This past Wednesday was our final tasting in class, of Spanish and Portuguese wines and various dessert wines.
Vinho Verde, Quinta da Aveleda, Minho, Portugal, 2008.
Vinho Verde is one of the lightest whites in the world. Slightly floral, with notes of green apple, grass, and green olive. Very high in acid with a bit of spritz, which makes for a very refreshing wine that is perfect for serving with light seafood dishes and fresh tart goat cheese.
Albarino, Morgadio, Rias Baixas, Galacia, Spain, 2007.
Another high-acid, crisp wine, but this time with richly sweet aromas of honey, cooked apples, and tropical fruits. Light to medium body - would hold its own against more substantial seafood.
Reserva, Alianca, Dao, Portugal, 2006.
Lots of red fruit aromas, especially raspberry, and some vanilla. Medium body, high acid. It was the perfect pairing for an excellent cassoulet (a hearty white bean stew with bacon, garlic sausage, braised lamb, and confit duck).
Gran Reserva, Faustino, Rioja, Spain, 1996.
A prime example of the affordability of Spanish and Portuguese wines. This 14 year old bottle could rival many from Italy and France, but only costs $30. Super-smooth with aromas of dry figs and blackberries and vanilla, a bit smoky. Very full-bodied and meat-compatible.
Riesling, Ice Wine, Cave Spring, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, 2007.
This was promised to our class if we received at least an 80% average on our first test. I know I studied long and hard after hearing that! Thankfully we did reach the mark. This wine retails for about $60 per half-bottle. It ain't cheap, but it sure is worth it! Imagine the aroma and taste of honey and warm peaches, butter-caramelized apples and warm spice, all swirled in one sweet, luscious yet crisply acidic glass. Serve with rich blue cheese, fruit and cream desserts, or foie gras.
Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos, Tokaji, Hungary, 2005.
Aszu Tokaji is another very sweet dessert wine, produced from botrytis/Noble-rot affected grapes. It's sweet and nutty, like honey and caramel, with bright tropical fruit flavors. Absolutely delicious, and at $35 for 500ml, a bit more affordable than a French Sauterenes or Alsatian Selection de Grains Nobles. The most noticeable difference between an ice wine and a late harvest or botrytis wine is the acidity. Ice wines are extremely acidic, but it's offset by the sweetness (almost a half-pound of grape sugar per liter!). Late harvest and botrytis wines are honey sweet but only a little acidic.