April 2009                               


Wines of the month - Paul DeRose

And Now for Something Completely Different

Did you ever wonder why there are fifty different Chardonnays or Cabernets being offered for every bottle of just about anything else in most wine shops? I wish I could say it’s because these are clearly better than all the rest. But it really comes down to popularity and name recognition among consumers, in a similar vain as to why we are more likely to vote for famous people or buy name brands of soap, and wineries respond by giving the people what they want. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this. In fact, the inescapable profusion of these wines has enabled most wine drinkers to recognize a good Chardonnay or Cabernet when they taste one, so it makes perfect sense that this is what they continue to pursue.

But for others, familiarity and popularity breed contempt. And even frequenters of the usual suspects may want to try something out-of-the-ordinary or even something out-on-a-limb, occasionally. With this in mind, I highlight two wines from north-western Spain. A white produced from the Godello (go DAY yo) grape and a red from the Mencia grape.

Never heard of them? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Mencia has only recently gained some traction, even among wine nuts like me, and Godello isn’t even on the radar yet. These two happen to be outstanding examples and are really worth seeking out.

Viña Godeval Godello ($17) *
This silver-yellow colored wine from Valdeorras in north-western Spain has crisp flavors of green apple and lime with a lively, minerally freshness. These flavors should appeal to a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio fan, but this also has an intensity and a richness that even staunch red wine drinkers may find inspiring. This can stand up to a variety of foods and goes particularly well with all types of seafood.

Pétalos Mencia ($20)
This one is from Bierzo, which is just slightly east of the previous wine’s home. It has rich black cherry fruit and a silky mouthfeel and is a must-try for Pinot Noir fans looking for bargains. It also has tropical fruit flavors, such as papaya, guava and passion fruit, which are more unique to Mencia.

* indicates available in Montgomery County