Friday, July 30, 2010

Wines I'm drinking: Cantina del Vermentino 2008 Vermentino di Gallura "Arakèna"

Last night I opened one of two bottles of the Arakèna bottling of Vermentino di Gallura I purchased at Cantina del Vermentino, in Monti, in Sardinia's premier wine-growing region of Gallura. In an earlier post I noted that the best Vermentino wine I encountered while in Sardinia was the Funtanaliras from the same cooperative. Arakèna is the Cantina's high-end vendemmia tardiva (late harvest) Vermentino, but this is fermented into a strong (14%) almost completely dry wine (there is just a hint of residual sugar).

Compared with the delicate, light  Funtanaliras, the Arakèna is weighty. Aged in oak (the Funtanaliras is made in stainless steel) and made from riper grapes, it's more perfumed on the nose and more substantial on the palate, but both wines are delicious. The pale gold color does not quite prepare you for the suite of scents coming out of the glass. Something suggested olive brine at first. There were hints of pears, candied fruit or fruit cake, cherries, and even something vaguely smoky. Later I started detecting roses, passion fruit, brown sugar, and a dried apricot scent that put me in mind of a fine Riesling from the Moselle.

On the palate, however, the wine was more suggestive of a good wine from Alsace in its combination of powerful scents and flavors in a dry style of winemaking. In fact, served blind, I'd bet that most experienced wine drinkers would fairly confidently call this a Gewürztraminer from Alsace. Long, concentrated, rich, and delicious, with just enough acidity to keep things fresh. I very much enjoyed the wine with grilled shrimp and pan-fried, breaded baby mackerel. Dry enough to pair with seafood, but with the presence to stand on its own as an aperitif wine. However you drink it, it's excellent. Highly recommended. I had the privilege of buying this directly from the producer for an exceedingly reasonable €11 euros or so (roughly $12). Various retailers in Europe are selling it for €15-25 a bottle, however, suggesting you might expect to pay around $30 for it in the US, if you can find it. It's worth looking for.

To see more wine reviews, use the "Wines I'm Drinking" label to the right at the top of the page.

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