(2020) Typical varieties for this region of Southwest France, Colombard and Gros Manseng, were harvested during the night for maximum cool freshness, which gives this wine a bright, punchy and elderflower-scented Sauvignon-like aromatic, some of those thiols giving a touch of cat's pee on a gooseberry bush, a phrase so memorably coined by Oz Clarke to describe New Zealand's Sauvignons Blanc. The palate has both a ripe, tropical fruit lushness and streaming, citrussy acidity, the whole thing light, bright and straighforward verging on obvious, but it does a fine summer-in-the-garden job. Look out for discounts, as it is often available with 50p or £1 off. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) A really very charming rosé this, pale in colour and extremely fresh and appetising. Equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tannat and local speciality Pinenc form 90% of the blend, along with 10% of the local white grape Petit Courbu. Viticulture is carried out according to phases of the moon, and the wine harvested in the early hours of the morning of a 'fruit day', according to the biodynamic calendar. There's a litghtly herbal note, stone fruit aromas and a mineral, slightly smoky sense, before tangy raspberry, grapefruit and passion fruit in the mouth, plenty of zesty acidity and a mouth-watering, dry finish.
(2019) Chemin des Pelèrins is label of the giant Plaimont Cooperative, a very good winery that accounts for a big majority of all Saint Mont appellation bottlings. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinenc and Tannat, it has a pretty pale pink colour and immediately fruity/confectionery nose. IN the mouth the pert, berry fruit and acidity continues, though for me those does finish with a slightly awkward lemony bite.
(2018) From typical grapes of the Pacherenc appellation, 50% Gros Manseng plus Petit Manseng, Courbu and Arrufiac, this is a light, fragrant dessert wine, not too sweet, but honeyed and quite exotic with papaya and mango aromas, the palate quite creamy and full-textured, clean limey flavours and a good balance of acidity into the finish. For the lightest, least sweet desserts, foie-gras or more subtle blue cheeses. Price for a 50cl bottle.
(2018) Think Malbec, think Argentina? Argentina produces some fabulous Malbec wines that have soared in popularity recently, however, the variety's spiritual home was, and remains, in Cahors, an appellation of Southwest France whose Malbec wines were at one time more famous that Bordeaux. This is a fine, plump and luscious example, perhaps 20% Merlot in the blend adding extra plummy depths of fruit, but smooth as silk too and the elegant cherry acidity of the finish keeping the picture sharply focused. A cracking red meat all-rounder, finishing on spice.
(2017) A blend of Colombard and Chardonnay, with drops of Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng and Ugni Blanc, this plays the pungent, elderflower and passion fruit character to the hilt aromatically, but perhaps it's the Chardonnay that adds a little more peachy richness and weight to the mid-palate, plenty of zingy tropicality too, a real fireworks mouthful of wine to sip on its own, or pair up with a goat's cheese salad or soufflé.
(2017) I'm a fan of the wines of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, the appellation of Southwest France that covers exactly the same footprint as Madiran, but whilst Madiran is for red wines, Pacherenc is for whites, many of which are dessert wines like this one. From the super-co-op that dominates the neighbouring area of Saint-Mont, the Producteurs Plaimont, it is made from late-harvested Gros Manseng grapes. It has honey and a touch of leaf tea and tobacco on the nose, a suggestion of apricot or yellow plum too. Sweet on the palate for sure, but not heavy, those stone fruit flavours persist, touches of honey and barely sugar, but a lovely tangy marmalade orange acidity to balance makes it a banker for blue cheeses, fruity desserts or foie gras. Price is for 50cl.
(2015) From arguably the finest estate of Madiran and Pacherenc, this dry white wine is made from 100% Petit Courbu and has had five years to come together. It has an absolutely gorgeous nose, waxy with star fruit and pear and loads of aroma. With nuttiness, honey and floral hints too it is endlessly complex. The palate is filled with a cool, limpid fruit, yellow plum fleshiness and then that crunching racy acidity and salty finish. Just fabulous stuff at a very reasonable price for the quality.
(2015) We kick off the whites with an unusual 'moelleux', literally meaning 'mellow', off-dry white made from late-harvested Gros Manseng grapes in the South-west of France. With only 11.5% alcohol this is such a charming little wine, succulent with honey, nectarine and herb aromas, before the palate that is limpid and rich, but with a streaking apple acidity to balance. The winemaker suggests drinking with Comte cheese, and I'd throw Mimolet or even Parmesan into the mix too, but a delicious wine.
(2008) I am a huge fan of the sweet white wines of Jurançon, and for me this is one of the stars of Wine Discoveries' impressive portfolio. Hand-harvested in November, there are several 'passes through the vineyard to select only raisined, but perfect grapes. It is vinified in barriques, about 40% of which are new. It has a simply gorgeous nose, flooded with nectarine, honey and marmalade, with nuances of leaf tea and roasted sesame seeds. On the palate it is medium-bodied, and has a beautiful balance between the sweet, honeyed and glycerine fruits, and a precise core of orange acidity. The subtle support of delicate oak just adds a layer of creamy texture and flavour. Exquisite stuff.