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“Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her childhood in Zaragoza where the family was sure to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They used imported American ingredients to prepare the classic dishes of turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and of course, many, many pies.  They did, however, drink Spanish wine with their meal.  Our Spanish bottle of 2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva took several hours to open up.  While it does require a few more years in the cellar, it eventually revealed attractive hard cherry flavors with just the right amount of texture.

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2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Monastrell. Alcohol 12%.  After a few hours of air, the firm but quickly dissipating bubble made way to dry flavors of hard cherry and cola.  Quite different and certainly rather in need of age, things wrapped up with a textured finish and just a hint of yeast.  **(*) 2018-2025.

I tend to rely on red wine for Thanksgiving and this weekend I tasted through some mature reds.  Lou and I picked up a number of bottles from the Earthquake Cellar which was recently sold off by BP Wine.  The NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties bears no date but the fact that this magnum is in a 2/5 gallon bottle dates the wine to the 1970s at the latest.  I personally believe the wine is from the 1960s for several reasons which places it during a period of fascinating change as detailed in History of Sebastiani Vineyards, 1955-Present.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Sebastiani was a bulk wine operation that produced wine solely for other labels.  Some 90% of this wine was dessert wine such as port, sherry, muscatel, and tokay.  By the early 1970s the transition to selling table wine bottled under the Sebastiani name was completed.  The bulk operation was no more.

The impetus for change developed in the mid 1950s under the control of August Sebastiani.  At the time, the Allied Grape Growers/Petri Group were going to start bottling their own wine at facilities throughout the country.  Gallo, in response, decided to bottle their wine in lightweight bottles so they could ship it across the country.  These two actions put direct competition on Sebastiani which had no choice but to change.  There is also the story that August Sebastiani’s wife Sylvia tasted a “really, really, really good cream sherry” which turned out to be a wine produced by Sebastiani for another label.  Why not bottle such good wine under their own name?

The Sebastiani brand was developed in the 1950s and a very basic bottling machine known as a Fillabelmatic was purchased.  However, the transition away from bulk wine production did not begin in earnest until around 1960.  Throughout the 1960s dessert wines were still produced but various tiers of wines were developed including table and varietal wines.  The varietal wines were not only bottled in 4/5 quart bottles but also in half gallon bottles and apparently magnum bottles.

Our particular bottle of Sebastiani wine clearly predates the conversion to metric wine bottles.  This requirement was passed in 1977 and went into effect in 1979. The basic Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon label from our bottle was used during the 1960s and 1970s.  Bearing the common theme of “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored” this label was used for both non-vintage and vintages wines.  Vintages wines such as 1963 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 9, 1968 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1970 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve all list “North Coast Counties” with a winery location of “Sonoma Valley, California”.  The 1972 Mountain Burgundy, 1973 Barbera, and 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve that was bottled in 1979, all bear “Northern California” as well as the zip code 95476.  This suggests that the non-vintage blend could be from the period of 1963 through 1971.

The cork was solid and the wine itself in sturdy enough shape that it drank fine over three evenings.  It was rather stinky and animale at first but it did clean up.  The fruit was sweet with rounded flavors and no hint of French or American oak.  Instead this time-machine of a wine transported us back to the days of redwood.  The images it conjured might have outpaced the quality of the wine but it was enough to last a glass or two.

As for the other wines, the 1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley slowly responded to air over the course of an evening.  With cherry and wood box flavors it only gave the slightest hint it would not develop any further.  By contrast the 1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley was forward on the nose and in the mouth with plenty of fruit and glycerin.  While clearly modern, it was not a bad drink at all, and in surprisingly strong shape.  The 1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape was in great shape, offering everything you could want from a somewhat rustic Rhone wine which has not yet hit full maturity.

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NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties (2/5 gallon)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was quite earthy at first with animal fur aromas.  Over time the stink faded off to reveal sweet fruit and wood box flavors in the mouth.  The wine softened a touch revealing rounded flavors and gentle old wood that lasted over the next few days.  ** Now but will last for many years.

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1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed gentle aromas of earth, cherry, and tobacco.  In the mouth the firm cherry flavors matched the polished wood notes.  This slightly savory wine still sported a rather fine structure.  The flavors thinned out some by the finish where there were some cola-like flavors, watering acidity, and roasted earth.  *** Now but will last.

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1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was immediately aromatic with round fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors were forward with round black fruit that was almost thick with glycerin.  With air this modern wine showed more minerals, blackness, and some nearly resolved tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a good core of red and black fruit and a pleasing amount of structure that leant towards the not quite rustic personality.  Clearly a good wine in shape for continued development.  *** Now -2022.

There was also a pair of dessert wines.  From the lightest of a group, the bottle of 1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes was youthful, fresh, and rather unevolved which meant it did not tire the palate at all.  A brief taste of the 2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland already reveals an interesting amount of complexity.  It is noticeably richer and thicker so think of it more as a sipping wine to wrap things up.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distribution Co.  Alcohol 14%.  In fine condition, this wine brighter, floral and yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the youthful, floral and orange citrus accented fruit has an appealing level of viscosity.  The level of acidity keeps things fresh and slightly watering through the saline marked finish.  I would cellar this further.   *** Now – 2035.

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2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Riesling that was fermented and aged in oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Already a deep color , aromas of petrol with both fresh and dried apricots step out of the glass. With air hints of black tea develop.  In the mouth, this is a thick wine with viscosity that is noticeable in the finish and aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

Wines of Catalunya Tasting at Jaleo

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I set out to taste more wine after our extensive lunch which you may read about at the Wines of Catalunya Lunch at Jaleo.  The entire Jaleo restaurant was turned over for this event which was organized by Nuria Ruiz Mila who is the Export Manager for the Associacio Vinicola Catalana.  Holly Hansen of Holly Hansen Public Relations and Gastronomic 34 handled the PR. There was good balance between the number of attendees and the restaurant space so there was never any difficulty in tasting the wines.  I used my large red wine glass from lunch with which I found all of the wines were poured generously and at good temperatures.  I knew I could not visit all of the producers in the time remaining.   I started with the familiar Caves Llopart and Caves Avinyo because I have drunk a few of the wines but not all.  I then asked for recommendations which resulted in visiting Jane Ventura, Celler Vall Lloch, Vinyes Domench, and Cervoles Celler.

Caves Llopart

Celia Almirall I Valls

Celia Almirall I Valls

I find Rosato Cava fun to drink because they are all seemingly made from different varietals.  Monastrell leads that of the Rose Brut Reserva and I particularly liked the berry fruit.  I do primarily drink red wine so perhaps this is a natural reaction for me.  The Brut Reserva and Brut Gran Reserva reveal lots of texture on the tongue which I appreciate.  I must thank Celia for sending me home with a bottle of the Castell de Subirats.  Upon hearing that I taste and drink wine every night with my wife, she thought I should share a bottle with her.

2009 Caves Llopart, Rose Brut Reserva, Cava – $20
Imported by Fine Estates from Spain.  This wine is a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha, and Pinot Noir which was aged at least 18 months.  Alcohol 11.5%.  There was a fruit driven nose.  The mouth started with explosive bubbles then they faded leaving ripe, berry fruit.  There was a good mousse and texture on the teeth.  Enjoyable.

2010 Caves Llopart, Brut Reserva, Cava – $18
Imported by Fine Estates from Spain.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu, Zarel-lo, and Parellada aged at least 18 months.  Alcohol 11.5%.  There was an aromatic nose which was yeasty and earthy.  The firmer bubbles brought forth yeast with more acidity.  There were spices and acidity in the tongue-tip.  The flavors became chalking with textured, drying flavors.

2006 Caves Llopart, Leopardi, Brut Gran Reserva, Cava – $25
Imported by Fine Estates from Spain.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu, Zarel-lo, Parellada, and Chardonnay aged at least four years.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The nose was subtle.  In the mouth there were rich and crisp flavors with ripe, spicy flavors.  The acidity is well-integrated with the fruit.  There was lots of texture on the tongue followed by fresh herbs in the finish.

2008 Caves Llopart, Castell de Subirats, Penedes – $22
Imported by Fine Estates from Spain.  This wine is a blend of Merlot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months.  This was rich, soft, and approachable on the nose.  The fruit was red and tarter than I expected in the mouth but remained approachable.  There was acidity not great depth but tasty black and red fruit with a touch of minerals in the finish.  Upon revisiting I thought this continued to show good approachability with leather notes and a little tart, black and red fruit.

Caves Avinyo

Steven Alexander

Steven Alexander

Though the bottle do not carry vintages on the labels they are in fact all produced from single vintages.  Right now you can determine the vintage by looking at a code on the back label.  There was a berry quality which seemed present in all three wines.  I thought the Brut Rosato Reserva was well expressed and the Seleccion La Ticota showed unique, complex flavors.

2010 Caves Avinyo, Brut Reserva, Cava – $19
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada aged at least 18 months.  Alcohol 11.8%.  The nose was subtle with a ripe, yeasty bit and gentle berry aromas.  There were strawberries in the mouth with some ripe structure, good perfume, and perhaps cherry as well.

2009 Caves Avinyo, Brut Rosato Reserva, Pinot Noir,  Cava – $25
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged at least 18 months.  Alcohol 12.1%.  There was a delicate, fruit driven nose.  There was lively fruit on the tongue with integrated bubbles.  There was ripeness to the strawberry, bubble mousse with texture in the aftertaste.

2006 Caves Avinyo, Seleccion La Ticota, Gran Reserva, Cava – $37
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu and Xarel-lo sourced from the La Ticota vineyard planted in 1943.  It was produced from free run juice which was aged at least four years.  Alcohol 11.7%.  The fruit is there mixing apple and berries in a very gentle manner.  With time the wine almost becomes still with white and yellow fruit, nuts, yeast, and acidity.  There is a fruity, white finish.

Jane Ventura

Gerard Jane Ubeda

Gerard Jane Ubeda

The first two wines feature no-dosage.  Gerard said this is a popular style for Cava which is consumed in Spain.  I must admit I rather liked the Blanco Seleccio, 15 vinyes.  It was aromatic on the nose, flavorful in the mouth, and well priced!  It includes some Malvasia and for those who tasted the 2011 there is Muscat as well.  Hopefully this will be imported.  The reds were fun because they include the indigenous Sumoll.  There is no US importer.

2009 Jane Ventura, Brut Nature Reserva de la Musica, Cava – $18
No importer.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada aged 24-30 months.  Non-dosage.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a nose of ripe, yeasty white fruit.  In the mouth there was a soft burst of bubbles then the wine became almost still.  It started with bright, crisp acidity, followed by some herbs and a drying finish.

2008 Jane Ventura, Do of Jane Ventura, Gran Reserva Vintage, Penedes – $24
No importer.  This wine is a blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada aged 42 months.  3% was barrel fermented.  Non-dosage.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a beam of white, pungent aromas.  In the mouth the firm bubbles were integrated with the fruit.  The bubbles slowly faded to still wine with a hint of yeast before leaving hints of dry berries and tannins on the lips.  Young.

2010 Jane Ventura, Reserva de la Musica Rose, Cava – $19
No importer.  This wine is 100% Garnatxa aged 18-24 months.  Low-dosage.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose was subtle.  In the mouth there were more aggressive bubbles which dissipated but some still stuck around.  The flavors prickled on the tongue.  With air I could work our red fruit and a yeasty touch in this young wine.

2012 Jane Ventura, Blanco Seleccio, 15 vinyes, Penedes – $15
No importer.  This wine is a blend of Xarel-lo, Sauvignon Blanc, and Malvasia.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a good, aromatic nose of tropical, tooty fruit.  In the mouth the focused fruit followed the nose with expanding flavors and some weight.  There were  ripe lemon flavors to match the bright, weighty acidity.  Quite nice.

2010 Jane Ventura, Negre Seleccio, 12 vinyes, Penedes – $17
No importer.  This wine is a blend of Ull de Llebre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sumoll which was aged for 10 months.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose bore dark red berries.  In the mouth there was berry fruit which was black and red with some ripeness.  There was a firm core and some grip before the black fruited aftertaste.  There were some tannins.

2009 Jane Ventura, Mas Vilella, Penedes -$30
No importer.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sumoll which was aged 12 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine was a little earthier with focus and a firm core.  The flavors were inky the finish.  There were strong, drying tannins.  This could use some age.

Celler Vall Llach

Albert Costa Miralbell

Albert Costa Miralbell

The Embruix offers up a lot of flavor for the price but the Idus is both a step up in quality and price.  The Vall Llach steps back on the richness but still presents a full-bodied wine with great complexity and appeal.  As I wrote in my notes below, I had to come back for a small drink.

2009 Vall Llach, Embruix, Priorat – $24
Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of Carinyena, Garnatxa, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot sourced from younger vines aged 20-25 years.  It was aged 14 months.  Alcohol 15%.  The nice nose revealed scented berries.  In the mouth there was ripe and rich fruit which was quite seductive.  There was a spicy, tannic structure inside which poked out at the end.

2007 Vall Llach, Idus, Priorat – $50
Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners.    This wine is a blend of Carinyena, Garnatxa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah sourced from older vines aged 501– years.  It was aged 14 months.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose was deeper with some earth notes.  The wine was seductive with mouth-filling, long, rich fruit.  It took on some tart red to blue fruit.  The structure is better integrated.  This is a generous wine best drunk one glass at a time.

2006 Vall Llach, Vall Llach, Priorat – $80-90
Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of Carinyena, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged 14 months.  Alcohol 15.9%.  This was the most dense and rich with a wave of low-lying flavors.  There were very powerful, fine, spicy tannins which did show some ripeness.  There were complex red fruits, sweet, grapey blue fruit.  This wine compels you to drink it.  Indeed, I returned at the end for a small glass.

Vinyes Domench

The Author and Marc Domench

The Author and Marc Domench

I could not resist a quick taste through this trio of red wines from Montsant.  I would probably spend the extra money to get the Furvus for it has good focus and balanced structure which should aid in short-term development.  The Teixar will benefit from aging.  It showed more delicacy and red fruits.

2011 Vinyes Domench, Bancal Del Bosc, Montsant – $30
Imported by Ole Imports.  This wine is a blend of Garnatxa, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 6 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was good young fruit which was rich and bright on the nose.  In the mouth it was seductive with powdery berries, mixed berries, and was easy to drink.

2009 Vinyes Domench, Furvus, Monsant – $40
Imported by Ole Imports.  This wine is a blend of Garnatxa and Merlot sourced from 30-35 year old vines which were fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, then was aged for 12 months in use French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was darker with aromas of raspberry liquor.  This showed more focus in the mouth with its black and red fruit.  It was also structured with drying tannins.  This should age for the short-term.

2009 Vinyes Domench, Teixar, Montsant – $80
Imported by Ole Imports.  This wine is 100% Garnacha Peluda sourced from 80-85 year old vines which were fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, then was aged 14 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was more delicacy to this wine with flavors of raspberry candy and dark red fruit.  There was a firm structure and this wine will benefit from several years in the cellar.

Cervoles Celler

Alex Veen

Alex Veen

I looked around the room and Dave McIntyre caught my attention.  He was tasting a bottle of wine which he thought I should try.  It turns out this wine was recommended by Jancis Robinson as one of her top 100+ white wines of 2012.  The proof was in the glass which I was able to taste again that night from a sample.  It reacted favorably to air with both Jenn and I deeply enjoying it.  I hope this gets imported.

2011 Cervoles Celler, Cervoles Blanc, Costers del Segre – $
Not imported into the United States.  This wine is a blend of Macabeo and Chardonnay which was aged for eight months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a light yellow straw.  There were aromas of floral, weighty yellow fruit.  In the mouth the weighty and smooth fruit combines barrel fermented yellow flavors and yeast which is reminiscent of Chardonnay but different (obviously).  There were ripe notes in the expansive finish which was almost oily.  This is a complex wine which opens up well, fleshing out to a full-bodied, fruitier finish with some acidity on the sides of the tongue.

Wines of Catalunya Lunch at Jaleo

April 10, 2013 1 comment

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I have been anticipating the Wines of Catalunya Lunch and Tasting for a long time. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday, 30 October 2012 but the widespread forces of Hurricane Sandy caused it to be delayed until yesterday. This event was organized by Nuria Ruiz Mila who is the Export Manager for the Associacio Vinicola Catalana.  Holly Hansen of Holly Hansen Public Relations and Gastronomic 34 handled the PR. Approximately two dozen wine and food writers and buyers were invited to sit down for a pre-tasting lunch at Jaleo. The lunch featured wines and dishes from Catalunya. The menu was selected by José Andrés with the wines matched by Wine Director Lucas Paya.

Our lunch turned out to be a leisurely two-hour progression of eight courses with wine. My companions included Kelly Green of Girl Meets Food, Todd Godbout of Wine Compass, and Christopher Prawdzik of Prawdzik Group, along with Michael Birchenell of Foodservice Monthly. At the other table was the familiar Dave McIntyre, the Washington Post Wine Writer and author of Dave McIntyre’s Wine Line along with new acquaintance Michael Cavanagh of Chasing Pangea. The lunch was generous in all meanings with attractive flavors, substantial portions, and large pours of wine. A bottle was always left at the table so we could revisit the wine. José Andrés stopped by the table prompting the conversation to immediately turn to his advising the Hannibal series. He walked away encouraging all of us to drink and eat. I had plans to taste through the large number of wines being poured at the afternoon tasting but I succumbed to the lunch. It was a bright day which made the food look all the more attractive. The warm, summer temperatures and certainly the wine created a festive air. I decided to only visit a handful of producers after the lunch. I shall leave descriptions of the meal to the food writers but please find the menu below.

Pa de vidre amb tomaquet
Xatonada
Coca de recapte amb anxoves
Bacalla amb samfaina
Esparrecs amb romesco
Canelo de sant esteve
Fricando amb bolets
Pa amb oli & xocolata

As for the wines the 2008 Gonzalez Byass, Vilarnau, Albert de Vilarnau Chardonnay proved a strong start with balance between yeast notes, fruit, stones, and acidity. It is actually a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The second Cava 2006 Caves Llopart, Leopardi, Brut Gran Reserva was fruitier which made it a good contrast. At one point I peered towards the other table where I saw one gentleman wearing the most ridiculous sunglasses I had ever seen. A few minutes later the 2007 Torello, 3D by Custo, Brut Gran Reserva with a riot of a label was poured. Francisco de la Rosa Torello handed out 3-D glasses and it all made sense. The nose was very aromatic in this expressive Cava which captured Francisco’s personality.

The single white wine 2012 Agusti Torello Mata, Subirat Parent XII was of interest because it was made from Subirat Parent. This is actually Malvasia and carried white tropical fruits on the nose and in the mouth.

The red wines were off to a seductive start with the 2010 Miguel Torres, Salmos, Priorat. This was the most approachable of the four reds of which I appreciated the savory flavors and grip. The 2008 Abadal, Abadal 3.9 was deep with mixed berries and earth. It was a touch more forward than the classically structured 2008 Pares Balta, Gratavinum, 2PiR which will benefit from a few years in the cellar. The oldest and final wine 2005 Castillo de Perelada, Gran Claustro Tinto bore an old-school, savory profile. I have only drunk a handful of wines from Emporda so I was pleased to enjoy this wine.

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2008 Gonzalez Byass, Vilarnau, Albert de Vilarnau Chardonnay, Cava – $80
Imported by the San Francisco Wine Exchange. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which was aged for 36 months. Alcohol 12.0%. The nose was yeasty with some ripe, yellow fruit. In the mouth there were yeasty flavors, toast notes, and whiter fruit than on the nose. There were firm bubbles which eventually just disappeared showing good acidity, levity, and chalk in the finish. Nice.

Celia Almirall I Valls, Llopart

Celia Almirall I Valls, Caves Llopart

2006 Caves Llopart, Leopardi, Brut Gran Reserva, Cava – $25
Imported by Fine Estates from Spain. This wine is a blend of Macabeau, Xarel-lo, Parellada, and Chardonnay aged for at least 4 years. Alcohol 11.5%. The nose bore a subtle yeast note with perfume and some berries. There was an earthy note to the start before fruit bursts in the mouth with a fine bubbly mousse. This made way to more firm and ripe fruit in the finish. A fruit driven Cava.

Francisco de la Rosa Torello

Francisco de la Rosa Torello

2007 Torello, 3D by Custo, Brut Gran Reserva, Cava – $87
Imported by United Cellars. This wine is a blend of Xarel-lo and Macabeo aged for at least 4 years. Alcohol 11.5%. There was an expressive nose with some yeast and nuts, living up to the 3D name. The flavors fill the mouth with moderate bubbles which softly burst. There was a toast, yeast note before the flavors became drier and savory towards the finish.

Antonio Alvarez

Antonio Alvarez

2012 Agusti Torello Mata, Subirat Parent XII, Penedes – $23
Imported by Mata Wines. This wine is 100% Subirat Parent which was aged for six months in oak. Alcohol 11.5%. This had a fruity nose with a hint of tropical, white fruits. In the mouth there were focused, gentle tropical white flavors with a bit of subtle stone in the finish. Good mouthfeel and flavor but not the most complex.

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2010 Miguel Torres, Salmos, Priorat – $42
Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co. This wine is a blend of Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, and Carinena which was aged for 12-14 months in oak. Alcohol 15%. The nose revealed sweet, ripe black and blue fruit. The mouth followed the nose with savory, weighty, expansive flavors. It tilted towards a more seductive, international style. There was a little grip in the finish along with ripe, sweet tannins.

Mireia Crespillo, Abadal

Mireia Crespillo, Abadal

2008 Abadal, Abadal 3.9, Pla de Bages – $31
Imported by Classic Wines, Inc. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah sourced from Plot 3, Parcel 9 which was aged for 12 months in oak. Alcohol 14%. There were deep aromas of mixed berries and earth which tightened up with air. The wine was more structured in the mouth with purple and red fruit, a wood note, and tart red fruit. The acidity caused some salivation in the finish. Though young with structure it was still easy to drink.

Oriol Bargallo, Pares Balta

Oriol Bargallo, Pares Balta

2008 Pares Balta, Gratavinum, 2PiR, Priorat –
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of Garnatxa, Carinyena, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah which was aged 14 months in oak. Alcohol 15%. In the mouth there were firm, drying tannins with good depth to the fruit. Young. There were some wood notes along with sweet, finely textured ripe tannins. This needs a few years in the cellar.

David Begg, Castillo de Perelada

David Begg, Castillo de Perelada

2005 Castillo de Perelada, Gran Claustro Tinto, Emporda – $50
Imported by Perelada Commercial. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnatxa, and Samso which was aged 14 months in oak. Alcohol 14.7%. This The nose was pungent with raspberry aromas. The mouth gave a sense of age but still has future development. The flavors bore some density and darkness in this savory wine. It was a touch old-school in profile. The structure started to come out as the tannins dried the inside of the lips. It left impressions of cocoa powder.

An Inexpensive Cava You Should Try

January 10, 2013 3 comments

Despana Vinos y Mas has a large selection of Cava.  It is balanced between non-vintage and vintage with bottles at all price ranges.  As with the rest of my purchased I relied on Veronica’s help.   My favorite was the Clos Amador, Brut Delicat at only $11.  In my mind this is a tough price point to get truly good and interesting wine.  Of wines I have recently tasted I can think of 2011 Kermit Lynch Selections, Cotes du Rhone as an example.  Both Jenn and I were immediately attracted to this wine.  It has good complexity that is well-integrated with the bubbles which makes it an outright tasty glass of wine.   I would buy several bottles.  The Bohigas, Rosat is a bit too coarse to drink on its own.  If you must drink it now then do so with food or make a sparkling cocktail with it.  Otherwise I would try cellaring it for a few years.  Honestly, just buy the less expensive Clos Amador.  These wines were purchased at Despana Vinos y Mas.

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NV Clos Amador, Brut Delicat, Cava – $11
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is a blend of 35% Xarel-lo, 35% Macabeo, and 30% Parellada.  It was aged more than 15 months on the lees.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light stone straw.  The nose was light with aromas of apple, yeast, and with air some sweet spices.  In the mouth there were fresh, refreshing flavors which were crisp on the tongue.  It took on lemony fruit then dried chalk notes.  There were very fine bubbles which gently popped leaving a mousse which expanded with ripe, spiced fruit.  Quite nice.  *** Now.

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NV Bohigas, Rosat, Cava – $17
Imported by Polaner Selections.  This wine is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Trepat.  It was aged 9-12 months on the lees.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color is an intense medium copper rose.  The light nose was of dried floral and red fruit.  In the mouth there were firm bubbles which brought forth citrus and red fruit then dissipated into a creamy mousse.  This was followed by moderately ripe, red fruit, and a long, drier finish with some chalky minerals and a hint of earth.  It is a bit coarse right now and could stand a few years in the cellar.  ** 2014-2017.

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Recent Bubbles

From time to time I splurge on Champagne and I recently did so before the inaugural MacArthur Beverages Wine Blogger Tasting.  Before the tasting I joined Frank Morgan and Christian Schiller for a drink and oysters.  This bottle of Vilmart & Cie opened up after one hour and drank very well on the second night.  I do not have much experience with Champagne but I suspect this will benefit from a few years of age.  Definitely at the high-end of three stars.  The Llopart Cava was recently tasted both with and without paella.  It proved enjoyable in both settings and is a Cava one could stock up on.  In my experience $18-$20 seems to be the low-end for good sparkling wine so this is well priced.  Both of these producers have 19th century origins and it is evident why they are still around.  The Pascal Doquet was drunk over a few quiet evenings at home.  On the stronger side of the line it did not have the depth of the Vilmart & Cie but nonetheless was enjoyable a glass at a time.  The first two wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Pascal Doquet was purchased at Wide World of Wines.

NV Vilmart & Cie, Grand Reserve, Brut 1er Cru, Champagne – $40
This is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay which saw some time in foudre.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light, sandy straw.  The light nose is yeast with aromas of ripe apples.  In the mouth there is lovely texture from the fine yet authoritative bubbles which last through the finish.  Ripe structured apple fruit develops with air along with spices.  There is a long gravelly aftertaste of white fruit.  It becomes dry with tannins on the inside of the lips and passing flavors of citrus.  *** Now-2017.

2008 Llopart, Rose Brut, Reserva, Cava – $20
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 60% Monastrell, 20% Garnacha, and 20% Pinot Noir produced using Methode Champenoise.  It was aged for at least 18 months.  Alcohol 11.5% vol, TA 6.2 g/L, 3.2 pH.  The color is a light to medium rose with copper tones.  The light is light to medium in strength with floral, red fruit aromas.  There are moderate bubbles followed by flavors of dried florals, red fruit, and moderate ripeness.  There are even some baking spices.  The moderate finish reveals darker red fruit.  This Cava is quite approachable, pleasing, and dry. Has some structure for aging.  ***  Now-2017.

NV Pascal Doquet, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne – $30
This wine is 100% Champagne from the 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 vintages which was disgorged 05 July 2011.  Alcohol 12.%5, RS 7 g/L.  The yeasty nose reveals light aromas of ripe apples.  In the mouth there are medium bubbles throughout with green apples and some minerals.  Good acidity, length, and robustness.  *** Now-2015.