What to drink this week
House white wines
I wrote a few weeks ago recommending good-value and characterful southern French red wines suitable for regular pouring at home. When it comes to whites with similar virtues— extremely drinkable and versatile, not aspiring to the highest levels of complexity—the most promising source has turned out, perhaps surprisingly, to be Sicily. Surely Sicily is too far south to produce crisp and refreshing whites? Think again.
Why you should be drinking them
Some clever producers, aided by the island’s chief viticultural research station outside Palermo, realised a while ago that Sicily possessed excellent white varieties in the form of Grillo, Inzolia and Catarratto. These wines share the characteristics of herbal aromas and full-bodied vinosity combined with crispness. Grillo is the crispest and currently most fashionable; Inzolia and, sometimes, Catarratto, have a certain nuttiness.
What to drink
Waitrose, the only supermarket chain that behaves like a serious wine merchant, has been sniffing out some excellent Sicilian whites in recent months. Corbello Catarratto/inzolia 2015 (£7.99; www.waitrose.com) has nice, rounded vinosity and a fresh, lemony acidity—a brilliant alternative to Macon Villages. Rapitalà Grillo 2015 (right, £8.99; www.waitrose.com) is excellent value, with appetising notes of bitter herbs on the nose, good mouth-feel and a long finish. My third choice, a kind of superior house wine, isn’t from Sicily, but from an even more unexpected source: Costières de Nîmes 2015 Château Roubaud (£12.30; www.yapp.co.uk) has buttercup-yellow colour, a ripe, honeyed nose and lovely texture and length—it’s just too good to leave out.