Limoux, Godello and other rich white wine surprises

19 Feb

The great joy of the best wine lists is the surprise element – a delicious bottle you’ve never heard of before, and should have.   Blame the marketing efforts of the world’s big wine producers in pushing regions and grape varieties which are household names; these grab most of the shelf space and commandeer all but the most informed wine lists.

Happily, Giuseppe Iacona has created an inspired list for Pierre Koffman, which is how we came to taste an outstanding white at Koffman’s the other week unlike anything we had come across before.   Limoux Cuvee Oppidum, Chateau de Gaure is a Chardonnay blend in which characteristic butteriness is tempered by notes of stone fruit and honey, Chenin and Mauzac adding a surprise in every slurp.   Rich and long, but with enough mineral and acidity to keep it fresh and never cloying.

The Limoux makes a perfect partner for Koffman’s rich, spicy concoctions from south-west France.  It was recommended to accompany a Gascon-style black pudding croque monsieur topped with an egg, and worked better than you might expect with Korrman’s signature main – a pig’s trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morels.
Koffman recommended a visit to one of  his proteges, the two-Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin, when in Edinburgh, which produced another surprising white wine recommendation to complement one of the richest, meatiest dishes imaginable.   Little Beauty, a superb pinot gris from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, was a charcterful aperitif and a fine partner for a delicate starter of creamy razor clams at The Kitchin, but it also worked beautifully with the chef’s triumph, a roasted marrowbone with ox tongue which was simply to die for.

It’s harder to identify nice surprises on the supermarket shelves than when you have an inspired sommelier to guide you, but mine came when I took Morrison’s 30-second Taste Test, which aims to define your palate with a few questions about how you like to take your coffee and tea.   The “Fresh” profile brought a recommendation for another astonishing white wine we had never heard of, let alone tasted, the Mara Martin Godello from Galicia in north-western Spain.   Talk about a taste explosion – fruit and flowers, lime and hay, vibrancy but also a satisfyingly long finish.    This is an inland wine, richer and more complex than the Albarinos from the Rias Baixas, which can only add to Galicia’s growing reputation for exciting white wines.  Worth splashing out a tenner on.

There are apple notes in the Godello which it was surprising to also find in fairly heavy measure in another white stocked by Morrisons and other chains, the Montes Alpha Chardonnay from Chile.  This beauty from the Casablanca region is more complex and  distinguished than most Chilean whites, though at just over £12 it has to compete on price with Montagny and other great-value chardonnays of the Cotes Chalonnaises.   Another surprise – that Chilean wine can command more than £10 a bottle and occasionally be worth it.


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