Bodegas Naia Rueda Las Brisas 2006
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Bodegas Naia Rueda Las Brisas 2006 Tasting Notes

Spain continues to excite, stimulate, surprise and please. Rueda lies mostly south of the Duero river to the west of the better-known Ribera del Duero appellation. The region has long been known for fortified wines, but the last few decades have seen the rise of dry, fruity, white Rueda wines made from a combination of traditional Spanish and international grape varieties.

The leading grape in today's dry white Rueda wines is Verdejo (not to be confused with the unrelated Portuguese variety Verdelho as known on Maderia). The appellation rules require a minimum of 50% Verdejo; the Las Brisas follows with exactly that, adding 25% Viura (Macabeo) and another 25% Sauvignon Blanc. Bodegas Naia produces several other wines— Naia and Naiades—that see some lees contact and oak aging, but the $10 Las Brisas is simple and direct. I enjoyed a glass at a restaurant called Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford, Connecticut; raw oysters are not my leaning, but the wine certainly supported the excellent swordfish I ordered. The Las Brisas may be by its nature a perfect summer wine, but with snow on the ground I will have to wait a good six months to prove that theory. My rule is always to order and drink what seems interesting.

I cannot tell you the Las Brisas furnishes the raw material for lengthy contemplation, but it seems a shame to meet it only with a quaffing thirst (hence the winter advantage) since it offers so much. Yes, it is racy, lively and clean, but there is more to this wine than refreshment. The wine was an immediate delight to my nose (despite certain cold-weather challenges). I enjoyed well integrated layers of mineral, spice and floral before the fruit nudged its way in. The leading fruit notes on both nose and palate are apricot, melon, lime, and grapefruit. I want to add peach and something tropical: a very ripe mango. The wine finishes boldly, but with plenty of flavor to buttress the crisp acidity. The ripeness, the fruit, the spice, the floral notes and the warm minerality each do their part with consistency and energy.

One could dare (and I do dare) to call this Rueda a metaphor for everything that is right in Spanish winemaking today. The land, the teruño, is mainstream Spain. The Verdejo and Viura are traditional Spanish grape varieties; the Sauvignon Blanc as junior partner brings an international touch. Stylistically, the wine will satisfy many, and it is obvious that the winery satisfies the state-of-the art standard.

Verdict: More than refreshing
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At any level of the market, Spain seems to be producing consistent values.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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