Finest Cotes de Gascogne 2015

Finest Côtes de Gascogne Colombard Gros Manseng 2015, 11.5%

(£6, Tesco)

Bit of a bargain, this Côtes de Gascogne. And a really versatile food wine, too.

We all know Côtes de Gascogne as a source of affordable, fresh – but perhaps slightly simple whites. This one isn’t a million miles away, but it also has a richness and succulence to it (partly the result of a deft touch of residual sugar).

That makes it so much more appealing, and food-friendly. I used it on Saturday Kitchen as a foil for Elizabeth Allen’s Japanese take on an Italian classic, spaghetti alle vongole. Her clam udon with dashi used udon noodles instead of spaghetti, and together with the clams she served an umami-rich broth flavoured with smoked bacon, kombu (seaweed), bonito flakes and shittake mushrooms.

I’ll admit to being surprised by how well this went. I’d expected a New World Riesling to work best – and indeed the Tim Adams Clare Valley Riesling and the Cono Sur Reserva Riesling both worked very well. But somehow the combination of succulence with grassy, citric acidity of the Côtes de Gascogne outshone them both in terms of overall flavour harmony. Elizabeth Allen said it was, ‘lovely – a really nice dry flavour to go with the saltiness [of the dish]’. (6.5/10, Peter, Sept 2016)