Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sacred River, Sacred Wine - Alqueira Ribeira Sacra 2011

If Rioja is Spain's Bordeaux, then this DO in Spain's extreme northwest might be it's Burgundy. With vines planted on impossibly steep hillsides, the wines of Ribeira Sacra can be incredibly complex, offering distinct mineral tones in the aromas and lighter styled flavors in the mouth. A Google images search of this area will give you an idea of the beauty that defines this river valley. It's name comes from the 18 or so monasteries that were built here in the middle ages, and though the Romans first cultivated wine grapes here more than 2,000 years ago, the area fell out of production in the 20th century. Recently though, things have changed. A new breed of young, ambitious winemakers have rebuilt terraces, replanted vines and revitalized the area. Eric Asimov's feature on Ribeira Sacra for the NY Times in 2009 is a great read. The steepness of the hillsides along the river are reminiscent of the hillsides that the best German Reislings come from.

The 2011 Alqueira is a 100% Mencia cuvee, one of three indigenous red varietals permitted in the zone. To me, this $14.99 beauty is exactly what wine exploration is all about. It's soil driven aromas lead with distinct stoniness and brown spices followed by bright red cherry fruit. In the mouth, the flavors reminded me of a good, though more complex Beaujolais Villages, with tangy cherry and raspberry flavors. There's bright acidity, and a long slightly tart finish with black pepper, floral and cranberry notes. It's definitely one of those wines I could sit and ponder for awhile after dinner.

The Alqueira went really well with the shrimp quesadillas with spinach, shitakes and pepper jack that my wonderful wife cooked up for us tonight. It's imported by one of my favorites Polaner Selections. Cheers.

No comments:

Post a Comment