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SWA 2011: NEW WORLDS - OTHER WHITES

Other Whites
Some weird and wonderful blends and, despite the lack of Golds, a generally positive reaction from the tasters

Accurately described by one slightly bamboozled taster as ‘anything from anywhere’, this category has often been something of a disappointment given that its ability to amuse and entertain with some crazy blends should be pretty high.

This year, it more or less split the tasters. Some sommeliers liked the fact that the
wines were well priced (an awful lot under £10) and could, therefore, do a turn on the list at a level that is increasingly difficult to fill. They also appreciated their potential for delivering food-matching solutions for difficult or unusual dishes.

‘It’s good to be able to use different adjectives for every wine,’ mused Team Leader Caspar Auchterlonie. ‘That’s what turns the tasters on.’

Not everyone was so priapic in his or her enthusiasm though. Some tasting teams felt that the lower-priced wines, while cheap, were also on the dull side. It was only by the time you approached the £10 mark that the real interest started to appear, where it was possible to find more interesting (and more commercially viable) wines from elsewhere.

As is often the case with this category, balance was an issue, although it was less to do with too much oak (a common problem in the past) than with a frequent lack of acidity. Wines that managed to keep everything together, however, were usually well received, given a medal and placed in the ‘quirky gem’ category.

The three best-performing wines were all multi-varietal, with the judges awarding Silvers to blends from Buitenverwachting and Bosman Family Vineyards (which are
both South African) and to the pan-Kiwi effort from Forrest Wines. All the Bronzes,
by contrast, were single varietal.

This category received generally positive feedback from the sommeliers and can consider itself rather unfortunate not to have racked up at least one Gold.

“The whole point about being a sommelier is being able to present interesting wines like this. ”  Charlotte Jonasson, Boxwood Café

“There were problems with balance – too many had too little acidity. But those we liked had good varietal character, whatever they were! ”  Irina Atanasova, Les Deux Salons


SILVER 

Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc 2009, Constantia, South Africa
£5.08 @ Berkmann Wine Cellars
With light citrus fruit alongside clean, green and mineral notes, the crisp citrus fruit continues onto the palate, giving it a lively lemony finish. ‘Very drinkable and well made,’ said Robert Giorgione. ‘Value for money,’ noted Caspar Auchterlonie.

Bosman Family Vineyards Adama White Blend 2010, South Africa
£10.71 @ Cavendish Wines
Fresh, green melony fruit with some floral notes rub shoulders with bright, fresh yellow
fruit – white grapefruit and pineapple. ‘The oak blends with minerality which leads to a long, textural finish,’ observed Charlotte Jonasson.

Forrest wines John Forrest Collection 2006, Marlborough/Otago/Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
£12.03 @ Adnams
Spicy, ripe stone fruit is balanced by fresh lemon, good minerality and a touch of toasty, buttery oak. ‘Pleasant, long finish,’ said Irina Atanasova. ‘Delicious but expensive,’ said Robert Giorgione. ‘Would work well with food.’

BRONZE 

Menage a Trois White 2009, California, USA
£6.59 @ PLB Group
With plenty of stone fruit flavours plus hints of spice on this highly aromatic blend, the minerality balances the mix nicely. ‘Good aperitif or summer wine,’ said Robert Giorgione.

Tahbilk Marsanne 2008, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria, Australia
£6.91 @ Ehrmanns
Honeyed beeswax on the nose with a hint of smoke and baked apple. Lemon curd fruit and a stony minerality on the palate give a good freshness that continues to the finish. ‘A lot of bang for your buck,’ said Mark Deamer.

Coopers Creek The Little Rascal Arneis 2008, Gisborne, New Zealand
£8.90 @ Berkmann Wine Cellars
Smoky plantain with dried herbs on the nose, Mark Deamer noted lovely stone fruit and honey on the mid-palate with a spicy finish of great length. ‘Great food scope,’ he said.

Tinpot Hut Gruner Veltliner 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand
£10.38 @ Liberty Wines
With stone fruit and cooked pear flavours alongside acacia and citrus notes, this is rounded with a well-balanced freshness. ‘You won’t find much better for £10,’ said Mikaël Hannequin.


Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – May/June 2011

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