By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
Stuck in a white wine rut? Let’s go to Spain to solve the problem.
Interestingly, Spain has more land devoted to vineyards than any other European country. Indeed, most of this land is used to grow red grapes for world-famous red wines, but white wines are still Spain’s best-kept secret.
The main reason is because the best Spanish white wine grapes lack name recognition. While grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are grown in Spain, lesser-known grapes produce high-quality wines with the best flavors. Spain’s geography and unique microclimates allow for many different styles of delicious wines. Let’s explore a few favorites.
Is Pinot Grigio your go-to wine? Try a Spanish Albariño. In the northwest corner of Spain sitting above Portugal, moist winds and plenty of sunshine create an environment for the Albariño grape to thrive. Cool winds off the Atlantic Ocean make Galicia one of the lushest regions of Spain. Seafood is the dominant cuisine in this area, and Albariño is the perfect companion. If you like Pinot Grigio, you are going to love Albariño. Its high acidity, refreshing citrus flavors and dry taste make it a great choice to pair with dishes like ceviche, fish tacos, seafood pasta and shrimp. A cold glass of Albariño is the perfect cocktail on a hot day.
A fan of Sauvignon Blanc? I highly recommend Spanish Verdejo. Grown in the high plateau north of Madrid, cold winters and hot summers create a wine that embodies all the different styles of Sauvignon Blanc in one wine. The bold citrus and grass flavors common in New Zealand and California styles combine with the fuller-bodied, mineral-flavored styles from the Loire Valley in France. Unlike most Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo gets better with age. The wild, grassy flavors will mellow into richer, nuttier flavors.
You still love Chardonnay? Viura is your Spanish choice. Protected from strong winds by mountains along the Ebro River, Viura is grown in the Rioja region, which is famous for red wines. Viura is the name of the grape, and is frequently labeled as such, but it’s also referred to as White Rioja. It can be drunk young and un-oaked or it can be sold as a Gran Reserva Rioja Blanco, which means it must be aged in oak casks for four years and six months. The rich vanilla, hazelnut flavors and creamy texture will remind you why you fell in love with Chardonnay in the first place.
Love the bubbles? Also made primarily from the Viura grapes in
the Rioja region, Cava is a sparkling wine that is well priced and the best known of all Spanish white wines. It’s dry, fruity and refreshing, more similar to American sparkling wines than to French Champagne. Sometimes a few red Grenache grapes are added to the mix to make a pink version. Cava is great for any celebration, and perfect at the raw bar or with a cold shellfish platter.
The perfect bottle of hand-crafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Rd. Complimentary tastings, wine by the glass and cheese platters are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or islandwinery.com.
The perfect bottle of handcrafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Rd. Complimentary tastings, wine by the glass and cheese platters are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or islandwinery.com.