ALISTAIR GIBSON: Put your money on marsanne as the next big thing in wine

Alistair says marsanne is going to be one of the fashionable grapes to be drinking this year
Alistair says marsanne is going to be one of the fashionable grapes to be drinking this year
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In case you haven't noticed, wine is as susceptible to the vagaries of fashion and trends as many other things in life. 

For example, when it comes to food avocado and cauliflower seem to be the must-have ingredients right now.

I even saw an imitation avocado Easter egg on a certain supermarket shelf this year if you need any more proof. 

With wine, these days it’s grape varieties that seem to lead the way and over the past two decades we’ve seen chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio all take it in turns to be the current white variety ‘darling’ on the shelves.

I’m not a betting man but here are a few thoughts about white wines that maybe you’ll be hearing about and pouring yourself this year.

Marsanne is a white grape most commonly found in the northern Rhone Valley, and until recently it has hardly appeared either as a single varietal or indeed in other regions in any volume.

It’s not an easy grape to grow but I’ve always found it, certainly in northern Rhone wines such as St.Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage, a fascinating grape variety.

Co-op Irresistible Marsanne de Languedoc 2016 (Co-op £7.99) is a lovely introduction to this grape.

It has aromas of ripe pear and a touch of honey, followed by a nicely textured palate with some spicy notes and a little vanilla.

It’s quite straight forward but good value and would match a creamy risotto or maybe a simple roast chicken Sunday lunch.

Albariño is a grape that hails from north west Spain and Portugal – where it is known as Alvarinho – and has been increasingly seen on restaurant wine lists over the last few years.

It is now beginning to be planted in other regions as well, which is always the sign of the potential interest in a grape variety.

Left Field Albariño 2017, Gisborne (nzhouseofwine.co.uk £12.99, Fareham Wine Cellar £12.49) is one of several New Zealand examples of this grape I’ve tasted recently that shows real potential for Albariño there.

Left Field is a whimsical approach to exploration, creativity and imagination, the off-beat side of the more serious Te Awa Estate and they’ve done a great job with this wine, including its somewhat irreverent label.

The bouquet offers peach, spring blossom and citrus fruits, followed by a really fresh palate with nice fruit sweetness on the finish.

About 20 per cent of the wine saw some French oak maturation which has just added a little richness to the wine. Try this with some seafood or a Thai green chicken curry.

Staying with the Spanish connection, white rioja is a style of wine that seems to have gone through a transformation in recent years and I have no doubt is gaining much broader appeal as a result.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2016, Rioja (Waitrose £10.99, Ocado £10.99) is a wine I keep returning to currently, it manages to combine both traditional white rioja winemaking with a more modern take.

It is made from 100 per cent vuira, which has been fermented in American oak but never dominates, rather it adds a lovely creaminess to the fresh citrus, banana and pineapple notes in the wine.

This would work with a mild curry or roast pork.

Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail

alistair@hermitagecellars.co.uk.