After the success of my Best Co-op Wines feature, it seemed only proper to roll out my Best Waitrose Wine recommendations too. For this piece, I’ve decided to concentrate on my top five whites. Of course, I haven’t tried EVERY Waitrose white wine (has anyone?!), but I’ve had quite a few. Probably too many.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are my best Waitrose white wine recommendations for 2018. I’ve deliberately included a wide variety of grapes and styles from all over the world, which I’m sure will suit every palate. Most of these wines are sometimes on special offer, and I’ve also included the offer prices (correct at the time of writing) — so keep ’em peeled.
I’ll have to get some medals knocked up…
Dourthe Terroirs d’Exception Roqueblanche (France)
This white Bordeaux, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, is exceptional value at less than a tenner. The typical Sauv Blanc notes of fresh grass and lime are the first to emerge, but if left to open up for a few minutes you’ll find tropical fruit emerging — in particular, passion fruit and guava.
Fruity, elegant and invigorating, but more subtle and classy, in my opinion, than a lot of the hugely popular New Zealand Sauv Blancs doing the rounds these days.
Dourthe “Terroirs d’Exception” Roqueblanche 2017 is available at Waitrose for £9.49 (offer price £6.99). 12% volume.
Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner (Austria)
Dry, light, refreshing and a touch peppery, Grüner Veltliner is by far the most widely produced wine in Austria. This one’s from the small designated region of Traisental, which is on roughly the same latitude as northern Burgundy, making it a cool-to-moderate climate for vineyards.
My tastebuds found this overwhelmingly appley — almost akin to a vinho verde. And on the nose, it’s stewed apple and celery, with a light dusting of white pepper — which I promise is more pleasant than it sounds. Interesting, refreshing and very good value — especially when it’s reduced (as it often is).
Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner 2016 is available at Waitrose for £10.79 (offer price £7.99), 12.5% vol.
Stopham Estate Pinot Gris (England)
English wine is on the up. And this Pinot Gris from West Sussex producer Stopham Estate marched off with a gold medal at the second annual Independent English Wine Awards, where wines from 22 counties went head to head. Not did it win its category… it was crowned the best of the best still wines.
And, thanks to this year’s spectacular summer, the 2018 vintage looks set to be even better.
Like most cool-climate whites, this one’s pale in colour, light in body and also pretty light in alcohol. Its acidity is high but not overpowering and on the palate it’s clean and refreshing, yet soft and fruity. On the nose you get a surprising array of stone fruit — peach and apricot — and I might have even detected a spot of rhubarb in the background.
The downsides? It’s not cheap, and I’m not sure how widely available it is outside Sussex.
Stopham Estate Pinot Gris 2015 is available at Waitrose for £15.99, 11.5% vol.
Hunky Dory Tangle Blend (New Zealand)
Here’s an unusual one: a blend of Pinot Gris (55%), Gewürztraminer (35%) and Riesling (10%) from the Riverlands district of South Marlborough, New Zealand.
The ingredients fight for dominance in a spicy mix, with the distinctive rubberiness of Riesling hitting you first, followed by the fragrant, spicy Gewürztraminer. Despite occupying the largest volume, the Pinot has to fight to get noticed against such powerful opposition, but it gives the whole thing a subtle edge of fruitiness and light drinkability.
Expect to find honey, lime, mandarin, jasmine, ginger and apple in there. The label’s cool too.
The Hunky Dory Tangle from Huia Vineyards, New Zealand, is available at Waitrose for £11.99 (offer price £9.49). 14% vol.
Frei Brothers Chardonnay (USA)
Hailing from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County (a relatively cool region north of San Francisco), this is, in many ways a typical Californian Chardonnay. But that’s in no way a bad thing
At first sniff, it’s very oaky. But don’t let that put you off. It opens up to unveil ever more intense vanilla, buttery caramel and baked apple aromas from the oak and malolactic fermentation. On the tongue, it’s sweet ‘n’ dry, with freshly-baked apple pie flavours — complete with crispy, buttery crust.
Full bodied with bold flavours, this is like the Hulk Hogan of white wines (in a good way). And you couldn’t really get more American than that, could you.
Frei Brothers Chardonnay 2015 is available at Waitrose for £17.99 (reduced price £12.99). 14% vol.