2010 Mencos Rioja Blanco, Spain
There is no arguing that Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region. Yet, if you polled wine consumers, the majority would not know about the white wine of the region.
Viura is the main white grape varietal in Rioja. It is seen in other regions of Spain, most notably Catalunya where it is called Macabeu (or Macabeo) and used in Cava production.
There are two different styles of Viura and Rioja Blanco in general. The first is the style you see today, which offers a fresh, crisp and aromatic style that is meant to drink in its first few years. The second is an oak-aged style, rarely seen today, with the most notable example that of the great aged whites of López de Heredia.
Both are delicious.
Mencos is a name that most who shop regularly at Perman Wine will recognize. This is a hidden gem of a producer in Rioja, owned by Count Iñigo Manso de Zuñiga. The town of Torremontalvo in Rioja Alta is the home of the Count, and his really impressive vineyard holdings are nearby. For years Count Iñigo sold his grapes, but in recent years he has kept the best lots to produce terrific wines under the Conde de Hervías and Mencos labels.
The Mencos Blanco is made entirely of Viura from 30+ year old vines planted on chalky clay over gravel. Fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts it is then bottled without further aging.
Wonderfully bright and aromatic with mineral and orange notes. The palate has weight yet with a continuation of those citrus notes, and a long, clean finish.
Refreshing enough to drink on its own, but we are salivating over getting this alongside a medley of shellfish.
$11.00 BTL. / $132.00 CASE
2011 Château Pesquié Terrasses Blanc- Mediterranée IGP, France
Located in the Côtes de Ventoux in Moirmoron, Château Pesquié has been making delicious, fresh affordable wines for almost 30 years. This white blend is a refreshing blend of 70% Viognier, 15% Roussanne & 15% Clairette, from 30-60 year old vines. It is in possession of aromatic levity and unencumbered by oaky gravity or unnecessary density.
The IGP Mediterrannée covers a broad amount of land, most of the Southern Rhone Alps, Provence, the Cote D’Azur and Corsica. The unifying feature is that all of this designation is influenced by the mistral winds, an insanely loud, violent wind that sweeps through the area in winter and spring. While this sounds unpleasant, the weather that follows is usually that calm, breezy hazy afternoon delight weather one usually associates with Mediterranean ports and such.
So whether you are being assaulted by a 60 mile per hour wind, or lazing around a seaside town, with a brilliant sun reflected in your Ray-Bans, this is the right white for you!
$12.00 BTL./ $144.00 CASE
2011 Herencia Altés Garnaxta- Terra Alta, Spain
Loyal fans of the Perman SFSS sampler will notice that we often feature Garnaxta (aka Grenache, in France) in this selection. Sometimes we even call this the “Grenache of the Month Club”! There is good reason for this as many, old-vine vineyards exist throughout Spain & France and supply outstrips demand. Therefore, one can partake of a high quality Grenache (or Garnaxta) for very few Euros.
It is long thought that Grenache originated in Aragón, which borders Terra Alta at the southern edge of Catalonia, but often argued that it was born on the island of Sardegna where it is called Cannonau. However, Spain is where it sees the most biological diversity and where it is most widely planted.
Terre Ata is a mountainous region (the grapes here are grown at 1400 feet above sea level) and the aim at Herencia Altés is to coax an expression of pure Garnaxta. The vines are 40-100 yers old and aged in concrete. Raspberries and cherries abound, along with an array of baking spices.
$9.50 BTL/ $114.00 CASE
2012 Domaine de L’Hortus “Le Loup Dans La Bergerie” Rouge- Vin de Pays du Val de Montferrand, Languedoc, France
One of France’s greatest treasures is the huge-normous stretch of land called the Languedoc-Roussillon and all the delicious wine that comes from there. This region has more acres planted to vines than anywhere else on the planet and is responsible for 30% of all wine made in France!
Admittedly, a large percentage of this output is regular old wine (I think the French call it “vin ordinaire”). But the terroirs get more interesting towards the western edge and that is precisely where today’s selection comes from.
Domaine de L’Hortus produces quality wines in the zone of Pic-Saint-Loup, and this bottling is a blend of Grenache, Syrah & Merlot. However, these particular vineyards lay outside the boundaries of the appellation however, so it is sort of like getting a 50% off coupon for Pic Saint Loup!
Grenache is the dominant variety for the great appellations of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (France) and Priorato (Spain). So there we have a draw. But I defy Spain to come up with a value Grenache blend as complex as the L’Hortus. Game on!
2010 Adegas Gran Vinum “Nessa” Albariño-Rias Baixas, Spain
This contender from Spain may make it difficult for supreme victory going to France, although we must point out that we are offering an outrageously good price for this category of wine.
Rias Baixas is located in Galicia. Fans of Perman Wine Selections may have noticed that we like Galicia a lot, maybe too much. We feel that Albariño is one of the world’s most under appreciated white wines, and we are not alone. The Court of Master Sommeliers agrees with us, often placing it in the notoriously difficult blind-tasting section of their diploma exam. Here is how they describe the markers for classic Albariño:
Fruit: Ripe Citrus, Stone Fruit, Green Apple, Melon
Floral: White and Yellow Flowers, Citrus and Apple Blossom
Other: Bubblegum, Agave, Slight Beer Yeast, Leesy, Saline
Moderate Plus Minerality
Acidity: Medium plus to high
That’s a lot of stuff in one bottle of wine. Our particular Albariño comes from about 30 small growers in the Val do Salnés, of one five allowed sub-regions. Grapes are gathered carefully, pressed and aged in stainless steel, allowed to rest on their lees for 2 months.
Lastly, Albariño has never met a species of shellfish for which it cannot provide a perfect pairing. Maybe shellfish on Mars, but they probably have a different wine over there as well. And the point is, we are stuck here on planet earth together. Let’s just drink some more Albariño and try to get along!
$11.00 BTL.- $132.00 CASE
2012 Domaine de Pouy Blanc Vin de Pays Des Côtes de Gascogne- Armagnac, France
The Côtes de Gascogne (the hillsides of Gascony to you & me) is the regional designation for still wines in the Armagnac region. 80% of wine production here is white, like our featured wine today. The vineyards are located near the wine zones of Madiran & Jurançon, in the foothills of the Pyrénees Mountains.
Domaine de Pouy is devoted to one thing and one thing only; this zippy little white number made from Ugni Blanc and Colombard. Cold macerations and tank aging insure an endearing freshness. This is the kind of wine you could chill on the end of a string in a cold rushing river, or upgrade to the table for a Monday night’s roast chicken.
The family behind the domaine is none other than the Grassa family, who have been producing Armagnac under the name Domaine Tariquet since 1912. Suffice it to say, they are experienced and run a tip-top operation.
You can barely buy a sandwich these days for $8.50, much less an entire bottle of wine!
$8.50 BTL.- $102.00 CASE