The Quiet After the Storm: Two More Wines With Which to Get Through Snowmageddon

7 Feb

I’ve been on a wine-drinking and -writing bender lately.  Counterintuitively, I found that there’s something liberating about being trapped indoors by the falling snow: the physical fact of being kept indoors turns the mind inward as well, so there’s been plenty of time for reflection and self-analysis.

And of course, eating and drinking.

Added to the bottles thus far consumed during Snowmageddon are the two below:

The one on the left is a Riesling, the 2008 Selbach Riesling Spätlese ($14.99 from MacArthur Beverages).  I opened this for a dinner of mahi-mahi, wild rice, and roasted asparagus.  The mahi-mahi was pre-marinated, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, in a sweet-salty sauce, so I figured that the semi-sweet Spätlese would be a decent match.

According to Phil from MacArthur Beverages, this Riesling is made from grapes harvested from a vineyard in the Saar River Valley.  The vineyard itself is a secret; thus, the grapes are from a good vineyard but might not have been high-enough quality for a top producer’s top wine.  Whatever.  In the hands of a talented winemaker such grapes can gain new life (think of them as, um, halfway kids that end up becoming doctors and lawyers) and become a solid wine.  The Selbach was a very low 8% ABV (NICE!) and had a nose of honey and–strangely–clay.  This was relatively light-bodied, though the residual sugar gave it a hint of viscosity.  Lychee, lychee, lychee.  Very tart finish reminiscent of green apple or quince or some other pome.  I thought that the wine had a very strong entry but spent itself too quickly: the finish didn’t last very long at all.  Altogether not a bad wine–it didn’t end with that plasticine taste that plagues so many other lower-priced whites–and a favorite with the ladies who drank it (thanks, Rebecca, Megan, and Christine for your expert opinions!).

The next wine was awesome!  I have a not-so-secret love affair with Spanish wines and with the wines of R. Lopez de Heredia in particular.  Having had their 1999 “Viña Gravonia” crianza (a white wine made of 100% Viura) and 1999 “Viña Tondonia” reserva (a red made of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, and 10% combined Mazuelo and Graciano) not too long ago, I had picked up a bottle of the 2004 “Viña Cubillo” crianza ($24.99/$20.99 on sale), a red made of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacho, and 10% combined Mazuelo and Graciano) at MacArthur.

Being a crianza, the Viña Cubillo was released much earlier than the Viña Tondonia (compare 2004 with 1999–the 1999 Tondonia was released last year while the 2004 Cubillo was released this year); however, it still spent three years in barrel and another three in bottle before being released!

What an excellent wine!  Very light, clear in color, with a tremendous nose of bright berries, it positively exploded with flavor.  Think of a cross between juicy and savory and you get this wine.  Strawberry-rhubarb pie mixed with umeboshi?  Licorice and some herbs, too.  Tart and acidic, but with tannins waiting in the background to give the wine structure.  Lip-smacking wine, and easy, easy drinking.  I found this a more approachable wine than the Viña Tondonia.  One caveat, however: this wine seemed to fade in the glass after about half an hour.  Thus, I would open and drink this bottle straightaway and not keep it overnight.

Here’s what Lopez de Herdia had to say about this vintage of the Viña Cubillo:

Classified by The Regulating Council as excellent this 2004 has become one of the historic wines of Rioja. This harvest was not only good in quality but in quantity both in our own vineyards and in the whole D.O. Rioja.

Do yourself a favor and get a bottle of this wine.  It is excellent and everything a classical Rioja should be!

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