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White wine being poured into a glassSix intriguing white wines, which you can compare and contrast their different styles based on where in the world they come from.  Taste along with our wine expert and then have your say.  Read the tasting notes, buy the wines and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Paul Hopkins from MMI has chosen these six whites and suggests some great food matching ideas (he’s a keen home cook too).

Six wines, two hemispheres, two classic grape varieties – Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.  The three French wines all come from the Loire valley region, in fact Sancerre and Pouilly are very close to each other, just across the river Loire.  The difference in the terrain where the grapes are grown is noticeable in the wine styles.  Typically a Sancerre is fruitier with notes of cut grass and a Pouilly Fumé is weightier with more minerality and a slight smokiness (hence the term fumé).  Each wine has unique characteristics depending on the villages involved.  Compare the Domaine Rix Sancerre and Pascal Jolivet Attitude and see what you think.

Then we take an international journey with these grape varieties that are traditionally grown in the Loire and visit New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.  Compare the French wines with those from the New World.

March Grapevine offer wines

Domaine de Vaufuget Vouvray

This Vouvray is clean with a crisp finish.  It is easy to enjoy with a fish such as turbot where the high acidity and crisp apple flavours of the wine cut through any oiliness in the fish.

False Bay Chenin Blanc

You’ll find a few more tropical fruit flavours than the previous wine in this Chenin Blanc, meaning it is the perfect partner for something spicy like Thai spicy chicken with basil (see kapow gai recipe here).

Domaine Rix Sancerre

An elegant and sophisticated wine which overcomes the difficulty of finding something to drink with with asparagus.  Whether you have soup or simply steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, this complements the strong flavour perfectly and demonstrates well that, with food and wine matching, not all Sauvignon Blancs are the same.

Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc

Taste this Sauvignon Blanc and your mouth will be filled with zesty citrus, stone fruit, herb and floral flavours.  Try it with pan-fried salmon and roasted potato wedges (or plain old fish and chips).   Tony Dodds was really impressed with Craggy Range on his recent visit to the winery and it’s one of MMI’s ‘Oz Picks’ (by famous wine expert Oz Clarke) for March.

Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc

The beautiful freshness of this wine goes brilliantly with seafood and if you have a freshly shucked oyster try an oyster shot.  Place the oyster in a glass and pour a small amount of Attitude over it – this is oyster heaven.

Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc

At our ‘Taste with Oz‘ evening last December, this Sauvignon Blanc from Shaw and Smith was one of the most popular with our tasters – probably because it’s perfectly balanced and to be enjoyed just needs great company.

What do you think? Are the French wines better, more complex or do they go better with food?  Which ones did you enjoy the most? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Posted in ask an expert


  • D.Canter
    Tuesday 1st March 2011 4:13 pm

    Hi – I tried all 6 wines and whilst all were pretty good, the more expensive wines definitley had more flavour and fruit in my opinion. I’d love to see the Shaw & Smith on a DXB restaurant list (if reasonably priced!!). Know any that have it??

    • admin
      Wednesday 2nd March 2011 6:59 am

      Both Zuma and Okku restaurants have it on their wine lists I believe (not aware of their pricing though – there’s an article about restaurant mark-ups that I read this week that you might find interesting. Thanks for the comment.

  • daknam
    Tuesday 1st March 2011 5:21 pm

    While five bottles of the February mixed case turned out excellent, my Pinot Noir was exceptionally foul smelling, and undrinkable. The cork was intact and in good shape — I checked it again after tasting the wine — so would anyone have an idea why this might have happened?

  • srajani
    Tuesday 1st March 2011 6:02 pm

    Re your foul pinot noir, you should check with MMI what is their policy regarding returns in these circumstances. Had this happened in a restaurant, you could have sent it back.

  • admin
    Tuesday 1st March 2011 6:30 pm

    I’ll ask one of the wine team what might be the cause and send you an email about our returns policy. Thanks for comment, it helps to know when things go wrong as well as when they are right.

  • Grapevine
    Wednesday 2nd March 2011 1:13 pm

    Thanks for all comments here. We try to have our wine at peak condition at all times but if a bottle is not all that it should be please take it back to one of our stores and we will replace it.

  • tony
    Sunday 20th March 2011 5:11 pm

    Hi Daknam – re your recent comment on the foul smelling Pinot Noir. It sounds very much like the wine was ‘corked’. Don’t be misled into thinking that this has anything to do with bits of cork floating in the wine; it doesn’t. Fish those out with your finger. Corked wines taste and smell musty or mouldy; rather like damp cardboard, whilst the cork may look to be in great condition. However, if the wine is only partially affected it can merely dull the aroma and flavour of the wine. In such marginal cases, it can be particularly difficult to detect.
    The mouldy taint is imparted to the wine by the cork, which will have been treated, as part of the normal production process, with chlorine; and which then, in warm, moist conditions, has allowed the formation of a chemical called 2-4-6 Trichloroanisole, or TCA. Try and spit that out after a few glasses at your next dinner party! It won’t kill you; but it spoils the wine.
    There isn’t a cure. The blame usually lies with the cork producer rather than the winemaker or retailer. It may be prevented by not using chlorine-treated corks. Many producers are now doing this. Some are using synthetic corks, which don’t look as distinguished as real ones but why worry, if they’re kinder to the wine? And screwcaps are the other alternative which you see more and more of these days because the winery wants you to taste the wine as it should be, not spoilt by a faulty cork.
    If the smell was more’Rotten eggs’than damp cardboard, then it’s a Hydrogen Sulphide problem. H2S is produced during fermentation when sulphur and hydrogen come into contact in the absence of oxygen. It may be caused by grapes that have been dusted with sulphur during the growing season to prevent mildews from forming. Combine that with certain wine yeasts, and a lack of nutrient for the yeasts to feed on during fermentation, and you could very well end up with Hydrogen Sulphide in your wine. It is perfectly curable, by fining the wine, before bottling and should not be found in the finished wine. If you’re unlucky and get this in your bottle, aerating the wine may help.

    If you experience this again at home, please take it back to the MMI store and we’ll be happy to replace it and if you’re in a restaurant then speak to the wine waiter and have them replace it.

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