Thursday, June 6, 2013

Riding a New Wave of Spanish Wine

The line-up - lengthy and impressive. The presenters - informed and enthusiastic. The venue - comfortable and casual. All this combined for an incredible afternoon of tasting at Sasha's on De Mun earlier this week. A new portfolio of Spanish wine was revealed in St. Louis by Chris Hoskins and Leland Reid of Appellations Fine Wines, along with native Catalonian Nuria Garrote i Esteve from Vinovi & Co. They all guided us through a treasure trove currently seen only in Missouri and Michigan. New producers, new regions, new was all that was needed to gain Wine Armada's attention.

18 wines from small vineyards and artisan winemakers covering all corners of the Spanish countryside were featured. They included the following:

2009 Valldolina Reserva Brut Nature Cava - "Brut Nature" is hard to find, but worth seeking. This shines as an astoundingly pure example of high-quality sparkling wine.
2011 Ca N'estruc Blanc & 2010 Equilibrista Negre - The Blanc is a refreshing blend of five white grapes from Penedes. The Negre combines Syrah, Cariyena & Garnaxta with delicious results. Wine Advocate scored previous vintages 90 & 91 pts.                       
Belondrade 2011 Quinta Apolonia & 2010 Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo - Both masterfully crafted, but the extra barrel aging on the 2010 takes Verdejo to the realm of a superior white Burgundy.
Castell D'Encus 2010 Ekam, 2010 Taleja & 2010 Thalarn - The Costers del Segre region's take on Riesling and white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon), but the real star is Thalarn - 100% Syrah that Wine Advocate scored 95 pts. for the 2010 vintage.
2010 Billo Priorat - Lighter style Priorat that would be easy drinking for summer.
Garcia Burgos 2005 Vendimia Seleccionada & 2007 Sh - A Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, along with an impressive Syrah from Navarra.
2008 Alberto Ledo Ledo.8 - My favorite wine of the day! A Mencia from Bierzo steals the show with lots of ripe fruit and a finish that wouldn't quit.
2009 Almaroja Pirita - A crazy combo of 10 grapes that I found hard to define. May need to spend more time with this one.
2011 Cesar Principe 13 Cantaros Nicolas & 2009 Cesar Principe - The rarely seen region of Cigales makes a memorable appearance with two extraordinary Tempranillos. Past vintages have scored between 89-92 pts. with Wine Advocate.
Alemany i Corrio 2010 Pas Curtei & 2006 Sot Lefreic - Penedes red blends with the nod toward the perfect balance achieved by the Sot Lefreic (garners consistent 90+ ratings)
2007 Grau Vell Alcor - An interesting urban vineyard project outside Barcelona produced this powerful red blend.

It was a whirlwind tour to say the least, but the results of our findings were well worth it. The Wine Armada wishes Appellations Fine Wines much success in diversifying the area's Spanish wine offerings with this outstanding collection. We look forward to future findings by this adventurous group of importing pioneers.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Wines

Three world-class wines were enjoyed this weekend along the Wine Armada's route from the home base to various points throughout the neighborhood. All are high-scoring, great values, that would be great additions to your summer collection.

While still in port, barbecued ribs were on the menu, and a Spanish red was called into action. The 2010 Bodegas Volver “Tarima Hill,” from old vines in the high regions of Alicante, was a “Monastrell Masterpiece.” Robert Parker was right on with his 93 pt. rating for this stunning red that delivered layer after layer of flavors like blackberry, dark cherries, fig and spices. The smooth finish was long-lasting and the pairing with barbecue sauce, and perfectly-cooked ribs, was heavenly. This gem, from superstar importer Jorge Ordonez, can be had for less than $15!

Later in the weekend, the Wine Armada sailed into a neighbor's harbor for a casual cookout of grilled shrimp and salmon burgers. We unleashed a 2011 Nisia, thinking made this 100% old vine (70-100 years in age!) Verdejo would be crowd-pleaser. We were not disappointed as this white wine proved to be a worthy seafood partner, and contender for one Spain's finest Verdejos we have ever tasted. Intense, yet refined, we experienced amazing levels of citrus and peach flavors with a touch of vanilla creaminess. 91 Points from Robert Parker and a price, once again below $15.

We finished our journey with a 2009 Pazos del Rey "Sila" Mencia from Monterrei, Spain. Tasted a little "oakier" than most Mencias tried previously, but the texture was silky smooth and SO easy drinking. Much like a Pinot Noir, but some darker fruits, like blueberry and plum, work their way toward a clean finish with enough acidity for food friendliness. 89 points from Wine Advocate and yours for less than $20.

Summer has just begun and so has the exploration of many more great wines Spain has to offer. For more information, contact the Wine Armada at