Monday, June 30, 2008

The dinner party: Braised short ribs, côt, and a lot more wines

Sunday night Nattles and I had a lovely dinner with one of my co-workers, her husband, and another couple. There was much food and drink, especially for a school night, but the heartiness of the food and extended time period of the evening made for easy metabolization of the wine. I woke up Monday morning and felt pretty good. Decent enough energy at work, especially after lunch and a few ounces of kombucha. Anyway, a good time was had and without further adieu let's get to the wines.

Clairette de Die Raspail 'Grande Tradition' NV

This 100% muscat sparkler from Languedoc was 100% appley deliciousness. At 7.5% alcohol it is also very easy to drink. It tasted of orchard fresh apples, almost in a simpler Mosel spatlese kind of way. Yeah, if you were to take a fruity Mosel spatlese, put it in a sealed tank and make a charmat method sparkler, it would taste similar to this. Interestingly enough I had the wine today as well, and while it was very tasty the character was decidedly less appley, and more of the typical Muscat grapeyness with sweet, exotic citrus notes. Either side of this wine, the apples from Sunday night or the more typical Muscat flavors of today, works for me. The wine went well with the chicken and apple sausages, as well as the crocodile (yes, crocodile) sausages we were eating.

Schloss Schonborn Johannisberger Klaus Riesling Kabinett 1994

At first whiff, I thought that this Kabinett had headed too far down the road of ash and decay for my tastes. But it quickly revived itself and turned out to be a tangy, quince and citrus filled riesling, with characteristically sharp '94 acidity. A bit simple at first, but it improved and showed nicely after some time in the glass.

Hughes Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet 2007

This simple quaffer was not as pleasurable as I remember from past vintages. A bit metallic and astringent on the finish. A bit more simple as well. Bottle shock, maybe?

Xavier Frissant Touraine Ambois 'Cuvee Renaissance' 2005

My hunch was that this, one of the two wines I brought, would work great with the short ribs. And did it ever. 50% Cot, 30% cab franc, 20% cab sauv from this talented grower in Touraine makes for a very fine food wine. Cot contributes the full, dark fruit flavors, cab franc the herbal savor and acidity, and cabernet some more of the herbs as well as conveying a bit of added tension to the structure. Once the wine had a chance to flesh out it really shined with the short ribs, which were tender and expertly prepared by aspiring Top Chef Derek Hena. If you like the Domaine de la Pepiere Cuvee Granit, I would try this Frissant, I prefer it.

Vincent Paris St Joseph 2006

Pure syrah, simple as that. Violet, white pepper, and mixed berry fruits on the nose, with juicy blue and red fruits on the palate. It's definitely softer, less tense and less spicy than his Cornas wines, but of course that is to be expected. Vincent Paris makes honest, tasty syrah, which comes as no surprise given that the famous Robert Michel (see Neal Rosenthal's new book) is his uncle and probably taught him some things. This wine reminds me that I really need to explore more northern Rhone syrah - the real stuff - not the ocean of Crozes Hermitage and assorted negoc wines aged in new oak.

City Slicker Syrah Santa Barbara 2006

Speaking of new oak flavors...this is a wine that my co-worker bottled with her dad, through crushpad here in San Francisco. It is juicy Santa Barbara syrah that is not my style but definitely well-made and easy to like if it's what you're into.

Domaine de Fondreche 'Nadal' Cotes de Ventoux 2005

These wines are always awarded high scores and it's easy to see why - they are extracted, anonymous tasting southern Rhone wines. That having been said, the O'sud, which is the cheapest of this series, is usually lighter on its feet and more lively tasting.

Domaine de la Pigeade Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2006

I don't like Beaumes de Venise and I didn't really care for this either. It reminds me of orange marmelade, spiked with alcohol. Bitter and hot. Not really refreshing. Then again, I'm not much of a dessert wine person.

Thanks to Chiara and Derek for the hospitality - next dinner's at chez moi.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Rosé....

Our Saturday tasting at the store was rosés, and while the line-up was solid, three in particular really stood out.

2007 Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rose

Funny thing, I’m reading Reflections of a wine merchant by Neal Rosenthal and two of the three rosés on this list are imported by the man himself – they are both on the higher end of their category, but incredibly tasty as well, which is in line with Rosenthal’s overall portfolio, at times expensive (especially on the west coast) but almost always of excellent quality and the worth the cost. This ’07 Pradeaux shows a really intense, bright character, with a touch of orange peel and a ridiculously long finish which is a bit spicy as well. Generally I’m not much of a Bandol rose person, but this is truly terrific. At $25 it’s not inexpensive, but I’ll still probably get a few to cellar for several years.

2007 Domaine de la Petite Mairie Bourgueil Rosé

I was so disappointed with the one cab franc rose I tried last year, a Chinon rose from Clos l’Echo. It was dark, clumsy, and well, overly cabby (as in cab family green vegetal flavors). This cabernet franc rose from Bourgueil is more like it: pink onion skin color, delicate aromas merely suggesting, not screaming, the herbal qualities of Cabernet franc, and lots of bright raspberry flavors, which were crisp and really cut through the palate.

2007 Lazy Creek Pinot Noir Rose Anderson Valley

Here I go again recommending a California wine. Oh well, I guess I’ll continue to lose wine geek points for writing about good CA wine (as well as Spanish for that matter) instead of a Beaujolais rose or Pineau d’aunis rose or something. But this is another rosé that is of extremely high quality, albeit at a price - $25. Produced from pinot noir selected especially for rosé production, and of course fermented with indigenous yeasts, this is my favorite kind of rosé: a rosé that tastes every bit like a lighter version of the varietal(s) and the winery’s estate offering (other examples: Tondonia rosado, Musar rose, Joseph Roty Marsannay rose) The Lazy Creek estate pinot noir typically is big, broad, spicy and dark fruited, a masculine style but seriously dry for CA pinot. All of this comes across in this delicious rosé, just in a more refreshing and transparent style.

So that's the latest pink report, with I'm sure more rosé notes to come over the proceeding summer months. Will be even happier when my slowly, ever so slowly growing roma tomato plant bears fruit for gazapacho, spaghetti a la trapanese (uncooked tomato sauce with chopped almonds), and all kinds of other uses.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm off to eat iberico ham

My friend Josh won a leg of iberico ham at a spanish wine tasting. To add to the Spanishness I will bring a bottle of La Gitana manzanilla. I'm excited.

eek a mouse

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nas - The World Is Yours - Illmatic

[I would like to dedicate this video post to my great-grandmother me-ma Jenny, who would have surely loathed this song, but inspired me to play the piano with her amazing ability to play beautifully by ear. She was never afraid to offer encouragement and praise, peppered with some good old constructive criticism.]

To this day, listening to Nas' album Illmatic still delivers an immediate emotional impact. It is amongst the best hip-hop albums ever produced. There is minimal fat: no skits, only a few guest appearances, and a mere ten tracks clocking in at under forty-five minutes, produced by four terrific artists with great ears and the uncanny ability to source and arrange beautiful samples.

'The World is Yours' was the song that introduced me to one of the most gifted MCs to ever grab a mic. The dark, sparse Pete Rock production features a jazz piano sample from Ahmad Jamal and rugged drums which resemble the instrument's sound in a band's practice room. During the chorus the music is punctuated by life support beeps and crisp record scratching. The music provides an ideal inspiration for Nas to provide his incomparable braggadocio laced narrative, replete with an amazingly worldly view and impeccable timing.

The wide screen parabolic, black and white video is beautifully shot and a real treat to watch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New releases from Oddero

I was lucky to be on the sales floor yesterday when Enrico, an italian portfolio manager of a large distributor here in California, dropped by to taste a few new releases from Oddero. Run by the same family since 1878, La Morra's Oddero currently has two female Odderos, Mariacristina and Mariavittoria making the wine. While it is far from an undeniable truth, sometimes you can really sense a female winemaking stamp during a line-up of wines from a winery. There is a softness, lack of brash flavors, approachability and overall balanced character to the wines, even if made from grapes in an area known to produce bigger, bolder wines. I had the same experience recently tasting Vinedos de Ithaca's wines in Priorat (I'll post on it soon). Not to say that all or even most wines made by females are inherently softer, more subtle and balanced, that's just been my recent experience. And I'll leave it at that. Without a doubt, I plan on seeking out more wines made by females. After all, is it not true that we were made by a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman?

So three baroli from the very good 2004 vintage and a barbera d'alba from 2006.

2006 Oddero Barbera d'Alba

A tricky barbera to classify. I tend to group barberas into these 4 categories:

1.) cheap quaffers with decent fruit and acidity
2.) mid weights with more sap, and stick to your gum qualities, often with a touch of wood influence (Vietti tre vigne)
3.) top-notch barberas with considerably more weight, complexity and ageability ( giacomo and aldo conterno, bartolo mascarello)
over extracted, over-oaked barberas that have lost their acidity and inherent barbera-ness (Cascina val de prete 'carolina', Vietti scarrone)

This barbera would be a cat. 2, but it is just so reserved, maybe closed, that it doesn't have the sap of others. There are somewhat shy, closed dark fruits that quite possibly will emerge and become more lively and interesting in the next few months. Maybe the wine recently arrived off a boat, or perhaps by truck from the east coast?

2004 Oddero Barolo Estate

Not particularly impressive, a bit muddled and lacking focus, but after all it's $35 barolo, and how often is $35 barolo worth drinking these days?

2004 Oddero Barolo Villero

Now things get interesting. This single vineyard barolo from the Castiglione Falletto commune has much more intensity, purity and drive to its dark berry fruits. The wine has a solid future ahead of it and is best stashed away for at least 12 years.

2004 Oddero Barolo Rocche di Castiglione

More complex aromas, with mixed red and dark berry fruit, sweet black licorice, a touch of anise and cocoa powder all making appearances on the nose. On the palate the red fruit flavors take over, and it is much more lithe and racier than the powerful nose would suggest. It's another balanced, traditional barolo that I would be proud to cellar if I weren't coming back from a trip where it cost me an average of 55 euros to tank up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pink wines in brown bags.

I arrived late and decided to roll note-free for this tasting with my fellow PMW tasting group members, so I'm not going to run through the wines and provide notes on each. Rather, here is a list of the hits and misses of the evening.


2007 Hijos de Crescencia Merino Viña Catajarros Rosado 'Elite' Cigales

Fresh, vibrant, sun soaked red fruits, with good intensity and a strong backbone of acidity lending a fresh finish to the wine. 80% tempranillo, 10% verdejo and 10% assorted others including garnacha and the rare white albillo (see Valduero post below).

2007 Unti Rose Dry Creek Valley

This was part of a four wine all domestic flight which many thought was all French. 60% grenache, 40% mourvedre. Given the light onion skin color and peculiar chewy savor of the wine, I thought Bandol all the way. Gary, who imports predominately French wines, said that there was no way this could be Bandol, and if it were in fact a famous Bandol rose, then he would give serious pause to his choice of profession. Thankfully, Gary was right, so keep on importing, Gary. Apparently I am familiar enough with Bandol rose to spot something similar, but not enough so to catch a look-alike from Dry Creek Valley (albeit a good one, from a producer who overall makes some pretty spot on wines, with natural yeasts, from grapes that are not overly ripe).

2007 Uvaggio Barbera Rose Lodi

Very pretty, with incredibly bright strawberry/raspberry flavors and terrific acidity. Tasted blind, this could have been a gamay or pinot noir rose - from France. And where is the wine really from? Lodi! I kid you not, this refreshing, nuanced, lovely little rose was from hot, hot Lodi, California. Now before the haters start to hate I should mention that the wine checked in with a mere 12% alcohol, and that yes, good wines can be made and are made in California, and it is not only made by Steve Edmunds. Wine drinkers, remember that there are always exceptions, and California winemakers, PICK YOUR GRAPES EARLIER!


2006 Fort Ross Vineyard Rose Sonoma Coast

No surprise here, as anything I have had from these folks has been god awful. Truly repulsive. This one-year-old rose had had it. Fading fruit of a rancio quality, with residual sugar, zero acidity, and high alcohol. Vaguely reminiscent of triaminic cough syrup (triaminic, by the way, is way worse than Robitussin). Shall I do a Rovani-esque 'hypothetical blend' for you? Sure, why not. This is a hypothetical blend between a dirty vin doux naturel from the southern Rhone and poorly made new world gewurztraminer, stored on the upper-most location of a Southern Wines & Spirits warehouse - the southern California warehouse.

Please ignore the Hackers

Somehow people have figured out how to hack into here and create posts which you may have seen recently. I am contacting blogger about the situation, but in the meantime, if you see a post that does not involve wine, food, music, or youtube, then you can assume that I did not post it (even if it says 'Posted by Joe M.'). Thanks for your patience during this egregious hacking situation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spain Part III: Old Cellars and New Barriques at Valduero (Ribera del Duero)

Ribera del Duero has unfortunately become all but a lost cause for lovers of authenticity, typicity, and a sense of regionally specific flavors in Spanish wines. As I understand it, not only did Ribera del Duero become the first Spanish region to gain a boost from critics in the infancy of Spain's export boom in the 1980's, but the region was also a key reason why so many people 150 miles away in Rioja began to reconsider how they made their wine, emphasizing ripeness and new French barriques over subtlety and the more traditional American oak. Show me a current release of Ribera del Duero, and I will more than likely point to ripe blackberry flavors, sweet vanilla and/or coffee flavors derived from new french oak, and an overriding sense of anonymity. Vega Sicilia, which I have still yet to taste, would be a notable exception, from what I hear. It is the wine that put Ribera del Duero on the map and, according to anyone fortunate enough to have tasted it, amongst the finest in the world. Alejandro Fernandez's wines have also proven to have plenty of character and repeatedly show characteristics specific to his wines. Not bad for a company that produces 500,000 cases of wine, but that's another post for another day. This post is supposed to be about Bodegas Valduero.

Located in Gumiel del7 Mercado (just 10km outside of Arranda del Duero) and due to my lack of familiarity with Castilla y Leon, a real tough one to find, Bodegas Valduero has been producing wine since 1984. Yolanda Garcia Viadero, the original owner along with her winemaker husband (he makes wine in Rioja), still makes the wine here. They make a rosado, crianza, reserva, a separate reserva aged for 6 years, and gran reserva. Though I wouldn't describe these wines as traditional, there seems to still be a liveliness to the acidity, a nuance of oak flavor that comes from aging in a combination of French, American, and eastern european oak, which separates these wines from most of the pack in Ribera del Duero. We tasted the following:

2007 Valduero Sobresaliehnte '9 degrees'
Cool wine, here! Produced from the rare white Albarillo grape, this was conceived as a wine to be marketed as low in alcohol, low in calories (less than an apple, according to the back label) and perfect for lunchtime drinking. I am not sure that I agree with the low calorie marketing approach, but I do think the low alcohol one makes sense in today's world of big, bad, high alcohol wines. Most importantly, this wine works. There is a muscat like orange blossom and grapeyness here, with fresh acidity and terrific balance. It reminds me of an unoaked white from Penedes. Tasty.

2006 La Uve Toro Joven
"Uh-oh," I thought, I need to taste a wine from one of my least favorite regions in Spain, a region whose wines are pumped up with ridiculous amounts of new french oak, and somehow not say that it sucks in front of my gracious host. Valduero started producing wines in Toro in 1998. Thankfully, they have a different approach to this wine, one which highlights the natural fruitiness of tempranillo that grows in this warmer, drier region. Deep cherry and dark fruit flavors maintain their freshness with decent acidity, and a mouthfeel that it is not at all overly heavy or thick.

2005 Arbucala Toro

Valduero toasts their own barrels, and in this case the toasting seems to be quite thorough. A big, chewy, dark fruited, simple wine. Sure it's a young wine, but I don't see it ever becoming something I would want to drink. I tried to drink a bottle over the course of a few days in Priorat and Barcelona, and just couldn't do it. Though each time the nose of the wine did transport me to the barrel room of any modern red wine producer in Napa, Bordeaux, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, take your pick...

2005 Valduero Crianza

Black cherries and an overall drier, less sweet smell than the Toro leads to a big palate of chewy dark fruit. Young and teetering on the edge of too ripe/oaky for my tastes, but somehow I hold out more hope for this wine than the above.

2004 Valduero Reserva

Very intense, classic Ribera dark fruits, but with Tempranillo's acidity displaying itself, and the cut of the 2004 vintage as well.

2001 Valduero Premium Reserva '6 años'

Aged for 36 months 'en barrica' and another three years in bottle (hence the '6 años' label), this could technically be called a gran reserva. The use of oak aging in this wine, however extensive, does not at all overpower the incredibly intense fruit. One to cellar for a while, at least for 5 years and ideally longer.

1991 Valduero Gran Reserva

It was cool to see how these wines age. The reserva and gran reserva wines are amongst Valduero's most traditional, and they age in the 17th century underground cellar as opposed to their new hilllside facility. The wine was elegant but firm, with some good years ahead of it. Very developed on the nose, with mocha and roasted meat, amongst other aromas I did not catch (we needed to hurry a bit to finish the tour). It was much more primary and fruity than I would have imagined, with suave, but present, tannins. I imagine it would have changed significantly in the glass over time if we were to have a few hours with the wine.

Along with the wines we were served some local specialties: a delcious manchego from Yolanda's brother's farm, murcilla (blood sausage with prominent cumin seasoning and in this Burgos version, short grained rice), lechazo (suckling lamb, sort of the veal of the lamb world) and even a delicious salad (tough to come by in many parts of Spain, where salad is often chopped iceberg lettuce topped with a square of tuna).

Thank you Roger for your hospitality and patience with my poor directional sense!

Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Live in Cincinnati, 1970

Thanks to my brother for bringing this video to my attention. It was between this and a daytime talk show appearance of Iggy with David Bowie on keys. The choice was a clear one, and I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spain Pt. II: Morning with the Master of Verdejo

Bodega Martinsancho has been in Angel Rodriguez' family for multiple generations, dating back to 1780. Located in the tiny village of La Seca, within the Rueda D.O., Martinsancho makes what I consider to be the most authentic, tastiest, most honest Verdejo around form their own 60 hectares of vines. Given the huge amount of thirst quenching, but simple, verdejo in the market (often blended with viura or sauvignon blanc and produced with innoculated yeast), the real deal is a breath of fresh air. I would not include the fancy verdejos aged in barrique and bottled in heavy bottles with large punts amongst the real deal, by the way. Angel Rodriguez eschews stainless steal and barrique maturation, instead favoring large cubas of old oak (not sure of the size, at least 2000 liters from the looks of them, maybe bigger). His vineyard is the stoniest in the entire region, the average vine age is 44 years, and these two factors, according to Angel, are what make his wines so special. I would agree, and add that he lets the raw material do the talking, not messing around with artificial yeasts, excessively cool fermentations, or any other such techniques currently in vogue with white wine production. As a result his wines age beautifully. One of my favorites of what we tasted was his 2002, which was lively, full of yellow stone fruit and some emerging quince notes, a bit similar to dry Loire Chenin with a touch of bottle age. Beautiful wine. Try saving a bottle of any other rueda for 5+ years and let me know how it works out. Another older bottle, the 1981, was phenomenal. More mineral, greater intensity and tropicality, and still that vibrant acidity. As for the current release, the 2007, it shows verdejo's trademark gentle peach and honeydew melon flavors, with a mineral backbone and loads of freshness. It is a bit compact and should flesh out nicely with another several months in bottle.

Angel was exceedingly generous, inviting us to pick any bottles which we wanted to try from his cellar. When I asked him about the old style, solera-made, sherry-like wine the region used to produce, he had his assistant fetch an example from the cellar. 76 year-old verdejo from cask (unfortified, mind you) and it was incredibly interesting. Near palo cortado type flavors, with a little less power and weight, and a slight rancio character that brought vinsanto to mind. Delicious and as it is one of two such examples left in Rueda (Angel thought another family might have some, but was not sure), on the verge of extinction.

Below is a visual documentation of the experience, photography by Natalie Luney.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spain Pt. I: Day 1 - Madrid to Avila, Valladolid

Amazingly both of our flights (SF to ATL, ATL to MAD) arrived on time, so that by 10am (or 1am the same day that we left from San Francisco) Natalie and I were in the rental
car on the AP-6, heading north towards the famous walled city of Avila. We drove around town looking for parking, only stalling two times in the process. As a recent student of the manual shift automobile, driving in stop-and-go city traffic, with the ubiquitous Spanish roundabouts (initially confusing though eventually you get used to them) was a bit stressful, but invigorating. We rewarded ourselves with what would be the first of many meals based upon lamb and pork - lamb chops for myself and lomo (pan fried pork loin) for Natalie. Just a year ago Natalie's meatiest encounter in a day might have been a grilled portobello mushroom doused in Fort Bragg's. Things sure have changed. To accompany lunch we shared a bottle of '99 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza, one of my favorites and a perfect first wine to enjoy in España. Prior to lunch we took in the sights of the old town and its cathedral.

Avila was cool - a picturesque welcome to Spain from this most Spanish of towns in one of the most Spanish of regions, Castilla y Leon. After some more highway driving, and a bit of rush hour driving in Valladolid (pop. 321,713, capital of Castilla y Leon) we checked into our simple, smoky hostal, freshened up, and headed out for some tapas and drinks. On the way we happened across a comedian performing in a small pavillion, and a modern dance performance on one of the plazas. Yes, Valladolid is buzzing with activity on a Thursday night. Two contrasting establishments of this great city:

Mil Vinos, NEW

Vino Tinto, OLD

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Theise '07 German/Austrian Tasting - West Coast Edition

This is far from thorough. I still would like to put down a few thoughts on the wines and the vintage, with many gaping holes since I came far from tasting everything. For instance, I didn't taste any reds because I didn't feel like it. The fact that I tasted as many of these in the middle of a day off while, still trying to catch up from being away for a few weeks, re-confirmed both my choice of profession and my tolerance for tooth enamel punishment. It's a Terry Theise tasting though; so of course I wouldn't think of missing it. Terry's work is the reason why I have had the chance to taste such a variety of wines from Germany and Austria without travelling to either country. It could have just as easily been Rudi Wiest, but I sold Terry's wine back in the day, and besides Rudi's wines are tougher to find around Baltimore and DC where my formative drinking years took place.

Germany first. I really like the acidity of 2007. In many cases it is in terrific balance with fruit and sugar, and in my favorite wines there is a real crackle to the acidity, more so than in '06 or '05, which I would describe as juicier and maybe a touch less malic? That being said, there were some wines which were missing the power and richness of '06 and '05, or the prettiness and detailed minerality of '02. Overall it seemed like a better than average vintage - enjoyable wines where the peaks, from what I tasted anyway, were Rheingau trocken wines and Donnhoff. Favorites included Leitz's Eins Zwei 3 Dry Riesling (a dry fruit cocktail nose with intense mouthfilling fruits), the Rudeshmeimer Berg Kaisensteinfel Alte Reben (more austere, mineral, detailed, lime, tough to pin-point fruits) and a Toni Jost Bacharacher Hahn Kabinett (does Burt know that he has a village named after him?) that for some reason really impressed. It was a bright, lively combo of tropicality, some leesiness and tasty acidity to cut through it all. Of course the Willi Schaefer wines were great - I prefer Graacher Himmelreich to the Domprobst for its brighter, lighter, less smoky character. Christoffel...I wanted to like these wines more. Part of the problem is that they are so candied and sweet when young, which is usually fine because there is this amazing intensity of flavor. And I probably am missing something here, but I just did not care for them as much as I have the past two vintages.

Now Austria. Only tasted some gruner veltliner and a few assorted others, no riesling. '07 was meh, at least for gruner veltliner, especially following '06. Gobelsburg and Schrock still terrrific, my favorites being the Gobe Gruner Veltliner Steinsetz (bright, citric, clean, mineral for days) and Heidi Schrock's Furmint (explosive tart orange, almost like a bright racy tocai friulano). Nigl - surprisingly disappointing. Salomon Undhof - consistently good and solid value. My wine of the tasting (German or Austrian) was the '93 Gruner Veltliner Vinothek from Nikolaihof (Austria's first biodynamic winery, since '89 I believe). It had ripe citrus and plenty of creamy lees on the nose, with a soft, caressing, intense palate. I was so excited by the wine that I told Nikolas Saahs that it would probably prove to be, in my opinion, the wine of the day - yes I was one of 'those' people I'm embarrassed to say, but such was my level of excitement with the wine.

That's it, for now, there's dinner to prep.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And he's back!

It was an amazing, rainy, rack up the kilometers type trip across northern Spain. I learned a lot, spoke to some living legends (Angel Rodriguez at Martinsancho, Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia) became acquainted with some other terrific folks (Jesus Madrazgo and Jose Luis Ripa at Contino, Jose Puig at Vindeos de Ithaca) and really was glad that I finally, after 8 years, made it back to Spain. Hopefully this can become an annual trip. Even after nearly a decade apart, and despite some major changes post euro, spending time in Spain still felt familiar and comforting, like a favorite hoodie.

I'll try to hash out the winery posts, as well as a few other reflections on the trip, over the next week. For now, a quick tasting note on two unusual Rias Baixas reds I tasted at work today.

2006 Goliardo Caiño

Light, bright, transparent, high acid, blue fruited, spicy, mineral, tasty. All good things, true, but this would sell for at least $50 - is it worth bringing in?

2006 Goliardo Loureiro

If the above is sort of reminiscent of good pineau d'aunis, lighter northern rhone syrah, or maybe a tasty, naturally made Loire red blend, then the loire equivalent of this inkier red would be cot. Darker fruited, deeper purple color, hints of violets and pepper, but still with vibrancy and balanced acidity. Another fun wine but it would be a lot more fun for $25, maybe even $30. Not $50+.

Monday, June 2, 2008

9 quick highlights from spain

A quick list of the expected and unexpected:

1. Jamon iberico
2. Potatoes, greens and grapes growing everywhere on galician family farms
3. 1.60 euro glasses of bierzo in leon
4. The lush, green mountains outside of san sebastian
5. Spanish male hair trend: the dread locked mullet!
6. Spending three amazing hours with angel rodriguez of bodegas martinsancho in rueda. Verdejo from 1981, anyone? Awesome.
7. Valladolid-spain's most slept on city?
8. Seat ibiza-our spanish rental car is putting up with my poor stick shift driving wonderfully.
9. Ribeira sacra - as stunning as the photographs suggest.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry