Libations

2010 Casal de Armán Blanco

October 31 2011 - 11:47 AM

I posted earlier about the Ribeiro, a region bordering Portugal and a sleeper in the world of Spanish wine.   Some of it is very well made and impressive, while others are rustic and angular.   For me I will quite happily take rustic and angular over most bottles on supermarket shelves today, in part because I find them interesting, and arguably, better made.   Most consumers haven’t been persuaded or, perhaps more appropriately, educated, and the cliché – “familiarity breeds contempt” is appropriate here.

During this tasting, like many tastings, it can be tough to pick out the very best wine in the room, and it is especially difficult when you are also engaging in conversation with familiar company.  Case in point:   I managed to overlook the Casal de Armán Blanco and appreciate it for what it is.

Though I’m not one to jump on bandwagons in the world of wine too much and detest 100-point scales, I’ve written in prior posts about my fondness for Decanter magazine and believe many of their reviews hold merit though, like many publications, they do tend to spin reviews.   For 2011 in their World Wine Awards, they rated the 2009 a silver medal, describing it as “refreshing style with aromas of lemon zest complemeting the sweet tangerine juice and aromatic spices.  Clean mineral finish”.

I wrote to the winery and had a bottle sent to sample. The website seemed to be more eager to showcase the hotel and restaurant, and clicking on the subsection “The Wines” was futile, and had I not written this article I would have given up.

When I poured a glass I observed a light straw color with notes of bubble gum, nutmeg, and  some fennel and anise, something I found that sets the Treixadura grape, the most common grape in Ribeiro, apart.    Josh Brusin, the publisher, found notes of cream, vanilla bean, nutmeg and a bit of heat; at thirteen percent it is a bit higher than expected for a region known for wines more in the twelve percent range.    After the bottle had warmed up there were grapefruit and more citric qualities. Well-balanced, and though there was not much acidity in this wine, it was to be expected as  Treixadura tends to be higher on the pH scale, though there’s a “fatty acid” quality and with an impressive roundness.   I tasted what I thought to be some granite terroir in the wine, something I went back and verified through the vineyard’s web site.

I found Treixadura best when blended, and the mixture was 90 percent Treixadura with the remainder being equal parts Godello and Albariño for balance.

Currently I am not aware of where to buy Ribeiro wines in Chicago other than one hit for a South Loop wine merchant whose store I have not visited. I do hope to find more Ribeiro wines in Chicago as I believe this region holds great promise for the oenophile segment.

–Brian Ziegler

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