An Easter Sunday lunch tradition of whole salmon with Jackson Estate wine set fish and sauvignon blanc as an early default choice within my family.
As things moved into this century, though, a range of other options opened up – and became standard.
So much so that I have written this whole piece without another reference to the “s” word grape.
The convention of white wine with fish is less ironclad than it was but, nevertheless, that partnership does retain relevance.
One reason is lightness – fish flavours can be delicate and white wine often avoids overpowering them.
Another is the citrus flavours many white wines possess – thus, the wine serves the same purpose as adding a squeeze of lemon to your meal.
If, however, food matching is of no interest to you, fear not – these wines work well with other food, or with none at all.
In keeping with last week’s suggestions about “trading up” to eat at home though, several of today’s recommendations cost a little more than usual.
There are, however, a couple of less expensive options at the end.
The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.
Starting in France
2021 Ormarine Les Clavelines Picpoul de Pinet (£14.19 at Strictly Wine by case of 6 and 12.5% abv):
Languedoc’s Picpoul de Pinet vineyards are next door to Etang de Thau – a coastal lagoon that is a prime source of oysters.
No surprise then that it has become the “go-to” French wine for shellfish and here we have an excellent, premium, example of the wine.
Crisp and clean yet with richness too, it delivers intense apple, greengage and green herb flavours.
Support for those features come in the shape of grapefruit acidity and (surprisingly) both honey and saline elements too.
Moving to “Green Spain”.
2022 Pazo Torrado Albarino (£15.50 at Talking Wines and 13%):
Once we move up to premium examples from Rias Baixus, its sub-regions acquire more importance.
Both today’s examples are from Val do Salnés which is considered the most important of the five sub-regions of Rias Baixus.
It is a coastal area with lower temperatures and higher rainfall than other parts of that particular segment of Spain that lies north of the Portuguese border.
Aromatic with textured depth, this wine features apple, quince and nectarine flavours with good acidity and hints of grapefruit pith, banana and an inevitable saline twist.
Thence to the top of the table.
2019 Albarino Granbazan Don Alvaro de Bazan (£36.50 Hedonism Wines and 13.5%)
At its pinnacle, the albarino grape becomes more substantial, viscous and complex with increasing levels of tropical fruit joining the variety’s more familiar constituents.
This version is a beautiful option that shows off Rias Baixus wines with richness and style.
Intricate and stylish, it opens with orange blossom aromas that lead into rich apple, melon, apricot and greengage flavours enlivened by vibrant tangerine acidity.
And for something traditional.
2020 Collection Chablis (£15 at M&S and 12.5%)
France’s Chablis has a long-standing association with seafood partly because of that region's reticence about using oak.
Its sparing use tends to avoid barrel influences overwhelming those delicate piscine flavours.
In addition, its acidity counterbalances the saltiness of some seafood and counteracts the oiliness in others.
Here is a good example of what its distinctive flair and elegance is all about.
Bright yet restrained in its style, it has medium bodied pear, melon and green apple flavours.
These are coupled with very fresh lemon acidity and that sense of sophistication Chablis, in particular, effortlessly exudes.
But what if oak is needed?
2020 Clos Du Bois Chardonnay (Currently £10.50 – instead of £12.50 – at Ocado and 13.7%):
However, more substantial fish dishes like tuna and those containing a creamy sauce are often improved by modestly oaked wine.
The resulting dash of butter or vanilla flavours can help, especially if there is richness to the dish.
It is important though that the oak effects are not excessive and this Californian example gets the balance spot on, in my view.
Smooth and golden in colour, it exhibits smoky peach, pineapple and nutty flavours built into a creamy texture that is given verve by grapefruit acidity.
2021 Silène Chardonnay Limoux (£10 at the Co-op and 13.5%):
It’s back to Languedoc for this chardonnay made by the Jean-Claude Mas stable.
The fruit is from his vineyards in the Limoux area in the Aude valley where the altitude and cooler climate suits chardonnay perfectly.
To me, this goes way beyond what you expect from wine at this price but, as can be the case with Co-op wines, availability may be an issue.
Clean and bright with an excellent length, it brings us ripe pear, peach and almond flavours with floral aromas and suggestions of toffee, vanilla and mint.
Finally another step back in time
2021 Champteloup Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (£9.99 at Waitrose and 12%):
Muscadet (last century’s seafood wine of choice) is back in town and this example is several steps above entry point versions in quality, but only marginally so in price.
Boosted by modern winemaking and help from climate change, today’s muscadet is now far superior to those tired options of the Nineties.
Crisply refreshing, this one is centred on lemon, green apple and pear flavours.
These are complemented by punchy acidity, floral texture and yeast-based “lees” depth to create an all-round, great value wine.
Most stockists of today’s selections are well known but here are details of a trio that may be less familiar.
Talking Wines is a Cirencester based retailer that also provides an online service.
This sets out their basic philosophy and their list includes producers of False Bay and Villa Blanche – wines I regard highly and have featured in other posts .
Meanwhile, Hedonism Wines is a London based operation with a big, experienced team sourcing, looking after and offering a selection of “special” wines.
Here are some details of their extensive team.
Finally, Strictly Wines is an online wine retailer based in Didcot that I have often found a good source of affordable wines of reliable quality.
This link takes you to their “About Us” page.
My next post (on Monday) contains the terrific recommendations of Top Tips that have become commonplace in the weekly feature of that name.
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