Selections for December 2017

Your First Time?

2016 PALAMA ‘ARCANGELO’ VERDECA – Salento, Italy

Yes, this is your first ever Verdeca – unless you’ve been two-timin’ at other well-stocked wine shops daring to carry such an esoteric wine.  We’ve only carried one other in all our years, and that one never landed in your club.

We’re taking you to Salento in Northern Puglia, the “heel” of Italy’s boot.  This is one of the country’s warmer spots where wine production normally tilts toward the red varietals; macho wines like Primitivo and Aglianico and Negroamaro.  Verdeca a rare white grape unusually capable of retaining its fruit flavors and refreshing acidity in such a warm place.

Ancient Verdeca’s origins are nebulous, but some studies are now linking it to Italy’s Verdicchio and Spain’s Verdejo.  That last connection makes particular sense:  Verdejo is another white grape which succeeds in a pretty hostile environment, on Spain’s sweltering meseta north of Madrid.  – And how clever of us:  The other bottle in this month’s pack is a Spanish Verdejo!

This certainly resembles that other variety with its citrus leaf scent and broad yet bracing mouthfeel.  It suggests the warm south with a certain depth of body, yet remains enlivening with lemon zest.  Whether or not you go to the trouble of grilling some prawns to go along, we hope you like your first Verdeca!        

A TWS Exclusive

2015 ‘Quintaluna’ de OSSIAN VERDEJO – Rueda, Spain

For most of this year we’ve had a hard time achieving fresh Verdejos.  What we’d call “fresh” in 2017 would be Verdejo no older than 2016.  All our reps could find us were over-the-hill 2014’s and 2015’s until just two months ago when some ‘16’s finally surfaced.  The nervy citrus fruit had disappeared from the older wines, with nothing remarkable to replace that youthful sensation of refreshment. 

Our usual requirement for this varietal - Brand-newness – must have you asking why we’re giving your club an older version of a grape with a rather dim aging potential?  Answer:  Place AND Producer.   

PLACE:  While most of Rueda’s terrain is alluvial based on the Duero River changing course and spreading around its gravel over the eons, the vines at play here come from Southern Rueda’s sand-based soils.  Because the root louse phylloxera cannot survive in sand these vines have lived for over a hundred years.   Their age-limiting but intensely-flavored crop can make a more durable Verdejo.

PRODUCER:  The people in charge of this brand also make Pago de Carraovejas Ribera del Duero.  Maybe you’ve never heard of this beautiful red wine we have hiding in the shadows, but nearly every Spanish fine wine drinker certainly has;  Spain keeps no less than 95% of its production for her own consumption.  Carraovejas is the “Opus One” of its region you might say, with the wherewithal to use every expensive piece of equipment and method needed to fully honor deserving deliveries of both red grapes AND these old vine Verdejo clusters.  Their most important treatment here?  Constant lees stirring.  Re-suspending the expired yeast cells into the wine adds texture and intriguing, not-just-fruit qualities  which approach – perhaps – the experience of White Burgundy.  Buck the trend by using a Burgundy (Pinot Noir) glass to see what I mean.  Time has taken down the grapefruit, but quality of place and carefulness of producer have allowed for a more distinguished drink…  This is Verdejo at a different, more thoughtful level.  I’d pair it with some seared scallops if I were you!