Spanish Wines from Telmo Rodriguez

May 25, 2005

When I was young, growing up in the frozen wilds of Winnipeg, most of my friends collected hockey cards. I’m sure that other kids in warmer climes collected baseball cards, but we chased after the cards of our ice-skating heroes. And different cards had status. No-name players weren’t cool. Nobody wanted a Brian Hayward or Ed Hospodar card, because nobody knew who they were. We all wanted a Wayne Gretzky or Dale Hawerchuk card instead.

Now, it’s all about the wine. And I’m much less discriminating than I used to be. But to put it all in context, I imagine that if someone made collector’s cards of wine or winemakers, today’s coolest kids would want a Telmo Rodriguez wine card.

I’ll let the linked article explain who he is. My connection is that I’ve been fortunate enough to try three of his amazing Spanish wines. Vina 105, Al Muvedre and Basa. All of these are available at DeLuca’s Fine Wines on Portage Avenue, which is the nearest wine store to my home. It’s been a while since I’ve had the Vina 105, so I’ll focus on the Basa and Al Muvedre today.

Basa is from the Rueda region of north-western Spain (Castile for the geographers among us). It’s made primarily from the indigenous Verdejo grape, with Sauvignon Blanc and Viura for additional character. Only 15,000 cases are made, so it might not be the easiest to track down. And just check out that nifty label!

In the glass, it shows off a dusty herbal smell, with a surprising (almost salty) crispness. Think of it as a sea breeze wafting over a dry hillside. In the glass, it’s all about citrus and herbs. Not in a Sauvignon Blanc kind of way, but different. There’s more richness there, and the citrus is more over-ripe orange than zesty lemon. The herbs are softer, but there’s still a backbone of crispness in the wine. As cliched as it sounds, this is a very sexy wine.

Basa is perfect served up nice and cold with some fresh BC halibut covered in persillade. Available (chilled) for only $12.99 at DeLuca’s, which seems to be the only place in Winnipeg where you’ll find the wines of Telmo Rodriguez. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Al Muvedre (from Alicante) is an oddity, a wine made entirely from Monastrell (Mourvedre), which you don’t often (ever?) find. It’s not a big beastly wine, but shows to be rather tame and well-mannered. And it is a delicious summertime wine.

The nose shows the dustiness that I associate with Spanish wines, along with some light red cherry aromas. And there is a hint of herbs, which I’m coming to associate with Telmo Rodriguez’ wines. In the mouth, I found it showed off more fruit than I expected, mostly cherries with some muted plums, all wrapped around a core of herbal flavours with nice soft tannins. If anything, Al Muvedre tastes like a complex, earthy Beaujolais – more fresh cherry than bubble gum. It’s worth the $11.99 it will set you back at DeLuca’s, and I’d suggest serving it slightly chilled on a sunny patio some evening this summer. Great on its own, or served up alongside some fresh local rainbow trout or Arctic char.

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