Let me introduce you to Gual and Baboso. No, they are neither law partners nor ice dancers. Gual and Baboso are autochthonous grape varieties that grow on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. These are two of the varieties that are championed at Bodegas Viñátigo, one of several Canary Islands wineries that are just becoming available in the US market thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Bay Area based importer José Pastor.
Founded in 1990, Bodegas Viñátigo makes several unique wines from vineyards in the Ycoden Daute Isora wine region on the western side of Tenerife. Juan Mendez, born and raised on the island, started Viñátigo with the aim of recuperating indigenous grape varieties. His vineyards are all planted on original rootstock in rocky black volcanic soil. Each vine grows in a small depression in the earth to protect it from the ever present trade winds. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. The wines are all produced as single varietals.
The small Viñátigo winery, built from rough hewn local stones, takes advantage of many elements of modern winery design. Wines are moved by gravity rather than pumping from one stage of elaboration to the next. Fresh fruit is delivered to the top level of the winery where sorting and crushing takes place. The wines are fermented in temperature controlled tanks one level down, and bottling and packaging are done on the lowest level.
2008 Viñátigo Gual is made from the Gual grape. Cold maceration and fermentation preserve the maximum of aroma and flavor in this richly textured white wine. Green almond and sesame seed aroma blend with tropical citrus flavors. The textural weight comes from extended skin contact. A foundation of volcanic minerality creates a lean, almost austere, first impression. Only with a bit of air does the complex tropical side of the wine come forward. This off beat varietal wine will pair well with elegant seafood preparations featuring scallops and lobster or even the silky monk fish liver preparation known in Japan as ‘ankimo’. $22.99
2008 Viñátigo Baboso is made from the red Baboso grape. This dark skinned juicy grape creates bold, expressive wines. In this particular example the ripe fruit character adds contrast to a wine that at its core is deeply mineral and rocky. 10 months in French oak gives this wine tannic structure. Barnyardy aromas of hayloft and meat locker add a note of funky intrigue to this unique expression of local soil and climate. A slow cooked braise of beef and mushrooms would be a nice match here. $42.99
Top Shelf Vinho Verde
Adega de Monção is a cooperative winery in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Deu la Deu is the top wine from this well known and well respected winery. It is made of 100% Alvarinho (rare in Vinho Verde) from the highest quality fruit of each vintage. This wine combines the traditional spritzy effervescence and grapefruit aroma of Vinho Verde with a deeper, more expressive balance of aromas and flavors. Notes of white peach and orange blossom combine with finely tuned minerality and leesy textural weight. This well made wine can be enjoyed right away or held back for a few years as they do in Portugal. $19.99