A Sip of Spring from Northern Spain

Collage of Photos

We’ve just concluded what feels like the hundredth week of #stayathome and, while I have a magnificent view from my Miami apartment, I’m dreaming about trips elsewhere. Anywhere else. And although I can’t book a flight – or even take a roadtrip in the real world, I can imagine myself wherever I choose, simply by pouring a glass of wine.

Nerja View
Moonlight over the Mediterranean

Lately I think about Spain a lot.

My first trip there was a combo of a few days alone in Madrid, followed by a few weeks in the south with family and friends. I attended Spanish class in the mornings and languished on the beach in the afternoon. I fell in love. And I drank a lot of Spanish wine!

It’s bittersweet to look back on that time, especially since I have no idea when I might return. But until it’s safe to travel again, I will savor memories of that first trip: especially the long lunches at the beach with my mom and sister, our cups running over with Rosado.

As luck would have it, I received samples of three Spanish wines just in time to indulge my trip down memory lane . . . .

NOTE: These wines were sent as media samples at no cost to me. Tasting notes and other words are all of my own volition.

Godello Bottle Shot
Rich and bright, this Godello reminds me of springtime in the mountains.

2018 Pagos del Galir Godello (13.5% abv; $21 SRP)

This wine of 100% Godello comes from the Valdeorras region, in the far northwest of Spain. Lying to the east of Rías Baixas (famed for its Albariño wines) vineyards here are on high-altitude (600 meters+), steeply-sloped plots that must be manually tended and harvested. Soils contain a high percentage of slate, good for reflecting heat back to the vines in the evenings.

producer-virgen-del-galir-03-1-403x296 Schist
Slate soils at Pagos del Galir

After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine rests on fine lees for four months, imparting a slightly creamy texture. It is pale lemon in color, with aromas of white peach, apple, and pear. On the palate it is crisp and clean, with riper fruit than on the nose. It is at once smooth and tart, making it a refreshing sip and a good partner with mild dishes. It made a lovely apéritif as I sat on the balcony, reveling in my imaginary journey.

Fresh Yellowtail
Catch of the day: local yellowtail fresh from the Keys
Monopole and Yellowtail
Pan-seared fish was a great match with the Monopole.

2019 CVNE Rioja Monopole (13% abv; $15 SRP)

We’re shifting east, toward the Ebro River for this wine from Rioja. While many folks first think of Rioja as Tempranillo territory, it also produces delicious white wines made from the Viura grape, especially when fruit comes from old vine plantings. It is known as Macabeo in the southern France region of Roussillon, and in Catalunya, where it is blended with Parellada and Xarello to make Cava.

CVNE stands for Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España, and was established in 1879 by brothers Eusebio and Raimondo Real de Asúa. The fifth generation runs the enterprise today, including 1,350 acres of vineyards directly owned by the family and which account for 50% of CVNE’s production.

Monopole and Chicken Soup
Homemade chicken soup worked well, too!

Monopole was first produced in 1915, making it the oldest white wine brand in Spain. It is made much differently today than it was originally: today the free-run juice is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for a fruity, fresh wine that is ready to drink. At its inception, Monopole was barrel-aged in Manzanilla Sherry casks that held a bit of residual wine. The resulting wine was rich, with a hint of yeasty flor character, a style that remained popular until the 1980s, when consumer tastes turned toward unoaked, fruit-forward wines.

CVNE still makes a version of Monopole that pays tribute to the original wine. It’s called Monopole Clásico, and is aged in barrels, as per tradition, with a small quantity of Manzanilla Sherry. I am dying to taste that wine!

As for the modern style 2019 Monopole, it is pale lemon-green with aromas of white flowers, apple, pear, and hay. On the palate it is lemony, with flavors of green apple; medium+ acidity. The finish is moderate in length and has a tempting savory quality to it. Really delicious and drinks way above its modest price tag.

Vina Real Rosado Bottle Shot
The color of a Spanish sunset! Instant cure for wanderlust.

2019 Viña Real Rioja Rosado (12.5% abv; $14 SRP)

A blend of Rioja’s traditional grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Viura, this wine has a long history: it was first produced in 1920, from fruit grown in the preferred areas of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Today, the wine is made via a few hours of skin contact under cool temperatures, with an eye toward preserving primary fruit aromas and flavors.

Bright coral in color, this wine is redolent of ripe red cherry fruit and white peach – basically summer in a glass. There are similar notes on the palate, with moderate acidity to balance the fruit. The finish is moderate. While not a complex wine, it is perfect for warm-weather sipping and would pair nicely with a charcuterie and cheese plate or simply grilled fish.

Vina Real Rosado Back Label
This light wine was delicious with seared pork chops. Spanish rosado is always great with pork, right?

If you’re looking for a virtual travel companion – especially one with a dash of Spanish flair – why not pour a glass of wine from Rioja or Valdeorras? I will gladly meet you there.

I shouldn’t be hard to find: I’ll be the one on the lounge chair, glass of wine in hand, and an easy smile on my face.


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