Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A "Real" Verdejo

With the temperatures on the rise in Wine Armada’s port city, the transition to lighter wines has begun. The Real Compania de Vinos Verdejo 2012, from La Mancha, breezed into our glasses recently and made our palates forget about last Winter’s chill. Delicate notes of pear, green apple and food-friendly minerality went down easily. The finish was bright and clean, making this a perfect Springtime post-gardening sipper. Even the bottle label collage with its background of pale green crowns, reminds us Verdejo rules as a warm weather white!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Gold Mesh Standard

You know when you see that gold wire mesh around a bottle of Rioja you're dealing with some serious wine. Such is the case with the 2007 El Coto Crianza.

The tradition of netting dates back to the early 20th century when top Rioja producers were attempting to stop dishonest merchants from pasting their labels on lesser bottles of wine. El Coto began production many years later, with this intriguing combination of old world packaging, and new world flavor profiles.

By definition this Crianza must spend at least one year in oak, and another year in the bottle, before release. It's smooth as silk, on a light-to-medium frame, and glides along with a dark cherry, earthy spiciness that finishes with that signature Rioja balsamic note. An easy year-round red for casual gatherings or with your favorite tapas.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Laxas & Filon

No, they're not from Greek mythology or a little-known accounting firm. These are the latest bottles to climb aboard the Wine Armada.

The light-bodied 2012 Laxas Albariño is full of ripe pear, lemon/lime notes, followed by a mineral-laden, refreshing finish. Think any type of seafood and this Spanish white, from the cool climates of Rias Baixas, will make your dish sing.

The 2012 Filon Garnacha originates from the highest reaches of Calatayud, in ancient soils of quartz and slate. The 30-40 year old vines that struggle in this environment produce grapes with intensely concentrated black cherry and raspberry flavors. Low tannins and savory acidity on the long finish make this $8.00, 90-point scoring wine, your perfect match for Springtime grilling.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Shade of White

While searching the cargo hold for a pairing partner to compliment an earthy chicken with vegetable dish, Las Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca 2012 came into view. Sourced from old vines 20-40 years old, this subtly beguiling Spanish white from Terra Alta won us over with seamless layers of citrus, pear and minerals. The lengthy finish, of this 88 pt. Wine Spectator selection, echoed some whites from Priorat, with lingering spicy notes of ginger and nutmeg. Garnacha Blanca may be hard to find, but when it is discovered, the Wine Armada always adds a bottle to the arsenal.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Go, Graciano!

Another eye-opening experience in Wine Armada's quest to explore the many regions and grapes of Spain. While we are so familiar with Rioja, we had the good fortune to try a rare, single-bottling of one of the varietals used to produce the classic red blend.  2011 Rio Madre Rioja is 100% Graciano and 110% delicious! Huge flavors of blueberry, black raspberry and a savory, smoky, acidic finish leaped from the glass and made us wonder why we don't see more wine made of this grape being imported. Even better, this Wine Advocate 91 pointer can be yours for under $10.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wintery Weekend Wines

The Verdejos of Rueda are among the most consistent white wine values available and Lo Nuevo Lunares Verdejo 2011 is no different. This bottling has the signature white peach, pineapple and honeysuckle flavors, but has an extra charge of acidity that makes it sizzle. Should be delicious with anything from the sea.

La Cartuja Priorat 2011 has quite a pedigree, scoring 93 pts. from Robert Parker, so expectations were high. While it delivered some of the black cherry, blueberry and mineral flavors from the Garnacha/Carinena blend, we considered it an overall lighter style than the rustic, boldness that typify Priorat wines. Easy drinking, uncomplicated and a great match with red meat or pasta in a rich tomato sauce.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Wine for the Ages

Looking for something to celebrate a special occasion? López de Heredia Rioja Viña Gravonia Crianza Blanco 2003 is one of the greatest white wines we have ever tasted. Unlike anything else we've tried, the amazing combination of orange peel, green tea, almonds with ginger notes in the background sail on and on in the lengthy finish. Hard to believe the freshness of this 11-year old beauty, but the classic winemakers from this legendary Rioja producer take barrel-aged Viura to new heights. May take some searching, but definitely worth the reward of enjoying this memorable wine.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Organic Ossium

Spain has another answer for those seeking certified organic wine. The 2010
Ossium hails from Utiel-Requena (an obscure region we're now seeing a lot more wine being imported) in the southeastern part of the country. This 100% Tempranillo has the familiar raspberry, cherry flavors, but after breathing for a couple of hours came unique notes of strawberry, rhubarb with some balsamic on the finish. Easy-drinking, food-friendly and completely affordable for less than $10.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Fried Chicken Revelation

With our usual Fried Chicken go-to-wine (Chardonnay) in short supply, we had to explore another pairing option. A bottle of Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava caught our eye and we thought "what the heck." Fried foods and sparkling wine are a natural combination, so this highly rated, wallet-friendly Spanish bubbly was more than up for the task. The traditional blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes delivered delicious flavors of green apple, pear with light citrus notes on the clean, toasty finish. This tasted just right after a bite of crispy chicken, putting everything in balance and bringing you back for more. Hard to believe you can get something with an 88 point rating from Wine & Spirits for only $8! But for followers of Wine Armada, just another example of the great values imported from Spain.