Sips: With a simple fish dinner, Wild Horse’s superb California verdelho

Sometimes, the simplest meals are truly the best, those that take advantage of the freshest ingredients, the bounty of the season and, of course, just the right wine. The other night proved the point in our house. Is there anything more basic than the freshest flounder fillets broiled with white wine, a sprinkling of fennel Wild horse bottle seeds and some dabs of butter to give the fish that wonderful, slightly crispy finish? Or, with broiled fish, plain white rice that acts like a sponge to soak up the juices? As for a vegetable, there’s nothing simpler than some just-picked lima beans from a local farm stand, steamed and served with a pinch of salt and a little  butter. The meal was superb in its simplicity and full of outstanding flavors, including the deliciously subtle, slightly nutty taste of the limas.

Clearly, the wine was going to be white. Chardonnay in any number of styles, depending on your preference, would have worked. Sauvignon blanc? Perhaps a bit too aggressive. What about something different? I found the answer in Wild Horse Vineyards’  2010 Verdelho from Paso Robles in California, which turned out to be an excellent match. I think of verdelho mainly as a signature white variety of Spain’s Rioja, although Wild Horse says its wine is inspired more by Australian verdelhos, which I imagine are somewhat richer. In any event, this estate wine is a pleasing, sophisticated verdelho that is at once rich and refreshing and belies its 14.5 percent alcohol. With tastes of pear, herbs and lime, it has a long finish and is a first-rate food wine.  It’s nice and fresh, with 90 percent of the blend aged in stainless steel and the rest in neutral oak. It’s also priced well at $22. Production is limited, with a couple of hundred or so cases made, and it is available only through Wild Horse’s website. It’s well worth ordering.

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