Friday, February 17, 2012

MOnastrell - Where Spain Meets Missouri

A new personal discovery was made recently by the Wine Armada’s excursion to the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference. A Kansas City-based winery is now pushing the viticultural boundaries past the usual Missouri plantings of Norton, Chardonel, Vignoles, etc., and is successfully experimenting with more traditional varietals such as Cabernet Savignon, Malbec & Viognier. And, much to our delight, the results of those pioneering explorations can be quite tasty.

Spying a bottle of 2010 Mourvedre on one of conference tasting tables immediately captured our attention. We already knew this particular grape has been produced with great fanfare in the Jumilla, Yecla and Alicante regions of Spain, where it is known as Monastrell. Some high-end gems, like Bodegas El Nido Clio and Bodegas Olivares Jumilla Dulce have even risen the so-called bar of this common grape, which usually makes for delicious every-day wine, at an every-day price. Up until this moment, we had never seen Mourvedre/Monastrell from a Midwestern vineyard.

We were “blown out if the water” after the first sip, reveling in the depth of flavor, intense dark fruit and the long, smoky, pleasing finish. We were ecstatic after turning the bottle around to reveal the producer, Amigoni Estate, haled from western Missouri. We wanted to learn more and checked out the website for the interesting background story behind this “urban winery,” the other varietals they made available, and who was steering this noble ship into this uncharted territory.

Unfortunately, availability is currently non-existent near our home base of St. Louis. But what we do know is the next time we are sailing into the Kansas City area, Amigoni Urban Winery will definitely be one of our ports of call. A huge Wine Armada salute goes to Amigoni Estate for the unprecedented success of bringing one of our favorite Spanish grapes home to Missouri!

For more information, please check their website:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tasting a Legend

The culinary pairing gauntlet was thrown with some Dyreks Ranch bison tenderloins on the Wine Armada Saturday night dinner menu. Being leaner, a little more dense and flavorful than beef, the perfect Spanish wine compliment led us somewhere we had yet to explore, but had been anxiously awaiting the uncorking, after a year in our cellar. It was now time to unleash...the "Black Label"!

Miguel Torres is one of the most famous, and influential, winemakers in Spain and the much-sought-after Torres Mas La Plana "Black Label", illustrates the depth of his talents. This classic was produced from a single vineyard in Penedes (a northeastern Spanish wine region) from 100% old-vine cabernet sauvignon and aged 18 months in new French oak. Mas La Plana received notoriety in the 1979 Paris Wine Olympiad when it was awarded top prize over many other well-respected European wines.

Since we selected the 2003 vintage, there was plenty of time for tannins to settle and flavors to develop with some aging. This paid off handsomely, with this elegant wine providing a delicious accent to the bison steak, without overpowering the meat's subtle, unique flavor. A complex combination of dark fruit, leading to a long finish hinting of herbs and licorice, made it worth the wait to finally experience the magic created by Miguel Torres.

Here is a link for more information on Torres, Mas La Plana and his other more affordable wines that are readily available. In fact, another "can't miss" pairing, is his under-$10 Sangre de Toro and Spanish shrimp.