European Wines: Countering the New World – Part 1

Here in the UK we are now spoilt for choice with the number of excellent wines available. The fact we drink more wine across the social spectrum encourages more producers to try to establish a foothold here.

This increase in wine consumption was due to the influx of cheap and drinkable Australian wine, the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc success and affordable wines from Chile and the USA. However, these countries are moving to produce higher quality wines meaning that European wines are well placed to increase their market share. Now is a good time to take the plunge to buy something different.

In this article several types of wine will be recommended and hopefully the reader will seek some of them out.

We’ll start with England where global warming has allowed grapes to fully ripen, so helping to produce some excellent sparkling wines (made by the traditional method). Try Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Coates & Seeley, Camel Valley or Chapel Down to name a few. The white table wine made from the Bacchus grape is excellent especially from Chapel Down or Camel Valley.

Italy is a wonderful source of both red and white indigenous varieties mainly from central and southern parts. For the whites the grape varieties Pecorino, Fiano, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Verdicchio must be tried. All of these are far superior to the watery Pinot Grigio that seems to be popular.

From the north try Gavi or Soave (if you pay over £10 you will be amazed at the quality).

Among the reds, Primitivo, Nero d’Avola, Negroamaro offer full bodied wines that are good value.

Portugal has, like Italy, indigenous unknown grape varieties. From the north, the whites Alvarinho, and Loureiro are dry while the Douro offers lovely reds from the superb 2011 vintage. Further south wines from Alentejo and Lisboa regions are excellent with wineries such as Chocapalha, Julian Reynolds, Cortes de Cima, Malhadinha, Mouchao have excellent whites and reds.

However, these will not be available from supermarkets – look online at to find your nearest stockist. This is where independent wine merchants will be able to offer such wines and informed advice.

Spain has traditionally been Rioja-driven and whilst still popular there are many other areas that deserve attention.

In the north Galicia has the dry white Albarino and the red Mencia whilst Rueda is a popular white from the Verdejo grape. Tempranillo is the main grape for Rioja and is found in many other areas. Try it from Toro, Ribeira del Duero, Navarra. Any of the wines from Torres also deserve attention as the standard of wine making has improved dramatically over the last decade.

If you would enjoy learning more about wine then consider joining the Lambourn Wine Circle – the new term starts on 15 October – or having a wine tasting evening at home or at your company during the summer.

Please contact Brian Davis on 01488 670 468 or


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