Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More sabor from Spain

One of our reps with a terrific book of Spanish wines - from wacky and funky, to traditional and regional, to cool and modern - came by today to sample a few things. Here are the wines:

Pere Ventura Cava Brut Nature

Brut nature= no dosage. It is an increasingly popular movement in Penedes, and for good reason if this wine is an indication of how exciting the quality can be. Touch of toastiness on the nose, leading to the crispest, driest, most precise tasting cava I have ever tasted. A real winner.

Sanstrave 'e' Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva

48 months on the lees. Much more yeastiness on the nose, which also had a very prominent, funky, yellow miso aspect to it. It was similarly of the earth on the palate. Not much in the way of fruit here. Not so good.

2005 Vina Ijalba Blanco

Produced from Tempranillo Blanco, from a mutated section of their Tempranillo vineyard. Ijalba functions as a nursery for rare Rioja varietals, and makes some pretty exciting stuff. This wine is explosive on the nose - loads of quince and a hint of red fruits. Very textural, fleshy palate, and once again explosive. It is like dry Chenin that doesn't need a lot of time to come around; it's already delicious. Apricot and tangy red currant fruits were full and mouthfilling.

2006 Odysseus Rosat

This could be Spain's most expensive rosado. It had red fruit, with pomegranate leading the way, on the nose. A bit stinky as well. Grippy and palate coating, it reminded me of a 2002 Kir-Yianni Akakies I drunk quite a bit of 4 years ago, with less acidity but a very similar funkiness. Thing is, the Akakies is half the price.

2006 Valduero La Uve Toro

A bit bubblegummy on the nose. But fresh dark fruit, moderate tannins and a bit more liveliness than the nose would suggest made for a pleasant enough Toro. I often can't stand wine from this D.O.- too one-dimensional and clumsy. The fact that this was fermented in stainless (probably preceeded by a carbonic maceration) clearly helped to make this more to my liking.

2006 Martin Berdugo Ribera del Duero Joven 2006

Reductive, reductive, dark fruit. Lacking in purity, overly aggressive tannins. Poorly made wine.

2004 Vina Ijalba Graciano

Easily better than their 2003 Graciano, which was pretty damn good itself. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is one of the 2 or 3 most interesting young Spanish red wines I've ever tasted. Very aromatic, with white pepper and floral notes, a touch of Indian spices as well. Cote Rotie-like. Blue and purple fruits on the palate, with very fine grained tannins. Impressive, and for under $25 a real steal.

1998 Valduero Ribera del Duero Reserva

Black cherry jam and blackberry nose leads to more of the same on the palate. Well-integrated tannins and acidity, pure fruit, terrific intensity and length. Still very primary, but beginning to hit its stride. I'll have to get a few bottles to drink in 3 or so years. This wine spends 30 months in barrel, 2/3 American oak and 1/3 French, both previously used.

2003 Sangenis i Vaque Priorat

Priorat is typically not my thing. As recently as one and a half years ago, yes. Now, I either hate the wines as most are so sickly fruity and over-extracted, or shrug my shoulders at the wines that are ok but still pricey and not quite exciting (a la Palacios Les Terrases). Though this particular Priorat is not my style, it was distinctive. Very dark fruited, with the intensity of many $50-$80 Priorats, sans cloying fruit. Good minerality (slate here is more red than the blue stuff that dominates many of the estates which produce and export Priorat to the US market). Not my style but I respect this wine. And it retails for about $30. Which follows the inverse correlation between price and quality I'm continuing to observe in estate's offerings througout Priorat.

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