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 varieties 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 the return of Javier’s Albarino, along with a new (red) addition to the Idilico lineup:
This is the fifth vintage of Albarino (we’ve offered all of the previous four) 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 a handful of Albarino vineyards in Washington. Javier’s comes from 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, 12.5% alc and awash in mineral-soaked lemon-lime and peach-fuzz fruit. Eminently refreshing, this is all bright acid on the attack, then transitions into a mid-palate with surprising plumpness before gliding onto a finish with lingering citrus/rock notes. I’m not sure there is another Washington white more evocative of our long northern-latitude summer days, with those blue twilights that last for hours. As many a wise Westerosi has said: winter is coming. Drink this wine (made by a legit Dornishman no less!) to stave it off.
This is the first vintage for Javier’s new blend, a mix of 40% Tempranillo (young Boushey Vineyard fruit), 33% Garnacha (Grenache for you Francophiles), and 27% Graciano. It comes out a year earlier than the red varieties (Temp, Garnacha, Monastrell, and Graciano are all on 2012) and is meant for early consumption. When I asked Javier about the reasoning behind introducing a new wine to the lineup, he wrote back a great response. And rather than paraphrase, I’m going to excerpt:
A “roble” designated wine is typically the second wine to be released for many Spanish wineries (“joven” being the first which is typically un-aged)… We wanted to create a wine from the past. A red wine that is deliciously fresh and juicy with very little if any oak flavor. These are the wines that I love to drink with 95% of the food I eat. A red wine that breaks all the stereotypes by drinking it in summer slightly chilled in the porch. A red for Asian food, BBQ, seafood, soup, pizza and green vegetables. This is the way inexpensive wines used to taste (and still do in Europe).
It was funny reading that e-mail from Javier, because at that point, I had already tasted the wine, and my note has phrases like “unabashed charmer” and “personality to spare.” So I think he has succeeded in making a fresh, juicy, characterful, and yes, inexpensive blend. It begins with a nose of spicy, zesty, brambly blackberry. The palate is a vibrant, delicious example of the charms of 2013, with a pure, spicy fruit character: leafy Tempranillo, berry-driven Garnacha, piquant Graciano: all sit in perfect harmony. Could anyone else in Washington put together a blend like this? There is a hint of Graciano rusticity on the back-end, and this is altogether straightforward, unfussy juice: a nifty house red for summertime.