White up Your Street

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Yes, I know it’s a terrible pun, but it’s the best I can manage at the end of the week. The point is that you probably don’t need to go very far to buy a decent white these days (or a red, for that matter). You can usually pick up a reliable bottle from the small selection of wine at most branches of Family Mart and 7-Eleven, although I don’t suppose it’s the same out in the sticks. The new local branches of Tops tend to have an interesting selection of wines too and usually a wider choice than the other two outlets. Here are a couple of good whites that you can pick up almost anywhere in these parts.

Mont Clair Bin 6 Reserve 2010 (white), South Africa/Thailand. (Family Mart, 7-Eleven and others Bt. 295; half-bottles Bt. 150)

You must be familiar with the Mont Clair range, because they seem to be everywhere.  I have been keeping an eye on this wine for some time and the 2010 is better than ever. I tried a handy half-bottle a few days ago. It’s a lovely golden colour with hints of green and there’s a rich and sensuous aroma that wafts out of the glass. Honestly, it smells much more expensive than it actually is. There’s a sweet and enticing aroma of pineapple with a delicate touch of spiciness. The wine is basically a Chardonnay made with grapes grown in the Breede River Valley in South Africa. I say “basically” because the imported wine is blended with local fruit wine – with excellent results.

The wine is light-bodied with loads of fruit on the palate and a dry but soft mouth-feel, with the tiniest touch of acidity to liven up the taste. There’s also the slightest hint of sweetness and a surprisingly long and dry finish. At a generous 13% alcohol, this is an easy-drinker that would be fun as a pre-dinner drink or with light snacks. I’d be perfectly happy to drink this solo, because it has enough interest to go it alone. If you have previously felt reluctant to try the Mont Clair range, do give this one a try. I’m sure you’ll be delighted with it – especially at this price.

Cranswick Chardonnay 2009 (white), Australia. (Family Mart, Bt. 499)

This is an attractive pale gold with a slightly greenish hue.  It’s a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Colombard and there’s plenty of sweet tropical fruit on the aroma; fresh peaches, apples and a touch of gooseberry.  In the background you might pick up a dash of citrus and perhaps a touch of mint. You’ll find that there’s a crisp mouth-feel and the peaches and apples are up-front. It has a good dash of acidity giving the wine a lively, zesty quality and there’s a long and attractive finish with a hint of dusty herbs.

Graham Cranswick’s wine - Australian style. Graham Cranswick’s wine – Australian style.

At 12.5% alcohol, it’s a light-bodied dry wine and an easy drinker too. It would make a splendid aperitif. Even so, I think it might be even better with food. The lively acidity and citrus touch would make it a good partner for fish dishes, or pasta with creamy sauce.

The Cranswick brand was created in 1991 and since then, it has produced and marketed its own range of Australian varietals, with a reputation for excellent quality and outstanding value. The winery’s website says that the family name Cranswick is thought to derive from Crane’s Wyke (it means “the village of cranes”) in Yorkshire, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1066.

There’s even a picture of a crane on the label and we are told that this particular crane (evidently known as a Sarus crane) is native to Australia and is the world’s tallest flying bird. Apparently the thing is six feet tall. That’s a tall bird, if you ask me. Actually, it’s a tall bird whether you ask me or not.