Nick Rainsford reviews this tropical noted, golden white Rioja from maverick wine makers Martinez Laorden
Oenophiles and non oenophiles alike, certain regions are synonymous with wine; Bordeaux, Marlborough and of course, Rioja. It is to Spain we look for this week’s wine, with a trip through the Med’s famous region, home of big, robust reds, bursting with oaky, cherry flavours. Perhaps not quite so well known are the region’s white wines, but a white Rioja appearing on a wine list is an easy and superficial way to please me – I think it shows a little bit of thought. A white Rioja is hard to get right, sometimes being so bland it might as well be Pinot Grigio.
Under the stewardship of maverick wine-maker Jose Maria Martinez, Martinez Laorden is making some of the most exciting and vibrant wines at the moment using his family’s old vineyards. Spearheading the EU’s first bio-climatic winery – made entirely of renewable resources – the winery features solar panels and gravity fed wine pumps. It also boasts a comprehensive plan for reusing wastewater that will reduce the winery’s carbon footprint further, using 6-7 litres of water for every litre of wine produced, as opposed to the 11 litres used in conventional wine production.
This particular wine comprises of a blend of Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha grapes. It has a golden, straw like hue that is typical of the region, like a low lying sun enveloping a field of gently wind blown wheat. The Viura, (the local name for the Macabeo grape,) gives crisp apple acidity to the wine. This contradicts the rich tropical fruity notes of sweet melon and honeysuckle from the Malvasia grape, giving a rounder texture to the wine.
Bodegas Martinez Laordern’s A&A Blanco packs a hefty punch at 13.5%, though it is finely balanced, with the alcohol never overpowering the fruit taste and aromas of the wine. The tropical fruit notes continue on the palate, with pineapple and delicate hints of passion fruit coming through towards the end, with a dry gentle finish and a subtle frisson of oak, due to the 50% oak ageing of the wine.
Whilst a decent enough bottle to drink on it’s own, this wine really excels accompanying food – sweet shellfish, big garlicky, paprika-infused chorizo, spicy Asian chicken and oily fish are good friends for Mr Martinez’s rather excellent white Rioja. Cheers.