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Wow! It is hard to believe that this most recent release of Martinsancho Verdejo from Angel Rodriguez surpasses the knockout, other worldly 2001rendition of this exceptional wine, but it does. An amplifying nose of fresh citrus, spring flowers, minerals, and liquid stones dominate the nose of the 2003 Martinsancho Verdejo. The result is a purity rarely seen in other white wines, and the gustatory outcome can best be described as stupendous, but then again everything about this wine is outstanding. From Martinsancho's brilliant golden, green-tinged robe to one of the purest, longest, most natural tasting finishes we have encountered in years, the 2003 Martinsancho Verdejo is truly unique and nothing short of remarkable. Aromatic, delicious, succulent, creamy, delicate, pure, rare, superbly balanced, and understated elegance are just a few of the many adjectives and descriptors used to describe the 2003 Martinsancho Verdejo, but, perhaps, the following comment by wine critic Robert Parker Jr. about an earlier vintage of Martinsancho says it all: This is the best dry white table wine I have tasted from Spain. To Parker's salient comment we add: Martinsancho is also the most consistently fine Spanish white we have ever tasted, in spite of the obvious vintage variations that plague Rueda. Enjoy this one of kind gem cool, moderately chilled, or frosty. We love it any way we can get it.
It is almost a shame that one has to even consider accompaniments to the 2003 Martinsancho Verdejo, but it tastes so good with food. Certainly, food enhances wine and vice versa, but in the case of the 2003 Martinsancho no accompaniment is truly necessary; this wine speaks volumes by itself. However, if you want to make a dish look good, serve that dish with a bottle or two of the 2003 Martinsancho. Tapas, hors d'oeuvres, smoked salmon with capers, fish, shellfish, poultry, and even a light or medium charged paella all provide wonderful accompaniments to the Martinsancho Verdejo. Better yet, we suggest you have a party and invite twenty or thirty of your new best friends, or if you have just moved and want to make a nice impression on the new neighbors, serve the 2003 Martinsancho as your opening act. This way you are sure to enjoy the compliments as well as the wine and its accompaniments. Salud!
At Bodegas Angel Rodriguez, the man and the story behind the wine are almost as intriguing as the wine itself. Simply stated, Angel Rodriguez and the emergence of Rueda as the most prestigious still white wine-producing region of Spain are synonymous. Angel's story is the story of a unique grape called Verdejo. Although Verdejo is among only a handful of truly noble Spanish white varietals, Verdejo was in serious danger of extinction by the early 1970's due to the pervasive planting of more prolific native varietals such as Viura and Palomino and the introduction of international favorites such as Chardonnay. Through his loving refusal to uproot his ancient 17th century vineyard, Martinsancho, Angel Rodriguez saved the shy bearing, thick-skinned Verdejo from extinction The original majuelo or 17th century vineyard of Martinsancho is less than one acre of gnarled, ungrafted vines, preserved in isolation as a museum of pre-phylloxera viticulture and a continuing source of undisputed varietal authenticity. Once considered an anachronism and an economic liability, nurseries throughout Europe now treasure the Martinsancho vineyard for the vine cuttings it provides and the legacy it has preserved. Yet, thirty years ago no one seemed to care about this old vineyard with extremely low yielding vines; in fact, few had even heard of Martinsancho's existence. Besides, Verdejo was not deemed profitable enough by most experts to preserve, let alone grow, despite the vine's noble pedigree and the undisputed quality of the wine it produced. Yet, in spite of the prevailing pressure and expert advice to uproot the old vineyard, Angel Rodriguez preserved it, and then undertook the near impossible or what many have called sheer lunacy: he re-grafted a vineyard by hand onto 25 acres of premier land, using Martinsancho cuttings. In 1974 Angel Rodriguez planted the noble, nearly extinct Rueda Verdejo into his very best vineyard: thereby, assuring the continuation of the Martinsancho vineyard as well as the venerable production of Verdejo. In this special 25 acre vineyard, the alluvial soil is nearly all gravel to a depth of over thirty feet. Moreover, the harsh continental climate and the extreme altitude of Old Castile, together with the vineyard soil's austere inhospitality to all types of insects and bacteria, allow for the practice of completely organic viticulture a rarity, especially for white wine. With the help of Angel Rodriguez, other Rueda growers have planted Verdejo to the point that this shy bearing vine is once again the leading white varietal in Rueda. For his great sacrifice and untiring efforts in favor of re-establishing Verdejo's prominence in its region of origin, Angel Rodriguez has been officially honored by King Juan Carlos of Spain. In spite of his great accomplishment and the recognition he well deserves, Angel Rodriquez remains a humble man who believes in tradition. He steadfastly maintains a very low-tech approach to the natural production of his wine. Angel still uses the centuries old, subterranean family bodega, replete with ancient 5,000 liter oak barrels for aging. The only quasi-modern pieces of equipment are two 20,00 liter glass tanks, which are used for the fermentation of the unpressed Martinsancho Verdejo, but subsequently even the Martinsancho is transferred underground for clarification and aging in ancient casks. Production of the great Martinsancho remains quite small, just under 2000 cases, but this wine's refined tactile quality and great depth of flavor reveal the indomitable spirit of a great winemaker and the preservation of a legacy. Enjoy!
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