@vinoradio's twitter feed:
on deck
  • -Yes, Pleiades, I would like a glass of that, thanks. (Get it?  I know you do.)


Short, sharp wine recommendations

Entries in White (3)


Adventures in Wine: Guimaro Ribeira Sacra Godello

Looking for something wonderful to try, but sick of the same ol' varietals you see in every store? Want to impress your wine geek friend with an affordable yet very interesting bottle of white wine? Here's something well-worth seeking out: Guimaro's 2009 Ribeira Sacra Blanco (Godello), brought to America by one of my favorite importers, José Pastor Selections.

Looking down a ladder in Pérez's scary-steep vineyardThe wine region (Denominación de Origen, or simply, DO) Ribeira Sacra is tucked up in the northwest corner of Spain, right above Portugal. People are taking notice of this incredible little nook in the wine world for good reason: it's producing some high quality, interesting wines at affordable prices. The geography in Ribeira Sacra is stunning, and the vineyards gorgeous, green and steep, often fog covered, and the area looks something like the Northern Rhone meets Northern California. In fact, the steepness of the vineyards makes a hands-on approach to winemaking completely necessary for many wineries, such as the one in question, Guimaro, where winemaker and grower Pedro Rodríguez Pérez risks life and limb climbing steep ladders to tend his vines.

Some time ago at a José Pastor tasting, I got to meet Pérez and try his wonderful 2009 Ribeira Sacra Blanco, made from the fairly obscure grape, Godello. I don't speak great Spanish, and he doesn't speak great English, but I pointed at the glass and then to my heart, and got the message across just fine. You can find this excellent wine online from Solano Cellars for $26 (by the half-case) and I found it in person for ~$28 at Arlequin.

front labelback labelIf you are lucky enough to grab a bottle of this, what you'll find is a wild and wonderful nose of jasmine, melon, earthiness and ocean spray, which transforms to quince, lime, pie spice, mineral and a nice bit of saline on the palate. This is absolutely delicious, with a lingering finish and a remarkably light body considering its intense flavors: if this were a Chardonnay of the same intensity, it would be unctuous and oily (not that there's anything wrong with that), but this wine has really pleasant weight that just begs for more sips. So maybe buy two. And invite me over.


1991 López de Heredia 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca

Sometimes we recommend a wine because it's clearly what you might call a "steal": its low price gives it a killer "Modest Monday"-like cost-to-quality ratio. But sometimes, my friends, we feel the need to deliver you to a transformative experience. 

If you've never had a traditionally produced Rioja Blanca, and you're willing to shell out ~$45 (well worth it), you are in for a treat. López de Heredia (fantastic website, btw) is one of the last of the old guard in Rioja (though some of the younger vignerons are bringing the old traditions back), and their wines can be absolutely sublime experiences. 

Take the 1991 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca, for example. A traditional blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasía, this is a bottle I'd buy even if I were not allowed to drink a drop -- seriously. For me, the nose alone was an instant ticket to a sunny day in a countryside Spanish jardín. Beeswax and flowers, complex, vibrant and refined. And the palate was no joke either: oily, lemony, floral, honeysuckle, mind-bending complexity, and a wonderful citrus-like zing made it a winner. The finish was one of the most beautiful and lengthy I've ever experienced.

The 1991 is tough to find right now, but it is out there. The current release is the 1993 (yes, the winery holds onto these a long time to ensure they are showing their full character before releasing), and based on the stellar 1991, I'm going to purchase one as soon as possible. For $45 bucks, I still think it's a steal.

I have one caveat: this is a wine-geek's wine, for sure - interesting, super complex, and gorgeous, but this is not a fruit-bomb lover's wine. If you serve it to a buttery chardonnay crowd, you're sure see a furrowed brow. Save it for the vets.


Modest Mondays - '09 Alois Legeder Pinot Grigio

Summertime and seafood go hand in hand for me and nothing pairs better with those two than the crisp white wines from Northern Italy. For me, the 09 Alois Legeder Pinot Grigio has captured the magic of the Dolomite Mountains in a bottle. Pale straw with a tinge of green, you can imagine the sundrenched foothills of the region green from the winter melt off. As you close your eyes and drift into the floral aromas of high country meadows rising from the glass, you breathe in the crispness of the mountain air. The bounty of water and sun greets the palate with flavors of peaches and apricots, while the finish reminds you that the soil under foot is rich in the minerals from the surrounding mountains. Are you there? I am.

Wine rating points aside, the Wine Advocate rates this wine as very good and I agree, if you are considering the wine only on its taste and aroma. Now the folks at Wine & Spirits, they gave this wine an outstanding rating. Again, if I consider the wine only for its taste and aroma, I can’t say the wine is more than very good. However, given the wine’s true sense of place and its ability to take you to Northern Italy for $13.50 a bottle, it is an outstanding deal. So if you’re inspired to summer in Italy, you can find this ticket to paradise at the Wine Mine (and elsewhere online).