2010 Blanco Nieva Verdejo

My summer Top 10 list rolls on with yet another new grape. Verdejo. For many years Verdejo was used to make an oxidized Sherry-like wine until the 1970′s when Marqués de Riscal paved a new path for a more refreshing offering. A decade later, in the 80′s, these were recognized with DO status and another three decades after that I am first experiencing them. What did I think?

Price: $16.99 @ Vinos Unico imported by Vinos Unico

What They Said:

2010 Blanco Nieva VerdejoPer The Spanish Table “Blanco Nieva is a classic Rueda region white wine made from the indigenous Verdejo grape. Crisp, bright and refreshing, this tank fermented wine will work as a stand alone refresher on a hot day as well as during a meal where it will pair well with salads, egg dishes and all manner of seafood. The vines that produce the fruit for this wine are quite old (40+ years). Some of the vines are planted on original root stock that still thrives in this region thanks to the sandy soils that resisted the phylloxera. blight of the previous century. To taste this wine is to experience the true flavor of Northern Spain.”

What I Think:

(12.5%) 100% Verdejo – Yellowish with a green hue in the glass. What a nose on this beauty! Intense grassy, grapefruit aromas. This one is immediately fresh, crisp and vibrant on the palate with bright, zesty lime flavors over a stony, mineral backbone. Passion fruit emerges on the mid-palate and remains throughout the dry, refreshing finish. This wine isn’t shy. It will smack you over the head and you are going to like what you get. The firm acidity here makes this one a compliment for nearly any food (ceviche would be my first choice). It is also perfectly suited to drink on its own. Pair with a sunny day! I’m getting me some more of this one. Viva Verdejo!

Rating: Wow!

While I’m a big fan of this one it may be a bit hard to find. If you’re itching to try your first Verdejo I’ve also enjoyed the Shaya which seems to be more widely available.

2010 Trajarinho Vinho Verde

Taking a break from Oregon let’s get back to finishing off my Summer Top 10 Whites list. Those paying attention were likely wondering where this one was. A fave in 2009 it seems destined to be so for many years to come. Get it if you can!

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vinos Unico

What They Said:

2010 Trajarinho Vinho VerdePer K&L Wines “Back again is this delicious vinho verde: fizzy, ripe and juicy, while maintaining a refreshing dryness, warm weather white wine does not get much better than this! This is one of our favorites: crisp, citric, relatively low in alcohol and in a classically dry style. Don’t let the deliciousness fool you, though; this white offers up a whole lot more complexity than the humble price might suggest. More than likely, one could attribute this amazing quality to two factors: First, the rock solid reputation and focus on quality of the Adega Cooperativo Regional de Monçao; and second, their reliance on Trajadura and Alvarinho grapes, which deliver wine of greater complexity and texture than the Paderña grape so commonly grown in the rest of the Vinho Verde region.”

What I Think:

(11.5%) 60% Alvarinho, 40% Trajadura – A long standing summer favorite of mine this one is always a crowd pleaser. Pale gold in the glass with a green tinge. Lively on the palate with a slight spritz and primary grapefruit flavors with lemon citrus. The mid-palate show a firm, clean acidity with a nice mineral depth that gives this one much more complexity than you should expect at $9. From there the quick dry, crisp finish leaves you instantly reaching for another sip. A fun, easy going with at home with brunch or by the pool (but please use plastic glasses ;) Just be careful because before you know it the bottle will be gone. On 2nd thought just buy a couple to begin with…

Rating: Buy It (and buy more than one! I’m at 6 and counting for the summer…)

Vina Valoria Rioja Flight with Vinos Unico

Vina Valoria Rioja Tasting MenuNow those of you that know Luis Moya (the founder of Vinos Unico) know that he is tireless. Be it touring on the 25 grapes bus, looking for new wineries to add to his portfolio or making more of his own wine he is always up to something… I’m guessing his friend knew the same when he decided to store the Vinfinity wine vacuum system in his garage while he looked for a new home for it here on the west coast. It didn’t take Luis long to start thinking about how he could put it to use. And boy aren’t we glad he did!

So what did he come up with? How about a flight of Rioja spanning 4 decades? How about being able to taste the whole flight for ~$25? You can count me in! As I’ve yet to find my wine sugar daddy with that well stocked cellar that is looking for an apprentice to teach, if you are out there do leave a comment ;), I rarely get to taste aged wines. Given that we had two on offer here the pre-dated my birth and this was certainly quite the unique opportunity. The best news for those local to the bay area? This wasn’t a one and done event. These will be on offer at Sabor of Spain in San Rafael (tasting menu above) through the end of the year. A perfect way to treat yourself during the holiday week! If you do make it out there or have had these wines before I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And now to my notes starting with the white…

  • 2004 Viña Valoria Viura Rioja Crianza – (12.5%) 100% Viura – Dry and medium bodied with lively acidity and crisp apple and lemon flavors. The mid-palate shows a firm mineral structure with an interesting beeswax overtone. This one sees some neutral American oak which integrates nicely on the finish with hints of spice. Definitely a food friendly offering this one would go well with some seafood off the grill. If you aren’t familiar with the style of Rioja Blanco this one can serve as a classic introduction…

And now (via photo) allow me to introduce the reds…

Vina Valoria Rioja Flight with Vinos Unico
  • 2005 Viña Valoria Rioja – (12.5%) 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo (Carignan) – Medium colored with meaty notes, a bit of musty oak and loads of dark fruit, mint and spice on the nose. Juicy cranberry flavors greet you on the palate with nice acidity. The mid-palate is dry and leather with some tannic bite around the edges. The finish is warm and comforting. This one would have showed better had it been paired with food and will very likely improve with a few more years in the bottle.
  • 1992 Viña Valoria Rioja Gran Reserva – (12.5) 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo (Carignan) – Medium red in color at its core this one turns orange around the edges. Such a fantastic nose with layered subtleties I could smell this one for hours. Light to medium bodied this one is classic Rioja with dried cherry and cranberry flavors. From there a tart, acidic structure emerges with underlying mineral notes that keep this one nicely balanced throughout. The finish here shows pepper, sage and nice tingly tannins. Smooth, round and delicious! I hope to encounter another glass, or better yet bottle, of this on sometime soon…
  • 1973 Viña Valoria Rioja – (12.5) 70% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo (Carignan) – More fruit on the nose here than the ’92 but much less complexity on the palate and almost lacking in acidity. This one comes across as one dimensional and a bit flat. My thought was that it was beyond its peak but according to those in the know it is more likely this one has just shut down for a while and will be back to drinking well sometime soon. Based on others tasting notes it appears that may indeed be the case…
  • 1968 Viña Valoria Rioja – (12.5) 70% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo (Carignan) – Brick red at its core turning to orange on the edges. A nice nose, reminiscent of the ’92 but much more subtle belying its age. Delicate on the palate this one showed layered flavors (meat, mushroom and more) on the palate with a soft acidity and mellow dark fruit on a smooth, lasting finish. Still so vibrant if you tasted blind you’d likely guess it was six years old before the 40+ years old it is…

And there you have it! In retrospect the two things I remember the most are the nose of the ’92 and the youth of the ’68. Hopefully I can make it over there to experience these one more time before they disappear. As mentioned above, if you do the same let me know your thoughts…

2009 Trajarinho Vinho Verde

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vinos Unico

What They Said:

2009 Trajarinho Vinho VerdePer K&L Wines “Classic, dry, fizzy Vinho Verde does not get much better than this! This is one of our favorites: crisp, citric, relatively low in alcohol and in a classically dry style. Don’t let the deliciousness fool you, though; this white offers up a whole lot more complexity than the humble price might suggest. More than likely, one could attribute this amazing quality to two factors: First, the rock solid reputation and focus on quality of the Adega Cooperativo Regional de Monçao; and second, their reliance on Trajadura and Alvarinho grapes, which deliver wine of greater complexity and texture than the Paderña grape so commonly grown in the rest of the Vinho Verde region.”

What I Think:

Vinho Verde and I have come a long way in the last two years. When I had my first bottle I was still pretty sure that Vinho Verde was a grape varietal. For those that may not know it is in fact a wine region nestled along the Douro river (map) near the Spanish border. Over the years I’ve appreciated and enjoyed a handful of these wines but attending the Port4lio Tasting back in May reopened my eyes to them. This is one of those I tried then and here were my notes; “An unoaked blend of 65% Alvarinho and 35% Trajadura this one clean and crisp with nice lemon flavors and a bit of spritziness on a very refreshing finish. At $9 everyone should have a bottle of this in their fridge”. So what happened when I spent a little more time with it?

More magic! Spritzy even on the pour. This one is potent & lively on the palate with creamy bubbles and a minerally finish with lingering lemon citrus notes. Crisp, tangy and refreshing. A steal of wine that is perfect for summer sipping. But that is not all folks. There is much more to this wine if you open your mind to it with an intriguing stony, mineral component. This wine is suited to pair with food and would be a perfect compliment for ceviche or a chilled seafood platter. I’ll second my recommendation from above that at $9 everyone should have a bottle (or 2) of this in their fridge.

I’ll have much more to come on Vinho Verde (attended a dinner this week where I tasted a bubbly, a ’98 and a red version) and the wines of Portugal (I grabbed 2 of each mentioned in the Portfolio Tasting post) over the summer. In the meantime give this one a try next time you’re spending a sunny afternoon on the patio. You can thank me later…

Rating: Buy It+