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TN: Spanish Inquisition

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Bill Spohn

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TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Bill Spohn » Thu Sep 09, 2021 6:33 pm

Notes from a blind tasting of Spanish wines.

A friend who was helping me with some food prep work asked me if I’d bet that there would be more or less than a half dozen Riojas presented. I unhesitatingly opted for less and in the end only two Riojas were revealed. Made a nice change from the old days when Spanish, for many, meant Rioja and nothing but.

2019 La Grange Tiphaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Nouveau-Nez – an off theme starter put in by me. This Loire chenin blanc was something that I found interesting. It is a pet nat wine meaning that there is no dosage at bottling as they do in Champagne, they just bottle this before it has completed fermentation and hope to hit it right in terms of spritz. This one has a nice small bubble fiz that dropped off more quickly than a Champagne would, and some very interesting things happening in the nose, rather complicated compared to many Champagnes. Slightly off dry and with good fruit levels this was liked by all.

2020 Bodega Katxina Getariako Txakolina – this white wine made from hondarrabi zuri grapes in the Basque region was another interesting one. The spelling of Basque names had always perplexed me, as the seemingly tossed in an ‘X’ whenever they felt like it and when I visited some years ago, the spelling never did seem to have much relation to the pronunciation of the words. I concluded that it must be a gigantic joke on anyone that isn’t Basque speaking This wine was no joke however. It is clear with a slight pettilance, and has a citrus nose and good acidity levels. Refreshing if not exactly profound.

1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera – this was one of my wines (I actually gave it to my wife to present). I had bought it on release in the mid 90s and assessed it then as a long haul wine. RP had raved about it figuring it was the best vintage in Ribera del Duero for three decades and giving it, the Crianza, 95 points. This was a good bottle – the wine now has garnet-orange edges, lots of wood in the nose, though not as much American oak as many/most Riojas, and it still shows very good balance and fruit. No rush.

2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 – Burgundian colour. And a nose of dill (often found with American oaked wines) and maybe some dried thyme. Lengthy clean dry finish. These traditional Riojas are fun as they are highly polarizing wines. People that can’t tolerate American oak and this sort of dry finish are going to hate it and probably say that it is way over the hill. Those who know these wines will say that this one is still heading for its peak.

2005 Finca Sandoval – my wine. Syrah with 76% Syrah and the rest mourvedre and bobal. FYI, Bobal is not uncommon in Spain (because of its use in bulk wines it has been widely planted) but quality Bobal from higher altitude as a component of serious wines is relatively new. I tasted this early right after delivery and then stuck it away for another 10-15 years of aging. Even today it still shows a lot of purple but the oak is now well integrated and it has some nice cocoa and spice notes. This is not going to knock La Chapelle off the pedestal any time soon, but it has become and an enjoyable syrah.

1998 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera – Damn! Corked.

2010 Cellers de Scala Dei Priorat – I came up in the wine world with old style Priorat – the kind that had so much solid matter in it that you could use it to view a solar eclipse through for at least the first two decades of its life. This is not that style of wine. This one had good bright colour and a nose of berries, but it was also somehow unsatisfying – a bit simple perhaps?

1999 Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Mas La Plana (Black Label) – I had a lot of experience with this wine right from th mid 1970s vintages and always loved it. This one showed an interesting nose that included coffee, chocolate, and cassis, and it was smooth and had medium length. Not in the class of the old classic vintages (when it was called Gran Coronas Reserva and had cab sauv, cab franc and Ull de Lebre - Tempranillo) but it was a well made wine, and quite pleasant.

2005 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia – good colour, a nice mellow woody nose with black cherry and slight mint. Good length, and comples. Finish was quite dry that the nose was slightly oxidative, but neither affected how the wine showed which was very well.

1977 Warres Vintage Port – what do you do with a member who has no Spanish wine? Well you can either swap something with him, or let him bring vintage Port (hey – it is at least Iberian...) I love this wine and am in no rush to consume what remains of my small cache. It has now segued into a wine with slight browning at the edges, and it was sweet and long, if a tad simple.

1994 Broadbent Port – what do you do when the Montecristo #5s come out and the guy that opened the Warres says that we may as well open his back up Port as well. (In case you weren’t sure, the answer is “YES!”). I was slowing down my Port purchasing by this vintage although I do have a half dozen different ones (the Fonseca is killer!). This wine was quite dark and had notes of burnt orange peel, caramel and a hint of VA . It was medium weight and smooth on palate with medium length. This was Bart’s first Port under his own name, done with Niepoort’s guidance. I retasted today and found that it has opened up a bit but had also accentuated the terminal acidity, though not to a degree that hurt the overall assessment of the wine. OK, but certainly not in my ‘sweet spot’ for vintage Port.

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David M. Bueker

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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by David M. Bueker » Thu Sep 09, 2021 7:33 pm

Looks like a lovely tasting.

I have a lot of 2000s LdH Reservas, and am holding most.
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Paul Winalski

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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Paul Winalski » Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:09 am

I wasn't expecting this. :wink:

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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:14 am

Nice tasting Bill..you always deliver!
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Bill Spohn

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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Bill Spohn » Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:17 am

It is more fun now that Jenise and Bob can cross the border again. For the last two years I have been thinking "I wonder what wine Jenise would have brought for this....."
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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Jenise » Fri Sep 10, 2021 2:49 pm

And now you know! FWIW for the bennie of others, I brought the Rioja Alta and the Mas de Plana. Notes soon!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: TN: Spanish Inquisition

by Jenise » Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:02 pm

So my notes. You and I were not in agreement down the line, Bill. And we usually aren't where oxidation is concerned--either I'm more sensitive to it or I just like it less than you. Not sure.

2019 La Grange Tiphaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Nouveau-Nez Chenin Blanc
Very attractive nose with chenin typicity and a slightly off-dry finish. Very nice stuff.

2020 Bodega Katxina Getariako Txakolina Hondarrabi Zuri
Pale and appropriately fizzy with enchanting notes of orange blossom and white melon. Very attractive.

1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera Tempranillo
Medium-pale red with browning toward the edges, much older looking than the '98 also present though only four years age difference, and though it's owner was very happy with it I found it kind of lopsided, lacking the fruit needed to hold up the acidity.

2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 Tempranillo Blend, Tempranillo
Our wine. Initial funk blows off relatively quickly. Classic Rioja in my book: dill evident on the nose with sour cherries and spice tea mingling with dried orange peel into the finish.

2005 Finca Sandoval Manchuela Syrah Blend, Syrah
Really like this. I owned some at one time and am sad to acknowledge now that I drank them way too young. It's not too young now, but neither is it at the end of its life as the CT drink-by dates indicate. Color still in the purple zone with plenty of cocoa and spice. Not typical syrah to the new world palate--no fennel, tar or bacon--but excellent red wine nonetheless and there are plenty of good years ahead for the 643 bottles that remain in CT cellars.

1998 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera Tempranillo
Corked--but clearly would have otherwise been a perfect bottle of aged, but not fully mature, Pesquera. Sad!

2010 Cellers de Scala Dei Priorat Red Blend
Violet nose, and on the palate modern and cloyingly sweet in this company with a big wallop of hot alcohol (15%--feels like more). I'm surprised to see that the average CT price was $72. I didn't get anything 'expensive' about it, even the type of expensive I don't like.

1999 Torres Cabernet Sauvignon (Black Label) Mas La Plana Penedès
My wine. Decanted two hours. Good purple color. Bordeauxish with cassis, blueberry and chocolate. Splendid showing.

2005 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia Tempranillo Blend, Tempranillo
Your end of the table enjoyed this more than mine. The oxidation was not just on the nose but the palate, with pruney ripe flavors. Dave said that "it's a house known for oxidative flavors" but I have had this up and down with Lopez before wherein bottles from two different sources of the same vintage were variable--from one, no oxidation, from the other, oxidation. I have to wonder that if we drank only winery-sourced bottles in-country, would we still think of it as the house style? I am not convinced.

1977 Warre Porto Vintage Port Blend
Taupe-y light red. Light toffee and raisin notes on the nose with graceful length on the finish. As you note less complex than other 77's, but a delight nonetheless.

1994 Broadbent Porto Port Blend
Not decanted in advance. Strong cassis fruit with caramel and black coffee in the background. Substantive texture after the '77 Warre, but not unwelcome. Seemed younger to my I-don't-drink-port-all-that-often self, at least compared to some of the 90's vintage Dows' I've had recently.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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