More Wines from Spain

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We're always looking for new wines from Spain.  Lately, we've tapped into a new source.  We bring a few of them in now...but there are still more beauties on the horizon.
La Cigarrera Manzanilla (San Lucar de Barrameda, Jerez, Spain) 375 ml, screwcap bottle, Regular Price $13.25/ Feature Price $11.26
We begin with the lightest and driest of sherries. Technically a fino sherry, Manzanilla is only produced in the unique microclimate of the city of Sanlucar de Barrameda, located on the Mediterranean coast at the estuary of the Guadalquivir River. The wine gets its almost salty tang from the sea air that flows over the open-topped vats in which fermentation takes place. This sea air encourages the growth of a special variety of yeast known as “flor,” which rises to the top of the fermenting wine, creating a blanket that stops oxidation. The resulting wine is delicate and refreshing. The small bottle is convenient, because once you open it, it should be consumed in a short period of time, before you lose its delicacy. In Spain they drink this wine well chilled in little glasses called “copitas.” It’s a summertime treat with salty tapas like Serrano ham, Marcona almonds or olives.
Garcia\ Revalo Casamaro Blanco (Rueda, Spain) Regular Price $13.90/ Feature Price $11.82
I love wines that are made from grapes other than the usual suspects, particularly when the grape is used to make a signature wine of a particular region. This one is mostly Verdejo (vair-DAY-ho), the principal white grape of the region of Rueda, on the southern shore of the great Duero River. The family-owned winery of Garcia\Revalo is in the heart of Rueda, south of the city of Valladolid. They specialize in Verdejo farmed in their century-old vineyards, but they also farm a little Viura on the side. The sandy soil of the vineyard is scattered with the occasional seashell left from when this was the sea floor. That might make you forget that these vineyards are located in central Spain, at an elevation of 3000 feet. These sandy soils provided a natural protection from phylloxera when the pest spread across the region about 100 years ago. So the vines are old (15 to 145 years), with roots that go down deep for the minerals in the soil. The winemakers let the juice run free and then ferment the wine in stainless steel tanks. The result is a stunningly delicious white wine for summer.
Amizade Godello (Monterrei, Galicia, Spain) Regular Price $18.95/ Feature Price $16.11
We move from one native white grape to another, as we travel a bit to the northwest to the tiny region of Monterrei in the heart of Gallicia, on the border with Portugal. The grape is Godello (go-DAY-yo). I don’t think I can describe what it tastes like except to use the catch-all phrase Southerners use for something new - “different.” Of course, for me “different” is a good thing. And this wine is a very good thing. The grapes are from pre-phyloxera centennial vines. Then the juice is fermented with wild yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Six months aging “on the lees” (with the yeast and grape pieces) gives a note of richness. The name Amizade meanings "friendship" in Galician and was made as the house wine for the American friends of the winemaker. Now you can celebrate Galician/American friendship with a wine that’s “different” the good sense.
El Chaparral De Vega Sindoa Old Vines Garnacha (Navarra, Spain) Regular Price $17.50/ Feature Price $14.88
Bodegas NekeasBodegas NekeasWe introduced this one last May and I wrote about it in my blog called “Almost Summer...and These Wines Are Ready”:
Concha Vecino is the energetic winemaker for Bodegas Nekeas and the woman behind this delicious Old Vine Garnacha. She is considered to be THE female winemaker in Spain and a force to be reckoned with in all of southwestern Europe. The vineyards of Bodegas Nekeas are in the Navarra region of Spain, to the northeast of the more famous Rioja region, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The region receives cooling winds from the Atlantic, providing a stable growing season for many types of grape. Narrowing the geographical focus a little more, we come to the most northerly wine region of Navarra, Valdizarbe. This valley is an ancient center on the pilgrimage tour to Santiago de Compostela. Vineyards flourished here to satisfy thirsty pilgrims (and for Communion wine, of course), and monasteries, built by monks who discovered the beauty of the region while making their pilgrimage, dot the route. This is a wine made from old vines between 60 to more than 100 years old from 40 parcels on the hills that surround the town of Añorbe. Those hills are full of Chaparro trees (a type of Spanish oak tree), which is why it’s called “El Chaparral.” Here, winemaker Vecino is working to recover vines and small plots that were abandoned by the old winegrowers because of their low yields. These are also the closest Garnacha vineyards in Spain to the Atlantic Ocean, so they receive cooler breezes at night than those in the central districts. Garnacha is a Spanish native grape (the French stole it and renamed it “Grenache”) that I think of as having the same relationship to Tempranillo as California Zinfandel has to Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempranillo is usually used to make wines that are dry and well-structured, very good with food. Garnacha wines have a softer fruit, almost a plummy flavor that makes them very easy drinking in any circumstance. Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar gave this wine 91 Points and wrote: “This could easily pass for a serious southern Rhone wine and is one incredible value.” That’s high praise indeed...even though he’s comparing the original with the French-ified stolen style.
Come in and decide for yourself.
Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Rosé 2010 (Navarra, Spain) Everyday Price $11.00
We couldn’t have a Spanish wine Feature at the beginning of summer without tasting one the lovely rosés made from the Garnacha grape. So I chose this one from Bodegas Nekeas so you can taste the same grapes, handled by the same winemaker, in the two different styles. The wine is dry, with notes of ripe cherry and raspberry, and just a hint of spice. You can certainly serve it with grilled fish, but I think I’ll be enjoying it while kicked up on the back legs of my favorite porch chair.
Avinyó Cava Rosat Reserva (Penedés, Spain) Regular Price 27.00/ Feature Price $22.95
And now for the star of the show. You know we’re big fans of Cava, the sparkling wine from northeastern Spain. It’s usually a blend of three Spanish grapes - Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. That’s the tradition that founding Avinyó winemaker Joan Esteve Nadal was upholding 50 years ago. But Penedés is just outside of Barcelona, the bustling Euro-modern city we traveled through last week. Barcelona, while fiercely proud of its Catalonian traditions, is definitely open to new ideas and is aggressively open for business with the world at large. The senior Nadal has passed the business on to his forward-thinking Catalan kids, who’ve planted some of the vineyards in Pinot Noir (definitely French). They use free-run juice (lightly pressed) of 100% Pinot Noir grapes for this beautiful sparkler and then age it a full 12 months on the lees. On the label of each bottle of Cava there is an inscription in Catalan that, loosely translated, means: "From the must of the flower (the free run juice) and with the rigor of a work well crafted." Well-crafted, indeed. ¡Salud!
Altos de Luzon 2006 (Jumilla, Spain) Regular Price $20.15/ Feature Price $17.13
Monastrell grapesMonastrell grapesI didn’t leave you “big red” drinkers out. For you we’ve got the wine that wine critic Robert Parker referred to a few years ago as “seriously endowed.” The 2006 vintage keeps up the tradition: “a bruiser...not for the weak” Wine Enthusiast 91 Pts; “Glass-staining ruby.. .with sexy vanillin oak and baking spice accents.” Int’l Wine Cellar 91 Pts; “a full-bodied wine with layers of savory fruit, spicy flavors, outstanding depth and structure, and a lengthy finish” The Wine Advocate 90 Pts. The wine is 50% Monastrell (usually known as Mourvedre), 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Tempranillo and was aged for 12 months in new French and American oak. White teeth be damned! You can handle this big, purple monster.