Best summer white wines
Wine expert, Victoria Moore, shares her favourite white wines to enjoy in the garden at home. See her top wine pairings and non-alcoholic picks.
My memories of the Barossa Valley are all imprints of heat: the heavy feel of the hot air, glare of the bright sun, and sight of winemakers in shorts (no double entendre intended). Long hours of sunshine are the reason that Australia’s most famous wine region is bestknown for powerful reds – think burly, flavour-saturated syrah with a thump of alcohol at 15% ABV.
But, did you know that the Barossa Valley represents just part of a larger region known simply as Barossa? The other part is the Eden Valley. Higher, cooler and more verdant, the Eden Valley makes scintillating white wines from the riesling grape – think of the thrill of a fast ski run, the shock of tart lime juice, the aromatic oils in lime zest and the smell of white blossom, and you’re part way to imagining what they’re like to drink. If you’re able to get hold of it, Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling (£15.95, Ocado) is a good choice.
Barossa isn’t the only region with white wines that are underplayed and underappreciated because of more famous reds. The Rhône region in France, for instance, also makes brilliant white wines from a blend of grapes, including grenache blanc, viognier, bourboulenc, roussanne and clairette. These wines are aromatic (think waxy white blossom) with a creamy texture, and might taste of poached apricots and juicy pears.
Again, if you can find it, I love Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône White 2018 France (£8, Sainsbury’s) – it has just a touch of oak and goes well with chicken, especially when it’s cooked with ingredients like garlic, thyme or tarragon in a casserole.
In Spain, Rioja is rightly famous for its reds, but the region also makes excellent white rioja, or rioja blanco. White rioja can be difficult to get a grip on, because it’s available in a range of styles that encompass bright, fresh white wines made with no wood, as well as heavier oak-aged whites that are redolent of vanilla and custard. Cune Barrel-Fermented Rioja Blanco 2018 (£10.99, Waitrose & Partners) is a good one.
I also want to direct you to an overshadowed white that’s easy to drink, not too expensive and the sort of refreshing wine you’ll be pleased to sip in the garden on a sunny day. It comes from Bordeaux, another region whose fame is founded on the colour red. White bordeaux is usually based on sauvignon blanc, sometimes also with semillon and/or muscadelle.
It can be oaked, in which case you might taste notes of baked grapefruit and dill, but it can also be unoaked, which makes it all nettle, grass, lemongrass and yellow citrus, with some blossom notes if muscadelle is involved. I’ve got two, because both are excellent: Dourthe No. 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Bordeaux (£8.50, The Wine Society) and Dourthe Roqueblanche Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Bordeaux (£9.49, Waitrose & Partners). Bottles to take time over, if you can get them.
This month I'm drinking
Brooklyn Special Effects alcohol-free beer (£1.30 per 355ml bottle, 0.4% ABV, Tesco)
Mindful drinking is on the up, and as a result, I now always have at least one alcohol-free beer stocked in the fridge. This offering from Brooklyn Brewery is dry-hopped and lemony – a real winner.
Taste the Difference Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2018 France (£7, Sainsbury’s)
Notes of nettle and citrus are ideal with roast aubergines with almond tarator, feta, dill & green chilli.
Read more articles by Victoria Moore
Victoria Moore is an award-winning wine columnist and author. Her most recent book is the The Wine Dine Dictionary (£20, Granta).
This page was last updated in May 2020. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.