Some of the best wine bargains today are made in Spain from local varietals few have heard of. The fragrant, super food-friendly 2010 Viña Mein Blanco is a blend of seven grapes that I encountered at Restaurante Costa Brava in San Diego. With plates of tapas like salty jamón serrano and tender grilled octopus, this fresh, citrus-and-mineral white with melony aromas and a soft texture was just plain delicious. It was also great with my main course — braised rabbit — and I kept sipping glasses of it as I watched local flamenco dancers far into the night.
The main grape in Viña Mein is Treixadura, with smaller percentages of Godello, Loureira, Torrontés, Albariño, Albilla and Lado.
Javier Alén and a group of relatives and friends replanted these varietals over two decades ago in hillside vineyards above the Avia river in Spain’s tiny Ribeiro region, just north of the Portuguese border, one of several D.O.’s (denominations of origin) in Galicia, the country’s northwest corner. Ribeiro was known in the 16th century for its great long-lived whites, which were shipped in barrel to Europe and the New World. Eventually, though, their popularity faded and the wines were forgotten by all but locals.
Alén and his group are helping to bring back the tradition. Ribeiro now has about 120 wineries, though I’ve seen only a few labels in the U.S.
All the best vineyards in Ribeiro are on hillsides above rivers. Summer temperatures there are cooler than on the region’s hot valley floor, keeping acidity in the grapes and freshness in the wines. Viña Mein ferments and ages its blanco in stainless steel, but leaves the wine on the lees, which gives it a creamy texture.
Importer André Tamers, whose company De Maison Selections brings the label into the U.S., has combed Spain for little-known high-quality producers since 1996. This 2010 Viña Mein Blanco is among the several dozen unusual, delicious wines in his excellent portfolio. And the price is right, too.