White Spanish Wines

That Spanish men on the verge of marriage have to promise to do half the housework is not the only reason Spain is such a brilliant example of a truly modern nation – it’s also because of the startlingly good and inexpensive white wines being produced there.

Consider Mad dogs & Englishmen 2004 (LCBO 673509, $13.95): the name is both an attempt at marketing cuteness, and a reference to the searingly hot midday sun that forces even Spanish grapevines to take long summer siestas. A blend of one of the country’s best indigenous white varieties, Godello, and Chardonnay, from Bierzo, a small northwstern region, the wine has an interesting hint of gin (juniper) on the nose, and grapefruit and roundness on the palate. It’s unusual, and avoids the nasty sourness and flatness that plagues inexpensive white wine.

Even better value, perhaps, are two Marques de Riscal whites. This well-known winery has just opened one of the hippest hotels in the world, one that’s designed by the Canadian architectural star, Frank Gehry. Both wines are from the Rueda, and are fermented cold, in the ultra-modern way, to “preserve the primary aromas.” In the standard Herederos del Marques de Riscal 2005 white (LCBO 036822, $9.25), made from Sauvignon Blanc and selling at half the price of much of New Zealand’s production, you’ll find a fresh, characteristic Sauvignon nose, and a lovely soft texture.

The Herederos del Marques de Riscal 2002 Limousin (LCBO 153742, $13.95), is made from the Verdejo grape – saved from extinction by the winery – and is fermented in French Limousin or Allier oak, which gives it a spicy, aromatic nose, with notes of pear and honey on the palate, and with the viscous quality looked for in good white wine. A just reward for doing all that housework? Perhaps.

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