To complement the fine weather, we are putting two white and one orange wine in the spotlight this week.
We have a special affinity for the wines of Crete since we started importing the legendary Oikonomou (more news on that soon). Lyrarakis was created in 1996 near the capital city of Heraklion and specialises in protecting and promoting indigenous grape varieties. Pirovolikes is a single vineyard of 30-year-old bush vines of the local vilana grape variety grown at 650 metres altitude. Like a supercharged verdicchio, this comes on with fresh bay leaves, acacia honey, fennel, and vibrant green apple and lemon zest. A rasp of phenolic texture adds gastronomic intrigue, guiding you towards a roasted fish on the bone, or perhaps a seafood risotto with dill, or maybe even a tomato salad - panzanella, perhaps. Excellent value with a huge amount of flavour and personality for the price.
Another astonishing value white wine of immense character, we have just shipped an older vintage of this house favourite as it is drinking so well. This is sauvignon blanc in anything but Sancerre style, and may be unrecognisable to many white wine drinkers. Grown in warmer conditions and on gravel soils. Bordeaux whites from Pessac are traditionally aged in small oak barriques like a white Burgundy. The herbal character of sauvignon takes on a smoky personality that leads one to think of Earl Grey tea, and this mature 2013 is full, round, and creamy with notes of sage, fennel, bergamot and apricot. Livelier than a Burgundy with more citrus zest, yet broad enough to feel very grown up and luxurious. A fine wine at a very accessible price.
It is hard to think of the recent reputation of the wines of Trentino, and more specifically Campo Rotaliano, without acknowledging the huge contribution of the Foradori family, with Elisabetta at the helm. Turning away from the anonymous, high-yielding commercial wines that typified this picturesque region north of Lake Garda, she started a local movement towards authentic artisanal products. Biodynamics is at the heart of the farming technique, and there is an increasing use of amphorae rather than wood for ageing, as with the single-vineyard wine here. Based on pinot grigio fermented and aged for eight months on the skins to give a vibrant pomegranate blush colour and flavour of orange zest, rose petal and quince, transitioning into a textured and grippy palate, this is really about as good as orange wine - and pinot grigio - gets.