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This week is full of grapes that won’t register in my brain if they were listed together on a sheet of paper. Macabeo is one grape that’s instrumental in every teenager’s life at the discovery of Cava but still manages to stay under the radar since it’s almost never on the label. “Cava” shows up quite a bit on the label (or the cork in this case), even though this wine isn’t a true Cava. It’s a vino de aguja aka a petullant aka a frizzante aka a fizzy wine. Not really a fully bubbly but a half bubbly, this wine has bubbles that hang around together at the surface of the wine but don’t follow the beads of bubbles that a fully fizzy wine like Champagne or a true Cava has. This one has bubbles that randomly swagger to the surface instead of following ant-like the trail of their effervescent cousins.


Enough about fizzy wine though, this Blanc Pescador wine actually has 3 grapes. The only one with 50% power is the Macabeo since the other two place around in that 25% range and won’t be mentioned. The smell on this wine isn’t the typical acidic nose of a seafood wine, which is curious with a name like “White Fisherman” (the translation of Blanc Pescador). This wine smells a lot more like peaches and full bodied fruit, even though it’s taste is that fresh and constant taste you’d want in a wine that stacks up to shellfish (PEI mussels in my case). How they managed to stuff nectarines and yuzu into this wine and keep it looking clean as a light yellow gemstone I have no idea. Nevertheless, they succeeded with this wine and even after an hour of pouring a glass there are a few bubbles undulating up to the surface. Weird.


There’s really nothing I’ve said about the grape other than it’s part of Cava but there is a fair amount about Macabeo. Like it’s name isn’t Macabeo outside of Spain – it’s Viura (scallop in Spanish, which is perhaps why they called it something else, despite it pairing well with scallops). They grow it along the southern un-trendy part of France in Languedoc-Roussillon, in the Rioja region and south of Barcelona where the Cava fields bubble happily in the sun (at least that’s how I imagine it).

Detail Up!
Blanc Pescador by Castillo Perelada

Google Randoms
* The hottest lady in wine crushes on this “cinderella wine” in her spare time.
* This is the white wine they mostly plant in northern Spain so if you’ve ever had a White Rioja, chances are you’ve had this
* This Blanc Pescador wine made the Top 16 list of Best Vinos de Aguja. No idea who decided Top 16 was better than Top 10 or Top 20. Top 16 Wines – catchy.

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Palomino is one of the three grapes used to make Sherry, a dessert wine from southern Spain that’s known for being nutty. Not a poor pun, it actually tastes like nuts. Palomino is the grape that the Spaniards use when they’re making the less sweet styles of Sherry. Otherwise they go with Ximenez or Moscatel grapes, which produce really sweet dessert wines.

Palo Cortado

Interestingly enough, the sherry that I happened upon has its own frothy, freudian history. “Palo cortado” shown above on that rather blah label means its a wine that started off its aging process as a dry wine but then loses its flor veil (seriously, click that link) and keeps aging as a sweeter style of wine (“From Fino to Oloroso” – Palo Cortado’s memoirs). The result is a wine with the best of both the sweet and the dry. I prefer to think of it as one outstanding gender-bending Spanish citizen. And with the translation of “Palo Cortado” literally meaning “cut stick,” you’d think Freud would have come up with the term “Palo Cortado.” You’d be wrong – it’s an even better story.


Sherry’s never really been my thing. It’s always been on the more bitter side and nuts are fine and all but give me candied fruit, dried fruit or some kind of big whiff nose, and I’m much happier than if you shove a bowl of peanuts my way. This wine though is causing me to take a second look at Sherry. Why? Cheese, namely Old Amsterdam Gouda, the best thing that Holland has produced since it exported my great-grandparents (modestia a parte). Really, if you have to have one cheese after dinner, this is the cheese you want. Maybe it was the fish for dinner that didn’t fill the gullet. Maybe it was the liquor cabinet bursting with too many random bottles. Maybe it was fate.

This gender-bending Sherry and that udderly divine dutch gouda just destroyed my previous best pairing (pizza and Modern Family) by 5,280 feet. They even did a little dutch spanish dance in my mouth, wooden shoes and bullfighter jabs included. The Gouda provided all kinds of salt and crunchy deposits with a mouth-filling creamy taste. The Sherry added in its own hook-nosed bitterness and cartloads of almonds. So thank you Palo Cortado and Gouda – you just reopened the world of Sherry to one who thought it beyond surprises. Palo Cortado, you rock.

Detail Up!
Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula Sherry

Random Googles
* Palomino’s really only used for dessert wines – Spain mostly, but South Africa and California too.
* Sherry comes from the Spanish region Xeres (pronounced “hair-ess”) near that Gibralter tip
* As much as I slander sherry, that solera process deserves its cool points.

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Thanks to the Latin side of the family and the Feast of the Son of Isis, Christmas dinner is one heap of turkey, two dollops of gravy and papas, papas, papas. Also, there is wine. Lots of wine.

Two Wines, One Christmas Bonanza

This year, two tempranillos made it out from the cellar and they couldn’t have been more different. On one of them, we’re looking at a 2003 Crianza that tasted like it was past its prime but had enough steel-edges and back-of-the-mouth light fruitiness to deserve seconds. The other’s a new one, 2008 Argentine from Finca La Linda, could be liquid jam. Probably blackberry jam or maybe something kinda Rudolph-y but fruit on fruit goodness like this German layer cake that made its way to the dinner table (missed the photo op so h/t these guys). Really, the wines could have been alpha and gamma, or the Yankees and Mets for how they tasted.

No Fluke – it’s the Atlantic’s fault

Judging by a quick wikisearch, this difference isn’t a fluke. It’s an oceanic divide. Old-world Tempranillo is all about Spain. It’s the foundation of Rioja, the dye in the awesome-looking Batalla de Vino and even the origin of that weird Spanish lisp (ok, not that one but the lisp legend is really cool). New World Tempranillo’s all about finding that magical fruit combo and pumping it up into something sweet enough that even Americans will enjoy. Yes, I’m sure that’s a gross caricature – still, based on my undeniable sample size of 2 wines, it’s true.

In sum
Old World oxidizes Tempranillo, New World jams to it.

Detail Up Wine Nerds
* Finca La Linda Tempranillo 2008 – what Luigi says
* Rioja Ordate Crianza 2003 – ok, this is a bit of a mystery wine. no reviews and no real info on who the producer is. only tidibt involves a small coop in rioja that made wine back in 2003 – radio silence since 2003. mysterious rioja, you intrigue me.

Google Randoms
* Tempranillo gets blended with Garnacha to make Rioja (Mazuelo and Graciano show up too, in a kind of Steve Buscemi way)
* Tempranillo means “little early one” in the lispy language of Spain. It’s not derrogatory though, it’s just a cute way to remind you to harvest on the early side.
* Port has a bit of Tempranillo in it but the Portuguese prefer the grape name of “Tinta Roriz” (if in port) or “Aragonez” (if part of that awesome Alentejo region).

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