For summer refreshment why not try port over ice?: ALISTAIR GIBSON

There is no doubt one of the biggest drink trends over the past few years has been the growth in gin.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 5:49 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd August 2019, 4:58 pm
Taylor's Chip Dry Port

There seems to be a new one launched every week, and according to industry figures the bubble shows no signs of bursting anytime soon.

But what about the alternatives?

Unless you’ve been to Porto recently, white port is probably quite unfamiliar. It is a drink that is rarely served in this country which is a shame because a white port and tonic is a wonderfully refreshing summer drink.

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Niepoort Dry White Port

To most consumers port is red and probably only seen around Christmas time.

White port is made, as the name suggests, from white grapes. Most of them are local Portuguese varieties and drier in style than red or tawny ports.

The secret is to mix with a premium tonic, add a sprig of mint and orange peel, and serve over ice. Here are two to try.

Taylor’s Chip Dry (Waitrose, Ocado £13.99) is aged for several years in old oak vats and was one of the first white ports ever produced. It’s a pale straw colour with citrus peel notes on the nose, with more citrus fruit along with a little spice on the palate and a nice tangy finish.

Casal de Ventozela

Niepoort is perhaps not such a well-known port producer. It was founded by the Niepoort family who arrived in the 19th century. Now under the guidance of fifth generation Dirk Niepoort, the house produces some of the most interesting wines in the region.

Niepoort White Rabbit White Port ( £14.95) is part of a series of wines from Niepoort inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Again aged in old wooden vats, this has citrus fruits as well as a certain nuttiness and a little spice on the nose, before a nicely textured just off-dry finish.

Both of these would work perfectly with a bowl of salted almonds in the garden on a sunny evening.

Staying in Portugal, here’s a pair of white wines I’ve tasted recently to hopefully go with a warm bank holiday weekend.

Casal de Ventozela 2018, Vinho Verde (Majestic £9.99 or £7.99 as part of a mixed six) is made from the local indigenous artino grape and is perhaps not vinho verde as you may remember it.

It is very fresh with a bouquet of green apples and citrus, but the palate has an almost creamy feel with a little more weight than you would usually expect from the region but still finishes with a dry, refreshing finish.

Serve this with some simply grilled sardines or mackerel.

Esporão Reserva Branco 2017, Alentejo ( £14.50) is one of a new breed of exciting Portuguese white wines being produced. Made again from local grape varieties, this was aged in a mixture of stainless steel and new oak barrels for six months.

It has a lovely bouquet of apricot, citrus peel and some spice from the oak ageing, followed by a creamy, layered palate with some richness, more apricot fruit and some minerality on the finish.

This was delicious served with a lemon and thyme risotto and roast chicken.