Value Grüner, an oddball Aussie and a mineral-infused old-vine Portuguese white caught our editor’s eye
Zero-G Gruner Veltliner 2017, Wagram, Austria
Arnold Holzer is to be congratulated for his work on his family’s estate east of Vienna in a decidedly unfashionable part of Austria. From deep loess soils, this wine is never going to have the punch and structure of a stony-terraced Wachau Gruner, so instead, he’s gone for a richer, riper, more accessible style and pulled it off with aplomb.
This pear and stone-fruit wine has more Grüner typicity about it than you would expect for this price, and should make it onto most wine lists around the £30 mark. A gastropub/wine bar bargain.
Luis Seabra Xisto Cru 2015, Douro, Portugal
This might look like a lot of money to spend on a Portuguese white – and it is, in absolute terms. But it’s a wine that’s chock full of reasons to trade up. It comes from 80-year-old vines on high vineyards near Meda on the south-side of the Douro.
A five-varietal blend, it’s mostly made of Rabigato (which means cat’s tail), and though it’s fermented and aged in old oak barrels (with no malo) the dominant characteristics here are the schist soils and the old vines. There’s plenty of ripe, taut white and yellow fruit, but the whole thing is held together with a cool-hearted minerality that makes this a total somm food-wine and a really interesting cross-sell from upper end Chardonnays. His red Indie Xisto (£21) is amazing, too.
Unico Zelo Orange Wine 2016, Riverland/Clare Valley, Australia
Many orange wines take themselves a bit too seriously – like students quoting bad poetry at you. This wine doesn’t. It’s got plenty of aromatic flavour (as you’d expect from something that’s 40% Muscat d’Aleessandria) but with 22% Polish River Riesling in there as well to provide backbone it’s got a winning combination of fun and funk.
With orange skin zest underpinning a definite pine top-note and a gentle rumble of tannin, it would be great with all things herby – our pick would be gravadlax or chicken and rosemary. Their Truffle Hound Barbera/Nebbiolo (also from the Clare Valley – £14.50) is well worth a look, too.