Two Spanish Favorites

by artfuldiner on April 28, 2014

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Opinion, Wine

Wine DinnerSeveral years ago (OMG… almost 20, actually), I participated in an extensive wine course at the International Wine Center in New York City. One of the highlights for me, personally, was that I came away with a new passion for Spanish wines, which heretofore had been almost completely absent from my radar screen.

Worldwide, Spain ranks third in total wine production. And, perhaps more than any other country, the wines of Spain epitomize the ideal marriage of Old World tradition with New World technology. In addition, Spanish wines represent an incredible value for the wine lover. You inevitably get more for your money with Spanish wines as a whole than you do from any other wine producing country. U.S. imports of Spanish wines have seen a 75% increase in the past five years… And there is no doubt that those imports will continue to grow in the years to come.

Noted below are two recent Spanish favorites…

WINE OF THE MONTH - May 2014-12009 Adega Cachin Peza do Rei Blanco, $20.00 – This intriguing wine is a blend of three varietals that may be unfamiliar to most wine drinkers: 70% Godello; 20% Treixadura; and 10% Albariño.

Godello is a grape variety found primarily in northwest Spain and northern Portugal that is capable of producing very fine white wines. According to British wine writer Jancis Robinson, Godello “combines the structure of white Burgundy with the finesse of a juicily mineral grape.” Treixadura is a blending varietal that adds body and light lemony aromatics to wines. Albariño is also notably used in blending, but recently has emerged as a distinct varietal on its own terms. This grape has a very distinct aroma, similar to Gewürztraminer, and produces wines exhibiting clean, fresh ripe fruit flavors that are refreshingly high in acidity.

The 2009 Peza do Rei Blanco is an incredibly smooth-textured, well-balanced, food-friendly wine that Robert Parker notes will offer enjoyment over the next 4-5 years. Highly rated by both the Wine Advocate and the International Wine Cellar, it is reminiscent of a fine white burgundy – elegant, dry, refreshing – but at a fraction of the cost.

Only 300 cases produced… but there appears to be an abundant supply – for the moment. If you’re searching for a respite from over-oaked Chardonnays, this may be your answer.

WINE OF THE MONTH - May 2014-22010 Bodegas Ondalán Rioja Crianza, $15.00 – Julio Martinez-Bujanada founded Bodegas Ondalán in the Alavesa region of Spain in 1976 for production with grapes exclusively from his own vineyards. He began producing Crianza and Reserva wines in 1999.

Here, perhaps, a bit of explanation is in order… Spanish wines often say crianza, reserva, or gran reserva on the front of the bottle. These terms indicate how a particular wine has been aged; specifically, the amount of time the wine has been aged in oak barrels. Generally speaking, this is an indication of quality, not the style of wine. A wine labeled crianza must undergo two years of aging, with at least one year in oak barrels; reserva wines must have three years of aging, with one year in oak; gran reserva wines must have five years of aging, with two in oak.

The 2010 Rioja Crianza, for example, composed of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Graciano, spent over a year in both American and French oak barrels, which accounts for the soothing hints of vanilla on the palate. And this is really a superb wine – smooth, elegant, and refined – with tightly focused ripe fruit flavors and well-balanced sweet tannins. The finish is long and lingering… and the price is right.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling flush and looking for a bit more potent pizzazz, you might want to give the lovely dark & brooding 2007 Ondalán Rioja Reserva ($25.00) a try.



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