Archive for ‘Viura’

March 26, 2021

Artuke Pies Negro, 2018 & Artuke Tinto, 2019

This is a case where the “better” wine was not as good as the “value” wine. (At least according to the Wine Spectator, which gave the PN 93 points and the Tinto 90.)

Let me explain: The Pies Negro is a curious bottle.  It evolved with air, it shifted from an aggressive, acid heavy fruitiness, then chilled out to a very balanced and curious red.  Start to finish it seemed a little tight, but both food friendly and a superb sipper. As Rioja goes it was less plush than some but beautifully rich.

The Tinto, on the other hand, was a fruit bomb.  Lighter on the palate by a mile, there was no mistaking this for vintage Rioja.  It was fun, lively, appealing, on the nose, on the palate.  Astonishingly good value; it shames most of the BC Okanagan. 

The Pies Negro might impress people more, and don’t get us wrong it’s a terrific red, but the Tinto would just please more people.  And that, I think, is what makes us think the value wine wins out.

The PN is a typical Rioja, Tempranillo and Grenache, the Tinto Tempranillo and Viura.

Price: Marquis offered the Pies Negro at $34.69 before tax and the Tinto at $21.65 before tax, but with a mixed half case reduced the price by 10%. So value and valuable.

Market Liquidity: Done and done between two gentlemen.

February 27, 2018

Rioja Conde Valdemar, Finca Alto Cantabria 2015

Unique, unusual and yet delectable.  Not sure there is any other way to put it.  Viura, mainly, and some Verdejo.


A golden nectar, not as weighty as it appears, flinty on the nose but tropical on the tongue, a strong punch of coconut (think Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil) with other herbaceous flavours, light but identifiable oak, and a palate cleansing finish.


Ludicrously food friendly.  Wash down shellfish, drink alongside mixed tapas, sip with snacks, it can even battle pasta in a tomato sauce.


Despite the 91 point WS seal on the label you can see online it is not without many detractors.  Many detractors.  Is that because it’s different than you might anticipate, unlike common varietals, heavy when it should be light and light when it should be heavy?  Or is it because white Rioja is such a hard sell? It’s like the pit-bull of varietals, much maligned and misunderstood.  There is definitely an oxymoronic quality to this bottle, but I would say charismatic in its complexity, and appealing because of that.  If you can bravely face the Saturday NYT crossword, then this white is for you.  If you are still stuck in the black hole of innocuous Pinot Grigio, stay clear.


Price: $32 at Kits Wine Cellar.


Market Liquidity: Like Escher’s impossible staircase, a little hard to define.

April 11, 2017

CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco, 2015

Nothing about this wine, drinking it, no words sound good: Assertive.  Astringent. Metallic.  And yet it is nothing but pure pleasure; nutty and lemony and complex.  It is bottled sunshine.  There is nothing so striking as a bold, balanced, boisterous Rioja Blanco.  There is something so sensationally Spanish about it, somewhere between Sauvignon Blanc and Sherry.  Of course it bears the “golden ticket” of 90 points on its collar, which is a bugbear, but nevertheless…


Price: $22 at Marquis, and worth every cent.


Market Liquidity: When pointster and anti-pointster see eye to eye.

December 29, 2016

Two White Riojas: Acustic Celler Montsant & Altos Rioja Blanco


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.