Not many people know it, but there’s great white wines from Spain as well. There’s the geeky stuff (like the very mature Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia that I love), but also more ‘regular’ white wines. The one I had with dinner today falls in the latter category. It has the brilliant combination of being both refreshing and full bodied, with a smattering of complexity. Food friendly too.
The wine I’m talking about is the 2007 Lagar do Merens, from Ribeiro. Ribeiro is a D.O. in the North West of Spain, in Galicia. It’s a bit further inland from Rias Baixas where the fresh and mineral Albariño based whites come from. Ribeiro, Galician for ‘river bank’, is known both for its whites and reds. The whites are mainly made from Treixadura, Torrontés and Lado, which is exactly what was used for this wine. A proper Ribeiro white-blend then.
After crushing, the grapes were left to macerate for 8 hours under dry ice (frozen CO2, basically), which gives them time to get all the goodness from the skins, without giving oxygen a chance. After pressing the juice was treated to a cool (17,5 C) fermentation in stainless steel and left on its lees for around 8 months.
The wine itself has a bright yellow colour, with a green tinge. The nose immediately shows a full on liveliness. This is not a wine to be ignored. Besides the pure life force flowing from it, there’s a dominant citrus tone, wrapped in a silky veil that’s coloured with licorice-like spiciness and lifted by mint. Then some shell fish; crab and lobster tones, with saffron. That sounds like a proper starter to match this wine to. Mmm. Fresh and full all the way.
The taste starts very full, but again the crisp acidity bursts through and keeps it fresh and serious. A tiny bit of candy-type sweetness, but that goes very quickly. A full body, glycerol impression, but kept light, again, with the acidity. This keeps it lively right to the mineral end. The after taste is a bit smoky, which matched it perfectly with the griddled swordfish and courgettes we had. There were some good bitters too. This is one of few whites that you can easily drink after your glass has warmed up to (warm) room temperature. The acidity keeps it fresh, and the fullness and the fruitiness doesn’t get limp. For me that’s the sign of a good wine.
This really is the kind of wine I like. It was properly complex, giving you something to think about. But not in a ‘hey, look at me!’ type of way; it was gluggable from beginning to end. A wine that starts as ‘let’s have a glass with dinner’, and ends with you finishing the bottle. It’s that lip smacking good. It really made me think about the way some wines are and some wines aren’t in fashion. An albariño of this quality would easily fetch double the price of this ‘simple’ Ribeiro. Yet it’s beautiful, elegant and full at the same time. Basically; what we all expect from a good white wine.