£11.99 on offer, waitrosecellar
The rocky, arid Saint Chinian appellation in Languedoc is much better known for its red wines, but its whites – just 5% of production – are always worth trying. Witness this captivating example with its late-summer orchard fruit, dried flower and hay aromas and full, yet elegantly mineral, spice-edged palate – a wine bound by energy, texture, structure and freshness.
The grape varieties are Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Vermentino and Viognier (40: 30:20:10) from vineyards on limestone-clay soils on a high plateau in the south of Saint Chinian, rather than from the schist soils to the north. A fifth of the of the wine is aged in new oak barrels for 10 months, the rest ages in concrete on fine lees.
If Saint Chinian Blanc is a name to look out for, so is the producer Calmel & Joseph, a small négociant business run by oenologist Laurent Calmel and Jérome Joseph producing wines that properly reflect the different terroirs of Languedoc-Roussillon. What sets them apart from other négociants is that they work with their grower-partners, selecting parcels of vines and agreeing how they should be farmed, before vinifying, ageing, blending and bottling them on site. They also have their own domaine with 20 ha of vineyard.
The wine is a delight on its own and goes well with fish and seafood, excluding oily fish like mackerel but including fish pies, risotto alla pescatora and fish stews. Spices like saffron and Chinese five-spice have an affinity, but beware of being heavy handed with them. Try a classic risotto alla milanese. 13.5%
Calmel & Joseph Saint Chinian Blanc 2018, Languedoc, France
£11.99 on offer this month, reverting to £13.99 in December, waitrosecellar