ALISTAIR GIBSON: Summer whites from their '“ surprising '“ spiritual home
It's easy to forget in the oceans of New WorldÂ sauvignon blanc that sit on supermarket shelvesÂ that France, and in particular the Loire Valley, isÂ the spiritual home of this mostÂ popular of white grapes.
Sancerre and Pouilly-FumÃ©Â are perhaps the two most famous names for sauvignon blancÂ but what is often overlooked is that slightly further south in Bordeaux the grape is also widely planted andÂ may very well originate from the region.
Bordeaux isÂ best known for its red wines but it's a little-known fact that cabernet sauvignon, that kingÂ of red grapes, only came about due to a pairing between Cabernet Franc and sauvignon blanc.
Sauvignon blanc is widely planted in the region and makes both dry wines in areas such as GravesÂ and Entre-Deux-Mers but also contributes to the great dessert wines of Sauternes and Barsac.
InÂ the mid 1980s, Bordeaux's reputation undoubtedly rested on its red and sweet wines butÂ nÃ©gociant and producer DourtheÂ saw an opportunity.
Believing in the dry, whiteÂ Bordeaux appellation, they made it their mission to produce a dry white wine from theÂ increasingly popular sauvignon blanc grape.
The result has been a great international successÂ and with the release of the Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (The Wine Society Â£8.50) theÂ producer celebrates the brand's 30th anniversary.
It's very fresh and aromatic with notes ofÂ gooseberries, grapefruit and blackcurrant leaf, the freshness continues on the palate with zesty acidityÂ and an elegant, flavoursome finish.
It's great value and if you are looking for a sub-Â£10 food-friendly French sauvignon blanc this hits all the right notes. Match it with the last of the EnglishÂ season asparagus or a simply cooked sea bass.
Staying in France, Chablis 2014 (M&S Â£12.50) is made for M&S by the Union des Viticulteurs deÂ Chablis and representsÂ great value for money.
You can almost taste the cool climate here, it's made with just a touch ofÂ oak and offers the classic chablis notes of green apples and minerals on the nose followed by anÂ almost taut, steely palate with citrus and white flowers.
Serve this with simply cooked shellfish,Â oysters, or even fish and chips.
If you want a chardonnay with a bit more weight, thenÂ Rustenberg Chardonnay 2017, Stellenbosch (Waitrose Â£13.99 and on offer Â£10.99 from July 10)Â is a very impressive South African wine from one of the Cape's most highly regarded estates.
It'sÂ been barrel-fermented and then matured in oak for 12 months but the oak only adds to theÂ whole ensembleÂ as opposed to over-powering it.
The bouquet shows a mixture of pineapple,Â orange zest, stone fruits and vanilla spice before a beautifully textured palate with ripe fruit andÂ fresh acidity to balance.
Considering this is only the estate's second tier chardonnay this is a fineÂ accomplishment and I would serve this with a Sunday lunch roast chicken and be very content indeed. '‹