Chill white wines. Perfectly refreshing but so much more. White wines from the Iberian Peninsula, abundant Spain and Portugal, are not only cooling and chill but also wise cultural ambassadors for their region.
What these wines offer in terms of drinkability (especially in dog-days August) comes naturally, exhibitions of indigenous varieties calibrated by geographically-centered winemaking. Native yeasts, ancient methods, attention to detail and sheer craft enthusiasm make these wines serious contenders for top-of-my-list wines to drink. And wines to talk about — interesting helps, in our house, because we talk a lot about wine.
My hubby and I work together on every meal that makes a showing on L’Occasion. To achieve our partnership, we talk a lot about wine and food. This week, as we worked on this post about Iberian wines I’m simultaneously publishing a piece on wine regions threaded through and around the Camino de Santiago (stay tuned). Endlessly, the Iberian region has stirred us, got us talking, got us tasting, got us dreaming. Now that’s a wine to share with friends this summer. Here’s a set list:
Carlos Serres Rioja Blanco 2016
Made of Viura (Macabeu and Maccabéo in Southern Frace, Macabeo in Spain outside of Rioja), which is widely planted for its propensity to produce character-driven whites that have a fine aging ability. While some Rioja producers have lately chosen to blend Viura with international varieties, Carlos Serra, one of the oldest producers in Haro, have chosen to blend with a compelling local variety, Tempranillo Blanco. White Tempranillo is a native grape exclusive to DOCa Rioja, discovered in a vineyard in Murillo de Rio Leza in 1988, a mutation of red Tempranillo. A balanced, food-friendly wine that situates nicely with grilled fish and shellfish. Pairing suggestion: Spicy Spanish Mussels. Thanks to the New York Times for the recipe. Retail price: $10
Senda\Verde D.O. Bierzo Godello 2016
A beautiful region in Galicia, known as Green Spain for the lushness of nature, Bierzo is one of the regions along the Camino de Santiago and winemaking history here dates back to the Roman era. Certain wine families still lay claim to connections to wine legacies from this time frame. Bierzo is rich with geographical designations for both wine and food, and authenticity rules the roost. Though there are some heady meat dishes here, I’m sticking with summer fresh veg. Escalivada is a dish from Catalunya, a region distinct from Galicia, but how about Godello with this grilled vegetable dish, served with satisfying grilled bread? Thanks to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street for this rendition that I simply can’t forget. Retail price: $14
Morgadío D.O. Rías Baixas Legado del Conde Albariño 2016
Ah, Rías Baixas! There aren’t many drinkers unhappy with the wines of this beautiful region, also in Galicia. Albariño is king here — though 12 varieties are permitted, the producers seem to realize they’ve hit on something outstanding with the exquisitely dry, crisp and acidic manifestation of hard work in the vineyard and dedication in the cellar. Rías Baixas is Galician for Lower Rías indicates several tributaries leading into Spain from the Atlantic Ocean, these growing areas are distinctive: Ribeira do Ulla,
Val do Salnés (said to be the birthplace of Albariño), Soutomaior, Condado do Tea and O Rosal. So food-friendly, so fresh — these wines could do well with many meals, but I’m setting them up with Pulpo Gallego, Galician grilled octopus with a recipe designed by The Spruce Eats. Retail price: $16
Quinta de la Rosa Douro Estate White 2016
Not far from Rías Baixas lies the Spanish border with Portugal and here we enjoy more varieties native to the Iberian Peninsula. One of the country’s most famous regions is the Douro and the grapes comprising this wine are some of the same used for white port — a namesake wine: Viosinho, Rabigato, Códega do Larinho and Gouveio. The vineyards here are farmed sustainably and no genetic modifications or animal by-products are employed, making this bottle safe for vegetarians. Douro Estate Wine offers an aromatic and full-body with a fresh finish. For this bottle, I recommend Shrimp Mozambique, which is actually a Portuguese dish, packed with garlic and herbs. This recipe from Saveur puts the shrimp into beer to boil. It recommends a lager and I’d love to hear from readers what beer you’d recommend. Quinta de la Rosa also offers accommodations — so you know that’s on my bucket list! Retail price: about $20
Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Reserva Branco 2015
Another star region of Portugal is Alentejo and this wine comes from a very distinct place, Lower Alentejo. “The Vidigueira fault, a natural landmark which marks the border between the Upper and Lower Alentejo, determines the raison dêtre of Vidigueira, the southernmost wine-producing sub-region in the Alentejo,” says Herdade do Rocim. “The East-West facing escarpment, of around 50 kilometers in length, defines the climate of Vidigueira, and despite its deep-lying southern location, makes it one of the most temperate sub-regions in the Alentejo.” This wine is made exclusively with Antão Vaz, a variety integral to the region. For this wine, I suggest Migas. In this version by Leite’s Culinaria features day-old bread, olive oil, pork belly, chorizo — garlic and paprika to taste (which for me, means generously). Seriously underpriced at around $15.
Wine Pairing Weekend
This month our Wine Pairing Weekend writer’s group is rallied around crisp white wines from Spain and Portugal. You’ve got to get in on this:
Lori of Dracaena Wines is Celebrating International Albariño Day with #WinePW
David from Cooking Chat offers up Rias Baixas Albariño with Summer Party Nibbles
Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere puts together Galician Style Mussels In White Wine And An Albariño Wine Pairing
Jill of L’Occasion says What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain and Portugal
Jeff of FoodWineClick! writes Tapas and Albariño: A Winning Combination
Lauren of The Swirling Dervish features Wines from Cariñena, Spain: Perfect for Summer Sipping
Cindy of Grape Experiences is Summer Sipping: Pazo Pondal Albariño 2017
Rupal of Syrah Queen lists Top White Wines from the Douro Valley
Michelle of Rockin Red Blog tells us to Beat the Summer Heat with Rias Baixas Albariño
Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Albariño and Seafood Stew: the Perfect Pairing
Jane of Always Ravenous serves Grilled Clams with Spanish Albariño
Nicole of Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Adegas Gran Vinum Nessa Albariño Rias Baixas and an Umami-packed Twist on Fish and Chips
Susannah of avvinare offers Albariño paired with Shrimp Paella – A Summer Delight
Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is having an Albariño Adventure on Anglesey
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs California Central Coast Albariños with Spanish Bites
Join the discussion! The crew will be posting live on Twitter on Saturday, August 11th at 10am central time. You can follow the hashtag and chime in, or you can search for the thread and read at your leisure. Find us at #winophiles. ¡Salud!