Bodegas Félix Sanz Viña Cimbrón Verdejo Rueda 2008
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Bodegas Félix Sanz Viña Cimbrón Verdejo Rueda 2008

In Spain, 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, but this Viña Cimbrón is 100% Verdejo. I don't have specifications on fermentation or aging, but it is not difficult to guess that this wine is an all stainless steel affair. It is fresh, alive, playful and yet has sophisticated layering of aromas and flavors.

In color the wine is a lovely lemon yellow with greenish tinges and exceptional visual clarity. The nose, which is quite pronounced, is stimulating. Stone fruits lead with apricot and peach, both pungently concentrated, with equally concentrated (and absolutely fresh) grapefruit. The nose brings more, however: nose tickling citrus zest, mineral, and hints of deeper tropicality that pay off later on the palate.

You do not really taste this exceptional wine, it rather dances in your mouth, for though this is a dry wine, the fruity notes take on the concentration and the playfulness of candied fruit. My notes call the acidity “perfect,” and what I believe I mean is that the acidity supports the formidable fruit as a full partner rather than the fruit trying to catch up to the acidity (as I find in some less well balanced whites). Peach and apricot continue to lead, accompanied by good tropical notes of pineapple, mango, and to a lesser extent warm banana. The wine finishes very clean with a slight refreshing tinge of grapefruit zest. The oft used term balance well applies here, but its meaning is elevated when you consider the variety of elements this wine needs to balance.

I tasted this Verdejo at the Spanish Wine Cellar & Pantry Show in New York and must sadly relate that it is not yet available in the United States. When we do get it, it will not set us back much; with an ex-cellar price of 3.25 euros, it ought to retail for 13 dollars.

Verdict: A true joy to drink

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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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