Wines that blur borders

Coto de Gomariz The Flower and the Bee, Ribeiro, Spain 2019 (from £15.50, woodwinters.com; thegoodwineshop.co.uk) Wine is usually sold to us by country first, with region or grape variety second. But there are plenty of examples of wine cultures that bridge nominal national boundaries, where winemakers have more in common with a supposed foreigner across the valley than a fellow countryman several hundred miles away. The intensely aromatic white wines of Alsace in eastern France, for example, are much more akin to those of their near neighbours in the Pfalz in Germany than the wines of Bordeaux; and it’s very hard to tell apart the wines made in the vineyards either side of the Slovenian and north-eastern Italian border. This sense of shared winemaking ways and styles is also very much apparent in the northwestern corner of Iberia, home to wines such as this subtly honeyed and floral (it’s aptly named), superbly tangy, mouthfilling dry white from the Galician side of the Spanish-Portuguese border.

Vale dos Pombos Vinho Verde, Portugal 2020 (£6, the Co-op) The Flower and the Bee is a quite lovely example of treixadura, which is not perhaps one of the best known varieties used in this part of the world, but is responsible for some of my favourites in the Ribeiro area of Galicia. Another treixadura-based stunner is the equally aromatic, breezy, blossomy, herby and salty-seasoned Gallina de Piel Manar dos Seixas Ribeiro 2019 (£19.95, nywines.co.uk), the work of David Seijas, who used to be sommelier at the legendary Catalan restaurant El Bullí. South of the border, where it goes by its Portuguese name, trajadura is most often one of handful of grapes blended together in the classic recipe used in the white wines of Vinho Verde, which, in the shape of Vale dos Pombos’s spritzy, apple and lime, sweet-sour, low-in-alcohol (9.5% abv) example makes for an unbeatably refreshing picnic wine.

Te Awa Left Field Albariño, Gisborne, New Zealand 2020 (£13.75, Waitrose) Trajadura/treixadura is not the only rising grape star in Galicia and Vinho Verde. Another to look out for is loureiro, which is increasingly found as a solo variety in Vinho Verde, with the stunning, chiselled, mineral example from the great Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort, Niepoort Dócil 2018 (£17.95, vinifiedwine.com), a particular standout. In Galicia’s Valdeorras region, godello is the ingredient in the serious, layered white burgundy of the Atlantic that is Rafael Palacios As Sortes Valdeorras 2018 (£49, vincognito.co.uk). The true celebrity in these parts, however, is alvarinho/albariño, with noteworthy producers including Anselmo Mendes and Quinta de Soalheiro in Vinho Verde, and Palacio de Fefiñanes, Zárate and Pazo Señorans in Galicia’s Rías Baixas. Indeed, this is the one northwestern Iberian grape variety to transcend all international boundaries, making increasingly impressive, peachy-salty wines in California, Uruguay and – in the pristine, star-bright Left Field Albariño – New Zealand.