December 29, 2013

Spanish Wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World 2013

Another great year for Spain this year in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines In The World. 9 Wines in 100 is almost 10%! That's great news and proof that Spain is producing some excellent wines that have typicity, personality and can compete with the best wines in the world. Especially if you consider price, most of these wines that made the list are less than 20€ in Spain. It should also be mentioned that Spanish wines have been receiving top honors in many other contests and rankings this year in addition to the WS list.
Once again I've placed the Spanish wines on the list here so you can see them more easily. I  also include my opinion about each wine and it's ranking in this list.

#1. Viña Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 - CUNE Rioja (95 Points)

I've always been a fan of CUNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de Espana). The winery has changed Enologists and ownership during it's many years producing great wines and yet the quality has always been top notch. What's particularly interesting is the quality of the wines for the price. This wine, Viña Imperial Gran Reserva normally costs 24€ in Spain! That's amazing quality for the #1 wine in the world. They also have great aging potential. You can drink them straight away because the winery has gone to the trouble of aging the wine in the bottle until the appropriate moment (8 years) and you can keep them for another 30 years. I've had the opportunity to drink the 82 vintage a couple of times this year and it's delicious. We are so proud that a Spanish wine is #1 on the WS list for 2013! Felicidades España! Felicidades CUNE! Thank you Wine Spectator!

#22. Viña Ardanza 2004 -  La Rioja Alta Rioja (94 Points)

A fabulous blend of Garnacha (Grenache) and Tempranillo, Viña Ardanza is a lovely wine that surprises with it's ripe red fruit and it's lovely spice touches. I recently gave a bottle to a friend of mine who lives in Germany to try and he called me the next day and ordered a case. It's elegant and honors the traditions of winemaking in Rioja while at the same time has the power and the expression of more modern wines. 2004 as you can see was an excellent vintage in Rioja. Practically any bottle you buy from Rioja with this vintage should be at it's best. Typically "excellent" vintages age better and so this wine, while delicious now, should be good for another 10 years. Great quality is found in this wine which retails for 18€ in Spain. I know that many Californian wines say "great with steak" on the back label, but with this wine, it's really great with steak!

#26. Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes 2011 - Alvaro Palacios (93 Points)

It seems like every year Alvaro Palacios (the winemaker of Les Terrasses) has a wine in the WS Top 100. That's because he's making great wines! You might be familiar with his wine from Bierzo, Pétalos. This is a wine from his winery in Priorat which is the land which made him famous on the worldwide wine map. His wine L'Ermita from Priorat sells for between 600-700€ a bottle here in Spain. This wine is a more economical option, costing 27€ here in Spain. Like many other great Priorats, dark color, deep dark fruit and bold dark chocolate and spice. If you like thicker, intense flavors and you've never tried a Priorat, you should try a bottle of this, because this is what it's all about…and at a reasonable price. My personal opinion is that Priorat wine is overpriced. You can find some really great wines that are similar in style for much less from the area of Montsant.

#29. Viña Gravonia White 2003 - R. López de Heredia Rioja (93 Points)

This year was the first year that I've ever tried this wine. A client of mine in TomeVinos requested a case of this wine and I was surprised because I wasn't familiar with it. I had tried the Viña Tondonia white wine before and found it amazing for it's longevity. It's aged in oak and is made with the local Viura grape. It has fantastic acidity and in the nose is reminds you of dried flowers, citrus and minerality. Due to it's aging, it's smooth and supple and the finish is quite long. I find it to be completely unique in the world, there's nothing quite like it. Don't be scared by the vintage of white wines from López de Heredia winery, they age them a long time and it only adds to their complexity and originality. 

#32. La Gitana - Bodegas Hidalgo Gitana Manzanilla Jerez (91 Points)

Jerez, Manzanilla and Fino are becoming popular in the US now. They've been popular in the UK forever and have also experienced a resurgence there in the last decade as well. I think it's fantastic because for me, you can really only enjoy Fino and Manzanilla with some Spanish food and so it's recent popularity is a sign that Spanish cuisine is extending out into the world. Two suggestions: there's a bottling date on the back label of any bottle of Fino or Manzanilla and you should try to drink them in the first 6-9 months since bottling in order to appreciate the lovely aromas of lees and citrus and saline; also, the serving temperature should be around 7˚ celsius. As a side note, there's a great new Spanish restaurant in New York City called Manzanilla (Little Apple) by chef Dani Garcia. He's the best. Go there if you can.

#34. Inspiración Selección 2010 - Bodegas Valdemar Rioja (91 Points)

I'm super happy that Bodegas Valdemar continues to be in the Top 100. They are making great wines and they are great people. They are pioneers in the Rioja. They made the first white Tempranillo wine and they were one of the first wineries to make single-grape varietal wines in the Rioja as well with Graciano and Mazuela. Inspiración is one of the first, modern-style wines coming out of Rioja. It's got lovely fruit and lovely spice from an elegant aging in oak. It's surprisingly affordable for how delicious it is. In Spain it cost 8€! If you can get your hands on a bottle, buy one, it's delicious and rich and a real treat.

#39. Excelsus 2009 - Viña Herminia Rioja (93 Points)

Wow! Rioja Baja in the house! Viña Herminia is located in Aldeanueva de Ebro which is in the Southern part of Rioja. Here in Spain Rioja Baja (as the area is called) doesn't get much respect. For ages it was an area that was controlled by cooperatives and the quality of the wine was mediocre and table wine with a Rioja seal. Now, the cooperatives still exist, but they give the grapes over to wineries with expert winemakers who really know what they're doing. I have had the opportunity to visit Viña Herminia (only 1 hour from Zaragoza) and meet the team and taste directly from the barrels. They are making great wines at amazing prices. Personally, I prefer the Reserva and the Garnacha (Grenache) to the Excelsus. Felicidades Viña Herminia!

#43. Selección 2010 - Godelia Godello Bierzo (91 Points)

I've never tried this wine before so I can't really write about it. I love Godello, it's somewhere between an Albariño and Chardonnay for me. It has lovely fennel, pear and citrus notes in the nose and a smooth almost oily texture in the mouth. It is a fantastic grape for oak fermentation and gains body and complexity amazingly with oak and/or lees battonage. I think the interesting thing to appreciate here is that world-class white wines are now being made in Spain and with local native grapes to boot!

#95. Alto Moncayo Garnacha 2010 - Bodegas Alto Moncayo Campo de Borja (92 Points)

What an amazing year for Bodegas Alto Moncayo and Jorge Ordoñez! First, Robert Parker goes on record to say that the Borsao Grenache is the "best wine in the world for it's price", then 2 vintages of Alto Moncayo (2009 and 2007) get 100 points from The Wine Spectator and is in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator. I personally congratulate all of the team. They are kind, hard-working people that deserve all the recognition and more. The wines that are coming out of Aragón in Spain are amazing! This wine is the proof of what Garnacha is capable of and what the vineyards of Aragón are capable of. 
Sometimes I don't appreciate Jorge Ordóñez because when you're in the US it seems like the Jorge Ordóñez Show, like the only wines for sale are his wines. In reality I'm amazed by him and what he's achieved in so little time and what he has done for the image of Spanish wine and wine from Aragón on a worldwide scale. Congratulations.

October 17, 2013

Megavino in Brussels

In addition to writing about Spanish wines. I also work directly with Spanish wineries as their Export Manager. This weekend I'm going to be in a fantastic show called Megavino in Brussels. The information on the website is all in French or in Nederlands (sorry if you don't speak either of those languages), but here's the information:

Megavino 2013, Palais 1, Bruxelles Expo.
Opening Hours :
Friday 18/10 de 18 à 23h00 
Saturday 19/10 de 12 à 20h00
Sunday 20/10 de 10 à 19h00 
Monday 21/10 de 10 à 18h00
Entry price: 10€, wine glass and catalogue included.

We have a booth in the Spanish area (near the entrance) booth #1305. I will be presenting wines from Jordán de Asso, Vega Aixalà, Bodegas Ejeanas and Quinta Mazuela. Please come and visit me if you're reading this and you're going to be in or near Belgium this weekend. 
If you're interested in knowing more about the wineries I represent and my export business, please contact me directly or have a look at my website

September 26, 2013

The Other Spanish Grenache

I was recently in California, in the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Paso Robles regions and I tried to find and taste as much of the 100% Grenache wines as I could. Here, in Aragón, where I live in Spain, Garnacha (Grenache) is King. It's the land, the birthplace of the grape. Californian Grenache has absolutely nothing to do with Garnacha from Aragón, it's lighter in color, drier in mouth and more herbal with alcohol levels around 13%. Here in Aragón, there are old vines, more than 100 years old sometimes and the fruit has an intensity and a color that can't be replicated elsewhere, except perhaps in some parts of Australia. The long and hot summers produce ripe fruit and the Grenache grape produces high alcohol levels, here, when things are ripe, you typically find 15˚ alcohol levels. That's not a bad thing if the alcohol is integrated with the fruit and the body and the tannins. 
There is more Garnacha in Spain than only in Aragón (Calatayud, Borja and Cariñena). Garnacha is the most widely and highly grown red grape in Spain, more than Tempranillo. So what do the other Grenaches of Spain taste like? Well, that depends a lot on where they're grown and who's growing them. 
I've put together a small collection here of some really delicious Garnachas from Spain that are more similar to the Californian and the French Grenaches. They have a higher alcohol content than their American and French counterparts, but they are lighter in color and more mineral and more herbal or tea like than the Aragonese or Catalán Garnachas. All of these wines below are delicious and really transmit a freshness and light bright acidity with aromas of ripe garden strawberries and cherries. They all are really good for pairing with a variety of meals from grilled chicken to Ossobuco. Take it from me, if you haven't tried them, try and get your hands on one of these.

Navaherreros, Garnacha de Bernabeleva - San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Vinos de Madrid D.O.)

Bernabeleva, Garnacha de Viña Bonita - San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Vinos de Madrid D.O.)

Ataulfos - Jímenez-Landi (Mentrida D.O.)

Los Bohemios - Jardín de Lúculo (Navarra D.O.)

September 16, 2013

Nomacorc, the Solution to Wine Bottle Closure

The corc dilemma all began at the end of the 1990's when the production of wine in the world blossomed in the "New World" countries of Chile, Argentina and Australia among others. The demand for natural cork was high and the supply couldn't meet the demand, likewise, many of the new wineries needed more economical cork solutions to enter into the market at affordable prices, this led to an expanded use of microagglomerated corks (natural cork glued together) and technical corks (not 100% natural cork). You all know what happened next, around 10% of all bottles of wine were "corked" or tainted with cork smells. Many solutions have appeared on the market as alternatives to natural cork: screw caps, synthetic corks, Vinolok and Nomacorc. I had the priviledge to meet the Nomacorc team in the annual Enomaq tradeshow in Zaragoza. They presented me with a Sommelier Challenge (kind of like the Pepsi Challenge), a tasting of the same white wine sealed with different models of Nomacorc with different amounts of "Nano-oxynization". I was amazed at the results. Due to the different size pores of the Nomacorcs, each glass tasted completely different. A new paintbrush for the Oenologist to paint his/her masterpiece. Now, in addition to the vines, the fermentation and the aging in oak, the winemaker can choose how he/she would like the wine to evolve in the bottle. 
-As an interesting anecdote in relation to this, here in Spain, one of the popular wineries that uses Nomacorc in its younger reds is Borsao. Earlier this year in the Spring they were rushing to bottle and get out to the market their Garnacha Jóven Selección. As soon as I received it in my shop, people were buying it before I could even taste it, so as a normal precaution, with recently bottled wines (bottle shock), I warned them that it could send off sulphuric aromas. When I tried it, it was perfect. It had been bottled that same week and it was lovely, sweet and luscious with silky tannins as if it had aged for 6 months. I believe that's only possible due to Nomacorc. -
Screwcaps seem really widespread nowadays and seem like a popular solution, but that is in part because they are easily identifiable. You don't know you have a Nomacorc closure (at the moment) until you actually uncork a bottle. Screwcaps have their pros and cons (as do Natural Cork and Nomacorc), but what is definitely true and rather obvious, is that they are easy to open and easy to close. That being said, I'm not so sure those are even pros, there's something elegant about a Sumiller uncorking a bottle at the table and every wine connoisseur uses some type of pump to remove the oxygen before closing the wine and storing it for the next occasion. The cons of a screwcap might be less obvious. They cause problems for recycling a bottle, because how do you seperate the rather solid aluminum from the glass of the bottle? The other con is that the wine doesn't breathe in the bottle, oxygen doesn't get in and doesn't get out. I watched a video the other day with The Wine Library's Gary Vaynerchuk and Jancis Robinson (here) where she said (14:26) and I quote "I associate rubber (aromas) with reduction and screwcaps...I'm getting more and more odors of reduction on screwcap whites". So if they're giving reduction odors on whites and they aren't meant for reds that need to age, what are they good for?
The only thing I want is that all the wines I drink taste good and don't have strange odors and aren't corked and at the moment, Nomacorc, is giving me that pleasure.  Here are some of the benefits of Nomacorc:

  • 100% elimination of TCA taint contamination.
  • Consistent oxygen transmission rates.
  • No off-flavors, breakage or disintegration.
  • Consistent bottle insertions and clean processing.
  • Excellent long-term bottle seal without leakage. 
  • Smooth and moderate extractions.
  • Neck-up or neck-down storage after bottling.
  • Traditional look and feel.

Here below are some interesting facts about Nomacorc and the closure industry.

  • Nomacorc has an annual sales volume of 2 billion closures.
  • They are the second largest closure manufacturer worldwide.
  • Their global market share of all the wine bottle closures is close to 15% and in alternatives to cork they have a 37% global share.
  • In the world, 1 out of 3 wines in the US is closed with Nomacorc, 1 out of every 5 in Germany and France,  1 out of 7 in Spain and 1 out of 9 in Italy (numbers in Spain and Italy are lower, logically so, because they are cork producers). 
  • In Spain, some of the most important names in Spanish wines are using Nomacorc: Arzuaga, Borsao, Felix Solis and Vicente Gandia just to name a few.

Those are amazing facts when you consider that those numbers are only after about 15 years in the market. I'm amazed that wine and the wine industry is changing so much in the last 20 years after having existed for millenniums!

September 8, 2013

Spanish Wines in The U.S.A.: It's that time again, review of Spanish wines that are actually available in the shops

It's that time again, every September I like to post about the Spanish wines that I've seen for sale in the wine shops and liquor stores in the U.S.A. 
This year I had the opportunity to visit shops in 3 different cities: New York City, Denver and Santa Barbara.
Quite frankly I was disappointed. There are only three types of Spanish wines making their way to the American consumer: old-school huge wineries from Rioja and Ribera Del Duero that make over 20 million bottles a year, Jorge Ordoñez Selection wines and "Por Para" wines as we call them here in Spain, which are "Negociant" or wines made for importers with a different commercial name and label than they have here in Spain. Rarely did I see a wine that I am passionate about and that I love, most of what was young gun type of reds (lots of fruit and cheap), generic Tempranillo wines or wines I have never seen or heard of here in Spain. Alvaro Palacios has been popular for a while now, but it seems his popularity is becoming even more wide-spread and the prices of his wines are on the rise. Telmo Rodriguez's wines have disappeared from many shelves, I don't understand why, because they're excellent, but I saw a lot less this year as compared to last. 
The sort of sad truth of the matter is that there is a lack of variety of Spanish wines in America, both of types of wines as well as price. 
Most of what I saw was cheap stuff and that didn't always relate to the price they were charging. 
Some prices were quite reasonable and others I just can't even fathom. I shall explain below.
Vizcarra - Senda del Oro
This is a nice red wine but I can't understand for the life of me how it can cost $23 in the U.S. Here in Spain in TomeVinos, it costs 7,20 euros It's amazing what 93 Wine Advocate points can do for you. What's clear, by simple deduction, is that people in Spain don't pay as much attention to points ratings.

I think this is a GREAT DEAL at this price! As a matter of fact, BUY THIS NOW IF YOU CAN. This is a great wine and what I love the most about this wine is that it's the same wine here in Spain, they haven't changed the label or the essence of the wine. It's authentically Spanish wine. The reason I think this is a great price is because it costs 10.70 euros here which translates to $14.08. That means they're giving away the shipping and import taxes. Deep, dark and complex, this wine is meant for drinking with food. It's one of those wines that you'll be tasting every 15 minutes and enjoying its evolution. 
Care Roble, Crianza (Abancay in the US) and Reserva (Finca Bancales)
This is one of my favorite wineries in Aragón (where I live in Spain). Their winery is top notch with the latest in technology and only the best French oak. Their winemaker Jesús Navascues is a pioneer here in Spain and has been the mentor for many of the up and coming winemakers. I was really happily surprised to see their wines on the shelves in the US, but strangely, the Crianza, which is sold in Trader Joe's, doesn't carry the name, instead they call it Abancal? But like many things at Trader Joe's, it has an incredible price point. Go and buy this if you have a Trader Joe's nearby. It's great wine and at $6.99 it's a steal!
Pruno by Finca Villacreces
 Again we see the enormous influence that points ratings and wine magazines have over the buyers especially when it comes to a region that they may or may not be familiar with. Pruno is a nice wine that has managed to consistently receive high points from The Wine Advocate 91(2009) and 94(2010). I like this wine, but I don't love it. I find it hard to imagine a red wine that has only aged for less than one year in oak and less than one year in the bottle could have the complexity or the depth necessary to merit that type of rating. 2010 was a very good vintage, but not excellent. It must be said that while the price is excellent for the quality of the wine that you're receiving, we pay only 10 euros for it in Spain. The other thing I like about it and other wines imported by Eric Solomon and European Cellars is that it is a real wine from Spain from Finca Villacreces and they haven't altered the label or given it some silly name.
(As a side note on this photo, you can see Viña Mayor to the right, the current vintage of the Viña Mayor from TORO is absolutely delicious and is excellent for the price. The Viña Mayor Ribera del Duero is nice, but is more generic and lacks the expression and depth of it's Toro cousin)

Juan Gil 12 Months and Clio
Two absolutely incredible wines from Oro Wines and the Gil Family Estates. The Juan Gil is very nicely priced as is the Clio. We pay about 10 euros for the Juan Gil and around 50 euros for Clio, so in effect, the Americans pay less for one of Spain's greatest wines than we do in Spain, (lucky Americans). If you haven't yet tried Juan Gil you don't really know the potential of the Monastrell grape (Mourvedre). I highly recommend both of these wines. It would be nice to see the Honoro Vera wines from this group on the wine store shelves (Monastrell and Garnacha). The Honoro Vera Monastrell is organic and is fresh and spicy and the Honoro Vera Garnacha was chosen by Wolfgang Puck for the Governor's Ball dinner, see more here.

La Montesa
As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, Alvaro Palacios has risen in fame in the U.S. He broke into the market with his Priorat wines, then continued to surprise with his wines from the region of Bierzo and now, back in Rioja Baja with his family's winery, he's making great Riojas. I believe it's his fame and SuperStar status that is warranting this $20 price tag. La Montesa costs 10 euros in Spain. I like this wine and I believe it to be 90 points (it's a 2009 and is very good, but not excellent). I would recommend it to anyone looking to be surprised again by Rioja, but I'd like to see it a little less expensive.

Dinastía Vivanco Crianza
This is what new Rioja tastes like. Dinastía Vivanco has broken moulds in Rioja and is making fine wines that respect and honor the traditions in the region. They strive to select only the finest grapes and winemaking methods to make delicious and elegant Tempranillo and Tempranillo grape blends. I completely agree with the points given to this wine, 90 from Wine Spectator and a "Smart Buy" at $17 this is a fantastic wine and a good price. Enjoy this wine with some Manchego cheese and a nice chorizo sausage or roasted lamb chop.

Garnacha Centeraria by Coto de Hayas
I think this wine is always in my recommendations of Spanish wines you actually see on wine shop shelves. Neighbor to Borsao in the Campo de Borja D.O. as its name indicates it's century-old Grenache vines red wine. Oak aromas of clove, cinnamon and cocoa are elegantly winded into the red fruit and earthy aromas of this wine. Simply delicious at any moment. However, $22 is not as good as $16 for Berola from Borsao or $17 for Dinastía Vivanco Crianza. In my opinion, considering the prices of the other Spanish wines listed here, the price should definitely be below $20.

Berola by Borsao
You should be familiar with Tres Picos by Borsao by now if you're reading this post, but if you're not, Tres Picos (100% Garnacha) and Berola (90% Garnacha and 10% Syrah) are fine wines. Deep, juicy and velvety, they enamor almost anyone who tastes them. Tres Picos is fantastic, but is so expressive and full of spice that sometimes pairing it with food can be difficult because it overwhelms the tastes and aromas of the food, while Berola, with its 10% Syrah blend is more subtle and delicate and is a perfect deep, dark red wine for a pork tenderloin or a roasted duck. At $16 it's a steal.

August 27, 2013

The Circus Has Come To Town: El Circo Wines from Cariñena

Name: El Circo
Winery: Grandes Vinos y Viñedos
Region: Cariñena
Year: 2012
Grape(s): Tempranillo, Merlot, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Macabeo
Price in Spain: 3,40€

I love all these wines because they're so good and so inexpensive. Inexpensive is relative, but here in Spain, anything for less than 5€ is really a good deal. Most consumers fear buying anything for less than 10€ or $10, believing wines of that price to be bad quality, but there are some great deals out there and it's hard to tell which wines are good and which wines aren't unless you try them all and know what good wine tastes like. You might get lucky and a friend might recommend something inexpensive and good, but the problem is that friends that are actually wine connoisseurs usually don't buy anything inexpensive, they're on to more special and usually more expensive wines.
So how can you find out which cheap wines are good and which aren't? Well, you can read this blog :) and other blogs that have the wines / posts organized by price and see what they write about in the under $10 group. Most critics and magazines also publish the prices of the wines they rate and you can try all the cheap wines that get a decent or good rating. Wine Spectator always does an annual top wines under $25 list and while $25 is too much for this writer to spend on a "daily drinker", there are lots of other good wines on that list for less than $15. Nowadays a lot of wineries make a "daily drinker" or "table wine" that's cheaper than their other wines, so if there's a winery that you like, you should do your homework and see if there are cheaper wines from that winery or at the very least from that zone and style that you like. Don't be shy and when you go to your local wine store, tell them you're looking for wines in a certain price range. I own a wine shop  and if you come into my store and tell me you want something for under 10€ or under 5€ I should be able to guide you in the right direction. Any wine store shop assistant or owner worth their salt should have tried the majority of the wines in the shop and should be able to guide you to the right price quality wine.
Cariñena, where El Circo wines are made is an interesting area, because while it's the birthplace of 2 grape varieties (Grenache and Carignan), yet neither of these are the grapes that are most planted in the region. While you can definitely find these grapes in Cariñena, the grapes that have flourished in the last decades and which are beautifully grown in Cariñena are: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot interestingly enough.
Cariñena is the largest denomination of origin of Aragón with 14.388 hectares and one of the oldest DOs in Spain (1932). To put that into perspective, the Rioja region has 12.000 hectares and was designated as a DO in 1926.
Cariñena is a region that has undergone many changes over the past two centuries, but until only recently, dating back to the late nineteenth century Cariñena was associated with an area where other wineries could buy fruity, fleshy grapes for blending with wines from other parts of Spain or France to add volume and density to those wines. Now largely populated with cooperatives, Cariñena is learning to define itself and produce wines that speak of its privileged location and climate.

June 13, 2013

Vines Growing Everywhere

I've been in Ibiza recently and there are grape vines everywhere. I've come to realize now that wine is made in almost every small and unimaginable place in Spain. The Balearic Islands, Galicia, Cadiz, Murcia and even the arid and extreme weather conditions in the Canary Islands. It's incredible! In many of these regions they've planted foreign grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. but interestingly enough, these exotic lands have exotic indigenous grapes that, over the centuries, have proven themselves and have withstood the climatic hardships and fashions in wine and winemaking.
In Mallorca you have Callet, Manto Negro and Fogoneu for red grapes and Prensal Blanc white grapes among others. In Cadiz and the South of Spain there are well-known native white grapes like Pedro Ximenez and Palomino Fino, but also red grapes like Tintilla de Rota. From Murcia we have recently seen the rebirth of a white grape called Meseguera and in the Canary Islands there are new and interesting wines being made with Malvasía and Listan Negro. I couldn't possibly write a blog about exotic indigenous grapes if I didn't mention some from Galicia like: Albarín Blanco (white), Brancellao (red) or Treixadura (white).
I could go on and on with a list of grapes and where they are grown, but you can find that here. It's a really good thing that there's a diversity of grapes in Spain and all over the world. Could you imagine if all we had was Cabernet Sauvignon in red wine and Sauvignon Blanc in white? That would be woeful.
I have some recommendations for fine examples of wines from interesting parts of Spain:
Àn/2 from MallorcaThis is a blend of the most important varieties of the island of Mallorca; callet, manto negre and fogoneu, which make up 80% of the wine’s composition.  Aged in oak barrels over a period of 13 months gives us a balanced and elegant wine with a unique personality. 12,90€ in TomeVinos
Bermejo Dry Malvasía from Lanzarote - Dry white wine produced by gently pressing chilled, ripe whole clusters of Malvasia Volcanic grapes grown in the traditional pits and wind wall form of the Canary Islands. A great bottle that you can reuse for water, flowers or olive oil or simply decoration. 13,50€ in TomeVinos
Cuñas Davia from Ribeiro, Galicia - another fantastic bottle, great presence on the table and can be used again for olive oil or whatever you like. Lovely crisp white wine with citrus and peach aromas in nose and a lovely fresh taste accompanied by a lovely denser mouthfeel that comes from the Godello and Treixadura grapes. It's a mix of four grapes actually, Treixadura, Albariño, Godello and Lado (????). 9,90€ in TomeVinos

April 16, 2013

Who says there aren't small boutique wineries in Spain? PART I

Name: Quinta Mazuela
Winery: Quinta Mazuela
Region: Cariñena
Year: 2009
Grape(s): Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a pinch of Petit Verdot
Price in Spain: 10,95€
Quinta Mazuela is an artesanal winery and Quinta Mazuela is their signature wine. They also make a limited production Grenache when the conditions are right and they are currently in the process of making a Rhone style white wine with Viognier, Rousanne and Chardonnay. 
Silvia Tomé, the winemaker, is one of the best winemakers in Aragón and she makes wines in other DOs in Spain, but being from Cariñena originally, she wanted to make her own wine in her birthplace. She's an expert in Bordeaux blends, having worked in Saint-Emilion and Médoc, and this wine demonstrates all of her talent. This is the fourth vintage to date and each vintage is completely unique and special in it's own right. Each vintage has received a different percentage of each grape in the blend and each vintage has it's own character. In the 2009, (the current vintage), the Syrah sings a lovely and mesmerizing song of love. Spicy peppery notes on the nose are accompanied by lovely ripe red fruit and lovely plum and blueberries in mouth. 
It's actually a little unfortunate that her winery is in Cariñena, because the region is known for its Grenache, Carignan (locally called Mazuela) and Tempranillo wines and this wine has none of those grapes. It also has very little to do with the style of wines traditionally made in the region. The vineyards are at a high altitude on a mountain slope and transmit all of the terroir into the wine. Lovely, elegant and truly on par with a great Bordeaux. 
Unfortunately, at this time, I'm almost absolutely sure you won't be able to find this (yet) in your local wine store. Rest assured Silvia and company are working on exporting this wine to all of Western Europe and America. 
I wanted all of my readers to know that this is Part I of what will be an ongoing series of small boutique wines from Spain that are truly a labour of love, Pure Garage. 

April 4, 2013

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March 31, 2013

Prowein 2013: The First Time, But Definitely Not The Last

Spanish Wines and More went to Prowein in Dusseldorf.  If you're not familiar with Prowein, it's an insanely huge wine trade show. Similar to other German trade shows, it aspires to be the biggest and the best. This was my first time to the show, but some of my friends who had been before told me that it was even bigger this year than last. If you walked quickly, without stopping, from the entrance to the other end it would take you about 10-15 minutes. I was there for 2 1/2 days and I only began to taste the wines and I skipped over whole countries. You would need a month to really be able to cover it in depth and that would be insane because everyday it opened at 9 AM and closed at 6 PM and tasting for 9 hours a day is really tough and you have to really pace yourself and spit (almost) everything out and even then, you finished a little tipsy or happy go lucky to say the least. What I enjoyed the most of the show was meeting a lot of great people. There aren't words to describe being amongst 40,000 wine lovers. Everyone you talked to loved wine, knew wine and had something interesting to share with you. I've put together a little slideshow with some of sights and interesting wines I had while I was there. I would recommend this show to anyone, it's kind of like the Love Parade of wines, you have to go at least once.