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Recent Spanish Wines

May 28, 2013 1 comment

The 2009 Scala Dei, Negre is an affordable Priorat and a generous wine on the nose and in the mouth.  I rather liked the flavors but the wine was so full of fruit I could only have a glass at a time.  I did prefer it on the second night when it tightened up.  The 2009 Sandoval, Salia is rather different with its cooler, younger fruit.  While I preferred the 2008 vintage reviewed in Two Wines From Fincs Os Cobatos and Finca Sandoval the 2009 remains serious.  I picked up the 2010 Maurodos, Prima because it was over one year ago since I tasted the 2009 vintage reviewed in A Pair of Affordable Spanish Wines.   I enjoyed this wine and am curious to taste it again in the fall. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Scala Dei, Negre, Priorat – $15
Imported by Aveniu Brands.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from soils of llicorella which was fermented in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was a little loose in the nose with some meaty aromas, sweet tea and herbs, along with blueberry paste.  In the mouth it was forward and full of berries and blue fruit.  There was a soft start,  spicy fruit in the middle, a hint of heat in the finish along with dried herbs and some minerals.  There were gobs of flavor in this lush wine, it eventually took on some grip the second night.  ** Now.

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2009 de Finca Sandoval, Salia, Manchuela – $17
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 49% Syrah, 30% Garnacha Tintorera, and 21% Garnacha Tina which was aged for one year in American oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of red cherries, cork, woodsy aromas, and herbs.  In the mouth there was some texture to the red fruit before taking on a little blue and black fruit.  There was a cool-climate aspect to this young wine.  ** 2014-2016.

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2010 Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos, Prima, Toro – $17
Imported by Grapes of Spain.  This wine is a blend of Tinta do Toro and Garnacha which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was low-lying with aromas of blue fruit and tobacco.  In the mouth there was a bit more thickness with flavors of vanilla, red, and blue fruits.  The flavors were fine and powdery with a low-lying nature.  The sweet tannins coated the lips leaving the dual impressions of being a young wine for the cellar but also one which should be drunk now.  ** Now-2015.

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“Spilled not a drop”: Vintage After Vintage of Moët & Chandon and Krug Champagne

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This past Wednesday I was fortunate to attend a spectacular tasting hosted by Seth Box, the Director of Education for Moët-Hennessy USA.  He was accompanied by Michelle Desrosiers of Moët-Hennessy USA and by Maria Denton, the Moët-Hennessey Portfolio Manager at Washington Wholesale Liquor Company.  The tasting was held in The Graham Georgetown which has been open a mere three weeks.

Maria, Michelle, and Seth

Maria, Michelle, and Seth

Seth Box is not only the Director of Education but he is also studying towards the Master of Wine.  His knowledge and passion for wine combined with his energy clearly matched the outstanding array of wines he had chosen to open.  Seth’s position requires him to travel around the country but his time is not spent simply educating those in the business, he tries to get wine lovers to drink Champagne.  Moët-Hennessey has a strong Champagne portfolio so after people start drinking Champagne then an appreciation for mature vintages may be developed.

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Seth chose to highlight different cuvées and vintages from Moët & Chandon and Krug.  These are two very different houses with Moët& Chandon avoiding any intrusion of oxygen and Krug embracing oxygen through barrel fermentation.  He was quick to point out that the use of barrels is for oxygenation purposes and not to impart wood flavors.  When asked what type of vessels Krug stores their reserve wines in, Seth recalled the answer he received when he once asked the very same question. Do you ask a chef what type of spoon or pot they use?  It turns out they use stainless steel tanks of various sizes.  For more about Krug please see my post An Evening of Krug.  Because Krug see oxygen at a young age it has a very different aging profile and robustness compared to Moët & Chandon.  This was particularly evident in tasting the 1992 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut whose color was yellow with youthful flavors.  The 1989 Krug, Brut Collection had a golden, nutty color with mature, earthy flavors.

Tim and Sarah

Tim and Sarah

One treat was the 1996 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque.  The Dom Pérignon bottles are released across three plenitudes which reflect their ideal drinking window.  The first plenitude is eight years after the vintage and is named Cuvée Dom Pérignon.  The second plenitude occurs 12-15 years after the vintage and is the first Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque.  The third plenitude occurs some 30-40 years after the vintage and is the second Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque release. Thus our 1996 was a second plenitude release.  A third plenitude release would be from the 1960s or 1970s.  The dosage changes with the release.  At first it may be as high as 7-8 g/L but after year seven or eight it may drop down to 4-5 g/L.

Isaac, Lily, Scott, and David

Isaac, Lily, Scott, and David

For me the Champagne was the focus of the evening.  Seth had also brought 1997 Chateau d’Yquem, old Glenmorangie, and Hennessy as well but such a quantity of excellent Champagne had been opened that there was no need for more.  Earlier this year I became hooked on Krug.  Now I am hooked on mature Champagne thanks to the generosity of Seth, Maria, and Michelle.

“I have descended, like a second Aeneas, to the lowest deep of the Tartarean grottoes possessed by Messrs. Moet and Chandon, of Epernay; I have gone down the steps beside which a black marble tablet, with letters of gold, informs the visitor that Napoleon the Grand did exactly the same thing”

Dickens, Charles.  Household Words, Volume XI.  Dix & Edwards, New York, 1855.

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2004 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut, Champagne
There was a firm touch with firm bubbles, flavors of apple, spice then a textured mousse.  There was acidity on the sides of the tongue with a darker aftertaste.

2002 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Rosé, Champagne
There were dried rose flavors with textured, large bubbles which expand in the mouth with a gentle weight.  This was very fresh with textured acidity on the ti of the tongue.  This was a lovely, minerally wine with a drier finish and subtle lees note.  Very special.

1996 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque, Champagne – $399
The nose was intent with more piercing and precise aromas, finely articulated, and improved with warmth.  In the mouth the flavors were richer with mature nose, spices, and a white wine-like nature.  Undeniably beautiful with balance, long aftertaste and haunting flavors.  Still youthful.  Outstanding.

1992 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut, Champagne – $299
The color was surprisingly youthful.  There was a spiced texture to the flavors, almost gravelly.  There was dry flavors, some ripe spices, yellow fruit, and fresh acidity.  Young with potential for continued development.

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“You may depend upon it, we all did justice to the good things, and as we washed them down with bumpers of sparkling Krug, whilst we sped along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, agreed it was the fastest living we had ever experienced.  (We beat that, however, two days afterwards when we made twenty-seven miles in twenty-seven minutes, while our Champagne glasses filled to the brim spilled not a drop!)”

Twain, Mark.  Roughing It.  American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut. 1872.

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2000 Krug, Brut, Champagne – $359
The nose was interesting with aromatic pungent and floral aromas.  The mouth followed the nose with a vibrant quality on the lips and tongue which matched the textured bubbles.  They readily burst into a very soft mousse with the lees persisting into the aftertaste.  The acidity was on the sides of the tongue with a chalky finish and a hint of tartness.  The aftertaste was very long.  Outstanding.

NV Krug, Brut Rosé, Champagne – $299
This had a lees start with softer bubbles and gentle mousse which faded quickly.  The acidity hit the tip of the tongue with a riper start and drier, textured finish.  So easy to drink.

1989 Krug, Brut Collection, Champagne – $659
This was a nutty, golden color in the glass.  The nose was complex with mature aromas, lees, and mushrooms. In the mouth there were earthy, mature flavors mixing with a tickle of bubbles and mousse.  It picked up liveliness in the finish which was followed by a soft, gentle aftertaste.  A very beautiful, nutty old wine which first captivates you with its nose.  Outstanding.

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2009 Terrazes de los Andes, Malbec, Las Compuertas, Lujan de Cuyo – $59
The nose was subtle and a little pungent with red fruit aromas.  There was a savory start in the mouth then racy, rich, grapey flavors came out and felt textured in the lips.  This youthful wine mixed with ripe spices.

2007 Cheval des Andes, Vistalba, Lujan de Cuyo – $59
The nose was darker and more pungent, with dark, weighty berry aromas.  The flavors were thicker in the mouth with surprisingly foggy expansion.  There was plenty of flavor with a subtle structure made from ripe tannins.  The red and black flavors became tart with a little racy aspect in the finish.  The structure came out in the aftertaste along with salty, black fruit.

2009 Bodega Numanthia, Termanthia, Toro – $260
This was more complex with focus to the dark fruit, vanilla and smoke notes.  There were fine tannins, dark roast notes, a hint of lipstick, and some spices in the dry finish.  It did manage to keep some focus, making for a fine, seductive drink.  I should know for I went back to finish the last bit of the bottle!

2008 Bodega Numanthia, Numanthia, Toro – $55
This was salty with obvious structure and very fine tannins.  Though very focused and a bit young at this point, it maintained attraction.

David, Frank, and the author

David, Frank, and the author

A Meaty Wine from Toro

Bodegas Covitoro was founded in 1974 by a group of wine makers.  Today the winery is equipped with latest technology and produces wine from some 900 hectares in Toro.  This was a solid wine which provided ample meaty and smoky notes.  If that sounds appealing then you will be sure to enjoy this solid bottle.  This wine is available at Wine World & Spirits in Seattle.

2006 Bodegas Covitoro, Gran Cermeno, Toro – $17
Imported by Beacon Wine Company.  This wine is 100% Tinta de Toro which was aged for 12 months in American oak casks.  This wine looked a touch older with a light to medium color of ruby with garnet.  The nose revealed toasty, meaty aromas.  In the mouth there were meaty, bacon flavors, mineral notes, and flavors which stuck to the mouth.  There was a nice shining blue and black mineral note which became refreshing and chewy in the aftertaste.  The tannins coated the sides of the tongue.  ** Now-2017.

A Pair of Affordable Spanish Wines

I occasionally try $10 bottles of wine to see if they are appropriate for daily drinking or larger-scale entertaining.  I can certainly think of several $12 wines that have personality and are tasty, which I have personally served at our house.  However, the $10 range is a bit tricky.  This bottle of 2010 Pinol, Ludovicus is priced at $10.  While I did not mind it, Jenn did not want to drink it.  The notes of pruned fruit and impression of softness were too distracting so I would pass on this one.  We have drunk the Maurodos, Prima before but somehow I never managed to write down a tasting note.  Though priced a few more dollars than I would prefer, it is still a respectable buy for a wine which requires time to develop for a few years.  These selections are currently at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Celler Pinol, Ludovicus, Terra Alta – $10
Imported by OLE Imports.  This wine is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, 15% Carinena, 15% Tempranillo, and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was sourced from vineyards at 1,200 feet on soils of  clay and brown limestone.  It was aged for four months in French and American oak barrels.  There was tighter, structured blue fruit with a floral hint at first then some pruned fruit flavors as wood tannins and spice come out.  The fruit is a bit soft in how it feels but eventually develops some texture.  There is a bit of freshness in the finish.  ** Now-2015. Find it at Add to Cart.

2009 Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos, Prima, Toro – $17
Imported by Grapes of Spain.  This wine is a blend of 90% Tinta de Toro and 10% Garnacha which aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  There was a subtle nose of mixed fruit.  In the blue flavors of blue and red fruit are ripe with a gentle spice.  There is a tart lift in the middle with cherry flavors (and something like blue candy) along with some dark spice.  This need a few years to open up but has potential.  **(*) 2014-2019. Find it at Add to Cart.

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.

Spanish Wines with Jan and Rick

September 20, 2011 3 comments

Steve, Erica, Bryan, Jan, Rick, Aaron, and Valerie

This past weekend Jan and Rick hosted a Spanish themed dinner.  Each couple brought a course and wine to go with it.  We started off with glasses of Monistrol Cava on the deck, surrounded by candles, and pictures from their trip to Spain.  Erica and Bryan brought out appetizers of roasted peppers with sherry vinegar and fresh herbs along with puffs stuffed with anchovies and other goodies.  This was accompanied by the Papirusa sherry.  We then moved inside to tuck into the meatballs in a tomato sauce and tortilla which were washed down by the Torremilanos, Cyclo brought by Jenn and myself.  The pork-fest continued when Jan and Rick brought out a massive platter of roast pork accompanied by onions, a Pedro Ximenez based sauce, and spinach.  We debated the “rock star” description of the Celler Cecilio as it did not induce us to start trashing the dinning room.  Instead there was an ah-ha moment when we found notes of stone.  Finally, everyone made room for Steve and Valerie’s Machego, Mahon, and spicy Spanish sausage.  More glasses quickly appeared so we could try their Los Arcos, La Gitana, and Finca Sobreno wines.  I did not write down any tasting note so I have included my impressions below.

Bodegas Marques de Monistrol, Seleccion Especial Brut, Cava
This is a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada.  This is the sister cuvee to the Brut Rose that just was just Commended with two stars from Decanter.  An approachable, easy to drink Cava with soft, small bubbles with a light, central vein of sweet apples and citrus.  It finished clean. ** Now.

2006 Finca Torremilanos, Cyclo, Ribera del Duero
Finca Torremilanos is imported by Grapes of Spain.  This is a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Blanca del Pais sourced from the 85-year-old Roble Viejo vineyard and the 150 year old Senoritas vineyard.  This drank great one hour after being double-decanted.  A medium strength nose of dark cherries and black berries that continue in the mouth.  The rich, concentrated flavors have a lovely texture and expand through the mouth and juicy finish.  The wine was balanced and not heavy so it was an easy, pleasurable drink.  Will easy last for many years to come but is lovely to drink right now. **** Now-2019.

2008 Celler Cecilio, Negre, Priorat
Celler Cecilio is imported by Vin de Terra Imports of Springfield, Virginia.  This is a blend of 50% Red Grenache, 20% Carignan, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah.  The grapes were fermented in stainless steel using natural yeasts then rested for six months in stainless steel and used oak before bottling.  This showed redder fruit with aromas and flavors of raspberries that were supported by lively acidity.  Described as a “rock star” wine there are mineral flavors in this wild and structured wine. *** Now-2017.

2007 Finca Sobreno, Toro
Finca Sobreno is imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 30-year-old vines.  The grapes were fermented in stainless steel then aged for seven months in American oak.  A pleasurable, ripe wine of dark berries, that is drinking well now. ** Now.

Lustau, Papirusa, Light Manzanilla
Lustau, Los Arcos, Dry Amontillado
Hidalgo, La Gitana, Manzanilla
I only took a picture of the Los Arcos.  The Papirusa was dry, salty, and very crisp.  The Los Arcos was rather enjoyable with the dry flavors of  nuts, green apple acidity, and hints of sweetness. Not Rated.

Steve, Bryan, Rick, Valerie, Jenn, Aaron, and Jan