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Alsace in Spain…almost

19 February 2012

Spain produces many interesting wines, many of which are not exported, and I thoroughly enjoy tasting the variety on offer here. But sometimes I miss some of the wines I used to enjoy when I lived further north, especially the magnificent Rieslings and Gewürztraminers from Alsace, which are almost impossible to find here in Alicante.

Some Spanish vineyards do produce Rieslings, but until now none of the ones I have tasted have come close to the real thing from Alsace or Germany. Much to my delight, recently my friends at Vinospe announced the availability of two wines from Viñas del Vero, a 2010 Riesling and a 2009 Gewürztraminer. Viñas del Vero is in the little-known D.O. Somontano, at the foothills of the Pyrenees near the French border.

These two wines are reasonably priced (around €9), and while they are not up to the standards of their Alsace equivalents, they are the closest I have yet tasted here in Spain. The Gewürztraminer is especially pleasing; the floral nose and taste one gets from this grape are a bit muted here compared to my Alsace favourites such as the wines from Bernard Schwach or Hugel. I am not sure if the wine from Viñas del Vero would stand up to my curry (this is the traditional use for a Gewürztraminer) but it is certainly a pleasure to drink.

As I am writing this, I am tasting the Riesling. Here, the wine is almost perfect, like a good Kabinett from Germany. I am missing the “diesel” nose, but in the mouth the wine is deliciously buttery and has all the nuances one expects from a good Riesling. This wine clearly needs to breathe for half an hour to an hour to fully reveal its delights. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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