My jaunts down the Spanish aisle in the usually results in an impulse buy or two , largely because I know that I can’t go too far afield. Spain’s wines, especially their whites, are remarkably consistent, flavorwise. More importantly, I’ve found inexpensive Spanish wines handle age better than their similarly-priced counterparts from almost anywhere else in the world, so if there's a discounted bottle from last year's vintage, I can snag it without worry that I'm picking up a bottle that's over the hill.
[Protip: The “end of year clearance” sales are in full-force at your local wine stores as we speak, so if you’re choosing between 2010 whites from Spain and…say…California in the under $10 price range, pick the Spanish one every time.]
In Spain, the most popular white wine comes from a region called Rueda, which is northwest of Madrid. Rueda wines are primarily composed of the Verdejo grape, although some winemakers also include Sauvignon Blanc, Viura, and Palomino grapes in the blend. The wines tend to be crisp and acidic, generally featuring flavors of peaches and tropical fruits. Rueda’s also relatively inexpensive, so it certainly makes its way onto my radar.
Tatiana from Colangelo reached out to me, offering a sample of a Rueda called “Naia” to review. Before she could ship it to me, they ran out of samples. Fortunately, they had a bottle of Bodegas Naia’s first-label wine, the Naiades 2010 Rueda Blanco, for me to try instead. Most Rueda I see are under $15, and the Naia retailed for $13. Naiades' “first label” status has it retailing for $26. How was it?
The Naiades started me with honeysuckle and orange cream on the nose, followed with a little bit of a honey taste up front. There's considerable amounts of mineral and lemon on the palate. The finish is smooth and fruity, especially as the wine warms a bit, and there’s a slight oakiness at the back end. The mineral and lemon remind me a little bit of a Chablis, but the overall feel has a little more richness. I thought it made a nice accompaniment to a recipe I tried where I marinated chicken breasts in mango sorbet. The chicken is then grilled, sliced and served over a bed of shredded red and green cabbage, tossed with chopped scallions, cilantro, and a dressing of more melted sorbet, soy sauce, fish sauce, and some other yummies.
It’s definitely a good wine. Is it $26 good? I’d say that’s a few dollars high, all in all, but if you see it discounted, snag it for sure. Also, I would imagine that there’s little way that the Naia would be “half as good” at $13. If its big brother is any indication, it’ll be a very good value at that price.