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New and Noteworthy: Few Spanish Wine Samples

May 16, 2017 3 comments

If you read this blog for any period of time, you know that Spanish wines have my unquestionable love. From Rioja to Rias Biaxas to Priorat to La Mancha – Spain offers lots of tasty wines, often at an unbeatable value.

Spanish wines

I would rarely refuse a sample of Spanish wines, as this is the best opportunity to try new vintages and share my thoughts. What you can see below are few of the samples I got during February and March – all new vintages and all should be available right now at your favorite wine store.

Bodegas Beronia well known for its Rioja wines, but this time it is a white wine from Rueda we are talking about, made from 100% Verdejo. I love Verdejo wines when they have enough of the crisp acidity but don’t go too far into the grassy notes to become Sancerre twin. This wine was excellent, and a great value:

2015 Bodegas Beronia Rueda DO (13% ABV, $12, 100% Verdejo)
C: Light Golden
N: bright, inviting, invigorating, white stone fruit, ripe peach, touch of tropical fruit with a distant herbal underpinning
P: fresh, perfect acidity, touch of fresh cut grass (tiny), sweet lemon notes, refreshing
V: 8-/8, excellent wine, lots of pleasure, and a great QPR

Bodegas Torres might not be a household name in the USA, however, Torres Family is the biggest wine producer in Spain – which, luckily, doesn’t affect the quality of the wines. I had many different Torres wines from many different Spanish regions, and those wines rarely disappoint:

2013 Torres Celeste Crianza Ribera Del Duero (14% ABV, $20, 100% Tempranillo)
C: dark garnet
N: muted nose of baking spices, lavender, touch of roasted meat
P: dark fruit, good acidity, refreshing, open, plums
V: 7+, fresh, simple, easy to drink

Rioja Gran Reserva for $25? Yes, please, but let me taste it first? Gran Reserva is expensive to make – think about all the cellaring time the wine requires (5 years total) to be officially marked as Gran Reserva. So $25 is a great price for the Gran Reserva if it tastes good – and this wine was outstanding:

2005 Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva Rioja DOC (14% ABV, $25, 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano)
C: garnet
N: delicious, touch of barnyard, ripe black fruit, intense
P: black fruit, cedar box, sweet tobacco, succulent, fresh clean acidity, delicious.
V: 8/8+, outstanding, great example of Rioja potential, no sign of age, great QPR

Txakolina still can be considered a rare wine in the US – those wines are trickling in, but can’t compete for attention in any way compared to Albariño, Verdejo or even Godello (yes, I’m mixing grapes and places – Txakolina is a region in the Basque area, where the white wines are typically made form the grape called Hondarrabi Zuri – the rest of them are grapes). Txakolina wines are usually “unique and different”, as was this particular wine:

2014 K5 Arginano Uhin Berdea Hondarrabi Zuri Getariako Txakolina DO (11% ABV, $22, 100% Hondarrabi Zuri)
C: golden
N: touch of vanilla, ripe white fruit
P: very interesting, cut through acidity of Muscadet, but plump body and mouthfeel of Marsanne. Outstanding pairing with herb-crusted goat cheese – might be the best cheese pairing I ever experienced.
V: 7+, worth trying, especially with the food

Let’s finish today’s line with practically a classic – Albariño from Rias Baixas area in Galicia. Albariño typically is a seafood friendly wine – and the one below was a perfect example:

2015 Fillaboa Albariño Rias Baixas DO (12.5% ABV, $20, 100% Albariño)
C: light golden
N: fresh white fruit, tropical, guava, inviting
P: clean, medium body, good acidity, lemon, refreshing, very quaffable, medium lemon zest finish
V: 8-, very good rendition of Albariño

That’s all I have for you today, my friends. What were your new and noteworthy discoveries? Cheers!

[Wednesday’s] Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, High Tech Gadgets, Wine in Numbers and more

September 18, 2014 6 comments
Cvne Rioja Monopole

Cvne Rioja Monopole

Meritage time! Yes, I know it is a Thursday, but…

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #114Grape Trivia – Viura / Macabeo.

In this quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape called Viura in Rioja region of Spain, known as Macabeo through the rest of Spain and in Roussillon in France.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Chardonnay, b. Sauvignon Blanc, c. Trebbiano, d. Verdejo

A1: Trebbiano. The rest of the grapes are growing in Rioja and allowed to be blended with Viura in white Rioja wines.

Q2: True or false: Viura is one of the 10 most planted white grapes in the world

A2: True. According to 2010 data, there were 102,615 acres of Macabeo planted worldwide, which gives it a number 8 spot among the white grapes.

Q3: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Viura/Macabeo-based wines rated in the Classic category

A3: False. I was able to find one (but only one!) white Rioja – 1918 Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta (yep, 1918!) rated at 95 point. But – one is more than none…

Q4: Which grape is missing: Chardonnay, Macabeo, Malvasia, …, Xarel-lo

A4: Parellada. All of the white grapes above are allowed to be used in production of the Cava.

Q5: Fill the gaps: If Macabeo is blended with Grenache Blanc and Malvasia, the resulting wine is most likely a ___from_____ ; if Macabeo is blended with Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, the resulting wine probably a ___ from ___.

A5: White Rioja from Spain; a wine from Roussilon in France (can be both red and white).

When it comes to the results, we have a winner! apuginthekitchen answered all 5 questions correctly, so she gets to coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights! Well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Let’s talk about some useful gadgets and uneasy thoughts. When you are about to step out of the restaurant or the friends house, and before you get into your car, do you ever get that tough question, a whim of the uneasy thought on your mind – “did I drink too much”, or in the semi-scientific terms, “what is my blood alcohol level”? Of course you can rely on the common sense and watch the amount you drink (and you should), or have a designated driver (but still control that amount). But we live in the era of technology, don’t we? Yes we do. And if you happened to have an Android phone or tablet, you will be able to take the guesswork out that “BAC level” estimate, and use a little device called DrinkMate. Plug it into your phone, breathe into it- and an application will tell you exactly what your BAC is. The device is finishing up the Kickstarter campaign (they have already twice exceeded the goal), so jump in if you want one – here is the link with the information.

Next up is one of my very favorite subjects – numbers, and more numbers. Based on the article in Wines and Vines, it appears that the number of the wineries in US exceeded 8,000 – it stands at 8,049 as of September 1, 2014. The biggest growth is happening in Oregon, where the number of wineries increased by 10% in the last year. Still, Oregon is trailing Sonoma County, which has 782 wineries, with total number of wineries in California standing short of half of the total US amount at 3,798. I suggest you will head over to the original article for many more interesting numbers.

In the last week’s meritage I mentioned the Wine Video contest run by the Wine Spectator magazine. The contest concluded, and the winner was the video about Norton, the most American grape. Here is the link to the final contest information.

The last one for today is an interesting article from the new professional wine blog called SWIG. When I started reading the wine blogs years ago, I found it very surprising that many blog posts are written in rather an antagonistic fashion, and critical notes and comments are often flying in multiple directions. This post at SWIG, called “How To Respond to Attacks And Criticism in the Wine Industry”, is a very useful guide to the best course of action if you are the subject of such an attack. The idea can be well extended outside of the wine industry specifically, so it makes a good general reading on the subject.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #114: Grape Trivia – Viura / Macabeo

September 13, 2014 3 comments
220px-Maccabeo_blanc

Viura/Macabeo grapes. Source:Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, and today’s subject is the white grape Viura, also known as Macabeo.

I know what you are thinking – we are going from “not so popular”, like we did with Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Blanc, to practically obscure. You probably want to say “I never heard of the grape and never had any wine made with it!”. Well, let’s see. Have you had any Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain, during the last summer? Macabeo is a part of the blend. How about white Rioja? If you actually never had white Rioja, you have to correct it as soon as possible (go on, run to the store, I will wait here). Look for Cvne Monopole Rioja (100% Viura), the oldest white wine in Spain, produced since 1915, or for any of the R. Lopez de Heredia whites, like Viña Tondonia or Viña Gravonia – those wines might change your view of the world forever (well, the wine world, of course). But – let’s get back to the grape itself.

Viura is the name of the grape used in Rioja (interesting fact: until 1975, there were more white wines produced in Rioja than the reds). The same grape is known in the rest of Spain as Macabeo, and as Macabeu and Maccabéo in Roussillon in France. Viura has a few interesting traits, which make it to stand out among others white grapes. First, it is considered to be resistant to Phylloxera, and it was widely planted in Spain after the Phylloxera devastation. It also can withstand oxidation better than many other grapes, which makes it a favorable variety for the prolonged barrel aging, where some exposure to oxygen is inevitable. At the same time, as Viura grows in the very tight clusters, it needs hot and dry climate to fully ripen, otherwise it is susceptible to mildew and rot – to get the best results the grape often requires extensive pruning and lots of attention in the vineyard. But – good white Rioja is a magnificent wine, with incredible aromatics and delicious bouquet, and can age and gain complexity for decades – it is well worth the trouble! In addition to white Rioja, Macabeo also plays main role in production of Cava, famous Spanish Sparkling wine. And we shouldn’t forget the Roussillon region in France – Macabeo is an important contributor to many different types of wines produced there.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Chardonnay

b. Sauvignon Blanc

c. Trebbiano

d. Verdejo

Q2: True or false: Viura is one of the 10 most planted white grapes in the world

Q3: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Viura/Macabeo-based wines rated in the Classic category

Q4: Which grape is missing: Chardonnay, Macabeo, Malvasia, …, Xarel-lo

Q5: Fill the gaps: If Macabeo is blended with Grenache Blanc and Malvasia, the resulting wine is most likely a ___from_____ ; if Macabeo is blended with Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, the resulting wine probably a ___ from ___.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!