I’m often asked what my favourite wine is. My answer changes depending on the season. In the depths of winter a French Cotes du Rhone is a favourite go to; a blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Grenache pairs beautifully with a comfortable chair and a fireside. As the seasons change my preference turns to ‘mountain style white wine’.
Mountain wine conjures up scenes from Heidi or The Sound of Music – a beautiful mountain, clean air, alpine and edelweiss. Life on the mountain slope is hard. The steep vineyards, high altitude and thin soils pose a physical challenge to growers. Vines cling to the rocky ground, pushing roots deep into the available soil to establish themselves, finding pockets of moisture and nutrients. The tough growing conditions produce racy, lean wines well deserving of the wine awards and medals they win.
Favourite examples of this style come from the Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy. The best Pinot Grigio from this area is pristine, fresh and unoaked with clean aromatics of green apple and pear, delicate floral blossom and a distinctive taut minerality. The aromatic continues to the palate where bright acidity awakens the mouth.
Torrontes from Argentina is another white grape variety that grows especially well in the high altitude vineyards, this time the slopes of The Andes. Torrontes is aromatic and often a richer on the palate with a tropical expression. One to look out for this spring and a great wine to pair with Thai dishes.