22 January is Saint Vincent’s Day, and this day is a sort of “the day of wine” in some countries and regions, in particular in France. The Vincent in question is Saint Vincent of Saragossa, an early Christian martyr gathered unto God in the year 304. As far as I know, Vincent got to be patron saint of winegrowers simply because “vin” is part of his name, and not because he performed any wine-related miracles. Vin is the word for wine in French, by the way.
In my native Sweden, some wine organisations started last year to market 22 January as the day of wine, on a rather small scale. A country that even has a day for cinnamon rolls (not a public holiday, though), should have a day for wine, they said. “…even though we have a temperance movement that is far too politically influential” they probably meant although they didn’t say it aloud.
St. Vicent was active in what today is the northeast of Spain, in Aragon to be more precise. So I thought it might be suitable to taste something that was from approximately that part of Spain, so I opened a white Rioja from Viñedos Sierra Cantabria. This producer is located in the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, which was an added bonus. Sierra Cantabria is one of the bodegas belonging to the Eguren family, and they also produce a red wine called San Vicente. (I wrote about my impression of the 1995 San Vicente in late 2010.)
The wine was 2007 Organza, a modern white Rioja with some oak character. At least where I live, white Riojas seems to have been a bit forgotten in recent years, as the Albariño-dominated wines from Rias Baiaxas have seen a lot of attention among Spanish whites (with Godello-dominated wines from Valdeorras probably “bubbling” behind).
Most white Riojas are dominated by Viura, the same variety as Macabeo of Catalonia (one of the classical Cava grapes). Viura can give pleasant if often somewhat neutral wines. Most white Riojas with character also includes some Malvasia, which is apparently more difficult to grow and is fairly low in acidity. At 18% Malvasia, the 2007 Organza is above average in this grape. In later vintages, the proportion has increased (25% in the 2011). This was my impression:
Bright yellow colour. Nose with yellow apple, some tropical fruit and a hint of banana, some citrus, discrete flowery notes and rather discrete and well integrated oak barrel note. Medium bodied(+) with some viscous mouthfeel, palate with yellow apple, good concentration, rather strong mineral notes, some straw, rather high acidity, and a pleasant aftertaste with yellow fruit and mineral. Shows some development, but still has a lot of vigour and can take more cellaring. 88 p.
The oak is well handled, and it wouldn’t have been too difficult to trick me into believing that this was a white Burgundy, i.e., a wine from Chardonnay, although something in the aromas also made me think that a splash of Sémillon-dominated white Bordeaux had ended up in my glass.