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Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Robin Garr » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:46 pm

Following this year's broad focus, we had so much fun with Italy in February, let's do Spain in March! Spain, Spain, all of Spain, from Jerez to Rioja Alta, from Galicia to Barcelona; red, pink and white and Sherry and Manzanilla too. Bring 'em all on, and maybe we can learn a little more about Spanish wine regions, grapes and the wines that are not to be missed!
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:34 am

Buena idea!! Will be a great month.
I did go to a sherry tasting last month and it was of real interest. Alberta is not a sherry area and they hardly seem to move off the shelf. What about the area you folks live in here?
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:52 pm

TN: 2013 Telmo Rodrigues Rueda El Transistor.

Always a lightly oaked white, think around $24 Cdn. Good fruit, tad creamy, nice acidity. Herbal and hint of spice. "Velvety" from across the table, and has a typical sharp edge to the finish. One of the better balanced whites from this promising area. Another Telmo fave here in AB. 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura.

*** I am so in the mood I am gonna open my Lustau Oloroso :D. Sherry mood anyone?
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by JC (NC) » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:41 pm

I only own a couple sherries but may open them this month. Will probably open a Spanish red or two first.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain long& boring

by Tim York » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:37 am

I don't count myself in any way an expert in Spanish wine and I'm hoping that someone will come along here who can give a good overview of the present day situation. One thing that is clear, however, is that the Spanish wine scene is almost as diverse as the Italian (see link to a wine map with brief notes on regions http://winefolly.com/review/map-of-spain-wine-regions/ ) and even more under transformation with the result that knowledge and experience a few years old is no longer valid.

When I frequently visited Spain for business reasons in the late 60s and 70s, there were only two wine regions which really counted and whose wines were offered to guests. For table wines there was Rioja with its long barrel aged reds and whites, the best of which came as a real revelation to me with their classical shape, gently sensuous flavours and velvety texture. For starters and tapas, there was Jerez - sherry with which, as a Brit, I was already familiar but it was served in Spain from freshly opened bottles and very cool, which was also a revelation compared with the lukewarm and dull liquid served at home by Victorian aunts from dusty decanters. The darker and sweeter types of sherry which were also often served in the UK at that time did not seem much in evidence in Spain. Vega Sicilia from the Ribera del Duero was talked of with reverence but I never came across it then.

Nowadays the situation has completely changed. In some ways the Spanish wine scene seems almost like the New World’s. People are making ambitious wine all round the country, even in the Canary and Balearic islands, are chasing Parker and WS points and in many cases have been going overboard with extraction, high alcohol and new oak ageing. A big difference, however, from the New World is that it is traditional wine regions which are being upgraded with mainly local grape varieties being used. For me one of the most exciting examples of this can be found in the North-West of Spain which enjoys a cool damp Atlantic climate and where the DOs like Rias Baixas, Valdeorras, Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and others are making wine of a freshness and fruit unlike others in Spain from the varieties like Albariño and Godello in white and Mencia in red. However other regions are undergoing a similar renaissance in warmer climate styles. One leitmotif which I have found in many offerings from all regions has been an international wine making approach which, regrettably for me, blurs terroir and varietal characters. Those who, unlike me, are in touch with present developments say that there is a retreat from the over-extracted and over-oaked style. Nevertheless I think great care is still needed in selection.

Meanwhile Rioja and sherry trudge on. The latter has fallen off most radar screens with its unfashionable oxidised style; a great shame IMO and as a result it offers some of the finest QPR in the world with really individualistic and classy wines at very affordable prices

On the other hand Rioja has become hugely popular and its scene has become very confused, at least for me. It would make it an eminently suitable subject for a Wine Focus :D . There are oceans of cheapish plonk labelled Rioja whose sweet fruit, prominent oak and high alcohol make them very popular in the UK and other N.European countries. There are ambitious “modern” producers who have abandoned the traditional Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva hierarchy and extended ageing, usually in used American barrels, in favour of high extraction and shorter ageing in new oak barriques, sometimes French. And there remain some “traditional” producers.

My experience of “modernists” has mostly been confined to tastings of young examples, Roda is one, where in most cases I have found the burgeoning oak flavours and high alcohol very discouraging. Notable exceptions for me are Contino and San Vicente which at 10+ years old seem to make a harmonious bridge between the two styles whilst some "modern" cuvées from Sierra Cantabria with about 10 years age seem to balance the rich fruit with the wood and the alcohol very successfully.

The problem with recommending “traditionalists” is that it takes at least 20 years to find out if the wines are still as superb as the best from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Standard bearers of this style are Lopez de Heredia’s Viña Tondonia, various cuvées from La Rioja Alta and CVNE’s Imperial and Viña Real but many voices claim that only the first remains fully up to standard. Lately a new bodega, Hermanos Peciña with its Señorío de P. Peciña, has appeared on the scene producing in the “traditional” style and I was very impressed by several bottles, particularly Gran Reserva 1998.

After this long preamble, I turn to last night’s white Rioja. In the 60s and 70s, most white Rioja was quite oxidative and was often subject to extended ageing in the wood before bottling and then in the bottle afterwards. It could be superb if one likes that style but it was often dried out and dull (lesser reds too). I believe that there is still a superb Viña Tondonia made in that style and maybe others but most producers have now moved away to make in a more fashionably conventional and fresher style. This one made, mainly from Viura (AKA Macabeo/Macabeu), is an entry level cuvée from CVNE which I think quite successful in this way –

2015 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Blanco - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (3/3/2017)
It's a long time since I had a white Rioja and I wasn't sure what to expect. I feared a wine dominated by American oak. In the event I was very agreeably surprised. Medium bodied with lively citrus dominated tropical fruit, some slightly creamy underlying roundness, minerals and fresh acidity. Good.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain long& boring

by Robin Garr » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:56 am

Tim York wrote: In some ways the Spanish wine scene seems almost like the New World’s. People are making ambitious wine all round the country, even in the Canary and Balearic islands, are chasing Parker and WS points and in many cases have been going overboard with extraction, high alcohol and new oak ageing.

This, to me, succinctly states the huge problem with Spain. And worse, because of ParkerSpeckification, these form the vast bulk of Spanish wine in the US. :cry:
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:25 pm

I think Tim has written a very nice introduction and I have to agree in most of the facts. I dabble in Spain quite a fair bit, am keen to try new wines I see on the shelf but avoid RP/WS shelf talkers. The whites I try are always of interest and I am keen to sample most I come across downtown. The reds however are a different story and it can be a minefield out there so I try to stick with recognised producers, but even then one could be in for a surprise.
I am quite a Telmo Rodrigues fan and traditional Rioja producers. I also look out for Descendientes de J.Palacios. Have dabbled with Mencia, avoided Priorat ($$$?) and am keen to taste some more sherries after a recent tasting. Some here will remember Victor, he was very well informed and a wine producer. I miss him.

http://www.cellartours.com/spain/spanish-wine-regions/
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:05 pm

Scroll down after the Swiss articles and there you go...Spain!! David posts on the UK forum and is a wonderful writer.

https://wideworldofwine.co/

Guess I should have mentioned Godello and Albarinho in my previous post above. I have also dabbled with Garnacha, especially from the area of Catalunya and I do have a couple of 2014s I will post on. Just doing some research now I looked up Rias Baixas and found that there are 5 sub-divisions that will definately be of interest. You guys on the east coast should have some fine choices eh.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Sun Mar 05, 2017 4:26 am

Thanks, Bob, for that link to David Crossley's excellent blog. Those are just the sorts of recommendation which I need to get me to venture into unfamiliar names with minimum risk of unbalanced alcohol and big oak. I'll see if I can find any of them at Decantolo.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Jenise » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:44 pm

Joining Tim and his note on that Viura, here are two I had just two weeks ago. This was at a blind tasting where unbeknownst to anyone, two guys each brought a different vintage of this viura.

2008 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Viura
Deep yellow color. Peach, meyer lemon and raw cashew flavors. Sherryish from being under flor but heavy/oxidated and kind of unctuous for me, and far less attractive than this same wine in 2015.

2010 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Viura
Speaking of two years, here's one two years younger than the first. The were clearly similar, but this was fresher and brighter with high-toned lemon notes giving life and balance to the deliberate oxidative notes. So sherryish again, but stopping short of oxidated.

Clearly this style is very much a taste thing. Put me down for liking it in small doses.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:57 pm

That`s pretty cool Jenise, almost unlikely eh.

Here is a (repeat) note on the Cab Franc from Aljibes that I posted on in last years Cab Franc thread. Just opened a second bottle and hardly any evolution.

TN: 2011 Aljibes Cabernet Franc Chinchilla de Montearagon, Castilla-La Mancha.

Watery cherry rim but a rich medium to deep intense centre.
Aromatic nose on opening...pepper, spice, berryish, blackcurrant, no green peppers or olive. No veggie tones either. All is good!
Initial entry thought is dry-ish, soft tannins, lengthy finish, not quite a new world style. Crisp acidity here for sure with cherry, blackberry, pepper and spice. Very good fruit balance here, herbal, hint of ripeness on day 2. "Hints of green pepper" from across the table "with a big monthfeel". This CF only gets better on day 2 with more character one looks for (in a CF). Especially olives. Big success for sure, CT has some interesting notes on this area of Spain.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:04 am

Jenise wrote:Joining Tim and his note on that Viura, here are two I had just two weeks ago. This was at a blind tasting where unbeknownst to anyone, two guys each brought a different vintage of this viura.

2008 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Viura
Deep yellow color. Peach, meyer lemon and raw cashew flavors. Sherryish from being under flor but heavy/oxidated and kind of unctuous for me, and far less attractive than this same wine in 2015.

2010 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Viura
Speaking of two years, here's one two years younger than the first. The were clearly similar, but this was fresher and brighter with high-toned lemon notes giving life and balance to the deliberate oxidative notes. So sherryish again, but stopping short of oxidated.

Clearly this style is very much a taste thing. Put me down for liking it in small doses.


Jenise, I wonder if my white Rioja from CVNE will go the same way as yours from Murrieta in a few years. Would my TN have applied more or less to the 2015 Murrieta?

Out of curiosity I would like to try a highly reputed and frankly old style one, like Tondonia, with several years on it but I suspect that it would cost a lot. The last I had like that was probably in the 90s :!:
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Jenise » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:35 pm

Tim, I've had other white Riojas that didn't show like this at all--an 07 Remelluri for instance 2-3 years ago. It's not so much the grape as whether or not the producer allows/encourages, not sure which is more correct, a flor to develop. For all I know, MdM makes some that don't--maybe this is specific to the Capellania.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Joe Moryl » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:46 pm

Jenise wrote:Tim, I've had other white Riojas that didn't show like this at all--an 07 Remelluri for instance 2-3 years ago. It's not so much the grape as whether or not the producer allows/encourages, not sure which is more correct, a flor to develop. For all I know, MdM makes some that don't--maybe this is specific to the Capellania.


FWIW, I believe a white Rioja raised under flor is a bit of an oddity.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:52 am

Hi Joe, anything special you have in line for us this month :D.

Being a traditionalisto, here is one for you Rioja fans!

TN: 2008 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva.

Medium to deep ruby in color with some rim bricking.
Nice aromatic nose with dill, cigar box, strawberry maybe? Love the spice and trad aroma, no mistaking this one for sure. 20 months new oak, initial entry thought is cherry dry, still has good tannins. Softened up by day 2 though. Pepper, cassis, plum, this reserva has a nice mix of elegance fruit and body. Medium acidity, spice is there too. Think it is drinking well now, went well with veal schnitzel and garlic mashed potatoes.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:31 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Hi Joe, anything special you have in line for us this month :D.

Being a traditionalisto, here is one for you Rioja fans!

TN: 2008 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva.

Medium to deep ruby in color with some rim bricking.
Nice aromatic nose with dill, cigar box, strawberry maybe? Love the spice and trad aroma, no mistaking this one for sure. 20 months new oak, initial entry thought is cherry dry, still has good tannins. Softened up by day 2 though. Pepper, cassis, plum, this reserva has a nice mix of elegance fruit and body. Medium acidity, spice is there too. Think it is drinking well now, went well with veal schnitzel and garlic mashed potatoes.


Bob, are you sure that all those barrels, in which this wine spends 20 months, are new? I think that would achieve an oak bomb. Closer to typical for traditional producers, if Baron de Ley is one, would be the 10% new used for Viña Tondonia.

Here is an interesting note from the Lopez de Heredia website which I quote in full.

"As its name indicates, "ageing" is a period of both formation and correction and also the refining of the young wine. In the barrel, controlled oxidation via the pores of the wood forges the personality of the future wine.

Together with other biochemical compounds and mechanisms, esters and aldehydes are the result of this oxidation, and form substances which give a wine its perfume and flavour, intensified and rounded off through ageing.

In winemaking terms, "barrel ageing" is the time the wine stays in the barrel and "bottle ageing" is a further period of development in the bottle. These processes complement each other, and produce a more stable wine with refined aroma, elegant colour, and delicate flavour.

The end result will depend on the type of oak used, the age of the barrel and the number of rackings that take place.

In López de Heredia, barrel ageing takes place in barrels made of oak from the United States, as has been said. New barrels form l0%; middle-aged barrels (l0 years old) form 50%; and the rest are more than l0 years old.

The effort of ageing our own barrels is understandable and justified, if we look at our method of natural stabilisation for wines. Both flavour and aroma-transfer from the oak to the wine, as well as porosity, reduce with age, and so it would be unproductive to use old barrels if the intention was to maximise the contribution made by the wood in the shortest space of time.

For this reason, in our bodega, wine is not filtered. Stabilisation results with the passage of time, in peace and quiet, with continual racking and without accelerating the natural developmental process of the wine. It therefore involves having barrels of different ages, making the oldest into recipients in which wines stabilise patiently, providing moderate oxidation and the disappearance of a woody flavour and aroma.

Finally we can say that controlling the development process in all its aspects allows us the option of choosing the most suitable alternative at any point, thus guaranteeing the perfect development of our wines throughout the long and crucial period of ageing."
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:52 am

OOOH, let me check. You might have a good point Tim but see below from website>

Ageing: After 20 months ageing in new American-oak casks, a further 24 months rounding off in the bottle has brought it to its moment of plenitude.
Tasting notes: Ruby-red colour. On the nose it surprises you with its powerful fruity character mingling with reminders of its noble ageing, traces of coconut, toffee and attractive wild herb nuances. After a powerful attack the sensation of soft, supple volume gradually extends across the palate to end with a long finish. In the aftertaste you are again reminded of the red-berry fruit mingled with hints of wild herbs.


I checked the 2009 Lan Reserva...15 months.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:18 am

It looks as if you are right about that, Bob. If I read that "new" + "American" before reaching for the bottle, I would steer clear. But what do I know? :?
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:23 pm

TN: N.V. Emilio Lustau (Almacenista) Jerz-Xeres-Sherry Oloroso Pata del Gallina 1/38 Jarana.

20 years old and comes from the oldest solera holding 38 butts. Deep amber color, very attractive. Splendid aromas of walnuts, molasses, quite toffee-ish. Dried fruits, old oak, "figs" from across the table.
Initial entry thought is dried nuts, hint of sweetness, clove for sure. Think some orange zest here along with medium level of acidity. "Nice richness, nutty, powerful" as we tuck into dates and manchego.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by JC (NC) » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:40 am

Sounds yummy including the snack of nuts and Manchego.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:18 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:TN: N.V. Emilio Lustau (Almacenista) Jerz-Xeres-Sherry Oloroso Pata del Gallina 1/38 Jarana.

20 years old and comes from the oldest solera holding 38 butts. Deep amber color, very attractive. Splendid aromas of walnuts, molasses, quite toffee-ish. Dried fruits, old oak, "figs" from across the table.
Initial entry thought is dried nuts, hint of sweetness, clove for sure. Think some orange zest here along with medium level of acidity. "Nice richness, nutty, powerful" as we tuck into dates and manchego.


It sounds delicious, Bob. I looked this up on Wine Searcher and found it available in several places in Europe for c.€20 for 50cl. That's not given away but is still excellent value for the quality you describe. Similar quality Madeira is several times more expensive. We should profit from sherry's excellent value for money before the world wakes up :D . I even found one French supplier but he is much more expensive than €20. I can't work out why "foreign" wines are so overpriced here :shock: .

Given the "hint of sweetness", I suppose this one was an Oloroso classed as "dulce".
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Jenise » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:49 pm

Joe Moryl wrote:FWIW, I believe a white Rioja raised under flor is a bit of an oddity.


I would guess so--that takes some work, so it's more expensive to produce, for one. But still, I wouldn't rule out that it's a lot more common over there, either because there's little interest on this end or because there isn't enough produced to export much.
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Tim York » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:30 am

I have has both very good and very bad Garnacha (AKA Grenache) based wines from Spain. The most favoured area for their production seems to be inland in the N.East of the country roughly within 100km to the west of the city of Zaragoza (see map linked to my first post in this thread).
So far I have preferred entry level examples. Last night’s was a good one as was another a few months ago; both were produced by the Scottish MW, Norrel Robertson, who specialises in that grape and area. However the more ambitious Tres Picos a couple of years ago was a real horror; it had been a Parker wine value of the year :shock: .

Here are the TNs –

2012 La Multa Garnacha Calatayud Old Vine - Spain, Aragón, Calatayud (3/8/2017)
Under screwcap, which is unusual for Spanish wine and for bottles bought in France. Deep colour and nose shy at first but developing nice fruit and gentle spiciness with some air. Medium+ bodied palate with nice bramble infused fruit with more spice, aromatic overlay, decent acidity and backbone. The 14.5% alcohol was well balanced by the wine's substance and there was no obtrusive oak presence and no cloying, recurrent bugbears with Spanish wines marketed in N.Europe. Good.
Image

2013 El Escoces Volante Calatayud Papa Luna - Spain, Aragón, Calatayud (10/10/2016)
A very attractive medium++ bodied Garnacha dominated wine. Full of dark berried fruit, mainly blackberry with a raspberry edge, spice, a touch of leather, minerals and fresh acidity with nice grip on the finish. Unlike many Grenache dominated wines it avoided excessive sweetness and opulence of fruit and consequent cloying and carried its high alcohol (14.5%) gracefully. It was hard to avoid finishing the bottle in one sitting. Good++ wine and good QPR at €9 in an expensive store which make me think that it can be found for less elsewhere.
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2012 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos - Spain, Aragón, Campo de Borja (7/31/2014)
This wine is a caricature of all that I dislike in "modern" interventionist wine-making. Some concentrated (and potentially attractive?) brambly fruit is swamped by a spine of dry caramel (undigested wood) and the finish is more than spicy - it is burning and abrasive. We were unable to drink more than a glass each. I strongly doubt whether more age would render this wine more drinkable for me but I'm keeping back the undrunk two-thirds of the bottle to see what a day open brings. Ugh!!
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Re: Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:41 am

Have a few Garnacha on my monthly horizon here Tim but thankfully no Borsao! Awful wine.
Are you having any luck finding Telma Rodrigues? Maybe Joe will find some in his area eh.
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