In Part 4 of my post on the July 11, 2015 release I present six white “discovery wines”. These are wines that move at least a little bit off the beaten path that is trodden by most wine drinkers.
I’ll start pretty close to that path, with a wine based on the Albariño (Alvarinho) grape from DO Rias Baixas in Spain. We step decidedly off-track with two Malagousia wines from Greece, and then continue with a Vermentino from Sardinia, and conclude with a Verdejo and a still Xarel-lo (Pansa Bianca), both from Spain.
One common thread is these are generally rather aromatic wines, although that doesn’t mean that they compare directly to Gewürztraminer or Viognier. I certainly can’t guarantee that you will like all of them, but why not step on the wild side and try? In all cases the cost is very reasonable for a little trip of discovery.
Albariño is a semi-aromatic white grape grown in Galicia, Spain, and is often bottled under the Rias Baixas DO. Across the border in northern Portugal it is called Alvarinho.
2013 PAZO DAS BRUXAS ALBARIÑO, DO Rias Baixas
Vintages #417667 • $19.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a very expressive Albariño, with aromas that suggest fresh white peaches, red apples, peach blossom, lemon juice and stony minerality. The wine is dry, with fresh acidity, modest alcohol, balanced and crisp. Fruit and floral flavours fill the palate, and minerality lingers on the finish. A terrific example of the grape and style.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • FAMILY WINE MERCHANTS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Malagousia is an aromatic grape variety believed to be indigenous to mainland Greece. According to the article on Malagousia, by Jancis Robinson et al in Wine Grapes, “It is thanks to Evangelos Gerovassiliou’s work when he was at Domaine Carras in the 1980s and 1990s that Malagousia was recognized for its great potential…” The first example is made by Gerovassiliou at his own domaine in Epanomi, near Thessaloniki in Macedonia.
2014 GEROVASSILIOU MALAGOUSIA, Vieilles Vignes, IGP Epanomi
Vintages #416792 • $23.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine is light yellow, with a very intense fresh and floral nose suggesting peach blossoms and ripe peaches, orange blossoms and tangerines and yellow apples. The wine is dry, with slightly elevated acidity and balanced alcohol — rich and slightly creamy, with a breadth that suggests some barrel fermentation. The floral elements are enhanced on the palate, and some minerality appears through the complex flavours of fruit and blossoms. An intriguing wine.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • THE KOLONAKI GROUP INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Here is a second and perhaps simpler example of the grape from the Florina region in northwestern Macedonia.
2014 ALPHA ESTATE AXIA MALAGOUZIA, PGI Florina
Vintages #371666 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This is a lighter and fresher version of Malagousia, with pretty aromas of peach and peach blossom, fragrant red apples and lemon juice, in a crisp, dry framework with moderate alcohol. There is some stony minerality that underlies the fresh palate and lingers on the finish. Very drinkable and a fine value.
Tasted June 26 and July 7, 2015 • EUROVINTAGE INTERNATIONAL INC (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Vermentino is an aromatic white grape variety found around the northern Mediterranean, most notably in Sardinia, Tuscany, Liguria (as Pigato), Piedmont (as Favorita) and southern France (as Rolle). Our example here is from Sardinia.
2014 LA CALA VERMENTINO DI SARDEGNA DOC
Vintages #627067 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 89/100You'll find a vibrant, perfumed nose, suggesting delicate flowers with yellow apples, peaches and tangerines, The wine is dry, crisp and balanced, with a minerality that underlies the peach, apple and orange fruit, and builds to a lightly sapid/salty finish. Lovely aromatics, and the palate stays fresh, rich and expressive.
Tasted June 26, 2015 • MAJESTIC WINE CELLARS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
Verdejo is an aromatic white variety that is largely found in Castilla y Leon in north-central Spain. While many of the so-called aromatic white varieties feature lifted floral and fruit aromas and flavours, Verdejo can be more focused in the herbal, spicy and nutty spectra, as is our example here.
2013 FINCA LAS CARABALLAS VERDEJO, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon
Vintages #418699 • $16.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The nose is expressive and rich, with aromas of apricots, yellow apples and lemon, surrounded by nuances of fresh herbs, fennel, cut grass and hay, with a slight sponge toffee note. The wine is dry, with significant acidity, and a rich mouth-filling breadth. There is a creamy richness, with the fennel and aniseed lightly hovering over the yellow apples, now slightly baked, with sponge toffee, honey and an herbal lift towards the finish. So interesting!
Tasted June 26 and July 7, 2015 • UNIQUE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
My final adventure suggestion is a still wine made from Pansa Blanca. This variety is better known as Xarel-lo, perhaps the most important of the main Cava grapes. It is found throughout Catalunya, and apart from its important role in sparkling winemaking, it is used to make interesting still wines.
2014 PANSA BLANCA, DO Catalunya
Vintages #417949 • $14.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100The nose is fresh and crisp, with aromas reminiscent of lime, green apples, honeydew melon, white peaches and white flowers. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity and very modest alcohol. A pleasant bitter streak underlies the palate and contrasts nicely with the crisp fruit, and builds to a pleasant mineral finish. A very good wine at an excellent price.
Tasted June 26 and July 7, 2015 • TANDEM SELECTIONS INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation