Once again, today is the first Monday of the month and we will be holding one of our Larder Wine and Cheese Club evenings at Tavern tonight. I love these nights because we get to introduce people to new wines and food pairings, and get to have a bit more interaction with our guests than we normally do. I and Melody, our Larder Sous-Chef, get up and speak to the group about the wines and the foods that we are featuring and we answer questions and mingle. It's a nice change of pace from the normal dinner service and we really enjoy mixing things up a little bit for ourselves.
Tonight we are featuring the wines of Bodegas Artadi in Rioja. I've always been a big fan of these wines for their concentration and elegance. These wines always speak of their region and are classic and well-made. Artadi was started by Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle (say that three times fast) who set out in the mid 1980's to make great wines from Tempranillo grown in high altitudes from low-cropped, old vines. He uses only French oak, and really takes advantage of his location, an area with high levels of limestone in the soils. His wines are never over blown, have a beautiful mineral aspect to them and don't have the biting oak quality of other Riojas made with American oak.
My favorite of the four that we will be pouring is the 2005 Viñas de Gain, Rioja Blanco. This wine is made from 100% old-vine Viura, also known as Macabeo, a variety grown in Spain and France. I actually really like Viura, though it is widely used in the production of Cava, a wine that I don't normally enjoy. The Viura for this wine is grown in some of the highest elevation vineyards in the Alavesa area outside of Laguardia. This high altitude location and colder climate helps to enhance the acidity in this wine, allowing the Viura to really sing. The wine shows aromas of over-ripe pear, diesel and tar. On the palate, there is a tart brightness of lemon and honey backed by a salty minerality. This is not a particularly fruity wine, but I think that's why it is so drinkable.
We're pouring this wine along side tapas that will work perfectly with it, as this is a great wine for enjoying with these salty snacks. Its tartness and high level of acidity really play well off of the bright notes in Spanish olives and anchovies. This is one of those wines that I want to buy cases and cases of to have at home. Alas, this is yet again one of those small production wines that won't be around for long. They only made 300 cases of it, which means that only a small fraction of the wine will even make its way to California.
I think I'm on a mission to personally have it all to myself. We're pouring it by the glass at AOC and will start doing so at Tavern as well. I'm normally not the selfish type, but I just can't help myself. If anyone wants to get some before it's gone, you know where to find it.