Viura (also known as Macabeo) is a native Spanish white grape that has quite a history! In Penedes, and a few other areas of Spain, this grape is known as Macabeo. You can also find Macabeo in Rousillion, France! In Valencia, Rioja, and Rueda, this grape is called Viura. The wine we are reviewing today comes from Utiel-Requena which is a region within Valencia, so we’ll call it Viura. Just know it has two names. It actually has many more, but these are the most frequent and ones you’ll see the most often.
Viura from Rioja
Macabeo in Rioja achieves some of the finest expressions of the grape. It can be blended with Sauvignon Blanc to add a little extra acidity and brighter citrus elements. Viura can also be a single varietal wine. Macabeo has distinctive floral notes with a medium-body and low acidity. Jancis Robinson says in Wine Grapes that single varietal wines can develop a “bitter-almond flavor” if they are unoaked and not drunk soon enough.
Many examples from Rioja are aged in oak barrels and slightly oxidized. Some of these wines can be at their best as soon as 5 years after harvest! Some producers to look out for that I really enjoy are: CVNE Viura from Rioja and Beronia Viura (a blend of Viura, Garnacha, and Tempranillo blanco). If you are looking for a more oxidized style, Marques de Murrieta Cappellanía Reserva is one of the most iconic expressions.
Viura from Valencia
Valencia (in Eastern Spain). Often, Valencia gets a bad rap for making mass-produced, simple wines. However, this area has definitely changed its ways and cleaned up its act. Now up and coming, Valencia even has designated smaller regions within it in order to get a better terroir (sense of place) and encourage high-quality production.
As with many areas of Spain – Valencia is one to watch! Especially Utiel-Requena – where the wine we’re reviewing today comes from.
More specifically, Utiel-Requena DO (Designation of Origin) is an area to watch. Typically this region is known for reds – made from the red Bobal native grape. If you can find a Bobal, I highly recommend it! Ripe and jammy red and black fruits with notes of leather and dried herbs. Mmmm, it’s so delicious! Here’s one of my favorites, Azul de Bobal.
Winemaking started in Utiel-Requena back with the Phoenicians (FYI – that’s before the Romans… and the Greeks…. who were there later). According to Wine-Searcher, “Utiel-Requena’s most notable feature is its uniform climate and topography throughout the whole designation. It sits on a plateau 70 kilometers (43 miles) inland from the coast and approximately 700 meters (2,300ft) above sea level.”
The high elevation means large diurnal temperature swings which equal complex and concentrated grapes. Click here to learn more about climate and how it affects wine if you like.
You may notice that many Spanish wines are organic for the reason that the weather is so dry and arid that spraying against fungi and pests is not needed. Another bonus for the region! Sicily also has many organic wines for the same reason.
What about Viura?
The other interesting, but less talked about, secret of Utiel-Requena is the white wine and Cava production. The Eastern half is a dedicated “Cava” production zone. Viura (aka Macabeo) is one of the key native Spanish white grapes that goes into the production of Cava. It can also make interesting and unique still wines.
That’s how we get the whole Viura in Utiel-Requena situation.
Macabeo in Catalonia
Macabeo is a key grape, sometimes making up as much as 50%, of the Cava blend. The other two primary grapes for Cava are Parelleda and Xarello. Macabeo adds floral elements and great aromatics to the blend. The other two grapes add acidity and structure. It’s a great symbiotic relationship all around.
El Macho Blanco from Utiel-Requena Spain 2020
Sight: This wine is pale lemon.
Nose: This wine has moderate plus intensity, with notes of fresh honeysuckle and jasmin flowers, ripe apricot, peach, lychee, orange zest, along with some salinity and minerality.
Palate: This wine has moderate plus intensity, moderate plus acidity, medium body, moderate alochol, and a moderate finish. This wine has notes of lemon, orange, fresh white flowers (jasmin and honeysuckle), a slightly oily mouthfeel, and a touch of wet stones and salinity.
Assessment: This is a good wine. Drink now, do not age.
Additional Thoughts: I purchased this wine from the sale that Martha Stewart Wine Co. had over Labor day weekend, where all wines were on sale for $9.99. This wine originally sells for $15.99. I do think that this is a good value wine and one that would compete with any of the above examples. It’s fun, unique, and you really can’t find this anywhere except for Martha Stewart Wine Co. If you like Sauvignon Blancs but want to try something a little different – definitely give this one a go! MSWCO has tons of sales and great value wines – so go check them out!
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