By Rick Riozza
No one can claim that the CV Weekly wine reporters aren’t covering on what’s trending in wine and in our wine circles in town.
Most of us remember the Portuguese rosés that came in very pretty and interesting bottles like the cylindrical brown ceramic-looking Lancers, and, the fat squat dark green bottle of Mateus, which when emptied, served as a candleholder—perhaps adding ambiance to a romantic dinner table.
Anyway—these days Portuguese whites are the rave in Paris bistros, at New York glam parties, in San Francisco sushi bars, and are now appearing at the Palm Springs/Palm Desert hot spots—and hot is what we are!
The irony here—which you wine enthusiasts should find interesting, is that it was Portugal’s sustained isolation from fashionable wine growing trends, from the rest of Europe, that kept the gorgeous heritage of the indigenous grapes—grown on the incredibly steep, wild, and rugged vineyards above the Douro River Valley—locally bound and now a rich distinction in the wine world.
And yes, we’re speaking of the area long famous as the source of Port wine. The “new sophisticated” generation of dry white wines of Douro exhibit focused fruity flavors of apples (esp. green), apricots, citrus, grapefruit, lemon, lime, peaches, and pears; further, we can experience some smoke, minerals and stones for some added complexities. Plus that Iberian earth makes it a unique wine.
With our prolonged summer weather, sometimes well into October, many of us are enjoying the lighter food fare of fish and seafood more often. The salty, oily, briny and richer elements that make seafood a popular choice, scream out for a wine that’s refreshing, cleansing, and flavorful without getting in the way of the varied and delicate flavors of sea menu.
So, as I’m inclined to point out, how many times a year do we really seek and treat ourselves to a different or distinguished bottle of wine that is rating very well? And I usually use this rationale to dig into my pocket to buy an expensive one. But here it’s not rationalizing cost, it’s grabbing a wine for your fish dish that’s interesting, out of the norm, and an incredibly sexy choice.
Quinta de la Rosa DouROSA White, 2011, at around $15, is my recommendation of the week. The grapes of the Douro region primarily in this wine are Codega and Ribeiro, just in case you need that info while playing your wine trivia game. This is a medium-bodied, fragrant wine with floral and guava aromas followed up by juicy nectarine and grapefruit on the palate and just a hint of mint. It’s a soft, easy, and refreshing wine with mineral and citrus undertones. Lots of cool stuff going on for a gentle white.
Sipping this wine by itself gets you thinking globally—that’s to say, it’s wonderfully interesting to discover how different white grapes and foreign terrains can provide such gustatory pleasures. Then, we matched it up with sushi—and our little patio get-together became a party. All we could talk about was how the store-bought seafood item came to life, and we were figuratively whisked away to the ocean side.
As this lively wine continually complements all grilled fish dishes, the next question becomes—where do we find it? I called Marc Plummer, who you may remember, was the wine director at the 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro for the past two years and is now a local wine distributor. He agrees that more wine people should be appreciating these Portuguese whites so he offered to make the Quinta de la Rosa DouROSA available at the 3rd Corner this week.
This is a good time to give a shout-out to the 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro located in Palm Desert. They consistently put on great wine dinners, featuring world class wines, paired with the culinary talents of Executive & master Chef Matt Smith. And every Saturday afternoon there is a wine-tasting that features ten wines from around the world for only $10 per person.
It’s a wine lover’s haven where we can browse around the aisles, purchase a bottle at a great price, and have it uncorked for us at the bar or table to enjoy with our meal. The management really makes an effort to provide us wonderful wine at great deals. Stop in and check out their selection and prices. 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro, 73101 California 111 Palm Desert, CA 92260 (760) 837-9600
There are a few more exciting Portuguese white wines to write on so let’s look forward to covering them next time. And I think there will be some wines you’ve heard of already like Vinho Verde, Alvarinho, and Verdelho—all of which are lively, refreshing, tasty and, dare we say, trending all over the world.
As they toast at the wine-bars in Lisbon–Saúde!
Rick is your sommelier-about-town who conducts and entertains at various wine events & tastings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org