Hiding in plain sight
Let's wrap up the work week with another of our frequent trips down the wine world's less familiar paths, taking a quick look at the Spanish grape Macabeo.
Macabeo, along with the similarly unfamiliar grapes Xarel-lo and Parellada, is a major player in cava, the inexpensive, good-value Spanish sparkling wine that's popular around the world. If you've ever enjoyed a fizzy cava, you've probably tasted Macabeo without realizing that you were doing so.
Macabeo makes a crisp, white wine with fragrant floral aromas, not overly high in acid, a description that encourages wine makers to blend it with other grapes to achieve a more balanced flavor profile.
The Spanish name suggests a possible, mysterious connection with the Old Testament heroes Judah Macabee and his brothers, but I've been able to dig up anything definitive about its etymology. If any of you have information on this, I'd love to hear it and hope you'll post the information on our WineLovers Discussion Group or send me E-mail.
Today's featured wine is the first varietally labeled Macabeo I've seen at retail. It's made by the Spanish producer Legado Muñoz in the Tierra de Castilla region of central Spain, near Madrid. It's an interesting wine at a fair price, a good addition to your "life list" if you enjoy collecting odd varieties as much as I do.
Legado Muñoz 2005 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Macabeo ($11)
Clear light gold; a clear-glass bottle shows off its color on the shelf. Pear and melon aromas, fresh white fruit, lead into a mouth-filling, medium-bodied flavor, dry and tart, with white fruit flavors that follow the nose; crisp lemon-lime persists in a long finish. Simple but appealing, a nicely balanced table wine. According to the importer's spec sheet, there's 10% Riesling in the blend. U.S. importer: Quality Wines of Spain, NYC. (Oct. 15, 2006)
FOOD MATCH: It made a fine match with, and ingredient in, linguine with white clam sauce.
VALUE: Hard to beat as a white-wine value at this price point just over $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: I can't claim much experience with Macabeo, but the conventional wisdom suggests that it's not made for aging, and in my experience, the Cavas in particular don't last. Drink over the next year.
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Seeking your opinion: Would you like a wine club featuring my top review selections?
One of the most difficult things about writing about wine for a wide audience is that wines aren't distributed equally, and all too often I get frustrated E-mail notes from folks who really want to try a wine I liked but can't find it.
Here's an exciting idea from my longtime friends and associates at The California Wine Club. They've come up with a creative way to make it easy for you to have my top wine recommendations delivered right to your doorstep, and I'd like very much to hear your comments, thoughts and opinions.
The idea is as simple as it is innovative: On a regular basis - perhaps monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, depending on demand - the club's Bruce and Pam Boring would work with me to choose selected hard-to-find wines that I really enjoyed. They would make these wines available to "Garr Series" club members as they do with members of the regular California Wine Club and its Signature Series, Connoisseurs' Series and International Selections.
These selections will usually be selected from a slightly higher-cost "special occasion" range, where quality-price ratio becomes increasingly important. I anticipate that a typical two-wine selection will run $50 to $75 including all shipping and costs; this is the range in which value becomes important and good advice essential.
We'd like to make a decision about launching this club before the holidays, but I need your advice, so I hope as many of you as possible will answer the following questions. You can simply hit REPLY and type your answers right on this page (you can delete the rest of the Wine Advisor, or not, as you wish) and send it back to me. Responding requires no commitment on your part, although I'll assume that your response implies consent for me - and California Wine Club - to write you back with specific, responsive comments, not "spam."
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Friday, Oct. 27, 2006