Anyone heard of CERVIM? I hadn’t till today. I happened to come across the name whilst googling ‘Albarín Blanco’, an endangered grape variety native to Asturias and León in the north of Spain. The organisation was founded in Italy in 1987 and its noble mission, the research, protection and advancement of mountain viticulture, known in European viticulture as ‘heroic winemaking’. So what qualifies you as a heroic winemaker? Mainly the following: terraced slopes featuring gradients of 30% or more, orographic conditions definitely not condusive to any form of mechanisation, above sea level altitudes of over 1,640 feet and viticulture on small islands. Every year CERVIM organises a three day event in Aosta Italy where a team of twenty four professional tasters and six wine industry journalists taste a total of over 600 entries from 12 European countries, exclusively from mountainous areas. This year, a total of 2 ‘double gold’ medals, 44 gold medals and 135 silver medals were awarded. One of those golds went to a beautiful winery in Asturias, northern Spain. Bodegas Monasterio de Corias is set in a former Benedictine abbey that dates back to the 11th century. Gold medal winner Viña Grandiella is a blend of Albarín Blanco, Small Grain Moscatel and Albillo. Albarín Blanco, the signature grape in this blend, is apparently in grave danger of extinction. It is noted for its intense greenish-yellow colour, strong moscatel flavour, and relatively high alcohol content. Viña Grandiella was the only Spanish wine to be awarded a distinction at the 20th International Mountain Wine Competition, a splendid achievement for this particular appellation, ‘Vinos de Calidad de Cangas’. Well done guys! Tasting notes in Spanish report the following: white fruit, apricot, peach, ‘parma violets’ and fennel on the nose. In the mouth, sparkling acidity, crunchiness, unctuousness and creaminess with stone fruits, ripe bananas, fresh green apple and roast coffee on the long finish. So what would you pair a Viña Grandiella and other Albarín Blancos with? Ideal pairings, I’m told, would be with fish, shellfish, pastas dishes, paellas and risottos. With production limited to only 6,600 bottles, the chances of finding Viña Grandiella in your local wineshop are probably quite remote, but what better excuse do we have for planning our next trip to Asturias? The gorgeous Cangas de Narcea Wine Route awaits us folks. LINKS. http://vinotierracangas.wordpress.com http://www.rutadelvinodecangas.com/index.php http://josepastorselections.com *US importer of wines from Bodegas Monasterio de Corias .