Riverside CA News

A grape picker looks at grapes in Loire Valley vineyard Show caption Loire Valley chenin blanc makes a lovely white wine for autumn. Photograph: Frank Perry/AFP/Getty Images
David Williams's wines of the week

Cooler weather usually calls for rich reds, but these full-bodied whites pack a punch

Viña Aquitania Chardonnay, Maipo Valley, Chile 2018 (£16.48, Lay Wheeler ) With the nights drawing in, our sunlight now strictly rationed, and the chill of winter already here, these late autumn days are red wine times for most of us. Robust and warming, these are the wines that are best suited to the heavier foods that match the conditions outside the window. But there are white wines, too, that can play the same mood-enhancing and rich food-supporting role; white wines with a bit more presence and heft than those we might turn to in high summer when thirst-quenching crispness is all. The chardonnay grape is behind many of my favourite autumnal whites, and one of the best I’ve tried in recent weeks is Viña Aquitania’s. The product of a Franco-Chilean project based in the Chilean winemaking heartland of the Maipo Valley, it’s by no means heavy: it’s all about the sun-filled, mouth-filling, luminosity of its juicy tropical fruitiness, which is underscored with a coursing freshness reminiscent of the chardonnays made in Chablis.

Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Rémus, France 2019 (£19.99, The Wine Society) A rival to chardonnay for making complex, richer white wines, chenin blanc is at its best in two regions separated by 8,000 miles. The first is the grape variety’s traditional home, and especially in a cluster of appellations along the 100-mile section of the Loire between Blois and Savennières. Montlouis-sur-Loire is one such place, and it’s here that one of the world’s finest chenin exponents, Jacky Blot, plies his trade. Blot’s Rémus blends grapes for a dry wine with a twanging steeliness. Winemaker Adi Badenhorst is a modern master of chenin in the variety’s other standout region, the Cape winelands of South Africa, source of the scintillating Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2020 (£13.99, swig.co.uk), with its honey, white flowers and starburst of quince and Cox’s apple.

Morrisons The Best Marqués de los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva, Rioja, Spain (£13, Morrisons) One way of lending savoury flavour to white wines is to ferment and then age them in oak barrels, with the newer the barrel the more prevalent the oaky flavour. This is a method that requires a particular set of skills on the part of the winemaker, who will also need very good quality ripe fruit to work with if its flavours are not to be entirely engulfed in wood and toasty flavours. The outstanding best of the style, from producers such as López de Heredia or Marqués de Murrieta, are like nothing else, ageing forever and taking on all kinds of evocative flavours while somehow retaining their freshness. For a relatively modestly priced introduction to the traditional white rioja style, and a wine that is superb with pulled pork, mushroom risotto, or roast chicken, Morrisons’ truffled reserva works beautifully.

Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach

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