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Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Whites Alright at Marks & Spencer
Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (New Zealand) 2017, 9.5%, €16.00 Marks and Spencer
Just 9.5% alcohol, as compared to the normal 13-14%, yet with all the taste. Dr John Forrest is the man, not the only one (Villa Maria are among the others also involved), behind this trend where “through careful manipulation of the leaves of the vines, the grape berries end up with around 60% of the normal amount of sugar.” Expect more lower abv’s as other varieties come under Dr John’s appliance of science, a pioneer in the field.
Three per cent Riesling is included with the Sauvignon. The wine is a lightly coloured yellow, with green tint and mini-bubbles clinging to the bowl of the glass. Herbaceous aromas, especially nettle (which I’m told is more associated with Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire). The nettles continue on the palate, citrus and gooseberry making an impression here also, and a superb acidity also. Amazing about that nettle effect; I’ve often heard of it but this is the first time I’ve had it face to face, so to speak. It is an amazing wine and Very Highly Recommended.
There are already technological solutions, such as using reverse osmosis, which passes the wine through a membrane to strip it of ethanol, or a spinning cone column, which uses centrifugal force and steam for the same purpose. But winemakers would prefer something they can control themselves in the vineyard and so it looks as if the Forrest method may be the way forward as climate change continues to lead to higher alcohol counts.
Castro Martin Albarino Rias Baixas (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €19.00 Marks and Spencer
This light and fresh wine has a light straw colour, tints of green and micro-bubbles were noted clinging to the glass. Aromas are mainly pear and peach. It is vibrant on the palate with intense fruit, lemon now also in the mix, a zesty refreshing acidity too and a long dry citrusy finish. Try with shellfish, white fish and salads and also as an aperitif. Highly Recommended.
You’ll see the words Sobre Lias on the label and you’d be right if you guess that means on the lees. Castro Martin, a family estate where Angela Martin is the wine-maker, use this method to “add richness, flavour and aroma complexity”. The Albarino grape comes mainly from north west Galicia where it flourishes.
M&S winemaker Sue Daniels notes that this bone dry white is made with minimal intervention and no oak “to allow full expression of the grape’s unique flavours. Couldn’t argue with that after finishing the bottle (I did share!).