Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wines of Valencia Spain December 2012

Last month I attended a tasting of 10 wines from the Valencia region of Spain.  The appellation is small in size with respect to other Spanish growing areas.  One of the things that really stood out is the quality ratio to price.  There were a few wines that were just flat out deals and selling for much less the going market for wines of the same quality.  Spain is in search of new markets for their wines as they produce more than they consume or export.  Temperanillo is the driving force here as well as through out all of Spain.  Here are my thoughts on the wines tasted.

1) El Villar winery Ximo.  Semillion stainless steel made with one month in oak 2011. A very simple example of Semillion with clean flavors and acidity.  This is well price @ $14 but there is a lot of competition in the marketplace. Almost white Graves in style.
2) Bodegas Enguera "Blanc"  a blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdil 2011.  This is an exciting wine with a blend of honey, plums and lemon on the nose.  Partially Oak fermented and the color shows a bit of straw against the light.  Wonderful flavors and body.  At $16 it is a touch high but this is full retail.  There is room for price adjustment.
3) El Villar Ximo Temperanillo 2010.  Very well made and useful in so many ways around a dinner or lunch of lighter foods and cheeses. $14.
4) Cherubino Winery, Marques de Caro Temperanillo 2009.  This is one of the winners  of the tasting. It has lovely round fruit flavors with a grip of tannin which only releases more complex fruit when enjoyed with food.  Retail is only $10 a bottle and it is such a grand wine at such a low price. This is a wine which retailers and restauranteurs would love by the palate load. The drinker gets a ton of wine at a most resonable price.
5) Turis winery, Luna de Mar Tinto 2009.  Cabernet, Merlot, Temperanillo and Syrah. This wine is a heavy weight in both body and taste.  Very dry and dark in color.  Needs time. Retail $19 is fair considering the quality.
6)  Anecoop Venta del Puerto #12 2010. Cabernet, Merlot, Temperanillo and Syrah for $12 retail.  This is the outstanding dollar value of the tasting. Medium full body with graceful flavors that mix into a round rich palate coating wine.  A long finish of berries and wood make this just a fantastic wine for all occasions.  This would be on my list for Xmas presents to folks who want a first class introduction into Spanish wines.  Total deal.
7) Bodegas Enguera, Megala 2010  Montrasell and Syrah.  Retail $25 this wine is very big in style the Montrasell is dominant and the color is inky black.  Very extracted and needs much time.  Not for the feint of heart.
8) Cherubino Marques de Caro Crianza. Shiraz, Cabernet and Bobal 2009.  $15 retail and once again an excellent Crianza that displays the benefit of one year in wood.
9) Anecoop Reymos Muscat sparkling wine 2011.  This is so refreshing and clean on the palate. 7.5% alcohol this is the equal of any Asti Spumante I have ever had and less expensive. Delightful and so easy to drink.  Floral orange blossom aromas followed by lime and lemon peel tang on the finish. At $12 retail this is another amazing value.  Open your horizons and taste this super dollar value.
10)  Baronia Turis, Dona Dolca. 2011.  Made from Muscat of Alexandria with a touch of alcohol to stop the fermentation. Made to resemble a Muscat de Baume de Venise from France.  I am afraid it does not make the mark. Very heavy and not balanced.  The 15% alcohol is not matched with acidity to make the next glass more enjoyable.  Not a bad wine but in the context of the others it does not shine.  The price of $8 per half bottle is very reasonable but not money well spent in my opinion.

In summary look for the wines of Valencia they represent excellent quality.  Many restaurants are curious and anxious to bring in these wines as they work wonders for the bottle and by the glass programs that generate large profits.

Ribera del Duero Wine Tasting

The promotional group drinkriberawine.com hosted a large tasting of wines from the Ribero del Duero on Nov. 7th.  There was a sitdown tasting led by Sommilier Yoon Ha. The tasting proves that this region of Spain is the sweet spot for Temperanillo. There are many wineries which are looking for importers.  Ribero del Duero has been influenced by Bordeaux wine makers and owners who see this area as a gold mine of potential in the future.  The information that follows will allow you to explore Spanish wines with extra information.  I would recommend that you try a bottle or two from each of the  classifications to determine your palate preference. They are all of very high quality now all you have to do is find a retailer or producer who will lead you to the next experience in Spanish wine.  Remember these are above all else food wines.

Climate: Ribera has the mix of Continental and Mediterranean influences which are extremes of temperature and altitude.  The average Ribera vineyard is grown in vineyards with a high between 2,500 and 2,800 feet.  Summers are short with highs as high as 100F and evening lows of 50/60F. This coupled with moderate rainfall of 16 inches more or less makes for vines which strive for water with deep root systems. There is research that is on going looking for vines which obtain strong root growth which promotes growth through attachment to deep water pockets.

Temperanillo: is the main grape of choice. It is an early ripening grape which lends itself to the severe climate of Ribero. Also known as Tinto Fino or Tinta de Pais it is the perfect match for the highest quality of wine produced in Spain.

                                            CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

There are levels of Ribera wines with each reflecting a type of wine treatment which affects the price of the bottle.
Cosecha: or young wine sees only minimal oak and is the first wine of the vintage released. It is meant to be consumed in its youth for the fresh fruit and low tannins.  These are excellent for bistro fare and light lunches and tapas.
Crianza: are aged two years in oak and are in my opinion the best dollar value in Spain. These Ribero wines have rich color deep fruit flavors and a touch of oak that rounds out on the palate. Most of these wines sell in the under $15 bracket and can compete with almost any wine from any where.
Reserva: are aged three years with a minimum of one year in oak. The wines are aged in the winery cellars until release. They represent elegant and intense wines with a dense finish.
Gran Reserva: are made in only select vintage years. They are aged a minimum of five years with two years of barrel age.  They tend to show a bit of age but also maintain their fruit quality. For the price this person would go for the Crianza style of Ribera.
Rosado: these are the roses of the region. I am a great fan of Spanish rosado.  They are full flavored with complex aromas of berries.  They retain acidity and are perfect for all occasions and most often sell in the $10 area.

There were 26 wineries looking for importers as well as 19 wineries who have importers who were pouring wines.  Ribera del Duero is in my opinion the top region for quality Spanish wines. They are rich, well made, extracted without being over the top and  balanced.  The Crianza level of wine is the best deal going. You get all the flavors and can drink them now. The Reservas with the extra oak and tannins generally require more time in bottle to reach optimum drinking.

Keep your eyes open for Spanish wines.  They represent consumer friendly wines of top quality and more than resonable prices.

ZAP Tasting Feb. 2, 2013 Many winners!!

Just returned from the annual Zinfandel Advocate Producers Tasting in San Francisco.  I focused on established wineries who have a record of solid wines.  Since this was an opportunity to taste single vineyards I looked for Monte Rosso and Rockpile vineyard wines.  I was not let down.  All of the Monte Rosso wines were of outstanding quality with rich high toned fruit flavors and long pleasant finishes.  As a rule they tended to be higher in alcohol 15+% but were so well balanced that it was not an issue with respect to flavors or finish. 

Wineries of high quality Monte Rosso are: Rancho Zabaco, Louis  Martini, Rosenblum,  T-Vine,   Carlisle, Robert Biale and Sbragia wines. 

The Rockpile designates were from multiple owners of land on Rockpile. These wines had the typical color and extract which this vineyard is known for.  Mauritson, Bedrock, Rosenblum and Carol Shelton made stellar wines which all merit high scores and will deliver top flight flavors.

The wineries which follow are all quality producers who sell their product for what is less than the market as a whole does. How can they do this?  Many own the land and sell much of their fruit and keep only what they want to produce under their label, others have a lower cost of doing business and pass that along to their clients. 
Wineries which produce Zinfandel at reasonable prices and high levels of quality are:
Dry Creek
Sobon Estate
Steele Wines
Brazin Cellars
Ancient Peaks 

    These are all Zinfandels of high quality.  If you have the money the Rockpile and Monte Rosso are so much better wines than your typical "Old Vine" Zinfandel from most wineries. 
My advise is to sit back pour a glass of full flavored Zinfandel and let the wine do the talking.  Enjoy one of the great wines of California.