Acustic Celler Montsant, 2013
You could cut this with a knife; a thick and meaty white, minerally to the point of an old oil can, spirited citrus and nuanced wood that is more mushroom and moss than wood shavings. We found the juicy, stony assertiveness of this very masculine white something to write home about. A white Rioja blend (Macabeo and Garnacha) which is a tad out of the ordinary. From a region just outside of Priorat that I’m totally unfamiliar with. A little touch of seasonal novelty: Fresh, unexpected, invigorating. Stood up to and conquered a vegetarian saffron dish: Well done!
Altos Rioja Blanco, 2014
A little simple; citrus forward, lemon, lime, grapefruit pith, with a sweet and weighted tropical note. Uber refreshing and a perfect pair with any number of rich shellfish or cheesy starter type dishes. With a cheese and bacon quiche it worked a charm. If you were “introducing” white Rioja to someone this might be the gateway wine.
The thing is this: White Rioja has so much to offer, but it simply can’t compete with Burgundy or New World Sauv Blanc; it doesn’t hold a candle to Riesling; it bows down and is trammeled by Alsace. And yet, and yet, it is ridiculously food friendly and deserves a place at the table. If you are bored with predictability, this will enliven your cellar. (And, get this: Many bottles of white Rioja age a treat.)
Most white Rioja is Viura; the Altos is blended with Malvasia giving it a nice prune-ish edge. The Acustic abandons Viura for something novel. Both win in their way.
Price: The Altos you can find at private stores in YVR for as little $20 before extras; the Acustic, harder to find, will run you about seven dollars more.
Market Liquidity: Refresh your palate; there’s more to life than Chardonnay.