Iberian Wines a Cool Summer Choice

Pick wines from the Spain and Portugal region

The hottest wines for summer are cool-flavored whites from warm regions best known for their red wines: Spain and Portugal. These wines have changed dramatically over the last twenty years; before, most were either thin and tart, or over-oaked and oxidized.

Spain’s “new” whites are from a slice of the country that comprises Galacia and Rueda, just north and east of Portugal. While they rarely reach the heights of the greatest Rieslings or Chardonnays, at sane price points they are every bit as good and often better. These wines have freshness and clarity with dry, complex and, above all, delicious flavors. Serve these well chilled and buy the youngest vintage you can.

El Hada (Verdejo/Viurai)
Rueda, Spain, 2009, $11
This has a kaleidoscope of fruit ranging from lemon to peach and cantaloupe. An ideal everyday wine.

Palacios “Louro” (Godello)
Valdeorras, Spain, 2009, $16
Slight steely quality and outstanding purity of flavors. Dry with great body; its fruit is downplayed. One of the best values I’ve tasted this year. Try with local trout.

Feital Alvarihno (Albarino) and Trajedura “Aurautus”
Portugal, 2009, $16.50
Not a lot of obvious fruit, yet the wine is ripe and its flavors vivid. Tastes even better with ceviche.

Pazo Senorans Albariño
Rias Baixas, 2009, $22
Perhaps the best vintage from this house, and one of the greatest Albariños I’ve tasted. It has the class of a great Alsace Riesling with delightful flavors of mint and nectarine.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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