Four from Idilico

Hello friends. Idilico wines have become list-member favorites over the past few years, and why not? The label is a terrific project from our resident Spanish winemaker, Javier Alfonso, designed to highlight Spanish varietals grown in Washington.

I have rarely seen these wines reviewed anywhere, but even without the critics weighing in, this label has developed serious buzz, spurred on by the sommelier set and other insider types who know value when they see it. The sales focus for Idilico is mostly restaurant wine lists, and the wines are priced accordingly. That makes them incredible values at retail, values that have become well-loved by our list members.

Today, we have four new additions to the lineup:

2013 Idilico Albarino

This is the fourth vintage of Albarino (we offered the previous three) under the Idilico label. Quick primer on Albarino: it’s the main varietal grown and produced in Rias Baixas, along the northwest coast of Spain. Light-bodied and highly aromatic, with screaming acidity and generally low alcohols, these wines pair perfectly with the abundant shellfish and finfish of the region. To the best of my knowledge, there are no more than three Albarino vineyards in the state. This one is Dutchman Vineyard, a DenHoed-planted site in the cooler part of the Yakima Valley, north of Prosser.

The wine moves from those vines to bottle with little intervention: stainless steel fermentation and aging; moderate lees contact; no malolactic fermentation. It’s pure Albarino, awash in lemon-lime fruit and mineral, lifted by lovely floral topnotes. Bone-dry, ultra-vibrant (12.5% alc), this just pulses across the palate, all electric citrusy acids and crushed rock. This is turning into something of a Seattle summer staple on smart restaurant wine lists, and I can see why.

2013 Idilico Rose

An exciting development for our rosé enthusiasts on the list: a Garnacha/Monastrell/Tempranillo pink from Idilico. This is the debut vintage for this wine, and there were only 130 cases produced, so I wouldn’t expect much in the way of reorder opportunities here.

Javier clearly picked this for rosé (witness the 12.5%alc), and it has a lovely pale salmon color that leads into a nose of strawberry, lavender, and a terrific exotic spice note (star anise?). The Monastrell really shines through on the palate, with this drinking quite a bit like a good Bandol rosé. It drinks light and zippy on the attack, but transitions to a nice creamy mid-palate. Bone-dry and spicy, this has its own unique personality and is a welcome addition to the Washington rosé scene. A fine debut!

2011 Idilico Tempranillo

In a small field of Washington Tempranillos, this is always a standout, offering terrific value for the tag. It’s a sign of the grape’s recent success that Javier can now source from sites across our state, here about equal parts Snipes Mountain (Upland Vineyard) and Horse Heaven (Elerding), including specific Ribera del Duero Tinta del Pais Tempranillo clones imported from Spain and custom-planted and farmed for Javier.

Aged all in neutral oak for just shy of two years, this clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and begins with a nose of black cherry, tobacco leaf, and lovely fungal/underbrush nuance. In the mouth, the richness belies the cooler vintage; this is a precisely balanced mouthful of rich fruit and bright acid. The savory notes continue on the palate, porcini stock mingling with roasted herbs and black cherry fruit. There’s something about the flavor spectrum of Tempranillo that is so appetizing. Tasting this made me want to gather friends and braise some piece of tough meat for hours.

2011 Idilico Graciano

Javier has introduced a new Reserva line for Idilico with this, his second vintage of varietal Graciano. He only has access to two acres of fruit (I’m guessing that’s the only Graciano in the state), acres specifically planted for him and farmed by Todd Newhouse of Upland Vineyards, and that will end up yielding approximately 100 cases per vintage.

“The Petit Verdot of Rioja” is what Javier calls Graciano. Just as PV adds acid/tannin/color in small amounts in Bordeaux, Graciano adds the same in Rioja. And just as PV doesn’t generally get ripe enough to bottle varietally in Bordeaux, Graciano doesn’t ripen enough to be bottled in Rioja. But here in the warm, sunny new world, anything is possible.

This begins with a very appetizing nose of black cherry, mushroom, pepper, and tarry streaks: a deep dark profile. The palate, as you’d expect, contains loads of structure, both in the form of grapefruity acids and dark black tea tannins. There is terrific density here and a wonderful palate-coating character. A real powerhouse, it offers a great alternative for those of us stuck in Cabernet ruts. And of course it offers the chance to experience varietal Graciano, which is rare in Spain, let alone Washington.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like, and note that the Rosat and Graciano are especially limited and are the most likely two to end up being allocated) we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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