A Shameless Cut ‘n Paste from Last Year
2016 MONTETONDO GARGANEGA FRIZZANTE – Verona, Italy
Perhaps you have tasted Vinho Verde, Portugal’s refreshing white with a bit of zingy CO2 pricklishness. Maybe you’ve even had Txakoli from Spain’s Basque Country; a tangy, dry drink rendered the same way. Well, we’re betting you’ve never had zinged-up Garganega from Verona, Italy until now!
(“Yes, we longtime White Wine Club members first fell in love LAST year!”)
“Frizzante” (with two Z’s to be sure you notice) is Italy’s wine term for “half bubbly.” Moscato d’Asti plays this way - albeit with a bit of sugar – but in this case you’re getting a bit of fizz with a dry white made from the Garganega grape. “Garganega”? Is that another new one for you? Perhaps you have heard of Soave? That wine from this northern Italy place got a bad reputation when lesser grape varieties were employed to make enormous tankfuls of the stuff, but GREAT Soave is made entirely of Garganega.
(“We know. We loved it LAST year!”)
What you simply NEVER see on the market is this smaller-production cutie, a Garganega rendered with the frizzante effect from the Soave region. It’s a distinctively delicious offering from Small Vineyards, the importer represented by friend Tom Kelly who recently put on yet another successful Italian wine tasting on our mezzanine.
(As he just did again THIS year!)
Apples and peaches greet the nose along with a more “intellectual” effect of white pepper. Ample fruit is countered by a brisk brininess on the palate, and sometimes I detect a ghost of tarragon there, too. The recent arrival of this wine is perfectly timed: You’ll find it the perfect summer sipper and a nice accompaniment to salads, cold crustaceans, and grilled fish.
This Welcomes Your Abuse
2015 VALDESIL ‘Montenovo’ GODELLO – Valdeorras, Galicia, Spain
I have visited Valdeorras but once, but that’s all it took to understand that Galicia is a very different-looking Spain. If the predominate image of the country may be a bleak, broad and sunbaked meseta with mirages of Don Quixote on the horizon, Galicia (due north of Portugal on the Atlantic Coast) is the alternative “Green Spain.” We had the chance for a brief swim in the Sil River there; a deep, chilly artery with a powerful current, where the Speedo’s we’d acquired back in Barcelona looked and felt terribly inappropriate. We walked through vineyards replete with broken plates of black slate. We ate octopus. And we drank several quality levels of Godello, a grape you’d never see growing anywhere near sweltering Madrid.
Arguably more complex and often more durable than better-known Albariño and Verdejo, Godello gets my vote as Spain’s most interesting white grape (with apologies to all the other geeky varietals cropping up these days: “Sorry, Malvar!”). Even this inexpensive version has qualities reminding me of two highly-regarded French wines, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay from Burgundy. It is best known in a Burgundy (Pinot Noir) – style glass and at not-too-chilly a temperature. Swirl it and honor it with several inquiring sniffs: A shininess of lime is countered and softened by a softer fragrance of crème fraiche. Feel how it lands on your palate (especially from this particular glass shape) and realize a replication of those effects in liquid form: Generous stone fruit lushness is controlled with more linear, nearly-herbal savories. By the time it leaves your mouth your tongue is sweating, perhaps anticipating our new Bergamino di Bufala cheese (a rich, soft, creamy buffer for this wine).
I invite you to find out what some great Godellos can do with air. My first try at this was actually a mistake; you’re usually harming a white by leaving it uncorked on the kitchen counter all night. – But now I sometimes do that on purpose and find a more mellow and intriguing wine the next day. It worked with this one on my desk just the other day!