Grape Expectations: Ugni Blanc

Having just come back from a rather lovely family trip to the South of France, my mind has turned to Ugni Blanc. Despite the fact that you may not have heard of it, I am certain that almost all of you will have tasted it at some point.

It is one of France’s most widely planted grape varieties, and forms the basis of a huge number of what you might term ‘Fridge Door Whites’. These are good value, relatively neutral, easy drinking wines which can quite happily be served as a casual glass of something, or be thrown into a risotto or sauce.

You will all know that wine is never simple, and Ugni Blanc goes by several aliases. Under the rather confusing name of Saint Emilion (nothing to do with the Bordeaux commune) it forms a key ingredient for the wine which is distilled into Cognac and Armagnac. Under the name of Trebbiano Toscano, it is used to make similarly dry, easy-drinking light white wines in Italy.

Recommendation: Le Havre de Paix Cotes de Gascogne – a light and fresh Southern French blend of Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Colombard, this wine shows a zesty grapefruit character. 

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