With temperatures back in the mid-30’s its way too hot to appreciate red wine. Luckily I’ve been treated to tastings of two excellent whites in the last week. The first, Domaine Nalys’s new cuvee for this year “Cuvee Eicelenci 2008″, a blend of majority Roussanne, Clairette and Grenache, matured in 2/3 yr old barriques but the wood impression is very slight. This is a wine which in my view elevates Nalys’s white wine range- always a selling point of the Domaine and at 15% of production way above the aoc average for whites vs reds- to a new high standard. The elegance and minerality previously seen in their standard cuvee whites is now accompanied by greater opulent texture ( but still on the elegance not the “fat” Roussanne style), crisp lingering finish and more assertive tones of white flowers, nuts and quince. Lovely balanced wine which deservedly won the IWSC silver medal/best in its category in London this year. And very fairly priced at €25 - better than many CNPs at €40. Also proves the point that 2008 whatever you think of the reds was a great Whites vintage.
Second up: Philippe Gimel’s fantastic Ventoux blanc 2007 . Boxing way out of its class this is a wine which will convince you of at least two things:1. Its not necessary to include Roussanne in the blend to create a big textured wine with full flavours - this is a blend of Grenache, Bourbolenc and Clairette. 2. You dont have to be shopping in CNP to drink the best whites of the Southern Rhone, - OK it might cost the same as entry level CNP, but ut’s simply better. 3.Stainless steel and 15 yr old barrels are sufficient to create this opulent style, no need for small/new wood as long as you have low yields (20hl/ha), natural yeasts, and Gimel’s fanatical attention to detail. The wine has a medium straw appearance, on the palate cavaillon melon and honey as well as refreshing citrus fruit and sufficient acidity to give an overall impression of perfect balance. I only wish there had been more in the bottle, my wife gave away to two glasses to some guests who had just arrived when my back was turned!