Wine Essentials – Class # 4 – Spain

It was a week of Spanish wines for me last week and I was able to enjoy a variety of warm climate wines where tastes of robust ripened fruits are extremely apparent.  A lot of oaky notes are pungent in Spanish wines as the majority of wines ferment in oak barrels vs. steel.  There are a tremendous amount of wine producing regions in Spain however, one blend typically stands out when talking Spanish wine, Rioja which is a blend of various grapes and can be white, red or rose.  Sherry also is a typical Spanish fortified wine usually served as a pre or post dinner drink.  I had the pleasure of trying a nice range so the tasting notes will hopefully paint a clear picture of the different tastes of the various wines.

When looking for Spanish wines it is easy to figure out if you are getting a “woody” deep and ripened fruit wine through their Spanish Labeling Laws listed below:

Spanish Labeling Laws (these will appear on the bottle)

  • Joven: A very young wine with little aging.  DRINK THIS RIGHT AWAY!
  • Crianza: A child of about 2 years of aging with at least 6 month in Oak.
  • Reserva: At least 3 years of aging with at least 1 year in oak and bottle
  • Gran Reserva: Extreme above average vintages typically requires 5 years of aging, 18 months in oak, and 36 months in bottle
Now, on to the good stuff!!  We did a circle around the region and tasted some magnificent wines!  Enjoy!
Tastings (wines I liked bolded)

Jerez, Mazanilla, ‘La Gitana’, Bodegas Hidalgo, NV. – Retails $23 (Sherry, Fortified Wine)

  • Notes: Smells of dry fruit and strong apple smell; Does not taste sweet but dry, acidic, very bitter lingering taste, earthy and nutty… A complex wine
  • Pairings: This should be served before dinner as an appetizer with a few salty nuts

Rias Baixas, Albarino, Legado de Conde 2009 – Retails $22 (Albarino grape)

  • Notes: Bright citrus in smells; very lemony, green apple, clean and ‘minerally’ in taste
  • Pairings: A fresh and young wine makes it nice drinking wine on a hot summer day; most definitely a wine you could drink by itself

Condrieu, E. Guigal 2009 – Retails $50 (Viognier grape)

  • Notes: A very floral and fruitful smell; tastes very bitter and citrus with a peppery after taste
  • Pairings: Another great white wine that would go well with a shellfish dish or a lobster with cream sauce

Rioja, Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva, R. Lopez de Heredia 1990 – Retails $50 (Viura and Malvasia grapes)

  • Notes: Smells oaky, hazelnut and almost “buttery”; In taste it is very complex with tannins, dark bitterness, brown butter, nutty with acidity – it almost changes in the mouth
  • Pairings: This traditional Rioja would go great with roasted chicken, Veal w/ wild mushrooms or an assortment of aged cheeses

Les Baux de Provence, Rose, Mas de la Dame 2009 - Retails $18 (Various grapes including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault)

  • Notes: Unripe peach, herby smell with a citrus edge; Tastes full of acidity, not super lemony w/ little tannin, very bright and refreshing
  • Pairings: Great on a summer afternoon by the pool or with an early dinner of seared tuna enjoyed outside on the roof

Rioja Crianza, Luis Canas 2006 – Retails $18 (Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo)

  • Notes: Smells of deep cherry, plum, refreshing and young; Light/mature red fruits in taste, simple cherry
  • Pairings: Enjoy this light wine with pasta and a light red sauce!

Finca La Planeta Pasa, 2004 – Retails $45  (Cabernet Sauvignon w/ a bit of Grenache)

  • Notes: Tastes of very dark and dense fruit, strong blackberry taste – a very modern style big spanish wine
  • Pairings: One reco – STEAK!

Ribera de Duero, Crianza, Condado de Haza 2007 – Retails $38 (Tinto Fino grape) 14% Alcohol 

  • Notes: Smells of rich dark plum and cherry, earthy and a bit of a petroleum smell; Tastes very rich dried plums, “scrapey tannins
  • Pairings: A great pairing with a strong food – Duck or goose dish

Cornas, ‘Les Grandes Terrasses’, P. Jaboulet 2007 – Retails $36 (Syrah)

  • Notes: Dark fruit, cherry and wood in smell; similarly, dark fruit, wood and spice in taste
  • Pairings: Hard cheeses, roasts, red meats, beef

Barossa Valley, Shiraz, ‘Entity’, J. Duval WInes 2007 – Retails $40 (Shiraz – South Australia)

  • Notes: Smells very peppery and rich in fruit as well as tastes very fruity with lots of tannin an has a hint of peppery after tastes
  • Pairings: This easy drinking wine is a great read to drink by itself!
Jerez, Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo, G. Byass – Retails $66 (Sherry – Palimino, Pedro Ximenez grapes) – 18% Alcohol 
  • Notes: Smells like dry figs, walnuts, raisins, wood, coffee; tastes very bitter with rich dry fruit, almost “walnutty” and astringent in taste
  • Pairings: Great after dinner with a selection of aged cheeses, figs, salty nuts and hard cheese – a great dessert to impress your guests!
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