Northwest Spain produces some of the finest grapes, and Martin Codax winery is proof of what great grapes do for wine. Winemaker Katia Alvarez has released a few I had the pleasure to taste.
First, the "wine of the sea" -- Martin Codax 2011 Rias Baixas Albarino ($15) is a screw cap bottle, but since it is white wine, it's okay by me. Fond of Albarino wines, I was ready with a cup of clam chowder to pair. This wine is all about the straight up grape, no oak but lots of minerality. It has a clean, light color and somewhat oily texture that when swirled emits floral notes and some pear. When tasted, you'll get citrus, and with clam chowder, a bit of spice. This is Martin Codax winery's signature white varietal, crafted from the seaside vineyards along the rocky coastline of the Rias Baixas.
After enjoying the Albarino, I couldn't wait to open the Martin Codax 2010 Ergo (inspired by the Ergo river than runs through Rioja) Rioja Tempranillo ($14). This red wine is a contemporary blend of the classic tempranillo and garnacha grapes -- two of my personal favorites I enjoyed with BBQ beef ribs my husband craved and, ultimately, cooked up one evening. I prepared some french bread soaked in egg and sauteed in butter and oil and then topped with mushrooms and truffles I bought while in Italy. It was all good. First, the aroma brought forth just cut dark purple plums. The color has the look of youth in its bright purple tone, but it has a good tannin structure and the granache adds spice. I only wished I had paired this with paella because I would have felt the whole Spanish experience. I love this wine -- and the price is right.