Saturday, February 2, 2008

Spanish (and a few Portuguese) TN's

OK, heeeere we go:

Raventos i Blanc l'Hereu NV

As the history goes, this estate is run by a member of the Codorniu family (of Freixenet fame). Familiar wine story: There was a split in the family and they struck a deal whereby one side would keep the family name, or the brand (la marca en espanol) and the other would retain ownership of all of the vineyards. Well, of course Raventos i Blanc, which uses only estate fruit, kept the choice vineyards. Taste this cava and you'll see who truly got the better end of the deal, that is if authenticity and real quality are things you might be into. This is classy, bone dry, electric cava. As Q-tip would say, it's a vibrant thing. Busta Rhymes might concur: A viverant, viverant....

Solar de Serrade Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2006

This vinho verde is 100% alvarinho (albarino en Espana). The winery is located in the northernmost sub-zone of Vinho Verde, closest to the Spanish border. And it really reminds me of Do Ferreiro, which for anyone familiar with Do Ferreiro is a good thing. Very expressive, with a smoky minerality on the nose leading to fresh, natural, red apple type flavors.

Tajinaste Valle de la Orotava Blanco 2006

White wine from the canary islands, produced from Listan blanco. They think that it might be a variant of Palomino. Dry, crisp, green-yellow pear-apple fruit, with a bitter snap to the finish. OK but not particularly exciting.

Ladera Sagrada Castelo de Papa Godello 2006

Fatter, broader, and clunkier than I like my godello, or any white wine for that matter. I would rather not call out an importer like this, but many more misses from these folks (no names) and I will not be trying their other wines anytime soon. There are too many other companies bringing in much better wines from Spain right now.

Niepoort Redoma 2006

New french oak warning! A dead ringer for young village Chassagne-Montrachet, of course minus the fruit intensity and acidity. I'm keeping this one in the fridge for a few days to see if I will be proven wrong, but I seriously doubt it. To be honest, you're better off buying St. Aubin for $10 less. You can put the money you saved into buying some Niepoort 20 yr tawny.

Crucillon Garnacha (Bodegas Aragonesas) 2005

Not bad for $7. Cherry fruited, unoaked, natural tasting garnacha.

Quiles Primitivo 'Raspay' Tinto Brut 2002

While it takes the prize for most confusing wine label I have ever seen, this 100% Monastrell from Alicante is some nuanced, pretty wine. Yes, I did just refer to Monastrell (Mourvedre for the francophiles) as 'pretty.' Fermented in 100% used American oak, this wine's nose is delicate, red fruited and spicy, with cinnamon stick leading the way. On the palate the red fruit and spice continues initially, though it transforms into licorice and dark fruit skins on the finish. There is also a suggestion of Hershey's chocolate (anyone who lived near PA, and went on the Hershey's chocolate tour, or who merely is familiar with the slightly cloying, carob like, processed taste of Hershey's chocolate knows what I'm talking about). Nevertheless, this is fun wine, drinking well now, and reasonably priced.

Vina Valoria Rioja Reserva 1968

The second time I have tasted this wine, and while it is still going, with muted cherry flavors and maybe some other stuff going on, I don't think the quality merits spending the dough you will inevitably spend on 40 year-old Rioja (which, relative to other 40 year old wines out there is not much, but still I'd look for other stuff).

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva 1998

The last time I had this wine (nearly a year ago) it was corked. So it was great to taste this wine in prime form. So pure on the nose - spicy red cherries, almond liqueur, orange rind. Very bright and focused on the palate, with lively red fruits, sicilian oranges and a vein of iron minerality on the mid-palate. Gorgeous Rioja of the old school. This wine in another 5+ years will be even more interesting.

Cillar d'Silos Ribera del Duero 2004

Sweeti-ish cherry fruit. Oaky.

Buil & Gine Joan Gine Gine Priorat 2001

If you're thinking what I'm thinking, then yep - that's a lot of Gine. This would definitely fall into the rare category of 'Priorats I've had in the past 2 years that I actually like.' Though the wine was slightly corked, you could still sense the freshness of red fruits, minerality and lightly floral uplift.

Niepoort Vertente Douro 2004

Dark fruited yet still fairly fresh. I'm guessing that they work very clean in the winery, use good quality fruit, and do not let this sit in new oak for too long...(upon further review the wine goes through malo and ages 12 months in French oak). Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela, and other grapes. Competent and drinkable if not particularly exciting.

Quinta Vale do Maria Douro 2004

Modern, modern, modern. Loads of black currants, dark fruits, and NEW FRENCH OAK. After chilling out a day I did not like this much better.

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