After looking at reds last week, Christine Austin moves along the wine aisle in search of the best whites for under a tenner.

With daffodils out and the thought of spring just around the corner, it is time to find some good value white wines to accompany all the light, fresh flavours of the season. With £10 as the budget here are some of the best buys on the shelves.

Aldi unveiled its new wines and vintages last week and it was clear that while the range is small it really does hit the mark on flavour and price. Because the focus is on a limited range of lines, the Aldi buyers concentrate their buying power with just a few suppliers. That gives them tremendous muscle power when it comes to negotiating prices and so they end up with some of the keenest price tags in town.

I have always been impressed by the Exquisite Collection Crémant de Jura 2015, a Chardonnay-based French sparkler from the tiny region of Jura in eastern France. It has white floral notes on the nose with clean, lively, lemon and crunchy-apple flavours. How they manage this kind of quality for just £7.99 is anyone’s guess. Among the still white wines, head for the new Wine Foundry Godello 2017 from Galicia in Spain (£6.49) which arrives in store next week. With clear lemon, ripe pear and melon notes it has a smooth, rounded texture which makes it a perfect match with a crunchy salad or grilled fish. Also well worth picking up from the shelves when it arrives in time for Easter is Gavi di Gavi 2017, a 100% Cortese wine from Piemonte in Italy. This is a wine that tempts you in with notes of peach, lime and honey, then finishes with a crisp, crunchy almost-minerally edge. It goes well with a mozzarella and tomato salad.

Last year Tesco went through their range with a fine-tooth comb and weeded out some wines that just duplicated the flavours of others. This has given their shelves a tighter, more focused appearance and their own-label Finest range is where to find some of the best flavours for money. For spring drinking try Tesco Finest Greco Beneventano 2016 (£9) from the ‘shin’ of Italy. As its name suggests, Greco arrived with the Greeks almost 3000 years ago and was once regarded as one of the premier white grape varieties of Italy. It likes a dry, volcanic soil so it is no surprise to find it doing well in this area near Vesuvius where the soil is rich in volcanic ash. The grapes acquire a peachy, herbal flavour and a glorious rich minerally texture with a structure that makes this wine terrific to put alongside substantial food, including herb-spiked fish and chicken.

Also good with herb-scented foods and salads is Tesco Finest McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills SR 2016, from South Australia (£8). Made by Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg fame, this blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Marsanne and Roussanne grapes gives fresh-tasting lime and pink grapefruit flavours backed by peachy apricot notes and zesty finish that reminds me of a lemon curd on toast. It is great now but will be even better tasted in sunshine.

If Waitrose is your favourite local supermarket then there is a huge variety of quality wines on the shelves. Head first to the New Zealand section where, after March 21, The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from Marlborough, New Zealand is reduced from £10.99 to £7.99 until 17 April. Once the clocks go back and the sun starts to shine you will find yourself pouring this crisp, zesty, gooseberry-charged wine on a regular basis as an aperitif so you might as well stock up while it is such great value. Rather more complex and flavourful is Felsner Moosburgerin Grüner Veltliner, down from £11.99 to a more tempting £8.99 for the same period. If this is the first Grüner you have tried then you first need to get used to the name – ‘grooner’ to rhyme with ‘crooner’ and then appreciate the flavour. Look for the distinct note of white pepper on the palate which is more of a gentle streak of spice and flavour without masking the crisp peach and pear fruit. This is a lovely wine to pour with roast pork since it manages to cut through the richness of the meat without dominating the whole dish.

Muscadet is a wine whose fortunes have waxed and waned depending on spring frosts which can wipe out a crop overnight. The 2017 harvest was hit hard in some areas while other parts of the region escaped unscathed. While the 2017 wines gradually makes their way into stores, it is well worth picking up a bottle or two of the 2016 Domaine Gadais Muscadet Sur Lie from Marks and Spencer (£8.50). Sur Lie means that the wine was aged on its yeast lees and so has remained fresh and acquired a note of freshly baked bread to complement the lively lemon and minerally character. Always good with oysters and shellfish, I think Muscadet is deservedly making a comeback. While you are in M&S it is well worth picking up a few bottles of Grillo 2016 from Sicily (£8). This local grape can cope with the high daytime temperatures of Sicily while retaining some fresh acidity to balance the wine. Look for notes of ripe pear combined with tangerine and a touch of honey.

Morrisons has won the title International Wine Challenge Wine Supermarket of the Year twice and if you stroll down the shelves it is easy to see how they did it. Own-label wines, with some that manage to get under the £5 price point sit comfortably alongside higher-priced brands. One wine that always impresses me is the Wm Morrison Alsace Gewürztraminer 2016 (£8) sourced from the excellent co-operative, Cave de Turckheim in Alsace, France. Tasting like a bowl of fruit salad, with rose petals and cinnamon spice and with just an edge of sweetness, this is a wine to pour alongside any lightly spiced dish. Thai or Chinese food is ideal to match with this wine especially if you have ginger, coriander, star anise or light chilli notes in the mix.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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