Summer Festival & Sunny Spanish Wines
We’ve got a hot weekend coming up...and I’m not just talking weather.
Here’s what the Little Washington NC website has to say about the Summer Festival:
Get ready for the 32nd Annual Washington Summer Festival THIS WEEKEND! It is the perfect kick-off to summer on the Pamlico and a fantastic end of school celebration. Festivities begin on Friday, June 12th at 5 p.m. Enjoy music, amusements, food, and vendors. The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday followed by Fireworks at 9. On Saturday, events begin at 10 a.m. Music will begin at 5:30 p.m. K-OS and the Mikele Buck Band will entertain the crowds at Festival Park. DockDogs will return this year. See the dogs jump from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and again on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a complete schedule of events planned for the weekend, CLICK HERE.
And whether you’re into the Summer Festival or not, you certainly won’t want to miss another round of tasting Spanish wines. We’ll taste Friday from 4 until 7 and again all day Saturday. We’re pleased to have some family guests, as well. Our daughter Mary and granddaughter Amelia will be in town, having just completed their school year in Asheville. Of course, Chef Yvonne will have some Spanish cheeses for you to taste with the wines, we’ll have Spanish tunes on the box...and it will be COOL inside. íVen a casa!
James the Wine Guy
Some Wines of Sunny Spain
The whites in this Spanish review are all from Northern Spain, because that region has the cool nights that white wine grapes need in order to develop their full complexity and bright acidity. The weather today in Vigo, Galicia calls for a high of 69° and a low of 53°. Grow, little white wine grapes!
NEW 2010 Juvé Y Camps Reserva La Familia Cava Brut Nature (Penedés, Spain) - Regular Price $20.00/ Feature Price $17.00
We couldn’t begin a Spanish wine tasting without a bit of the bubbly of Penedés - Cava. This is a new one for us from a winery with three generations of history and an international reputation for making fine Cava. Reserva de la Familia is the flagship cuvee of the Juvé y Camps estate winery. In the beginning days of their winemaking, the Juvé y Camps family had their own reserve of this Cava, and it is still the only Brut Nature (extra dry) that they make. Made from the free run juice of traditional varieties Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada and a touch of Chardonnay, this is the Cava of choice of Spain’s royal family, and it is regularly served at all official banquets - no fussy French Champagne for los reyes! It is a Gran Reserva that has aged for an average of 36 months in the bottle. This one is from the 2010 vintage (our other Cavas are non-vintage blends) and shows its rich maturity.
Garciarevalo Casamaro Verdejo 2014 (Rueda, Spain) - Regular Price $14.25/ Feature Price $12.11
This is not a new wine for us, but it is a new vintage...and I know some of you have been waiting for its return. It’s a blend of 90% Verdejo (vair-DAY-hoe), the native grape of Rueda, and 10% Viura/Macabeo. The Garciarevalo vineyards are located in central Spain, at an elevation of 900 meters (3,000’). The sandy soils there provided a natural protection from phylloxera when the pest spread across the region about 100 years ago. Those vines still grow today and at an age of 100 to 145 years, they provide a large amount of the free-run juice that is fermented in stainless steel and bottled directly from the tanks. The moderate 12% alcohol makes this a great porch quaffer, and the winery’s website lists such food pairings as “freshwater fish, grilled sausages, young manchego, eggplant, fresh onions and garlic.” Yumm-oh!
Amizade Godello 2011 (Monterrei, Galicia, Spain) - Regular Price $19.50/ Feature Price $16.58
We haven’t had this Amizade (ah-me-ZAHD) Godello yet this summer, having replaced it with Telmo Rodriquez’ Gaba do Xil. But Telmo is behind on this one, his wine not arriving for another couple of weeks. A good chance to return to our old “friend”...which is what Amizade means in Gallego, the language of Galicia. Godello (go-DAY-yo) is a white wine grape that is native to this region just north of the border with Portugal. The grapes are grown on a pre-phylloxera parcel of centenarian vines, with predominantly sandy-slate soils. The site lies in the heart of Monterrei, in a valley where the cool nights extend the viticultural season. Vinification has all been carried out at a very sophisticated facility in the region and has used native yeast with fermentation in temperature-controlled tanks. Bottled after six months of lees aging, this wine drinks well upon release and benefits also from bottle aging, of which it has had 4 years. Time to drink up.
La Caña Albariño 2013 (Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain) - Regular Price $20.75/ Feature Price $17.64
I just Featured this one a few weeks ago, but there’s no reason not to bring it back...it’s that good.
The Rías Baixas (REE-us BI-shahs) area of southwestern Galicia is made up of four bays where rivers enter the Atlantic Ocean. These bays are rich in marine creatures, and Gallego fishermen take full advantage, catching oysters, mussels, scallops and other shellfish. Naturally the winemakers of the region make wines to go with seafood. The main wine grape of the region is Albariño, which makes, in the hands of the right producer, one of the best seafood pairing wines in the world. Wine Spectator - 90 Pts; Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar - 91 Pts
Though most Spanish red wines are made from the Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes, I love the more unique varietals, all of which burst with the ripeness of Spanish sunshine.
Telmo Rodriguez Al Muvedre 2012 (Alicante, Spain)- Regular Price $16.90/Feature Price $14.46
Here is our old friend Telmo Rodriguez, maker of LZ (Rioja), Gazur (Ribera del Duero), Dehesa Gago (Toro), Gaba do Xil Godello (Valeorras), Basa (Rueda) and this wonderfully inexpensive expression of Monastrell, known as Mourvèdre in its homeland of southern France. Typical for Telmo, the grapes are grown on old head-pruned vines and the wine is made in the traditional fashion, with wild yeasts causing fermentation in open topped concrete and stainless steel pots. This is not one of those big, beefy Monastrells we love from Jumilla, but rather - at 13.5% alcohol - actually manages to taste fresh and cool...perfect for summertime.
NEW La Zorra Teso Rufete (Sierra de la Salamanca, Spain) - Regular Price $23.95/ Feature Price $20.36
While I was at the Burlington warehouse of the Haw River Wine Man a case of this wine caught my attention with its cartoon drawing of La Zorra, “the fox.” On closer inspection, I found it was made from Rufete, a grape I didn’t recognize, in Sierra de la Salamanca, a region I didn’t know. So naturally I asked for a sample bottle. Chef Yvonne and I took it home and tried it...and put the empty bottle in the “Delicioso” pile.
Here’s what I found out from the De Maison Selections website: The Sierra de Francia, near the Portuguese border due west from Madrid, is an area mostly known for its incredible ham and as a weekend escape for people from Salamanca. Rugged and mountainous, it is a place of incredible beauty. Much of the area is protected as a national park and as a biosphere reserve. But the Sierra de Francia also holds another treasure: the Rufete (roo-FEH-tay) grape, a rare indigenous variety that can also be found across the border in central Portugal.
Rufete is at the heart of the Sierra de Salamanca D.O., a tiny viticultural area and one of the youngest Spanish D.O.’s. Within this denomination, La Zorra stands out as the most quality driven, forward-thinking winery. From 60+ year old vines on granite and slate soils (pictured), the Teso Rufete is designed to show off the characteristics of Sierra de la Salamanca's native Rufete grape. Vinification with indigenous yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Aged less than 4 months in French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.
And the wine? Light, lively and grapey. Come in and introduce yourself to La Zorra and his delightful Rufete.
Ladera Sagrada A Portela Mencía 2012 (Valdeorras, Spain) - Regular Price $21.30/ Feature Price $18.10
Did you notice last week when we Featured Pinot Noir wines, there wasn’t one from Spain? That’s because, with the exception of the cool weather growing area around Barcelona, they don’t really grow Pinot Noir. I guess they assume it’s French. But I’ve sometimes referred to wines made from Spain’s native Mencía (men-SEE-uh) grape as “Spain’s Pinot Noir.” That’s because these wines have similar characteristics - lighter body, with great flavors of earth and spice. Ladera Sagrada has the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation, one of Mencía’s ancestral homelands. The bodega makes wine using only the best 20% of its grapes. The rest of a given year’s harvest is sold in bulk to other neighboring producers. Ladera Sagrada can source the best quality of grapes in Valdeorras and it has the ability to make the best wine values because it doesn’t need to buy grapes from other growers. This wine would pair with anything you’d eat with Pinot Noir. ¡Viva España! Stephen Tanzer's Int’l Wine Cellar - 90 Pts.
NEW Aster Crianza 2009 (Ribera del Duero, Spain) - Regular Price $24.50/Feature Price $20.82
Ribera del Duero, the region along Spain’s mighty Duero River, is sometimes thought of as the “second region” for reds, after Rioja. But it was named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012. The region does have a long history, probably having been established as a great winemaking area in the 12th Century by Benedictine monks from Cluny in the Burgundy region of France. This wine is 100% Tinta del Pais, the local clone of Tempranillo. Just as in Rioja, wines labelled as "Crianza" must age two years, with 12 months in oak. The Aster was aged 22 months in new barrels - 50% American and 50% French oak. This is a big red wine that arrives in time for summer grilling...and I just couldn’t wait until “Smoke on the Water.” Wine Spectator - “Harmonious and lively.” - 92 Pts