Iberian Whites

Gatão Vinho Verde N/V Portugal

No wine channels a late-summer vibe better than Vinho Verde, the youthful “green” wine of northern Portugal. It’s light, fresh, and lemony, with high acid, a bit of spritz, and mercifully low alcohol content (perfect for lazing about in the hot sun). Gatão’s green cat, a winner in the Light White category our annual wine awards competition, is one of the three big Vinho Verde labels. This is a non-vintage bottle but check that the back label is dated 2010—Vinho Verde is meant to be drunk right away. Then think smoky sardines on the barbecue or a big bowl of pork and clams spiked with handfuls of cilantro.

Rías Baixas Albariño Burgáns 2009

From the northernmost corner of the Vinho Verde region, you can look across the Minho River to Spain and the Galician Albariño vineyards. They grow the same grape but use very different techniques, resulting in a very different style. The Burgáns 2009 from Martín Códax grows in the salty air of coastal Rías Baixas, giving it more than a hint of brine. This wine—crisp and aromatic with lots of sweet honeysuckle, melon, and peach, screwcapped to keep it fresh—is made for shellfish. Octopus with potatoes is typical Galician fare, but B.C. clams, mussels, spot prawns, or Dungeness crab match equally happily.

CHEF MEETS GRAPE: Judge for yourself whether what grows together goes together at the seventh annual Chef Meets Grape event, which matches up top city chefs and local ingredients with the best bottles from the B.C. VQA fall release. Vote for your favourite combination, then see how your choice stacks up against the judges. September 22, 7-9.30 p.m, Vancouver Convention Centre. Winebc.com


 SPOTLIGHT: James Lindner of Langmeil Winery


At the top of my Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival experiences this past spring was a vertical tasting of a great Barossa red: Langmeil’s The Freedom 1843 Shiraz—with vintages from 1998 through 2008. In the company of James Lindner, from the fifth-generation family that owns the estate, this was the first opportunity to taste these extraordinary wines that were dry-farmed on a vineyard planted in 1943 in the Barossa’s red dirt, where roots drop 20 metres and the yield gives just a few hundred cases a year. The LDB stocks the elegant Valley Floor Shiraz and a classic Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvèdre, but try to score a bottle of The Freedom when a handful of cases arrives soon for private stores—it’s $100 a pop, but, as Lindner pointed out, it gives you the opportunity to taste wine made from what he calls the oldest vines on the planet.