So let me tell you about the northwest corner of Spain: Galicia. Besides being the reason for my brief hiatus from this weekly blog, this region is mostly known as “Green Spain” as a result of its rainier climate. This “Spanish Seattle”, with its Celtic roots, is a corner of the world bursting with delicious wines that are perfect for a hot Chicago summer. Although they make a good share of great reds, it is the whites that have drawn most of the attention. I want to tell you about their main three varietals: Albariño (W), Godello (W), and Mencía (R).
Albariño, the better known of the three, is often compared to Pinot Grigio. It has a perfumed nose that tends to express citrus notes like lemon and grapefruit. As it warms up in the glass, it gives off interesting notes of riper fruit such as melon and nectarine. Often, there’s even certain “saltiness” to the nose. Frequently these wines can have a “dough-biscuit” nose as many wine makers allow the wine to sit on its yeasts for some extended time in order to create certain creaminess on the palate. In keeping with the time tested aphorism of “if they grow in the same place, they are a good match”, these whites are a great match for shell fish; of which there’s abundance in this part of the world. And here’s the good news: Albariño remains one of the great values with a fantastic bottle coming in at about $15.
Godello, typically produced further inland, also offers tangy lip-smacking acidity that results in great thirst quenching. In that regard, it often pleases those of us who like a nice Sauvignon Blanc. But if a creamy oaky Chardonnay is more your thing, never fear because this malleable grape often is vinified as such. Although for my liking this is one of those drink alone wines, it pairs beautifully with the local cheeses (goat, etc.). But you know what? Be adventurous and give it a try with a limey/cilantro packed taco and see what happens!
Mencía, with its flowery/strawberry/raspberry flavors wrapped into a light to medium body frame often piques the interest of Beaujolais and Pinot Noir enthusiasts. This lively red seems to be a great pairing with the local Galician beef (which to me has a gamier taste) and sausages. This is one of those wines that tend to be a great value in local steakhouses’ wine lists.
Please do not fall into the trap of thinking that because these are “value wines” their quality is less than remarkable. These are well crafted wines that lend themselves to great food pairings or stand-alone deliciousness. İSalud!
Lorenzo, the wine guy
Friends, food, and wine...I'm happy there.