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In the days before pretty wine labels came into vogue, with pictures of exotic animals, flowers, and the inventive wares of well-known artists to adorn the bottle, there was a saying among wine lovers: “The simpler the label, the better the wine.” In the case of both Eidos and Veigas de Padriñán, the adage still holds true. As a classic wine of Spain, the 2008 Veigas de Padriñán Albariño still sports the simplest of labels. However, what rests within is anything but simple, nor does it have anything to prove: the wine wares of Bodega Eidos speak eloquently from the glass. Made for wine drinkers who truly love dry white wine, and we mean classic dry white wine, the 2008 Veigas de Padriñán is sheer pleasure. Its aromatic profile is both fresh and profound. The enticing scents of stone fruits, mingled with a refreshing minerality, dominate the nose. Full, but not fat, the 2008 Veigas de Padriñán enlivens the palate with a charismatic concoction of vibrant fruit, liquid stones, and bracing acidity that quenches the thirst as it adds length and depth to this quintessential offering. Although thoroughly enjoyable when well chilled, the 2008 Veigas, like most top rated Albariño wines, is at its finest when served only lightly chilled. At 50º-55º F, Veigas unfolds gently in the glass and seduces those patient enough to allow the numbing chill of modern refrigeration to subside. Enjoy!
In its native Galicia, tapas and seafood constitute the accompaniments of choice with Albariño. To this end the 2008 Veigas is right at home. It pairs beautifully with clams and oysters on the half shell, and almost any kind of shellfish served in a heady broth. Moreover, cod, grouper, or almost any flaky white fish steamed in parchment (or foil) with chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs, provides exemplary companionship to the 2008 Veigas de Padriñan Albariño. Traditional tapas, marinated olives, stuffed mushrooms caps, full-flavored Spanish cheeses, and cured meats such as prosciutto and Spanish jamon are perennial favorites, too. However, one need not travel to Rias Baixas to appreciate the delights of Veigas. Asian stir fries, sushi, sashimi, and light tempuras offer equally pleasing accompaniments. Another favorite companion to Veigas is Ahi tuna grilled medium rare, drizzled with a tangy ginger or teriyaki sauce, and then served over a bed of organic greens, shredded carrots, edamame, and broccoli. This simple offering accentuates the taste of the wine and exemplifies the art of fusing Asian-accented recipes with classic European wines the likes of the 2008 Veigas de Padriñan Albariño. Salud!
Bodega Eidos is one of the bright new stars from Spain’s Rias Baixas appellation in far flung Galicia, Spain’s cool, green region that rises from the pounding surf of the North Atlantic to the towering Pyrenees Mountains. It was founded in 2000 by Manuel Villalustre, a well respected local viticulturist with 20 acres of very old Albariño vines. In just a few short years Bodega Padriñán has established itself as one of most compelling producers of white wines in Spain. Since the completion of his modern winery in 2003 Manuel Villalustre has fashioned two persuasive Albariño wines: Eidos and Veigas. Eidos is made from 50 year old vines, while the bodega’s reserve bottling Veigas (this month’s selection) emanates from ungrafted vines that are more than 80 years of age.
Manuel Villalustre’s 100 separate parcels of vines are located at the most northern end of the Salnés Valley, among the steep hills of Padriñán from which the winery draws its name. These hand harvested vineyards are set among the gardens of the village of Sanxenxo, where they enjoy a commanding view of the sea. However, each of these parcels occupies a south facing slope that protects it from the north wind and the stiff ocean breezes that buffet this coast. Superb fruit results from this region's favorable terroir and microclimate, resulting in the most concentrated and intense wines of Rias Baixas. Little wonder then that vines have grown here since time immemorial.
Albariño: Spain’s Most Compelling White Grape
Albariño is an indigenous Spanish grape variety whose home is Rias Baixas and the Galician hills and hinterlands of northwest Spain and neighboring Portugal. Albariño was once thought to be distantly related to Riesling, but some enologists now believe that Albariño may be more closely connected to the Petit Manseng variety of southwest France, which lies just to the north of Galicia and the towering Pyrenees Mountains. However, no dry white Petit Manseng can match the body and finesse of Spain’s finest Albariño wines.
In Portugal, Albariño goes by the name Alvarinho where it typically ends up as a light summertime quaff in the guise of Vinho Verde. Surely, nowhere could a single grape variety be more different than Albariño is in Spain and Portugal. While Portugal picks this varietal early and makes a low alcohol wine (8.5%-9% on average), Spain, under the tutelage of Manuel Villalustre and similar minded individuals in Rias Baixas, turns out a full-bodied, intense Albariño with aromatic and flavor profiles more akin to Viognier – the greatest white variety of France’s Rhône Valley.
On account of its intense flavors and adaptability to difficult climates, Albariño is now extensively planted and studied in other locales around the world, including Australia, California, and South Africa. Early reports from winemakers and consumers elsewhere appear promising for this late maturing grape, but nowhere more than in Australia where extended growing seasons are common and the grape’s firm, bright acidity is much appreciated. A debt of thanks belong to Manuel Villalustre and his Galician counterparts for helping resurrect over the past two decades the great Albariño varietal in Spain and sharing it with the world.
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