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A few drinks from our International Gold Cup weekend.

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

GoldCup

Our weekend was dedicated to the International Gold Cup steeplechase held in Virginia.  Between hanging out at home with an old friend and drinking wine at the Gold Cup we went through a variety of wines.  It was a gorgeous, warm and sunny day at the races so I spent my time chatting and tasting.  Which meant I did not take any pictures.  So I have no clue, for example, of what the tasty Barbera d’Alba was we had during the day.  There was an elegant and crisp 2012 Failla, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast.  Between the 2013 Justin, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast and the 2012 Justin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, I preferred the later for being an unapologetically forward Californian wine.  The 2011 Chateau Lilian Ladouys, Saint-Estephe was an herbaceous, Merlot dominant wine that, like the Justin, disappeared before I could taste it again.   The most interesting bottles that I did save include the  2010 Castell d’Encus, Quest, Costers del Segre which is a Bordeaux blend sourced from high-altitude fruit in Spain.  The particular cool factor is that the fruit is fermented in 12th century stone vats located in a mountainside.  The resultant wine had herbaceous, brighter fruit with outstanding crunchy acidity.  The 2007 Mas de Boislauzon, Chateauneuf du Pape and 2007 Mas de Boislauzon, Tintot Special Cuvee, Chateauneuf du Pape were a fun pair.  The former is a Grenache dominated blend that showed secondary flavor complexity, good wood notes, herbs, all at a presently drinkable 13.5% alcohol.  The Special Cuvee is purely Mourvedre.  It possessed even less alcohol but packed more of a flavor punch of earthy fruit.  I think this cuvee might be aged a bit more.  The 2011 Crasto, Superior, Douro showed more polish from oak aging but came across as muted compared to the regular Douoro bottling that is both floral and flavorful.  Finally, the 2008 Alice Bonaccorsi, Val Cerasa, Etna Rosso did not appear to have too many fans.  This is primarily Nerello Mascalese with some Nerello Cappuccio in it.  I rather liked its earthy take and reasonable price so I will follow up on this wine by drinking another bottle at a later date.

 

Wines of Catalunya Tasting at Jaleo

Catalunya1

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.

A Slew of Spanish Tasting Notes

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

There are a tremendous number of Spanish wines available in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia area which are priced below $20 per bottle.   There are decent wines here with some more inspiring than others.  This may not be the most interesting post but perhaps it will help steer you towards or away from selections at a store or restaurant.  The 2010 Bodegas Valhondo was my favorite of the lot and showed better control than the tasty 2009 Clos Pons.  At $12-$15 per bottle the next three wines: the 2009 O. Fournier, 2011 Bodegas del Jalon, and 2009 Can Blau all provide affordable pleasure for drinking over the next several years.  At $10 the 2010 Maximo is an easy drink.  This wines featured in this post were purchased at various stores including Chain Bridge Cellars, MacArthur Beverages, and Total Wine.

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2010 Bodegas Valhondo, Valdrinal, 6, Ribera del Duero – $18
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for 6 months in new oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light nose had a little vanilla and smooth blue fruit.  In the mouth this showed better balance with chiseled ripe red and black fruit which was a touch brambly.  The wine started with a bit of acidity followed by integrated structure.  There were cinnamon flavors to the slightly creamy and pebbly texture in the aftertaste. *** Now-2019.

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2009 Clos Pons, Alges, Costers del Segre – $19
Imported by JW Sieg and Co.  This wine is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo, and 30% Syrah which was fermented in stainless steel tanks.  It was aged for 10 months in new and used 80% French and 20% American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The was a light but heady nose of red jammy fruit.  In the mouth there were strong black cherry flavors, some jammy fruit, and generally lots of flavor.  There was a little spice to this somewhat muscular and dense wine.  With air it let loose a little.  ** Now-2018.

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2009 O. Fournier, Urban, Tinta del Pais, Ribera del Duero – $14
Imported by the Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Tinta del Pais sourced from vineyards at 820 m.  It was fermented in stainless steel than aged for 3 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is a nose of light+ blue and red fruit which becomes darker and a little jammy.  In the mouth there are focused brambly flavors.  The sweet spices leave a little baking spice texture on the tongue.  There is acidity on the back of the tongue which comes out in the finish.  This is not quite a rich wine but certainly hearty and puts on weight with air.  Good for cold nights. ** Now-2018.

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2011 Bodegas del Jalon, Vina Alarba, Garnacha Vinas Viejas, Calatayud – $12
Imported by Artisan Collection.  This wine is 100% Garncha sourced from 50+ year old vines.  It was vinified in stainless steel, concrete, and oak.   Alcohol 14%.  The nose is light and gentle with aromas of red candy then with air, raspberry and strawberry.  In the mouth there is a little ripe red fruit then a touch of racy black and red fruit.  It shows some focus then becomes redder again in the middle.  The tannins are lightly texture and help offer a decent mouthfeel.  This needs 1-2 hours to show best.  The structure comes out in the finish.  ** Now-2015.

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2009 Can Blau, Montsant – $15
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 50% Carinena, 25% Syrah, and 15% Garnacha which was aged for 4 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a light to medium ruby.  The light nose offers up vanilla and sweet spice.  In the mouth the flavors are a little tart and red then become ripe strawberry.  There are fine ripe tannins with blue notes.  There is a core of light acidity which lasts through the finish of sweet spices.  The aftertaste bore tart red fruit along with drying, light to medium tannins.  This is easily drinkable.  ** Now-2017.

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2010 Maximo, Tempranillo, Edicion Limitada, Tierra de Castilla – $10
Imported by Frederick Wildman.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light and gentle nose revealed vanilla and sweet aromas of baking spices and red fruit.  In the mouth there were soft, red cherry candy fruit, candy liquor, acidity, and a gentle personality.  The spices returned as Christmas spice in the finish.  This was an easy, fresh wine for current drinking.  ** Now.

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2008 G del R, Mencia, Bierzo – $16
Imported by Saranty Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose has aromas of red fruit and a little toast.  In the mouth there is a little more concentration than the nose.  There were red fruits, a little black fruit  then a little grapefruit.  The flavors are kind of soft from the lack of acidity.  There was some ripeness.  OK. * Now.