JWL Issue #071: What is salinity? Plus 3 white wines to try

October 1, 2019

It was my birthday this weekend and was fortunate enough to drink a lot of very nice wine during the process. A treat to myself was Gusbourne’s 2014 sparkling rosé.

Jancis covered sparkling rosé in her FT column this week (though focused on Champagne rather than our own soils). For me, English sparkling rosé really seems to suit out vineyards here – and from winemakers I’ve talked to, there’s a lot of interest in pinot meunier in particular driving that.

It’s Seafood Week this week, which with these darker nights immediately feels like an oddly timed one. And yet, it’s now entering prime oyster season, with almost all seafood in full swing. Taste this week focuses on three wines I’ve had recently that pair very well with seafood.

I’ve off on holiday for a long weekend to the Dordogne. I’ve long wanted to go to the birthplace of civilisation ever since Keith Floyd visited it in Floyd on France. LA spent much of her childhood there, and so it should be a much deserved break. Any last minute tips, send them my way.

And finally, the next Wine List box goes out towards the end of this week. The official order cutoff was yesterday, but if you missed it and still want in: you can sign up until midday today.


A Trio of White Wines

Longtime readers will know I’m a big lover of white Rioja. The Cune Barrel Fermeneted Rioja Blanco (£10.35 from Co-op & Booths, though currently £8.24 on offer at Waitrose) is no exception. This is rich and rounded with limes, white flowers and and a refreshing salinity to it that finish an exceptionally good value wine.

Chablis’ racing acidity usually pairs it the perfect pair for oysters. The Louis Jadot Chablis 2018 (£20.99 from Ocado) is no exception, though its weight means it will hold up to some meatier fish too. This has peach and pear and lemon in abundance with medium body and long finish, not quite as mineral as I’d hoped from a Chablis: this felt more like a typical white Burgundy.

Finally, Tillingham White (£17 from Pull The Cork) is a real delight. Winemaker Ben Walgate wanted to test as many different wines out as possible in his first years and so far is really hitting a stride with his low intervention, natural Sussex wine. The Tillingham White has a flinty smokiness, lashings of apples, and a textured palate


What does salt/salinity really mean in wine?

Some wine words are obvious, but most seem to be more ambiguous. Salt or salinity is one that often falls into this category.

Depending which camp you fall into, there’s either presence of salt driven by climate and terroir. Or it’s a feeling evoked by an unoaked, acidic wine that draws you to think of salty oyster shells for example. While Chablis can often carry the description, a lot of Sicilian wines fall into this camp too.

Trying to research the origin of the aroma proved non-conclusive, have you read anything that can provide more light? Please do share.

Further Reading:

Pink Champagne, JancisRobinson.com

Perigord, Floyd on France.

Seafood chart: what’s in season.

The Wine List: learn about wine while drinking great wine

Why we taste salt in wines, Qz.

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