There are a couple of importers whose wines are so trustworthy that the Wine Curmudgeon will buy them regardless of what’s in the bottle. Kermit Lynch, of course, for French wine, and Ole Imports and Patrick Mata for Spanish wine.
Mata’s passion for Spanish wine is famous, and his palate is exceptional. Which is why I trust Ole implicitly. Otherwise, a wine like the Zestos would raise all sorts of red flags. It’s a white wine from a region in Spain best known for red wine, and the red wine doesn’t have all that great a reputation. Its color is different, sort of off-yellow, and it’s made with a grape, the malvar, that is obscure even for those of us who appreciate obscure. Malvar, grown only in that part of Spain, is not even listed in the incredibly comprehensive Winegrape Glossary.
My faith, not surprisingly, was rewarded. The Zestos ($10, purchased) is unique, though it had some similarity to the Gascon wines I like, including a little white grapiness. It is simple, but definitely Spanish in style — less fruit than the Gascon wines (some lemon, maybe) with a stone fruit pit kind of finish. One tasting note described the finish as bitter almonds, and that works, too.
Drink this chilled on its own or with a any week night dinner that calls for white wine. It’s a candidate for the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame, and is highly recommended. Just don’t expect it to taste like something you’ve tried before.