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Posts Tagged ‘Castilla y Leon’

Tempranillo From Spain

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Castilla y Leon is the largest autonomia in Spain.  Located in the north-west portion of the country, it contains such Denominacion de Origen (DO) as Bierzo, Toro, Rueda, Cigales, and Ribera del Duero.  The Mas de Leda is a Vino de la Tierra (VT) which is technically a quality step down from a DO.  While a VT Castilla y Leon may be produced from grapes sourced throughout the autonomia, the Mas de Leda fruit is sourced from vineyards near Ribera del Duero.  This region is characterized by flat-topped mountains and hills at altitudes of 700-800 meters.  The climate is more moderate with dry summers, wet falls, and short, cold winters.  Tempranillo is locally known as Tinta del Pais and does not produce excessively alcoholic wines.  Ribera del Duero is located east of the Toro DO where the Cal Blanca vineyard is located.  The Toro region is characterized by mostly flat terrain at altitudes of 620 – 750 meters.  There is little rain, the summers are dry and hot with the winters hard and full of frosts.  The variant of Tempranillo that is grown here is locally known as Tinta de Toro.  After centuries of acclimatization Tinta de Toro may naturally produce potent wines of 16 to 17% alcohol.

Cal Blanca Vineyard, Image by Friederike Paetzold at Ole

The Mas de Leda is imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, locally distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd, and available for ~$22.  The Cal Blanca is imported by Ole, locally distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd, and available for ~$15.  While the Mas de Leda could benefit from a few years of age to tame the tannins there was a bit too many wood notes for my taste.  The Cal Blanca is a balanced, thoroughly enjoyable wine that benefits from the high altitude fruit.  While it is drinking well now it will develop for a few more years.  I definitely recommend you try this well-priced wine.

2007 Bodegas Leda Vina Viejas, Mas de Leda, VDT Castilla y Leon
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 40 small vineyard plots throughout Castilla y Leon.  These plots are typically located near the Ribera del Duero DO through some are from Toro DO.  The wine is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.  This is a rich Tempranillo with dusty textured fruit.  There are initial notes of wood mixed with sweet, grapey tannins that coat the lips in the aftertaste.  On the second night there is a Port-like nose followed by a good mouth feel in this structured wine.  There are flavors of blackberries, balsamic notes, and grainy drying tannins. *(*) 2014-2017.

2009 Cal Blanca, Toro
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Cal Blanca vineyard located in the Cerro del Almendro area in Toro.  This vineyard was planted in 1985 at an elevation of 800 meters on soils of chalky, limestone.  This is one of the highest vineyards in Toro.  The wine is aged for 6 months in two-year old French oak barrels followed by three months in 5,000 liter concrete tanks.  This showed dark red fruit that has a pebbly texture.  There is good weight to this concentrated wine with supportive acidity coming out in the finish.  On the second night the dark red fruit mixed with blue fruit in a smooth, supple manner.  The first sip is a bit tart then there steely minerals come out midpalate followed by grapey tannins that coat the lips. **(*) Now-2017.

Two Spanish Wines From Whole Foods

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I rather enjoyed both of these wines over the first two nights.  Though completely different, I enjoyed the Vendrell for its ruggedness and fair price.  I consistently preferred the dark flavors of the Fernandez Rivera.  Clark and Julia were able to have some of the wine and they too liked the Fernandez Rivera.  Now these were drunk at out of the most unfriendly disposable plastic cups that were at my hotel.  While these are not the ideal vessels for wine tasting, I must remain flexible on travel and also realize that we do drink wine out of plastic cups at picnics.  The fact that both wines were highly enjoyable in this setting speaks a lot.  So I recommend that you try both wines then submit comments for this post!

Vendrell Vineyard, Image from Ryan Opaz (flickr)

The Josep-Maria Vendrell is imported by Beaune Imports of Berkeley, California and costs $16.  the Bodega y Vinedos Fernandez Rivera is imported by Classical Wines of Seattle, Washington and costs $19.  They are available at Whole Foods.

2008 Josep-Maria Vendrell, Sere, Montsant
This wine is 80% Grenache and 20% Carignan from younger vines.  It is produced by the 28 year old Josep-Maria with help from his father and an old family friend.  I thought this best on the first night.  It showed plummy, red fruit, good texture, and rugged power.  But on the third night it became a jammy red fruited, overt wine.  My advice, drink it over the first two nights! ** Now-2015.

2004 Bodega y Vinedos Fernandez Rivera, Dehesa La Granja, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from vines planted in 1998.  This wine is immediately enjoyable with its dark, ripe blue fruits.  This is smooth all around but not soft, there is a balanced amount of acidity to this weighty wine.  It is quite forward with its fruit.  This drank well over three nights without any gas. *** Now-2017.

18th Century Cellar,Image from Dehesa La Granja

Two Spanish Wines To Taste In My Hotel Room

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Portuguese and Spanish Wines at Whole Foods

I decided to change my routine of solely purchasing wines of the Northwest for my current trip to Seattle.    I have a deep love for the wines of France and Spain so for this trip I am focusing on tasting Spanish wines that I do not see in the Washington, DC area.  In sticking with importers from the west coast I found these two bottles at Whole Foods.  The Josep-Maria Vendrell is imported by Beaune Imports of Berkeley, California and the Bodega y Vinedos Fernandez Rivera is imported by Classical Wines of Seattle, Washington.  Both were under $20 and are proving to be quite tasty!  I will report back later.

  • 2008 Josep-Maria Vendrell, Sere, Montsant
  • 2004 Bodega y Vinedos Fernandez Rivera, Dehesa La Granja, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

Two Affordable Bottles of Spanish Mencia

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Mencia Grapes, Image by Vinos Unico

These two wines are made from Mencia sourced from vineyards located in Castilla y Leon.  Castilla y Leon is located in the northern part of Spain’s central plateau.  The altitude is high with a range of 2,900 to 3,300 feet in elevation.  It is surrounded by mountains thus isolating it from any maritime influences.    The summers are short and hot while the winters are long and cold.  Within Castilla y Leon there are one dozen DOs including Bierzo, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro.  The Vinos de Arganza fruit is sourced from vineyards in Bierzo which is located in the extreme north-west area of Castilla y Leon. The Bodegas Triton fruit is sourced from Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon which is located in the central part of Castilla y Leon, encompassing the area west and south of Toro.

A Vineyard in Bierzo, Image by Bob Liner (flickr)

The Vinos de Arganza is imported by Monsieur Touton and available at Chain Bridge Cellars for $9.  The Bodegas Triton is a Jorge Ordonez Selection and available for $14 at MacArthurs.  These are both good entry-level wines for those who are new to Mencia or looking for good daily drinkers.  While I prefer the $11 Finca os Cobatos over the Vinos de Arganza, all deliver for the price.  I think you should buy all three then throw an impromptu, affordable tasting!

2010 Vinos de Arganza, Flavium Premium, Bierzo, Castilla y Leon
This wine is 100% Mencia that was aged for 20 months in French and American oak.  It is a youthful, purple and ruby color in the glass.  The young, grapey nose has hints of pepper and some scented stones.  In the mouth the fresh, bright, citrus-like fruit shows midpalate minerals, watering acidity, and plenty of tannins but in a balanced manner. ** Now-2015.

2009 Bodegas Triton, Avante Mencia, Castilla y Leon
This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from vines averaging 43 years of age.  It was aged for five months in 70% second-fill French oak and 30% in stainless steel.  This red fruit wine contains blue fruit notes along with some dark undertones.  It ia almost full-bodied with minerals and woodsy notes of vanilla and sweet spice.  This modern Mencia leaves pleasing notes of licorice with a tad bit of heat. ** Now-2015.

Spanish Wines at Lou’s

May 27, 2011 1 comment

Lou and Aaron

Last night I went over to Lou’s so that we could taste some Spanish wines.  All of the wines cost between $15 and $30.  The red wines were double-decanted around 5pm and were tasted over several hours.  We first started off with an interesting white wine.


2009 Bodegas Finca Torremilanos, Penalba Lopez, Blanco, Castilla y Leon, Ribera del Duero
Purchased at Balducci’s.  This is a blend of 50% Albillo Major (Tempranillo Blanco) and 50% Sauvignon Blanc that was aged for one year on barrel.  This wine has a light color of rich straw.  It is creamy in the mouth with floral notes, toast, and perhaps some yeast.  It shows more smokiness with air then more floral notes.  The is a bit short in the finish and has just enough acidity to keep it from getting flabby.  A bit too smoky for me.  ** Now.

The Five Red Wines

After starting with the white wine and three Spanish cheeses, Lou and I sat down to taste through the red wines.  The wines were tasted blind with the paper bags duct-taped shut so we wouldn’t cheat.  All of the wines were good.  While we did not rank them I particularly liked, in tasting order, the Val Sotillo (#2), the Martinet Bru (#4), and the Brozal (#5).  There are ample leftovers so when I retaste the wines I’ll add additional notes.

#1 – 2004 Solanera, Vinas Viejas, Yecla
Purchased at MacArthur’s.  This wine is a blend of 65% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Tintorera.  It is a custom blend for Eric Solomon.  This wine started off with a tight nose, almost young, with structured aromas of dusty earth.  In the mouth the red berries show a bit of sharpness and remind one of a hot, arid region.  The fruit rounds out over time but retains its coarseness, which is charming.  There are still some very fine tannins.  This was an interesting surprise as Jenn and I used to drink this affordable $14 wine.  ** Now.

#2 – 2005 Bodegas Ismael Arroyo, Val Sotillo, Crianza, Ribeira del Duero
Purchased at MacArthur’s.  This wine is 100% Tinta del Pais that was aged for 14 months in American oak casks.  This wine is much darker than the Solanera.  It has a light nose that shows some heat and perhaps a little sweet fruit.  In the mouth it is a bit richer, brawny, and shows dark tannins that taste a bit modern.  With air it loosens up a bit by developing sweet fruit that is nicely supported in this tight, structured wine.  This is a very nice wine.  *** 2015-2019.

#3 – 2005 Xavier Clua, Mas d’en pol Barrica, Terre Negre
Purchased at Ceceile’s Wine Cellar, now Chain Bridge Cellars.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot that is aged for eight months in French barriques and a wee bit in stainless steel tank.  The vineyards are 15-30 years old, are at an altitude of 450-500 meters, and have soils of calcair and clay.  It sported a nose of sweet, ripe, blue fruits, which reminds me of Grenache, combined with a lot of dusty, herbs, and some leather.  It is smooth in the mouth and has a softness that isn’t reflected in the grip of the nose.  It is a bit light in acidity and shows a bit of warmth.  It comes across as having a modest amount of barrel aging.  With air there are even more herbs and blue fruit.  An interesting wine.  ** Now-2015.

#4 – 2007 Famillia Perez Overtero, Martinet Bru, Priorat
Purchased at The Peter Weygandt store.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot.  The grapes were fermented in wooden tanks then 66% were aged for 18 months in 4,000 liter vats and 34% in 300 liter French oak barrels.  This wine is a very dark, grapey color.  It has a young nose of tight, grapey aromas of raspberries and blue fruits.  This wine is mouth-filling with medium to full-bodied flavors that are creamy and marked by herbs.  With air there are cinnamon spices and more grip.  Tasted blind I would not guess that this is a Spanish wine.  It really is a lovely, contemporary wine that continued to develop through the night.  *** 2014-2017.

#5 – 2008 Bodegas El Indiano Brozal, Single Vineyard, Rioja
Purchased at MacArthur’s.  This wine is a field blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Grenache aged for ten months in 50% new French oak.  The 3.2 acre vineyard, Finca El Brozal, is located at 1,800 feet and dates back to 1938.  Wow, this was completely different.  The nose sported dark red berries, pepper, and scented spices.  There are ample flavors in the mouth but it is still soft and balanced making it easy to drink.  The spices on the nose follow through in the mouth. There are very fine tannins that stick to the lips.  I would not have guess this as Rioja but this is good stuff.  *** Now-2017.

Later that night, two friends of Adrienn’s tried some of these wines.  They both really liked the Brozal Rioja.

Wines from Portugal, France, and Spain

March 17, 2008 1 comment

I haven’t posted any notes in several weeks because two and a half weeks ago my wife and I had a baby girl. Needless to write these 2+ weeks have flown by leaving little time to post my notes. We’re settling down some so here are some notes!

2002 Jorge Moreira, Poeira, Duoro – $15
Other vintages of this wine has been mentioned in the past. It was hard to resist the close out price on this lesser vintage. This is a blend of 30 different varietals located across 4 parcels that were formerly used for port. The 70 year old vines are primarily Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Souzao, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Roriz. They are crushed by foot in stone lagares and fermented in barrel. The wine is then aged for 16 months in new and 1 year old French oak. In the glass it is red with purple highlights. It has a light nose that revealed blue fruits with air. There are sour red cherries with cedar/oak followed by soft, very fine elegant tannins. The finish is short. It is a soft wine with no underlying complexity. I wouldn’t buy this vintage again.

2000 Chateau Charmes-Godard, Cotes de Francs – $12
I needed a foil for the Poeira. There is a light nose of berries and cedar. In the mouth there are one-dimensional berry flavors, sour cherry, and cedar. It is a simple, light-bodied wine. In comparison the Poeira had better fruit but the Charmes-Godard had the better finish.

2005 Vinyes i Vins Ca Sa Padrina, Manto Negro, Binissalem-Mallorga – $15
This is a blend of Manto Negro, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. In the glass is is ruby red with light to medium opacity. There are red and blue fruits with spice on the nose and in the mouth. There is a fruity/acidity/tannin burst when first in the mouth. This is followed by a bit of grip from the oak. A well made, rather modern wine that could come from anywhere.

2005 Pago del Vicario, Penta, Tiera de Castilla – $16
The Pago del Vicario winery grew from a project by brother Antonio and Ignacio Barco in 2000. They have 130 ha of vineyards. The Penta wine is produced to be intense in flavor, with short barrel aging, and to appeal to a wide variety. This is a blend of 55% Tempranillo, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 8% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. It is aged for 5 months in French oak. In the glass it is ruby with some purple and medium opacity. In the mouth there are initial blue fruits and mineral, with a supple mouth feel. It is a medium-bodied wine that is refreshing. It has good acidity and fine tannins that become assertive at the end. Compared to the 2006 Cellar Can Blau the Penta has riper fruit with a touch more suppleness. Both my wife and I would drink both wines again, giving slight preference to the Cellar Can Blau

Best,

Aaron