A trio of French summer wines: Richard Esling August 4
August is here already and our luck with the lockdown weather here in Sussex seems to be holding.
In fact, with temperatures set to rise again this week, we seem to be having a proper summer this year. For those opting for a staycation, it couldn’t be better. And as we bask in the summer sunshine in our back gardens, or on our patios and balconies, a cool glass of white wine can certainly help create a relaxing holiday feeling.
So here is a trio of suggestions of fine French white wines to enjoy this summer. Two are from classic regions and one from a not so classic region in south-west France. Of the classics, Chablis must be one of the best-known French white wines of all. With a multitude of different producers, style and quality can naturally vary. Classically unoaked for the straight Appellation (as opposed to Premier and Grand Cru), there are a few oaked variations around. For me though, straight Chablis should be unoaked, with the purity of the 100 per cent Chardonnay fruit left to shine.
Such a wine is Chablis Durup 2018 from Jean Durup Père et Fils. This is a Chablis drinker’s Chablis. Stereotypical in its finesse, dry flinty, mineral character and depth of flavour. Near to Chablis perfection, with first class expression of the fruit and terroir. The vineyards are particularly well sited on south and west facing hillsides in the valley of the Serein. Old vines of 30 years old add to the finesse and depth of flavour, resulting in a generous and well-balanced wine of great character. Try with a goat’s cheese salad, roasted or barbecued fennel stuffed seabass or grilled giant prawns with garlic and parsley. Around £18 from Tanners Wine Merchants in Shrewsbury.
My second classic wine is from the middle of the Loire Valley, interestingly not that far from the vineyards of Chablis. The grape variety for this wine is a different classic, that of Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards of Pouilly Fumé make some of the best Sauvignons in the world, and Chateau de Tracy Pouilly Fumé 2019 is no exception. Again grown on wonderfully sited slopes, overlooking the Loire river, much of the vineyard is old vines, and the combination gives rise to exceptional wines, with great complexity, elegance and refinement.
The aroma is floral, with notes of fresh orange, white peach and nectarine.
A beautifully balanced palate shows structure, depth and elegance from this excellent vintage. £24 -£26 from Lea & Sandeman or Vinatis UK.
The last of my trio is from deepest south-west France, made from local grape varieties many of which are not seen outside this region. This is the Appellation d’Origine region of Jurancon, in the foothills of the Pyrenées mountains. Domaine Cauhapé produces a dry Jurancon Sec from a mix of Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Camarlet, Courbu and Lauzet grape varieties.
Fresh and well-balanced, white peach mingles with white pepper and citrus flavours, with a long, spicy, complex finish. Aromatic and zingy, it makes a great summer aperitif and can equally accompany a variety of salads and seafood dishes.
The Chant des Vignes 2019 Domaine Cauhapé is available on-line from the Fine Wine Company and Quality Wines in September. Around £13-£15.