Suddenly, Spain is currently being highlighted everywhere across the great wine web. It appears to be in season at the LCBO, as Vin Québec points out. Equally, the SAQ on this side of the provincial border is showcasing their best Iberian bottles. Yesterday, the Art de Vivre store in the Cours Mont-Royal had a tasting of some of these goodies, including the delicious Muga Reserva (priced at $21.65). It was from 2001, a very strong vintage for Spanish winemakers, especially those situated in the Rioja. For more on that blockbluster year, Wine of the Times published this morning a top-to-bottom rundown those great 2001 red Rioja values.
Personally, I've been estranged from Spanish wines for a while. I can't say why that is, but I haven't yet profiled a Spanish bottle in this space. Until now, that is. If there is somewhere to jump on the bandwagon then I say that it is right here with the Ijalba Genoli 2003, the cheapest Rioja you can buy in Quebec and I'd venture among the best Spanish values anywhere.
Genoli is a varietal. It is made of 100% Viura grapes and packaged in a very interesting bottle. I couldn't decide which aspect is less pedestrian. Check out their site to find out more about how Viña Ijalba prides itself on these one-of-a-kind heavy green-glass vessels.
For such a unique and exotic-sounding grape variety, I have to simply say that for this cuvée Viura provides the tried and true attributes of any good young and dry white wine: Mouthfilling minerality. Nicely balanced and crisp finish. Refreshing lightness carries this wine from start to finish, delivering flavours of citrus and honeysuckle. I will definitely try it again to see what different types of cuisine can do to open up its natural characteristics. A first blind attempt at a pairing for it was jasmine rice topped by breaded catfish with garlic, shallots and sour cream. For this dish, a steelier wine would have gone better. Such lively and vivacious stuff seems to respond better to fresh tomatoes tossed in fettucini with black olives, capers and oil-packed tuna.
Logroño, España. 12.5%.