Where does it come from:
The origin of Altesse has been the subject of some debate. It has been suggested that it's identical to Furmint, the noble Hungarian variety used to make the great sweet wine Tokaij. However others suspect that it is indigenous to the hills of Savoie. Today there are fewer than 1,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in France, though there is a small quantity in Switzerland.
What's it like for the farmer:
Altesse needs gentle care, as it is quite to susceptible to the most common forms of grape rot.
Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau, 2014
Distributor: David Bowler Wine, 119 W. 23rd St, New York, NY, 10011
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As the temperature steadily drops and the first snow flurries arrive, New Yorkers prepare for hibernation by turning to steadily heartier, sturdier reds. We want wines with the stuffing and structure to keep us warm and insulated against the impending polar vortex that we know January will bring. Blue Ribbon wants to get you going on that road to a toasty winter, so we have picked out just such a bottle for our Wine of the Week: "El Pedrosal," from Viña Pedrosa in Ribera del Duero.
Along with Rioja, Ribera del Duero is probably the best-known appellation in Spain and grapes have been cultivated in the region for a couple of thousand years. However, since the Spanish D.O. system (the governing body and regulations of Spain's wine production) is a recent convention, Ribera del Cuero is also a modern creation and the wines reflect this.
Winemaking here has always been heavily influenced by Bordeaux and one feels it today in the common use of Cabernet and Merlot in addition to Tempranillo and in the use of a hefty percentage of small new French oak barrels, almost always sourced from Bordelais coopers. These are wines built for the long haul, with hefty tannic structure, plump ripe dark fruit flavors and sweet oak notes. Viña Pedrosa is no exception but neither are they making wines that will cling stickily to the palate without any sense of subtlety. Ribera del Duero is famous for its limestone soils and in the hands of an estate like Pedrosa, a terrific tension between the roasting Spanish sun and the firm mineral-rich soils emerges.
"El Pedrosa" is the entry-level red at this estate and despite the rich fruit and toast there is a freshness to the wine that can not be missed. Tempranillo is uniquely suited to the hot Spanish summers, as it can withstand high temperatures and still maintain enough acidity to produce a wine of elegance and class. We have always been fans of Ribera del Duero for the combination of Old-World breed and modern innovation and we think that you will be very happy with a glass of "Pedrosal." Hope to see you this week. Happy Holidays!
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants