I have to preface my selection by stating that I’ve been terribly sick and stuffy almost all week (and still am). I struggled with the handful of wines I did taste; however, here are a couple that I did enjoy!
Alvear Amontillado – Montilla, Spain
This is my go-to suggestion for a gateway “Sherry” for people who aren’t familiar with the stuff. A little more rich and nutty and less dry than a Fino (which many Sherry newbies despise) and not overly sticky and syrupy as some of the over-sweetened Olorosos or Creams in our market. The Alvear Amontillado is viscous, with a touch of sweetness and dominated by characters of caramel and hazelnut with a salty green olive finish. If you want to get technical, this wine isn’t even classified as “Sherry” as it comes from Montilla (a town to the North East of the triangular Sherry zone). Whatever you want to call it, it’s cheap and delicious and pairs extremely well with food. While best when freshly opened, another great trait is that this wine will hold strong for a fair stretch after uncorking. Widely available at the BCLDB for $15.49.
Food: All the elements of salty Spanish tapas work beautifully – almonds, olives, peppers, cured ham, salami, salted fish, potato tortilla. Great with cheese as well – especially milder blues and manchego. Come to think of it, this might be the perfect picnic wine!
Nk’Mip ’07 Pinot Blanc – Okanagan Valley, BC
For anyone unfamiliar on the winery…Nk’Mip (pronounced In-ka-meep) is located in Osoyoos and is owned by the highly successful Osoyoos Indian Band which controls 25% of all vineyard land in the Okanagan. This is a great wine to use to break people out of their Chardonnay rut. Rich and weighty, yet quite bright with green apple, pear and citrus fruits with a puffed wheat (malo-y) character. I love the amount of river stone minerality that comes through on the finish. Good value at $16.99, and I can’t wait to try the ’08. Widely available from the BCLDB.
Food: Poached or baked fish- Halibut? It has the texture to stand up to some creamy sauces and buttery dishes as well.