One of the things I admire about Peter Sisseck, the creator of Pingus, is his self-definition as “a lazy wine-maker”. A lot of us rush trough life, doing many things and doing them fast, too infuenced by ideas of overproduction and so called efficiency. Hence we miss a lot of very good things related to contemplation, siesta and walking on the slow lane. Not this summer and not when it comes to my writing about wine! I am unshamed to have been these past weeks a lazy wine-blogger. I have forgotten to look at the watch. Days have been long and nights have become part of my freedom. Nevertheless, I have found very good wines to comment in the last couple of months and finally here is my somewhat lazy recollection of them.
I begun my summer in Washington DC. The day I arrived my friend Franz Drees invited me to dinner in his house. I was walking in M Street, Georgetown when I got his call and I went into a local wine shop, Potomac wines and spirits, looking for a Spanish wine to bring to the party. I was happy to find a very broad selection of new and old Spanish wines, much better than during my years in Boston, in the early nineties, when the Spanish wine section consisted of two second rate Riojas and some not very moving “Mediterranean” wines. I decided to get two bottles of Viña Izadi, a beautiful and smooth young Rioja that has never let me down, as elegant as, well, as my favorite Washington writer, Christopher Buckley.
At Potomac wines and spirits I got into a conversation with the owner, who liked Izadi, however, he insisisted I also try Pago Florentino, one of the new wines of Castilla La Mancha that had escaped my attention so far. I did it once I returned Spain, in my lazy summer days in La Coruña, Galicia. Pago Florentino 2002, made by Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro in Malagón, Ciudad Real, turned out to be a superb wine and also a great buy, at around 13 euros per bottle. It has a strong flavor of blackcurrant and other fruits and a very long and pleasant finish.
Another wine that has become a favorite is Vallegarcia Viognier, a white that cannot be compared to any other white in the Peninsula, starting with its beautiful golden colour. When I tried it I had started reading Evelyn Waugh unfinished autobiography, “A little learning” (1964) and I thought he would have chosen Vallegarcia Viognier for his best moments while a student at Oxford.
My other summer white has been a fantastic Albariño, as classic as you can get, Fefiñanes, from the oldest winery in this region, Palacio de Fefiñanes. I had it with soft Galician cheese from Arzua and I enjoyed it a lot. No better way to celebrate summer antipasto!
A great discovery this summer has been Finca Terrazo, from Bodegas Mustiguillo, in the Utiel Requena region. My colleague Isabel Garcés had insisted I try wine from her region, East of Valencia and the opportunity came in a dinner with friends from William and Mary summer program. We chose a 2001 bottle and enjoyed a very different wine, combining fruit and mineral flavours and that shows personality and promise.
I spent the last days of my summer in Valldemossa, Majorca, enjoying the simple life of La Cartuja. I drank there my two Majorca favorite red wines, Anima Negra 2 and Son Bordills Negre. But the wine I enjoyed the most was actually from Rioja Alta S.A., a 1997 reserva that was at its peak and tasted like jam and had the earthly colour of the big rocks that shape the North Coast of the island.