Looking on the white side

Say “Spanish white wine” and I tend to think Albariño. But lesser-known whites are drawing more attention lately and therefore becoming easy to find in stores and on menus.

Two days in succession I tried two different [non-Albariño] Spanish whites at my local wine bar, Bin 14. They’re simple wines, dry and light—fitting for warm, late-summer weather. A few thoughts about them:

Ermita de Nieve Verdejo 2011 – This wine is produced in Rueda, a long-established wine center in Spain’s Castilla y León region, some 80 miles northwest of Madrid. The area is situated on a flat plateau with a relatively high elevation, making for favorable growing conditions—cool nights, sunny days; similarly, cold winters and hot summers.

Ermita de Nieva produces Verdejo exclusively, fermenting it in stainless steel barrels. It drinks dry and crisp. On the nose, the wine is softly grassy but on the palate the grass is dominated by citrus—maybe lime, some say grapefruit.

28 - Verdejo, Rueda

Ermita’s Verdejo is widely available in retail stores for around $10. I spotted another Verdejo, Viña Gormaz from Bodegas Garci Grande, at my neighborhood supermarket, priced similarly.

C.V.N.E. Rioja Monopole Blanco 2012 – Most Riojas are Tempranillo-based reds, but whites—made from the Viura grape, called Macabeo elsewhere in Spain—are gaining in popularity. (FYI, the Rioja region is a bit farther north and slightly east of Rueda, but the areas share a similar climate.)

28 - Viura, Rioja Blanco

This Rioja Blanco, produced by Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España, evokes light seafoam and stone on the nose. There’s a bit of minerality on the palate but scant fruit. It retails for $12 to $14. Shop-Rite’s wine department stocks two Rioja Blancos at the moment, Royal 2010 and Diamante (semi-dry) 2011.

 

Mapping out Spanish wines

Noodling around the web yesterday to explore possible travel itineraries, I discovered a fine resource for understanding Spain’s wine regions and appellations.

Spanish vineyard

If you’re considering a self-guided trek through Spain and were wondering how to include some winery visits in your schedule, Spanish-wines.org gives pointers on specific wineries along with their addresses and contact telephone and fax numbers (although no email addresses, unfortunately; you’ll have to do some independent digging for that info).

Tourism ideas aside, for wine lovers who want to understand what they’re drinking, the site is arguably most valuable for the explanations it gives of 14 wine-growing regions, from Andalusia to Valencia, and its A-to-Z listings of the myriad red and white grapes cultivated in Spain.

Excellent trivia fodder in these listings, by the way: for instance, what’s the primary grape in Txakolí?

The website, which bills itself as “The World of Spanish Wines,” has a few other gems, including a history of cava, but goes off topic with sections on the wines of Argentina and Chile.

But, back to the reason I found the website, its attention to tourism-minded oenophiles. Its region-specific pages in the “Spanish Wines Tours” section offer overviews that can help in comparing wine routes along with winery details.

One caveat: the website carries a 2011 copyright, suggesting that winery information is not up to the minute. The site’s sponsorship is not identified but may likely be a government- or producer-supported association.

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photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smb_flickr/906848358/, http://photopin.com, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/