Affordable classic wines of Europe

  1. Pharos, White Rioja, 2020, Rioja, Spain
  2. Domaine de la Combe, Muscadet Sevre et Main sur lie, 2020, Loire, France
  3. Maias Branco 2019, Dao, Portugal 
  4. Amoterra Trebbiano 2020, Abruzzo, Italy


The region of Rioja goes back two millennia or more and it is the prime wine growing region in Spain. Even though it is primarily a red wine region, there is roughly 10% white wine being made here too, a little gem if you will, one that ages beautifully and in the right winemaker’s hands can be a contender for some of the best white wines on the continent. Certainly, good value!

Hacienda Lopez de Haro (Pharos producer) is nestled a little further Southeast from the main city of Haro in Rioja Alta. A traditional bodega that owns quite a few vineyards but also buy grapes for some of their wines too.

Pharos White Rioja is an un-oaked white that sees some maturation in tank and bottle before release. It is made from the local Viura grape harvested from mostly old vines. It has a somewhat aromatic profile on the nose with pineapple and fragrant citrus, the palate is dry with more citrus and ripe stone fruit. With a medium-long finish, which is zesty and with some savoury elements.

The Loire Valley is a traditional bastion of the white wines of France, historically providing the bulk of the white wine drunk in Paris in its homes and lovely bistros. The upper Loire is famous for its Sancerre wines which are the most highly prized here, but it’s Muscadet wines in the lower Loire, right near the river’s estuary that are drunk in large quantities in Paris. Made from the local grape Melon de Bourgogne (no relation to the region of Burgundy) and aged for a few months on its lees to provide texture to an otherwise quite mineral and dry style.

Domaine de la Combe have roughly 14 hectares exclusively dedicated to the Melon de Bourgogne grape and have done so for a good few decades. Their wines are classic of the region with bright acidity and minerality that is expressive of the terroir and climate.

Muscadet Sevre at Main 2020 is a classic indeed, with a fresh mineral and citrussy nose, a crisp and fresh palate with green apple, lemon, and grassy notes. It has a clean and refreshing finish with a touch of lees.

Dao is one of the oldest established wine regions of Portugal and home to some excellent wines both white and red. Its principal white variety is the little know gem, Encruzado, but most white wines are made traditionally as field blends.

Quinta das Maias are an eco-friendly winery with a healthy ethos towards sustainability and most of their wines are Organic. Having a mixture of both red and white wines their focus is on the terroir and tradition with sustainability at their core.

Maias Branco is a gentle, soft white with a fresh, slightly floral nose and a mellow palate with ripe stone fruits and a squeeze of citrus. With a medium finish and a lingering accent of stone fruit.

Abruzzo is a lesser-known region of Italy nestled between Marche and Molise on the Adriatic coast. The region produces wines of various qualities and quantities and encompasses a wide range of both white and red, with a slight emphasis on red wine blends and a couple of white wine pockets (Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi being one).

Amoterra is a relatively new brand of wines carefully selected to represent the true terroir of rural Italy with an emphasis on sustainability and organic practices. Trebbiano is known in Italy as a workhorse grape variety, that up until recently, and through careful vinification, is beginning to reach its full potential.

The Organic Trebbiano that Amoterra is showcasing here is made from older vines and the grape is showing wonderful notes of waxy lemons and apple skins with a lengthy savoury finish.