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the WINE VINE

by Dani Boxford

AN ALTERNATIVE TO YOUR CABERNET AND CHARDONNAY

It seems to me the best place to start this column is to provide you alternatives to two Dallas favorites, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from California. These two varietals are the most frequently consumed in restaurants and purchased in retail stores in the Dallas metro area. With these article and the ones in coming months, I aim to give you options to expand your wine perimeter. Each month I’ll highlight a grape alterative for each from varying countries. This month, both wines I’ve chosen are from Spain.

Let’s begin with our red. If not the king of the top red grapes, Cabernet is certainly the most successful and popular. It has a thick skin and a ripe robust cherry fruit. Aged in oak, depending on the vintage, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa is a beautiful structural balance. However, there are many wines from around the world that will give you a similar satisfaction.

One of my favorites is the Tempranillo grape from Spain. Tempranillo varies depending on the area of Spain in which it is grown, Rioja or Ribera del Duero.

In Rioja the grape is larger

with a slightly thinner skin than cabernet but with similar bright dark berry fruit. In Ribera del Duero, the clone is called Tinto Fino by natives.

It is a much smaller grape than its

cousin from Rioja but with a much thicker skin and intense earthy flavor. This is somewhat do to the higher elevations within this region. Ribera del Duero produces the most expensive and famous Tempranillo from Spain.

Without getting too detailed here, the Tempranillo in Spain is labeled according to region and amount of time the wine spends in oak barrels. The terms “Joven”, “Tinto” or “Roble” on the label would indicate a younger or slightly oaked wine. Generally this will be less than one year in oak, many having no oak aging at all. The next and more familiar tier is the term “Crianza”. A crianza is to have at least one year in oak and one year in bottle. After this, with more oak aging, there is a Reserva and Gran Reserva designation as well. There are enormous, beastly wines on each level. For the sake of comparison in this article, I’m going to have you focus on trying a Crianza. It’s considered the flagship wine of most Bodega’s in Rioja and Ribera del Duero. You’ll be able to find a nice selection at your local wine shop.

Tempranillo from either of these two areas can show beautiful fruit, age ability and complexity. There is varietal blending and oak variations used in both. Some say similar to that in Bordeaux France without the price tag. I would avoid the 2003 and 2007 vintages. The former was excessively hot like all of Europe and the latter was exceptionally cold.

I’ll bet most of you, like me, are red wine drinkers.

I am, however, drinking more and

more white wine each year. Chardonnay has been described as creamy, buttery or nutty. It has a fairly heavy mouth feel. Although I

28 APRIL 2010

appreciate well made Chardonnay, it has never been my absolute favorite white grape. There are stunning white wines from all over the world of which in the next few months I will introduce some to you.

My Spanish white alternative for you is Albarino. Albarino is the most important white grape in the far Northwest corner of Spain just to the north of the Portuguese border. This wine region is called Galicia. This corner of Spain was believed to have been underwater many thousands of years ago. This is significant because of the shells and sand intermingled throughout the vineyard soils. That combined with the maritime influence of the Atlantic Ocean creates a perfect seafood pairing wine. The Albarino grape has the weight and mouth feel similar to Chardonnay. It has a very thick skin, producing little juice and is rarely oaked. You’ll notice right away this wine is much fruitier than Chardonnay but also with a bone dry finish. These qualities make it fantastic for food pairing. It has fruit to soften spice, acid and a dry finish to cut though flavor.

My last trip to this area was visiting the Do Ferreiro winery within Rias Baixas subzone of Galicia. At the reception, the proprietor had employed an Octopuser. That’s what they called him, an Octopuser. He had fished a live Octopus from the Atlantic that morning. He chopped it, blanched it and served the unfortunate fella drizzled with olive oil. They poured their Do Ferreiro Albarino alongside. It may not sound visually appealing but the pairing was perfect. This was followed by five more courses of seafood and wine.

lot. On the less expensive level, try to always buy the most current vintage. 2009’s are out there now. There are a few notable properties that have aging potential. Do Ferreiro and Fefinanes are two of my favorites.

I can think

of only a few other white wines that pair so well but stand alone like this varietal. Every red or white wine-drinker that has taken my recommendation has loved it. That says quite a

What country should we do next month? France? Italy? How about Lebanon? Until then…

Dani Boxford has been involved in the wine industry for over 12 years and is currently an importer of Italian, Spanish and French Wines to America. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84
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