Category Archives: White wine

Wine of the week: Bodegas La Cana Rías Baixas 2013


La Cana Rias BaixasJust when the Wine Curmudgeon thinks he has squeezed every last penny of value out of Spanish wine, he finds something like the La Cana Rías Baixas.

Call it one more amazing wine in what seems to be a never ending succession of amazing Spanish wines. The La Cana ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is made with albarino, fast becoming the hipsters’ favorite Spanish white grape. Do not hold that against the wine, though. Somehow, and for just $10, it shows off albarino’s varietal citrus fruit in the front (a lemon-limey thing?), tropical fruit in the middle, a long finish, and even a bit of the salty tang that legend says comes from the grapes being grown so close to the sea in the Rias Baixas region in Galicia on the northwest coast.

The La Cana could use a little more acidity to balance the tropical fruit, but then it would cost $18 and would be the hipsters’ much beloved Paco and Lola albarino. Which is a nice wine, but why pay $18 when you can pay $10?

Highly recommended, and almost certain for inclusion in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. This is seafood wine, and especially boiled seafood (shrimp or crawfish) on the back porch as the weather warms up. And oysters and mussels wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.


Wine of the week: Cusumano Insolia 2012


Cusumano InsoliaThe Wine Curmudgeon, for all the chips on his shoulder, is always wiling to admit when he’s wrong. Hence another mea culpa for Cusumano, the Sicilian producer whose qualities I have doubted, and this time for its Inosolia white wine.

The Cusumano Insolia ($11, purchased, 12.5%) is made with the insolia grape, native to Sicily and mostly used to make marsala until the Sicilian wine revolution of the past decade. This is an unusual white grape, even for Sicily, and I’m not sure there’s a white quite like it anywhere else in the world — almost tannic, but also softer than chardonnay and crisper than viognier.

This vintage, which is apparently current despite its age, isn’t as long in the finish as when it was younger, but it still shows why Cusumano is one of the best producers on the island. Look for the qualities that make me so excited about Sicilian white wine — melon fruit, white pepper, an herbal aroma, and all in balance for a very fair price.

Drink this chilled, and pair it with grilled fish or chicken finished with olive oil and herbs. In this, one more reason why we don’t need to drink badly made chardonnay.

Wine of the week: Li Veli Fiano 2013


 Li Veli Fiano The American fascination with chardonnay has always intrigued the Wine Curmudgeon. Given the hundreds of other white wines in the world, why do we insist on only drinking chardonnay? This is not a knock on the wine, which I love, but if all I drank was one kind of anything, I’d give up drinking.

Which brings us to the Li Veli Fiano ($12, purchased, 12.5%), an Italian white wine from the Puglia region in the country’s boot heel and produced by a company that usually offers value and quality. Best yet, it’s made with the fiano grape, which is not chardonnay but should appeal to those who don’t like to venture too far from it.

Look for white pepper, a hint of nuttiness, and some pear fruit, backed up by lots of freshness and zing — zesty, even. This is not an elegant wine, but it is well structured and offers much more than $12 of value. In this, it’s a  versatile wine, tasty on its own or pairing with almost every white wine dish you can think of — and yes, even a light cream sauce.

Highly recommended, and especially for anyone who wants to throw caution to the wind and drink something other than chardonnay.

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