By Shelly Waldron
Here we sit in the midst of a once in our lifetime (hopefully!) worldwide pandemic. Thankfully, sheltering in place does not need to disturb our happy hour time, be it virtual or in person. Hopefully everyone has a quarantine buddy, whether it is a person or animal to enjoy some wine time together.
I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to this newsletter featuring Extraordinary Woman. We certainly have extra time on our hands these days to be creative as we wait patiently for our new normal to begin. What better time than now to discuss one of my favorite subjects, WINE!
Let me begin by telling you about myself. My love and interest for wine goes back to when I
was 18 years old (I shouldn’t admit that, right?). One of my first jobs was working in a wine/restaurant shop that was in the Tacoma Mall called “Papa John’s”. The owner was a serious connoisseur of wine and offered wine tastings, as well as a wide range of unique wines to offer by the glass and bottle. I learned a lot during those days, giving customers suggestions of what wine they should have with their meals, working with wine buyers and participating in the wine events. This helped to feed my interest in learning more about all things wine. Heck, I even have a bottle of Asti Spumante signed by Aldo Cella himself (does anyone out there remember him? “Chill A Cella!”) So, my love for wine has grown and evolved and has turned into many years of enjoying wine, attending wine events, blending and bottling wines under my own label as a member of a consortium. I have also had the opportunity to travel to wine regions in the United States and in Europe. That is why I was so excited about this particular wine I highlight today.
During a trip last fall to Spain, my husband and I visited the La Rioja wine region. The La Rioja wine region is located in northern Spain, close to the French border and near the town of Pamplona, Spain (famous for the Running of the Bull’s Festival). Due to the geographic location, the grape vines benefit from an Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean climate. The moderate maritime weather provides hot summers, cold winters and relatively high rainfall. All this equals a great environment for the grape varietals grown there. Tempranillo is the main grape grown in this region and used for red Rioja wines. While red wine dominates the region with 92% produced, 8% of the grape production is white wine.
This last week, while doing my essential shopping for fresh produce at one of my favorite local stores, Harbor Greens, I literally stumbled into this wine. It was my first outing out in public with my mask on (actually a folded bandana with hair ties to be exact). Feeling a bit strange with my makeshift mask, trying to finish my shopping in record time, I ran my cart into a stack of wine cases. It was quite embarrassing since the bandana wasn’t over my eyes! Thankfully no damage was done to the wine display but there it was, a 2018 white Rioja wine called LARCHAGO. A Spanish white Rioja you ask? I had never heard of it either! Even after traveling to the La Rioja wine region last year, I drank a few (or more) glasses of red Rioja but had not tried the white Rioja. So excitedly, I grabbed the bottle of wine, and threw it in my cart and headed for check out!
I wanted to know more, so I did some quick research. The 2018 LARCHAGO is made from a grape called Viura, also known as Macabeo in Spain. This grape varietal is not one with which we are familiar in the United States, it is primarily a Spanish varietal. This young wine is harvested, put into oak barrels for one year and then bottled. The wine is intended to be enjoyed while it is young and is not a wine for aging.
I mentioned previously that my husband and I had traveled to the La Rioja wine region this past fall. At the time of writing this article we were supposed to have been back in Spain on another trip. Of course, the trip was cancelled due to Covid19, but having found this wine, it felt like a great reason to have a themed Spanish happy hour at home instead.
We opened the bottle and paired the wine with some serrano ham, manchego cheese and marcona almonds. All these products of Spain are easily found in most area grocery stores. When tasting the wine, it had a light fruit front, floral notes and a slight oak flavor. I also detected some grassy notes and a bit of minerality on my tongue. LARCHAGO is a delicate, crisp, clean and very refreshing wine! No question, we both loved it. I must admit that I tend to lean toward drinking more red wines than white, but there is something about a wonderfully chilled white wine when you come into this time year. I enjoyed the wine so much I contacted Harbor Greens and spoke with their wine buyer, Katrina. She was able to order a case of this wine for my wine cellar. They also offered a nice case discount. The price per bottle was under $12. All in all, we felt like this was a great wine and such enjoyable treat.
Perhaps, our new normal may not be physically traveling to Spain, at least for now, but by enjoying a bottle of Spanish wine, with Spanish tapas, you can transport yourself there, via an at-home experience. I hope you will give this wine a try. So, until next time my fellow wine lovers…