Posted by: tomciocco | October 25, 2010

WINE FROM ASTURIAS? – WHO KNEW?

First class sidra (sparkling hard apple cider), definitely, but wine? –  and red wine to boot? Those of you unfamiliar with the Asturias region of northern Spain might be a little perplexed over my incredulity, so let me explain.

Asturias lies roughly in the middle of the northern Spanish coast facing the Bay of Biscay, with Cantabria to the east, and Galicia to the west. Asturias’ southern border is dramatically marked by the Picos de Europa mountain range, which reach elevations of nearly 8,700 feet. So with the tempestuous Bay of Biscay in front and the Picos behind, much of Asturias is intensely green, due in large part because it is so cool and  WET – rain slides off of the bay, hits the mountains, and down it comes…often. Not the best conditons for viticulture to say the least.

But within this unlikely place for wine, tucked in the extreme southwestern corner of the region, is Cangas. This little pocket of Asturias occupies a sunnier and drier spot in this rainy region, making vine growing possible, albeit a peculiar sort…

This particular joven (means “young” – a Spanish wine that is not ,or only minimally aged) wine is made from two ultra-local varieties, Carraquin and Verdejo Negro, with the blend rounded out by the recently celebrated Mencia grape. I can’t speak even a few words about the Cangas terroir, or the grapes from which it comes (apart from the Mencia) considering that I didn’t even know it/they existed a couple of weeks ago. That (un)said, it’s plain to any moderately experienced palate that this is a cool climate wine: high in acid, aromatic, “nervous”, and further, that it’s not likely to be picked the favorite wine of any focus group, almost anywhere…

I served this funky little wine with two Asturian recipes from Teresa Barrenechea’s excellent book “The Cusines of Spain” that I slightly modified: Ensalada de endivias con cabrales y naranjas (endive and orange salad with Asturian blue cheese and almonds), and Pote Asturiano, a stew of white beans, potatoes, cabbage, and assorted pig products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monasterio de Corias “seis octavos” Cangas Tinto Joven 2009

Deep garnet color with a vibrant violet/magenta robe. Exotic nose of wild berries, cinnamon, plum, cola, cut weeds, and Indian spices. The wine is medium light in the mouth with a fresh and juicy acidity, with zippy and peppery red currant and pomegrante fruit flavors, and a long and aromatic floral and musky wood spice finish.

 

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