Take the sizzle

out of summer with

‘Old World’ white wines!

Whether they are red or white ‘Old World’ wines from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain are usually much more ‘dry’ in style than ‘New World’ wines from North and South America, Australia and South Africa.

Traditional, uncontrolled open vat fermentation in these European wineries and a tendency to allow the grapes to transform into wines using natural, wild, ambient yeasts – rather than cultured yeasts - accentuates the natural acidity and moderates the residual grape sugars.

Extended maceration after fermentation – letting the wine soak on the grape skins – often creates wines with higher phenolic levels, more complexity and higher levels of tannins. Consequently these ‘Old World’ wines can pair better with food than their ‘New World’ counterparts.

Slightly effervescent, Vinho Verde – ‘green’ wine - is in fact a Portuguese white wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. Ideal with white fish and perfect with oysters, this is always a sassy sipper.

The Loureio, Arinto, Azal and Trajadura grape varietals used in making Lago Cerqueira Vinho Verde (273318) $13.79 impart lightly floral nuances, bright flavours of dried pineapple and subtle tropical characteristics as well as almond notes and vivid acidity with a touch of chalky minerality.

Legends tell us that it was Dionysus (aka: Bacchus) – the God of Wine - who brought wine to Sicily. Today, Sicilian winemakers are producing reds and whites from traditional indigenous varieties. Grillo thrives in Sicily’s sun-baked vineyards and can make surprisingly full-bodied whites.

With its intriguingly complex medley of fruity aromas, Canapi Grillo (125948) $15.79 flaunts flavours of peach, nectarine, mandarin orange and grapefruit. Very fruity on first sip, it finishes ‘dry’ with a sprinkling of white pepper and anise.


Like many European wineries, Cabriac Castle is a family domain – and has been since 1802 - owned by Jean and Michèle Cibeins who carefully

ensure the cultivation of vineyards and the development of their wines in their particularly favorable Pays d'Oc terroir.

Domaine de Cabriac Vermentino (464396) $18.79 shows subtle notes of honey, caramel, dried apricot and the ever-elusive quince. There’s a sprinkling of earthy white pepper in the finish of this deep gold white.

The Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine AOP - Appellation d'Origine Protégée - area covers 23 municipalities to the southeast of Nantes, in the north-western corner of France, and is named for

the wine grapes that thrive there – Muscadet – and the two rivers that cross it – the Petite Maine and the Sèvre Nantaise.

Only stainless steel was used to ferment and age Château du Coing de St Fiacre Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine (174631) $18.99 but it qualifies as Muscadet ‘sur lie’ due to six months ageing on its fine lees after the fermentation. A delicate, pale lemon colour with light floral aromas of casaba melon, pear and lightly toasted bread. The palate is juicy with pure, bright citrus flavours and a long, finely textured finish.

Established in 1921 by Baptiste Dutheil, then developed by René Couly who married Madeleine Dutheil, the House of Couly-Dutheil has become over the years one of the greatest names for Chinon. Today Couly-Dutheil remains a family house owned by the third and fouth generation.

Couly-Dutheil is a well-established estate in the Chinon region of the Loire Valley.  The French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée laws do not recognize white wines made from Cabernet Franc grapes in this region, so the only category

available for this to be bottled as was Vin de Table and thus prohibited from mentioning any regions, grapes, or vintages. 

Despite these difficulties, Couly-Dutheil Blanc de Franc (160019) $31.99 tastes delicious, with lychee and honeyed apple and peach flavors and an intriguing hint of yeasty, dusty raspberries in the lengthy finish.

Rías Baixas is a Denominaciones de Origen wine zone in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, located along the Atlantic coastline. The vineyards of Rías Baixas and Vinho Verde provide the perfect mix of granite-rich soils and cool, wet coastal climatic conditions necessary to create dry white wines from the Albariño grape.

A traditional blend of 70 per cent Albarino with 15 per cent Loureira and 15 per cent Caino Blanco, Terras Gauda Rias Baixas O Rosal (390567) $35.99 exudes aromas of freshly peeled ripe peaches, aromatic herbs – sage and mint – and mandarin oranges. An almost peppery, chalky minerality adds weight to this elegant white.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com