Portugal and southwest France
Two rather good white wines tonight.
Quinta de Covela Branco 2004 Minho, Portugal
A blend of white varieties including Avesso and Chardonnay, from the Douro region of Portugal, except that this bit of the Douro doesn’t have the more usual schist-based soils, but instead the granite that’s more common to northern Portugal. The soils make a difference. This unoaked white is lean, very minerally and has appley, lemony fruit. It’s tart, fresh and delicious, with a grapefruity tang and a savoury sort of character. Very classy stuff that’s also beautifully packaged. Very good+ 89/100 (UK availability Corney & Barrow)
Vitage Vielh de Lapeyre Jurançon Sec 2003 Souhwest France
From a parcel of old vines (40 years) planted with Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng and Corbu fermented and aged in 600 litre barrels. As you’d expect from a top Jurançon, this is a striking wine, with notes of herb and dried straw accompanying fresh lemon fruit and vanilla. It’s complex, savoury and long with a spicy, almost tannic finish. Delicious, thought-provoking stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100 (UK availability Les Caves de Pyrene)