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.
Fronton de Oro, Tintilla, Canary Islands, Spain, 2012
Distributor: David Bowler Wine, 119 W. 23rd St, New York, NY, 10011
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By this point, nearly ten months after the first Blue Ribbon Wine of the Week, I suspect you can guess what our pet categories are. There are those regions and producers which we seem to circle back to again and again because they produce bottles that grab us right in our guts and won't let go. Alsace and its fine just-dry whites; Barbera that is simultaneously serious and fun; the endless diversity of California's new generation. Well please add the Canary Islands to this list.
The Canary Islands are remarkable for a number of reasons. They are quite pristine due to their isolation. The dramatic and challenging landscapes make for some of the most extraordinary vineyard sites in Europe and the growers make careful organic viticulture the norm rather than the exception. But the Canary Islands also provide a glimpse of what Spain's wine growing past looked like.
The Canarys were the last stop on the way to the New World, which meant whatever vine material they intended to bring to the Americas invariably found a home on the islands as well. When the vines of Europe were wiped out by the infamous phylloxera louse more than one hundred years ago the Canarys were spared. So while the mainland had to rebuild with whatever they had available, the island vines endured.
Fronton de Oro is one of the leading lights of the Canarys. They work with only traditional varieties, avoid pesticides and herbicides and there is little (if any) new oak. The result is a series of very pure wines that boast a clear expression of the Gran Canaria terroir. But even within this lineup, the Tintilla is a star. Its origin is up for some debate, but there is no question that it produces lovely wines.
The Fronton de Oro Tintilla is full of dark red fruit and intense herbal aromatics. Grown on high steep terraces, the sense of minerality and character is inimitable and it makes for a really lovely companion to a meal. In summer we like to put a little chill on it and with summer already announcing its presence, that's exactly what we are going to do this week at Blue Ribbon. So come on down and try a glass of Tintilla!
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants