June Wines of the Month: two astoundingly good whites

This month’s selection focuses on two whites which are just about right for this time of year when we’re thinking about summer, but perhaps it’s not quite as warm as we’d like.  So a white wine with body fits the bill perfectly!  Here are two terrific examples, the Carvalhais probably my most exciting wine of the year thus far.

Quinta dos Carvalhais Especial NV (DOC Dão)

Portugal is pretty conservative, especially the wine commissions, so I was amazed to see that this thrillingly unconventional non-vintage blend was awarded DOC status and not relegated to the lowly Wine of Portugal category.  Quite right because, not only is it a terrific wine, it’s also so very Dão.   You can read the backstory of this charismatic Decanter Gold Medal winner (and about some other Decanter World Wine Award stunners) here.   It’s a blend of 31% Encruzado, 15% Verdelho, 15% Semillon and 39% field blend grapes.  Made of wines from the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages, the finished article spent an average of eight years in barrel which explains its deep burnished gold hue and oxidative style.  An oxidative style which, I might add, much to its credit in no way detracts from this wine’s origin.   In fact, with a resin-edged nose and palate which fair bristles with energy and intensity, it could not do more to proclaim its Dão-ness.  Powerful, with tremendous drive and complexity to its piquant, salty layers of concentrated citrus peel, dried stone fruits/flowers and honeycombe, it brilliantly showcases Portuguese winemakers’ ability utterly to master the art of blending.  Bottled at the end of 2013, this wine has tremendous vitality; much more to give yet.  In fact Cabral de Almeida compares it to the famously ageworthy wines produced by Cardoso de Vilhena at the Centro de Estudos de Nelas.  I tasted one of his ’71 whites a few years ago and can see the comparison, though I reckon this wine has probably been broachable younger because, despite its terrific structure and focus, it has a corpulence about it too.  Only 3000 bottles were made.  £35 at The Wine Society, £47.40 at Hedonism. 14.5%

Paringa Estate Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula)

Matthew Jukes revealed his Best 100 Australian Wines last month.  Aussie Chardonnay is firing on all cylinders at the moment and his selection included some beauties.  This one took me back to a lunch at Paringa Estate with owner/winemaker Lindsay McCall (pictured) – it would be perfect with my wild mushroom and truffle dish.  McCall is a huge fan of Burgundy and I couldn’t agree more with Jukes that his wine “offers a Prestige Cuvée flavour at half the price of its competition.  Handpicked fruit was whole bunch pressed directly to French oak barrels (30% new), where it was fermented (with c 30% indigenous yeast) and aged on the lees for 10 months with batonnage.  It reveals toasty, spicy oak and white peach to the nose – rich and enticing.  In the mouth these flavours mingle deliciously with fresh grapefruit and apple close to the core (no malo a good thing), which makes for a beautifully balanced yet very involving, very persistent palate.  Demanding even – like a number of the Chardys in Jukes’ line up (check out this Friday’s post for my notes) it has almost a chewy savouriness to it which I loved.  It is most certainly a wine to savour.  Terrific.  13.5%  The RRP is £39; contact Hallowed Ground for stockists.

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