A week at the International Wine Challenge hasn’t diminished my enthusiasm for decent juice. However, a final day of first round judging that saw our panel bin a number of bland, boring wines – fault-free but character-free too – left me craving something decidedly left-field (when did I start using the term ‘left-field’? How many Brits are aware that the phrase relates to the University of Illinois College of Medicine?)
So it’s been weird white weekend – not a plethora of them, but just a couple that are off the beaten track. The first will probably always be so. Nero di Troia is one of those intriguing grapes that is making southern Italy such a happy hunting ground for fascinating red wines. Cantine Carpentiere does make a red version, but they also use it for a pink and a white too. The official authorities don’t recognise the white form, so the 2006 version available from For The Love of Wine (01359 270377, firstname.lastname@example.org) doesn’t state its vintage. But for a tenner, it’s a delight, and if you’d told me it was an Alsace Pinot Gris with a hint of Gewurz, I’d have believed you – plump, lush smoky peach with floral edges, naughty but nice, like Bet Lynch in her prime. Fatty pork, pongy cheese or – if your conscience will stand it – foie gras.
Hopefully the second will become better known. Galicia – north west Spain – is best known wine-wise for the Albariños of Rias Baixas. The Spaniards hail them as their country’s finest whites, but I’m still to be fully convinced. I’d put in a word for the Verdejos of Rueda – look out for Bellondrade y Lurton in particular – and the Godellos of Valdeorras. Am currently squaffling my way through the Val de Sil Godello Sobre Lias 2006, a white with punch, personality, grip and authority, and a big peachy booty to boot. It’s too butch for most seafood, although a lobster wouldn’t carp (might as well remain on the marine side – and marine is an anagram of remain). But I had a glass of this lunchtime with an extremely pleasant and equally garlicky chicken salad butty – yum to the power of yum***. Find it for £10.75 at Laymont & Shaw – the web-site says 2005, but they should be on 2006 by now.
*** yum>1, for the mathematically-minded