Wicketly tasty cricket whites: They’re razor-sharp, lusciously light and sure to bowl you over
Recently I visited Arundel cricket ground in West Sussex – if you’re a fan of the game, it has to be the most picturesque place in the world to watch a match. With the crowd bathed in glorious sunshine, Spitfires looping through the Sussex sky (yep, really) and the drinks flowing freely, it got me thinking about the best light whites to pour through these warmer weeks.
I tend to think of light white wines in two ways. First, their flavour – upbeat, texturally elfish and with razor-sharp refreshment. But also easy on the booze, below say 12.5% but ideally even lower, about 10.5%, as these are drinks that are likely to be sipped cold with nibbles rather than accompanying a full-blown meal. For splendid examples that are packed with zesty flavour, English whites are the way forward, from grapes such as Bacchus.
Great growers include New Hall, Camel Valley, Hoffmann & Rathbone, or try my Winbirri wine of the week from Norfolk. It’s worth every penny of its price tag. Our marginal climate keeps our white wines thrillingly deft, and if you’re looking further afield, maritime margins are dotted with deliciousness. Albariño and Godello are sublime from Spain’s Galician coast, or try Txakoli from the north-eastern coast around San Sebastián, which is as sharp as a chalice chipped from ice.
For a similar spritzy texture but a more tropical taste, Portuguese Vinho Verde, from the coast of northern Portugal, is a winner. But for wines that are sharper than citrus spears and pure as liquid crystal, France’s Atlantic coast around Gascony has a hoard of bargains, from grapes such as Colombard, Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Arrufiac and Petit Manseng. Saint Mont is a wonderful example that you can find on the high street in M&S and Tesco for a tenner and under. If you’re specifically after whites that, while light, have a fuller flavour, look for Italian whites such as Falanghina, Fiano and even Passerina (Tesco Finest is a great one for £6.50).
And if you find yourself at the cricket in Sussex, eyes to the skies and spot those Spitfires!