Some of us had the pleasure of an excellent Spanish tasting last week, climaxing in the 68-year old PX which I commented on in the preceding post. But we had already agreed that the next blind tasting would be on the voluminous subject of ‘Spain’. Could we keep up the very high standard? Yes, we could!
One easy way of keeping up the standard is of course to serve the same wine … blind … and see if anyone recognises it. The good news is that I did think this was the same grape variety, Palomino, made, unusually, as a straight white wine and not turned into Sherry. Even more interestingly, it has some of those nutty, herbal notes, plus lean citrus fruit, which we associate with its well-known cousin. A highly distinctive and worthwhile aperitif or a food wine for real wine lovers: Navazos Niepoort, Vino Blanco, 2011.
Unless you are a serious Spanish expert there is no way you are going to be able to discern what this is without a sneaky look at the label. I thought it was white Rioja in a modern, fresh style. In fact, it was a four-way blend of Treixadura, Godello, Loureira and Albarino with lemon fruit and, I quote, aromas of ‘Japanese pink pickled ginger’ … Coto de Gomariz, Ribeiro, 2009.
Here’s one I should have (or at least could have) recognised. The vast majority of Garnacha Blanco is undistinguished, a left over from a time when what mattered was the quantity of grapes a vine produced, not the quality of the resulting wine. But if you grow it well and keep yields low, it can produce a wine of some distinction – slight mushroom notes developing from age in the bottle (‘smells like mature red Burgundy’ was one misleading comment!), mouth-filling from both the alcohol and extract, sufficient acidity: Llagrimes Tardor, DO Terra Alta, Agricola Sant Josep, 2008.
On to the reds. Here we had two examples of Tempranillo from less fashionable areas. Bodegas Pintia, DO Toro, 2002 showed fine development in the glass with jammy black fruit and leather themes and high, resilient tannins. Much younger, Abadia Retuerta, Sardon del Duero, 2008 was in fine form with sweet oak evident on the nose over conserved black cherry fruit and cocoa … good drinking with robust meat dishes.
The next three wines showed an instructive contrast to these Tempranillo based wines. They demonstrated what good examples of Garnacha can do when treated with respect: luscious mouthfeel, soft ripe tannins, real breadth in the mouth, higher sweet alcohol, and black plum and blackberry fruit:
First up, El Brindis, Franck Massard, Mont Sant, 2008 is, in fact, a blend of Samso (ie Carignan) and Garnacha. Perpetual, Priorat, Torres 2008 was the most modern of the trio with rich, warm fruit to the fore. Camins del Priorat, Alvaro Palacios, 2012, from bought-in fruit but made by a top winery had a slightly odd ‘baked apple’ aroma but otherwise hit the spot.
And our final duo: a venerable old Rioja and a modern red with a bit of bottle age. Pale brick red in colour, a strawberry fragrance with a touch of old wine VA (or to put it more bluntly: acetic acid), long smooth finish, what else could it be: Ygay, Marques de Murrieta, Rioja 1983? Old school Rioja at its best. By contrast, 15 years younger but still a decade and a half old, Senorio de Sarria, Navarra, 1999 showed good ripe, developed, fruit. Thought to be a blend – take your pick from Cabernet, Merlot, Tempranillo, Graciano, but this wine provided a rounded full stop for this excellent tasting.