Vetiver White Rioja Puts Extra Sizzle in Spanish Wine

April 1, 2013

Have you tried a white Rioja? Though Spain's best-known wine region is justifiably famous for its long-lived, Tempranillo-based red wines, why not be a bit of a contrarian and explore Rioja's white wines? Made from the Viura grape, most of the examples I've had are simply refreshing white wines for your porch-pounding, summer patio needs. But I recently tried one that definitely has some sizzle: the 2009 Bodegas Ontañón Vetiver Blanco Viura. It has a more golden color and extra richness than I'm used to from white Rioja. Certainly this has something to do with the use of oak barrels in aging the wine. And, if you've kept up with my recent proclivities when it comes to white wine, I am a fan of putting white wine in oak barrels. (I believe in frank, lusty talk about the subject.)

white riojaYou'll probably see a lot of white wines from all over the world showing vintages of 2011 and 2012. So it's notable to enjoy the 2009 Bodegas Ontañón Vetiver Blanco. For a modest price you've got an example of an age-worthy white wine for a fraction of the price of fancier cellar mates. I'm not saying keep it for decades, but it will be interesting to see how the Vetiver develops over the next few years. And hey, enjoy it now! There is significant charm in its freshness, which balances out the oak influence.

What about that sizzling bacon? That image is just not there symbolically. The Vetiver has the profile to match hearty seafood dishes, like bacon-wrapped scallops.

So explore white Rioja, and enjoy it everywhere from the picnic table to the dinner table.

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