16th July 2024
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Special Wine Club Offer: Chill out with our summer whites selection

With the summer solstice just behind us and temperatures staying stubbornly in the thirties, it’s the time of the year when us wine drinkers instinctively reach for a bottle of nicely chilled white wine to cool us down. But how chilled is chilled and can we take it all too far?

Convention says that white and rosé wines are best served chilled while red wines work best at something called ‘room temperature’ – which is an irritatingly imprecise term, especially in the Spanish summer when rooms can get over 30ºC with no trouble at all!

But conventions, a bit like rules, are there to be broken, or at least bent a bit to suit your purposes, so let’s explore what’s what. One important thing to remember is that while we want wine to refresh us, we also want it to intrigue and beguile us with its aromas and flavours.

So, time for a spot of science. A wine’s body, or alcohol level, is key to determining how much it can be chilled. We generally talk about wines over 13.5% alcohol as being full-bodied, and the fuller bodied a wine is, the warmer it needs to be before its volatile compounds begin to vaporise and we start to enjoy the wine’s lovely aromas when we stick our nose into the glass. Lighter wines vaporise more easily so they can be drunk at lower temperatures.

Once we understand that it can help us appreciate that hard and fast rules about reds and whites are not very helpful. So over-chilling fuller bodied whites, for example, will stop you appreciating their subtler nuances, while lighter reds – think Pinot Noir or, here in Spain, a Mencía perhaps – can benefit from a short blast in the fridge before serving.

All very interesting, we hear you cry, but what actual temperature are we talking about? Well, as a rule of thumb if you want to get the most out of any wine, red, pink or white, you want to aim somewhere between 15ºC and 18ºC. Conversely, if you’ve a cheapo bottle at the back of a cupboard you want to get rid of, chilling it down to so-called ‘cellar temperature’ between 10ºC and 13ºC should help mask most of its flaws.

Finally, a couple of practical tips. If you’re going to use an ice bucket to chill your wine, chuck some water in there as well as the two together are a much more effective combo. And don’t worry too much about over-chilling your wine by a degree or so. Once it’s in the glass and surrounded by all that ambient air, the wine’s temperature will inevitably increase by about 1ºC every three minutes until it reaches ambient temperature.

So, practicalities out of the way let’s look at this month’s wine offer: six brilliant value, thirst-quenching whites, perfect for chilling, from the light, crisp and dry to more structured wines that will work perfectly with a summer meal.

We start in Rioja, with two white wines from two family-run wineries working in different corners of the DO. Polus Blanco from second generation Rioja Alavesa producer Loli Casado, is made from Viura vines planted more than 70 years ago. Golden yellow with delicious aromas of tropical fruit and white flowers, it’s got great balance and a medium to long finish.

Thirty kilometres south of Loli, in the higher, cooler Najerilla valley sub-zone, Juan Carlos Sancha makes Ad Libitum Tempranillo Blanco, a single varietal white bursting with notes of green apple, citrus fruit, white flowers, peach and pear. It’s got a nice broad palate with fresh acidity and a little weight from its time on the lees – perfect for a summer lunch in the shade!

From Rioja, we head 260km south-west to Rueda, home of some of Spain’s most popular white wines made from the Verdejo grape. Basa, from famed winemaker Temo Rodríguez, is a Verdejo with a 10% splash of Viura in the blend. It’s from 2022 which was a warm vintage, and the wine gives off aromas of ripe yellow fruit, with a touch of herb and spice. “Tasty and balanced” in the words of Luis Gutierrez, the chief taster in Spain for US wine critic Robert Parker, who awarded this wine 90 points.

Our second white from Rueda is Viña Clavidor, a delicious blend of Verdejo and Viura grapes vines planted more than 80 years ago and tended for generations by the same family. An organic approach and traditional farming techniques produce a refreshing wine packed with white fruit, mountain herbs and mineral notes.

Time to leave the central meseta and head up to Spain’s north-west for our Galician white. D’Mateo Quintas is an enticing blend of Treixadura, Godello, Torrontés – three grapes which typify the white wines of DO Ribeiro. Straw yellow in colour, it has mouth-watering aromas of apple and pear and just a touch of minerality. The orchard fruit continues on the palate, mingling with a touch of lemon and lime, and some herbaceous notes. A great alternative for all those Sauvignon Blanc fans out there.

Our final wine in the box is from northern Spain: Gorka Izagirre from DO Bizkaiko Txakolina. One of the Basque Country’s finest exports, Txakoli wines are famed for their pale colour, aromas of citrus fruit, fresh grass and white flowers, and their crisp, fresh acidity. This fine example from Gorka Izagirre is no exception: fresh, aromatic, and at just 12.5% ABV is exceptionally easy to drink.

So don’t let the temperatures get you down. Take a look at our Latest Special Offer, clear out a corner of your fridge and order yourself a case or two of these refreshing white wines to help to keep you cool over the summer, with a special price for Spain in English readers! We also offer free shipping to mainland Spain. Take a look at the latest offer and get your order in now.

Please click here to see all the current Spain in English Wine Club offers.

Matthew Desoutter is a wine writer and owner of Simply Spanish Wine.

ALSO READ: Grab yourself a Garnacha.

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