011 (£8.99)


Fragrant Reds

Susy Atkins of the Sunday Telegraph champions an array of fragrant red wines claiming they “often have more interesting aromatics than whites”. Explaining the art and briefly surmising the science behind letting wine ‘breath’ by decanting, the respected Atkins suggests reds can be as equally enticing on the nose as their white counterparts, intimating “there's more pummelling of the fruit skins in red winemaking, which releases scented volatile compounds into the juice, and it's likely there's been oak-ageing, too, to add complexity to the perfume”. A Syrah from La Mancha, a Malbec from the Pays d’Oc and another Syrah from Stellenbosch in South Africa are all cited as fine examples of reds with perfume audacities.

CellarVie Wines says: Recent instalments of ‘What’s Hot’ have mainly focused on odorous and aromatic white wines perhaps due to wishful hopes of balmy weather. That it has rained now for almost a month, suggests the gooseberry whiff of Sauvignon Blanc will quite literally have to wait for its day in the sun despite this apparent ‘drought’. Atkins keenly advocates a number of reds in their place and we here at CellarVie concur with her varied selection.

Why not try a bottle of Gonzalez Byass’ Finca Constancia 2009 and its six different grape varieties no less. Granted it’s a full-bodied, heavy red, and therefore perhaps a little different to some of Atkins’ suggestions, but it’s potent, oaky and will warm your recently drowned soul with a suitably potent fragrance.

Alternatively, Malbec is increasingly a tipple of choice to the discerning due to its velvety and overtly fruity flavours, while reds from the Stellenbosch, while perhaps on the pricey side, tend to be bursting with blackcurrant, spicy, and ripe fruit intensity.


Why not try:

Torres Nerola Syrah-Monastrell Catalunya 2008 (£11.99)

Finca Constancia 2009 (£11.99)

Rare Vineyards Malbec 2010, Pays d'Oc (£8.49)

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2007, Stellenbosch (£23.99)

 
Light Whites

From punchy reds to light whites, David Williams of the Guardian/Observer notes the surprising emergence of a low alcohol, Italian white where perhaps you would least expect it. Williams claims “Moscato, a slightly sweet, fizzy, low alcohol and inexpensive white wine with origins in Piedmont, Italy, has become the hip-hop community's new favourite drink” where previously it was the largely unattainable (in price at least) "Courvoisier...Roederer Cristal and...Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades champagne". He subsequently suggests a number of equally “pure, aromatic and unforced” equivalents that could potentially appease “Kanye West, Drake and Lil' Kim”.

CellarVie Wines says: Perhaps it’s the credit crunch or maybe Williams and indeed Kanye, Nas et al are merely on to something. While the weather is not necessarily screaming light whites at the moment, there are a plethora of lower-alcohol wines that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Williams suggests a delicate off-dry Riesling in addition to a Vermentino from South Australia, but rather than stump for the Aussie equivalent, why not try the real deal from Sardinia.

Why not try:

La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2009, Sella & Mosca (£10.99)

Riesling Kabinett Mosel 2007, S.A.Prüm (£12.99)

Torres Viña Esmeralda Catalunya 2010 (£7.99)


Californian wines

The Daily Mail’s Olly Smith wets his whistle across the pond by claiming “there’s a world of Californian wines to rock your socks.” Working his way through the various grape varietals the seemingly jovial Smith highlights the choice on offer and the consistent excellence of wines cultivated in America. Deviating away from California somewhat, the aforementioned wine journalist then picks an Argentinean Chardonnay-Chenin Blanc as his ‘Top Tipple’.

CellarVie Wines says: We wholeheartedly concur with Smith and indeed some his selections which include the brilliant Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 – “imagine a giant raspberry with a rocket launcher and an air guitar; you’re on the way to feeling this wine’s rich spice, hoof and muscle” – a personal favourite in the CellarVie Wines office this red from California is simply a must try.

Why not try:

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 (£10.99)

Salentein Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (£12.49)


Lesser known European wines

In Williams’ latest article for the Guardian/Observer [delete if you know the answer] he highlights a number of lesser known snifters for his wines of the week. Selecting an Italian made from the Cortese grape in Piedmont, a “terrific red blend” from Portugal, and a Rosé from its “spiritual home” Provence, the aforementioned wine journalist explains his decisions by suggesting his choices will “stretch the palate”.

CellarVie Wines says:Diversity is the spice of life and the beauty about wine is that there is a host of options and alternatives to enjoy that might not necessarily conform to mainstream thinking. The team at CellarVie Wines are all for trying lesser known wines and Williams’ championing of the Cortese grape is incredibly worthy, and while Gavi has similar qualities to Chablis, the aforementioned aromatic Italian white has a touch more weight and is certainly worth trying.

Likewise Williams’ Rosé suggestion, which neatly coincided with our recent ‘Focus on’ Provence, was equally interesting, but to be honest, we recently reacquainted ourselves with the Sancerre Rosé 2010, Le Rabault and although this defies his ‘lesser known’ tag, it is a simply unmissable drop.


Why not try:

Gavi di Gavi 'La Toledana' 2010, Domini Villa Lanata (£11.99)

Sancerre Rosé 2010, Le Rabault, Joseph Mellot (£13.99)  
 
Read the first ‘What’s Hot’ instalment here, second here and third by clicking here 
 
 

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