The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 61 of 136

november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  61 LaPratt says one of his favorite pairings is Rueda and salad made from crispy seasonal greens such as spinach, arugula and frisee. "I love a great mix of lettuce: something bitter, something spicy, something with texture, blended with tomato and cucumber and a touch of salt. The combination really draws the flavor out of the earth in a way that harmonizes so well with the mineral and citrus notes of Rueda." Charles Ford, Wine Director at The Bristol in Chicago, says that Rueda is an ideal alternative for people who love Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Chablis. "It's a wonderful, outside-the-box choice that introduces consumers to an expansive world of white wine beyond Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio." To further showcase Rueda's diversity, Ford suggests pairing Verdejo with autumnal dishes prepared with seasonal vegetables or gourds. "What distin- guishes Rueda is its ability to be vibrant and fresh while being intellectual with depth." While Rueda whites are typically produced in a crisp, high-acid, and ready-to-drink style, Ford notes that some winemakers have begun to experi- ment with barrel aging, lees aging, or fermentation in concrete eggs. "To be able to produce wines with such a wide spectrum of styles is a huge advantage that renders these wines a natural choice for sommeliers and a great value for consum- ers," he says. Dormant during the summer months, autumn is also a time of awakening for the homely oven, beloved for the comforting and mouth-watering aromas it emits when fired up and filled with juicy meats and savory, caramelized morsels. "The reds of Ribera del Duero are such a fitting wine with roasted meats," says Ford. "Pork, beef, goat or lamb all benefit from big-bodied Tempranillo. I recently conducted a tasting of Ribera paired with takeout food, and Tempranillo works great with cheeseburgers, too!" While most Ribera reds are 100 percent Tempranillo, some producers blend small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, which bolsters structure. "Tempranillo is such a food-friendly grape," observes LaPratt. "It possesses nuance and elegance but also power to hold up to hearty flavors and spices. I would love to pair it with leg of lamb, roasted in the oven with tomatoes and olive oil until it shrivels and takes on incredible concentrated flavor!" Both LaPratt and Ford agree, the wines of Ribera and Rueda—while not new— are freshly exciting: complex yet approachable, versatile yet delicious. "These wines will appeal to people with open minds, who revel in discovery and have sense of adventure," muses LaPratt. And they are exceptional values, too: Excellent examples of both retail for less than 20 dollars. "The wines of Ribera and Rueda are great gateway wines—styles that inspire taste and imagination," adds Ford. "They are just similar enough to other popular varieties, yet different on a deeper level." Felipe González-Gordon, Director of D.O. Ribera del Duero and D.O. Rueda, agrees, saying the wines of Ribera y Rueda reflect a bold new attitude. "They offer the next generation of wine drinkers distinct and unexpected choices that are as openly original as they are." Charles Ford, Wine Director at The Bristol in Chicago. Marques de Caceres Verdejo from Rueda. Jose Pariente Verdejo from Rueda. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BRISTOL

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