There's nothing like a mystery to get me all riled up. For all I know it's not really a mystery -- I'm sure thousands of Spaniards would laugh out loud knowing that I'm now obsessed with this -- but I really want to know who Pedro Ximinez was. And why there is a grape named after him. I imagine him the humble yet respected mayor of a small Andalusian town who rescued his faithful villagers from economic ruin by breeding a grape that winemakers idolized and a nation desired. Sigh. Not even my wine bible had the answer to that one.
What we do know about the grape Pedro Ximinez is that it has been used, along with Palomino, to make dry aged sherry in the Montilla-Moriles area near Jerez, Spain for hundreds of years. It is occasionally also used to make a thick, sweet dessert wine that has become trendy in the last few years as an alternative to Sauternes in foie gras pairings at fancy restaurants.
Rarely, then, is it made into a dry table wine, but that didn't keep young Silvia Puig from giving it a try. For five vintages now, she and her father, the legendary Spanish winemaker Joseph Puig have been experimenting a lot on a small estate in the Priorat region of Spain under the name Viñedos de Ithaca. They have planted their 50 acre plot with Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Touriga Nacional, and Pedro Ximinez, and go about their winemaking in slightly unorthodox ways. In addition to disregarding the traditional styles for some of the wines they produce, they also fully barrel ferment their wines, and do all their aging in large upright 400 liter barrels with nearly constant stirring.
They have named their wines after the hero Odysseus in honor of the Greeks who first brought grape vines to Spain. Says Puig, "The front label is a metaphor for the day. On it, we see the tapestry being woven by Odysseus's wife Penelope for her father-in-law, Laertes. It was in this manner that she spent her time while waiting for her husband to return from the Trojan wars (which he did 20 years later). The back label represents the night. On it we find the mythical Trojan horse wrapped within the tapestry, but unraveled. Penelope had many suitors while waiting for Odysseus to return and stated that she would marry once she finished the tapestry. But, each night, she unraveled her own work and never married, thus demonstrating her fidelity and belief in husband's return."
A medium to deep yellow gold color in the glass, this wine has a delicious nose of lemon peel, coldcream, paraffin, and minerals. In the mouth it is very distinctive in flavor incorporating nectarine and pomelo flavors with notes of dandelions and other flowers wrapped in a sheath of bracing acidity. I tasted it blind at first, and pegged this wine for a Pinot Blanc. It is crisp, and lovely, with a nice finish, and a very distinct character that I really enjoyed.
It paired nicely with a couple of small tapas dishes we had before dinner, especially fresh cherry tomatoes stuffed with Spanish olive tapenade.
Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $25
This wine is available for purchase on the Internet.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune