Thursday, August 10, 2017

Weekly Wine-Down August 1-7: The Wine in Spain Falls Mainly On My Lips

I used to think that the quality of Spanish wines wasn't comparable to French and Italian wines. I once mentioned this to a fellow winelover at a Vintage Port tasting I attended with him a couple of years ago. He laughed, and said I must try more of them to really appreciate the wine's quality through it's terroir, and "bang for your buck".

I am so glad I listened to him!

Over the past few years, I have found some wonderful Spanish gems, and after focusing on more Spanish wines in the past month, here are some of my personal favourites with a few other producers to try out.

Spain's wine regions spread sporadically throughout the entire country. A wide variety of red, white and rose wines are produced. The most notable regions include:

-Rioja: The most well-known region in Spain, oaked red wines made from grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha (aka Grenache) are produced here. The Ribeira del Duero and Toro also feature some wonderful expressions of Tempranillo.
-Jerez: Home of Sherry wine made in a variety of styles
-Catalunya: This is where Spain's signature sparkling wine is produced, called Cava. Some notable wine appellations nearby are Priorat and Montsant, which offer red wines with elegance and structure.
-Rias Baixas: The maritime climate coupled with mineral-rich soil is the perfect homeland for a white wine called Albarino, which carries aromas of stone fruits and melons combined with a mineral structure and zesty finish.

White Wine: Albarino

August 1st was considered "Albarino Day" in the winelovers' world, and my sister-in-law and I celebrated with an interesting take on the varietal. Deep gold in colour, the Pirueta contains aromas of honeydew melon and orange blossom tied into a palate of underripe pear and grapefruit. The body shows more weight than most Albarinos, with a blend of mouthwatering acidity and zesty finish. Pairs extremely well with lighter cheeses like havarti.

Another good Albarino to try is Paco & Lola, which is lighter in style and offers flavours of red apple and crisp citrus. The label is created to catch your eye in store, adorned with black and white polka dots!

Rose Wines

The "dog days of summer" allow for Rose wines to really shine as they pair well with the sunny summer heat. Bodegas Breca delivers a dry rose called Garnacha de Fuego that delivers excellent value perfect for sipping on a hot summer day! Bright and refreshing, with notes of papaya, fresh strawberries and minerality mid-palate. Note: All rose wines should be consumed within 24 hours of opening-otherwise, they lose all their flavour.

Bodegas Muga, based out of the Rioja region, also produces a dry rose that is fuller in body, with concentrated citrus and fresh red berry flavours.

Red Wines: Rioja

And speaking of Rioja, this is the trademark red wine that comes out of Spain. Most are composed of the grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha, with Graciano and Mazuelo sometimes blended in. An oaked white blend is also made here; however, I'll focus on the reds this time.

There are 4 types of Rioja red wines: Joven wines are bottled the year after the grapes are harvested, Crianza wines must age for 2 years with 6 months of that in oak barrels, Reserva wines are aged for a minimum of 3 years with 12 months in oak, and Gran Reserva wines must be aged for at least 5 years, including 6 months in oak.

The Beronia Rioja Reserva 2014 is an expressive blend of wild strawberries, red roses, coffee and an earthy note that leads into the long finish. Lively acidity and mocha tannins add structure and complexity. The 2014 is still showing its youth, and would be a wonderful addition to the cellar for another 3-5 years! Pairs well with grilled red meats like lamb chops.

Other Rioja wines to try include Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva and Vina Bujanda Rioja Crianza.

The next time you stop by your local wine store, stop by the Spanish aisle and give some of these value-packed gems a try. I can't say I've ever had a bottle from Spain that I didn't like! You just might find this to be your wine truth as well ;)

Stay tuned for next week's wine-down, when I focus on the Reserve line of Mission Hill's wines.


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