Sherryfest West Coming to San Francisco!

The best wine gift I ever received was (well other than wine;-) Karen MacNeil’s “The Wine Bible“. And one of the most fascinating chapters in the book for me, is the chapter on Sherry.  As I read about Sherry, learned how it’s made, its myriad of styles, and it’s affinity for food, I was fascinated and wanted learn and taste more (or more accurately taste and learn more).

Sherry is arguably Spain’s greatest wine.  I like what Karen MacNeil states in The Wine Bible…

“But no matter what you call it, if there were justice in the wine cosmos which there is not, Sherry would be one of the world’s best-loved and oft-sipped wines. As it stands, Sherry is the unsung hero of the great classic wines, is misunderstood, underappreciated, and wrongly cast as the libation of old ladies”

As it stands today, it’s mostly a wine geek’s (guilty as charged) wine.  Because of its oxidative aromas, and the almost saline flavors of some styles of Sherry, it can certainly be an acquired taste.

That was a couple of years ago.  Since then I’ve dabbled in Sherry –  a bottle here and there, a tasting or two, a few glasses with tapas in Spain. I’ve wanted to do more than dabble…so when I delighted to see Sherryfest™ coming to San Francisco.

At last, a chance to do more than dabble in Sherry!

Sherryfest West Coming to San Francisco

Sherryfest 2013 NYC – image courtesy of Sherryfest.com

Sherryfest™ is one of the largest sherry events in the world, celebrating all aspects of this magnificent Spanish wine. Created by Peter Liem, author of Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla, and Rosemary Gray, director of RS Productions NYC, Sherryfest was launched in 2012, featuring an array of tasting events, seminars and sherry dinners with bodega representatives.

The fifth edition of Sherryfest will be held in San Francisco from June 17-20, 2014, and will feature a variety of exciting events for both consumers and wine professionals. These events include producer hosted dinners on June 17, 18 & 19th; seminars on June 19 & 20; and a Grand Tasting on June 18. Grand Tasting registration is now open, and tickets for dinners and seminars are also available for purchase.

Time to get your Sherry on!

Sherryfest West – San Francisco
June 17-20, 2014
Grand Tasting – June 18th at the Bluxome Street Winery
Dinners and Seminars - June 17-20

Can’t make it to Sherryfest?

Plan B could be to check out a the Sherry tastings at  K&LWine Merchants in honor of Sherryfest at their Redwood City and San Francisco locations on June 18th and 19th respectively.

Remember to maximize enjoyment and learning at public tastings:

  • Wear dark, comfortable clothes
  • Hydrate
  • Spit
  • Skip the perfume and cologne

Hope to see you at Sherryfest!

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#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week; 2013 Bodegas Ostatu Rosado

Rosé season is in full bloom, although truth be told, it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round for me!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders for $20 or less!  This week’s rosé is the 2013 Bodegas Ostatu Rosado.

The Winery

Bodegas Ostatu is a family winery located in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa region in La Rioja, Spain.

The winery is owned and operated by the Saenz de Samaniego family, who have been in the area for many generations.  Most of that time they grape growers who sold their grapes to other wineries. But in the late 60s Doroteo Asunción made the decision to make and sell his own wines rather than selling his grapes on to other wineries.

The Sáenz de Samaniego Family Photo by Steven Alexander

The Sáenz de Samaniego Family
Photo by Steven Alexander

The vineyards, which are protected by the Sierra de Cantabria range, are composed of ochre coloured chalky clay soil, with an average age of 50 years. The estate is composed of over forty hectares of vines located in and around the town of Samaniego.

According to importer De Maison Selections Inc, until recently, all Ostatu wines were produced using the carbonic maceration process. Such wines are made to be consumed young and are popular with many locals.  However that philosophy changed when Frenchman, Hubert de Bouard de Laforest of Chateau Angelus saw the unique potential of the terroir of Ostatu vineyards. As a result, wines are now produced using traditional fermentation, and yields in the vineyards have been reduced in order improve the quality of the Ostatu wines.  As a result Ostatu is able to produce wines which live up to their full potential.

The Wine

This wine is one of Ostatu’s latest projects.  Fruit for the wine was sourced from some of Ostatu’s oldest and highest elevation vineyards, this wine is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, and 30% Garnacha (Grenache Noir). It was fermented in stainless steel vats.

13% alcohol | Retail – $14

photo (40)

My tasting notes follow:

Deep pink color with generous watermelon, raspberry and wet stone aromas. On the plate it approaches medium bodied, and is dry, lively and refreshing with tart cherry, raspberry, and subtle spice flavors underscored by an appealing minerality. Medium finish. 

Rating: B+ This has everything you want in a Pink Porch Pounder.  It’s clean, crisp, fruity, dry, and food friendly. And  the price is right at under $15. Recommended! >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: I enjoyed this with Spinach, smoked turkey and burrata salad!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Best Wines To Pair With Tapas #SundaySupper

I was pretty excited when I saw this week’s #SundaySupper tapas theme.  That’s because my wife and I recently returned from a 17-day trip to Spain! Our itinerary included visits to Barcelona, La Rioja (Spain’s most renown wine country), San Sebastian, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada.  One of the highlights of our trip, of course was Spain’s food – especially the tapas, which we ate almost daily!  We were very impressed by the integrity and freshness of the ingredients in most of the food we enjoyed.

The notion of perfect and delicious little bar snack has now taken wing from its humble beginnings, developing into a worldwide gastronomic delight perceptively different from the usual restaurant experience..while still maintaining the feel of convivial food

We did our most serious tapéo (tapas hopping) in Barcelona, and San Sebastian.  But the cacophony of clanking glasses, fast paced chatter and the shuffling of tiny plates filled the atmosphere in every tapas bar we visited.

photo (47)

Each experience was unique and memorable in its own way.  For example, the experience in Haro, the wine capital of Spain, had a much more intimate feel than Barcelona, which was, as one would expect, was more frenetic.  Some of the tapas were the same from place to place, but we also enjoyed some regional specialties.

One of my favorites in San Sebastian - Bar Bergara.  Image courtesy of vamonosdetapas.com

One of my favorites in San Sebastian – Bar Bergara. Image courtesy of vamonosdetapas.com

The gastronomic highlight of the trip for me was San Sebastian (which has a well deserved reputation for being the culinary capital of Spain)!  It’s the most famous city in the Basque Country, and the local word for tapas is pintxos. 

Check out some of the tasty tapas we enjoyed in Spain…

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Pairing Wines with Tapas

I’m a big proponent of the wine and food pairing guideline that says ‘what grows together, goes together“.  In other words, pair tapas with Spanish wines.  The wide gamut of Spanish wines are naturally well-suited to the broad spectrum of Spanish foods.  My recommendations include many well know Spanish wines that are great with tapas, including Cava, Albariño, and Rioja, as well as the lesser well-known, but no less fantastic with tapas, Txacholi (Chacoli).

Another classic, but unsung hero of Spanish wine worthy of your consideration is Sherry.  Despite, the belief that Sherry country is where tapas were first created, Sherry remains mostly underappreciated, and misunderstood. It’s not just the libation of old ladies.  For example, relatively few people understand that Sherry ranges in style from bone dry to rich and very sweet (Here’s a great primer on Sherry).  Fortunately Sherry is becoming more popular outside of Spain because of its food friendly nature and exceptional quality/price ratio.  I count myself among those who believe that Sherry is their quintessential accompaniment.  Not sure about giving Sherry a try?  Try a half-bottle!

Tip: Since tapas are “small plates, you may find yourself ordering a wide assortment.  Consider ordering your tapas in two waves – those that work with white wine (Cava, Spanish white wines, or Sherry), then order tapas that work with red wines (meats, or mushroom based ones).

Check out the mouth-watering assortment of amazing tapas at the #SundaySupper virtual tapas bar and my wine pairing recommendations! :

Pair these dishes with Cava, the Spanish equivalent of champagne, made mostly in Catalunya by the same exacting standards as in France.  It has a wonderful palate-refreshing qualities also make it ideal with broad range of Spanish tapas.  Look for  El Xamfra Mercat Brut Cava.  It has an intriguing floral, stone fruit, citrus, and toasted nut character

Try this dishes with a slightly sweet Cava.  Look for Segura Viudas ARIA Extra Dry. It shows off-dry tropical fruit, apple, pear, honey and a bit of citrus flavors with crisp palate cleansing acidity and effervescence.

Pair these dishes with a Fino Sherry.  Fino is a light-bodied, very dry type of Sherry that is excellent with olives, almonds, ham, and chips and dips.  One of my favorites is Valdespino “Inocente” Fino. It has a complex, elegant, chalk, aromatic herb, and salted almond character.  These dishes will also work with the El Xamfra Cava.

Pair these dishes with an Amontillado Sherry. It’s an off-dry medium-bodied style Sherry with a richer, nuttier character than Fino.  Look for the Lustau Amontillado “Los Arcos” Solera Reserva. It has an off-dry edge, and an almond paste, date, spiced orange, slightly honeyed character. These dishes will also work well with the recommended Rioja below.

Pair these dishes with a Rosé.  Spain make some fine Rosé.  Most are Tempranillo and/or Grenache based.  But check out the 2012 Raventos i Blanc “La Rosa”. It’s made of Pinot Noir, and has a lovely, dry tangy mixed red berry and watermelon character.

Pair these dishes with an Albariño, the racy, refreshing white wine originating from the small wine region of Rias Baixas (ree-ahs-buy-shuss).  Look for the 2011 Condes de Albarei Albariño.  It has expansive aromas, a silky texture, and peach, citrus, and mineral flavors.

Pair these dishes with a Txacholi, a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol produced in Basque country. The wine is produced from an indigenous varietal of grape grown in vineyards that overlook the rugged Cantabrian coastline and are perfumed by the salty sea air. It’s fantastic with seafood.  Look for  the 2012 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina.  It has a zippy, crisp, tart green apple, citrus and mineral character. 

Pair these dishes with Rioja, named for Spain’s preeminent wine region.  The workhorse grape in Rioja is Tempranillo.  The supple, earthy, and often refined wines bring to mind Burgundy in some respect for me.  Look for the 2010 Bodegas Bilbainas “Viña Zaco”. It shows perfumed floral, red fruit, and spiced vanilla aromas with ripe black cherry, plum, vanilla flavors supported by well-integrated tannins.  

Pair these desserts with an Oloroso Sherry, a denser richer style of Sherry.  Look for the Lustau East Indian Solera. It’s a provocative sweet creamy Sherry with a toffee, fig, caramel, raisin, and baking spice  (cinnamon and clove) character. 

What’s your favorite wine to enjoy with tapas? Salud!

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Value Alert! – Outstanding Spanish Wine For $11!

From time to time I come across a wine with a surprisingly good quality/price ratio (‘QPR”).  The 2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas , a Spanish wine from the Yecla D.O., is such a wine.  I purchased this bottle from my favorite wine store, K&L Wine Merchants.

Not familiar with the Yecla region of Spain?  Join the club, neither was I! What I do know about Spain is that it consistently offers great value in its wines.  Whenever I look for great QPR wine, I alway start with Spanish wine!  And whenever, I find one as good as this one, and consider what it cost, I inevitably ask myself why I’m not drinking more Spanish wine! It’s a country whose wines I intend to explore more…

Yecla is a small DO ( Denominación de Origen) near the town of Yecla in the northernmost corner of the region of Murcia, not far from Spain’s east coast.  The vast majority  of vineyards are planted to Monastrell (Mourvèdre, Mataro),  Other permitted red varieties are  Garnacha TintaGarnacha TintoreraTempranilloMerlotCabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Permitted white varieties include AirenMersegueraMacabeoMalvasia and Chardonnay.  The inclusion of grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay tells me the region produces wines that are well-suited to the American palate.

The region is made up of a single district, but the local wine community divides the area into two – Yecla Campo Arriba, and  Yecla Campo Abajo.  Yecla Campo Arriba  is considered superior because  of its old vines.  Yecla was granted DO status in 1975.

Bodegas Castaño is a family run private winery that has had a winemaking presence in the region for generations.  They own about 400 hectares (approximately 10% of the DO) in four prime locations.

This wine has an excellent track record.  Previous vintages  (2001-2006) were all scored 90+ point and considered best values by the Wine Advocate and the International Wine Cellar.

2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas

2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas – Great QPR!

Here’s what the producer says about the wine…

“This special limited production wine is an example  of the high quality potential of the emerging Yecla region in Southern Spain.  Solanera is produced from the oldest vines of the indigenous Monastrell, along with low-yielding Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tintorera which is aged in oak for 10 months..This wine is a custom blend for Eric Solomon and is bottled unfiltered and unfined.”

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque violet color with sweet tobacco, cedarwood, sweet dark fruits, and hint of violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with supple tannins, and surprisingly fresh acidity with dark cherry, blackberry, blueberry, and a bit of cassis flavors. Long finish. 

 

Here’s the wine geek stuff:

Where it’s from: SpainMurciaYecla

The grapes: 65%  Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvedre), 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Garnacha Tintorera (a.k.a. Alicante Bouschet),

Aging: Ten months in 10 months in oak; French (70%) and American oak (30%)

Age of vineyards: 40+ year old vineyards from Campo Arriba

Cost: $11

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork

Recommendation: This is going to be a repeat purchase for me!  I highly recommend! To find this wine click here

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T.G.I.F. Bubbly – German Gilabert Penedès Brut Nature Rosat

This week’s sparkler, German Gilabert Penedes Brut Nature Rosat, is a Rosé Cava from Spain.  It’s an interesting blend of Trepat and Garnacha (Grenache), which are both dark-skinned grapes used to produce red wine.  Most Rosé sparkling wines are made using either light-skinned grapes such as Chardonnay, or a combination of light and dark-skinned grapes.

This wine is a special project custom-made for Jose Pastor, an importer of Spanish wines who lives in the Bay Area.   Pastor is passionate about “Lively wines from the coolest corners of Spain“.  He is passionate about terroir-driven, small-lot wines produced from organically grown fruit that is well priced.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick 411 on Cava..

Unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t from a particular region in Spain, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there various regions in Spain that make Cava,  about 95% of the production  comes from the traditional home of Cava, the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia)  The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are:

  • Must be made in the traditional method.
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes (Trepat, and Garnacha as with this wine) are permitted

NV Vinos de Terrunos German Gilabert Penedès Brut Nature Rosat


German Gilabert Penedès Brut Nature Rosat

My tasting notes follow:

Crimson red color with a frothy mousse showing tiny dispersed bubbles with yeast and red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry owing to zero dosage (no added sugar) with fresh cherry, raspberry, and a hint of mineral flavors. Aged ten months on the lees. Super Value at $12!  Highly Recommended – I’ll be buying this one again!

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one was pleasant as a sipper, but it’s very food friendly.  It has enough  body to pair with Paella, spicy Chinese, Thai, and pizza.

Where it’s from: SpainCatalunyaPenedès

The grape(s) Trepat, and Garnacha (Grenache).

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 11.5.%

Dosage: Brut Zéro/Brut Nature (0-3 grams of sugar per liter)

Retail: $12

Serve At: 43°-50° F

 

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The LIke…NV Poema Brut Cava

This week’s sparkler is a Cava from Spain.  I picked this up a BevMo for $9.99 (It was priced at $10.99 pre-BevMo club discount )

Poema is a small producer (when you consider the likes of Codorníu, Freixenet, and Segura Viudas), that is in Korbrand’s portfolio.  They own 20% of the vineyard sources.  The rest are under long-term contract with various growers.  In addition to this Cava, Poema also produces Extra-Dry and Rosado (Rosé) Cava.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick 411 on Cava..

Unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t from a particular region in Spain, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there are some other regions in Spain that also make Cava,  about 95% of the production  comes from the traditional home of Cava, the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia)  The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are:

  • Must be made in the traditional method.
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes are permitted

NV Poema Brut

Where it’s from: SpainCatalunyaCava

The grape(s) Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 11.5.%

Dosage: Brut (0-15 grams of sugar per liter)

Retail: $10

My tasting notes follow:

Light golden-yellow straw color with surprisingly persistent bead of tiny bubbles, and toasty apple aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied with fairly creamy mousse, approaches off-dry and displays easy apple/pear flavors. Short finish – 85pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one would be pleasant as a sipper, but it’s also good with food.  This would also make be a great bubbly for a picnic, or with other light summertime fare.

Recommendation:  This is a good Cava that represents a solid value in Cava, but the field is crowded.  It’s worth a try…but not a re-purchase for me.

Wine Of The Week – Gonzalez Byass “Apóstoles” Palo Cortado VORS

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for June 16-June 22 is the Gonzalez-Byass Jerez-Xéres-Sherry Apostoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo 30 Anos (Phew…that’s a long name!)

The Winery

Gonzalez-Byass was founded in 1835 by Manuel M. Gonzalez in the town of Jerez, Andalusia, Spain.   In 1855 the Byass family, distributors in the U.K., become shareholders of the Company, and the first cellars were established.  The Company changed its name to Gonzalez Byass in 1863.  The company is still run by the founding family (now in its 5th generation)  In addition to wines sold under the Gonzalez-Byass label, they also sell Sherry under the Tio Pepe label.   The Tio Pepe label was added in 1936.  In addition to Sherry,the Company also makes Brandy.

The Wine

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain.  As with in other European countries, the wine is named after a geographic region.  In this case, the city of Jerez in Andalucia.  Interestingly, the words Jerez, Xeres, and Sherry appear on each bottle of Sherry. Each is a different corrupted version of the area the Greeks called Xera.  Sherry is an anglicization of Xeres.

Sherry is arguably Spain’s greatest wine.  I like what Karen MacNeil states in The Wine Bible…

“But no matter what you call it, if there were justice in the wine cosmos which there is not, Sherry would be one of the world’s best-loved and oft-sipped wines. As it stands, Sherry is the unsung hero of the great classic wines, is misunderstood, underappreciated, and wrongly cast as the libation of old ladies”

As it stands today, it’s mostly a wine geek’s (guilty as charged) wine.  Because of its oxidative aromas, and the almost saline flavors of some styles of Sherry, it can certainly be an acquired taste.  That’s why I believe it’s underappreciated.

However, I think Sherry is among the most versatile wines when it comes to food pairings.  For that reason, I look for it, mostly when I’m dining out.  And that’s how I came across this wine.  We were having dinner at Nopa in The City, and it was one of a bunch of Sherry their wine menu.   What caught my eye was “30yr”.  I was also familiar with  Palo Cortado, the rarest style of Sherry, through my readings and I wanted to try some!  I’m glad I did.  This style of wine was a great match for not only our appetizers, but also for my main course.

Sherry is a unique product of terroir (in particular the microclimate in the Sherry Triangle), an aging process that includes using Soleras, and the Palomino grape, which is the primary grape used for making Sherry.  How Sherry is made is beyond the scope of this piece, but for good video about how Sherry is made click here.

There are essentially two broad categories of Sherry – Fino and Oloroso.  Fino’s  are light, dry, and crisp, while olorosos are more full-bodied, darker in color, nutty, and sometimes sweet.  Palo Cortado, a rich, yet dry, or perhaps off-dry style falls between the a Fino and an Oloroso.  In fact, Palo Cortado begins life as a Fino, then evolves as an Oloroso, developing a rich nuttiness and darker color.

This wine is sourced from a solera created in 1862 in honor of a vineyard visit by Queen Isabel II!!

Qualitatively, Sherry may be classifed as “VOS”, or “VORS” meaning the sherries are more than 20 and 30 years old respectively.  It was understanding that “VORS” stood for Very Old Rare Sherry, but looking at the label,  it literally means something else.  My Latin is rusty (Okay…damn near non-existent) but I don’t think it’s “Very Old Rare Sherry”

Sherry is aged a Solera like this:

Valdivia in Jerez, Andalusia (Spain) Español: ...

Valdivia in Jerez, Andalusia (Spain) Español: Botas de oloroso en una bodega de Jerez de la Frontera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My tasting notes follow:

Beautiful burnt umber color with aromatic complex aromas of toffee, caramel, hazelnuts, and sea air. Only slightly oxidative aroma. On the palate medium-bodied, off-dry (from the 13% PX) initially,but somehow drier on the back palate, silky smooth, and balanced with nutty, toffee and dried fruit flavors with a very long finish. – 93pts

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.  This is an excellent example of a Palo Cortado.  If you’ve been curious about Sherry, one that is an off-dry style such as this may be more to your liking.  It’s a great match for cured meats, pate, many cheeses, and foods rich in garlic and spices.

Details:

Alcohol: 20% alcohol.

Closure: Cork closure.

AVASpainAndalucíaJerez-Xérès-Sherry

Varietal(s): 87% Palomino, 13% Pedro Ximenez

Oak: Average of 30 years in American oak barrels following the Solera system

Retail: $40 for half-bottle (375ml)

Cheers!

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T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…N.V. El Xamfra Cava Mercat Brut Nature

This week’s bubbly is another Cava.  I purchased this from my go-to wine store, K&L Wine Merchants ( based on my quick check of  Wine Searcher.com, K&L is the only place you can purchase this wine).  It was designated as a “Top Pick”, and  rated 91pts by the Wine Advocate, so I was curious.

The producer is El Xamfrá, which was founded in 1987 by Francisco Domínguez and his wife Antonia Ruiz in the center of the town Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, which is referred to as “the heart of the Cava”.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick 411 on Cava..

Unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t from a particular region in Spain, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there are some other regions in Spain that also make Cava,  about 95% of the production  comes from the traditional home of Cava, the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia)  The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are:

  • Must be made in the traditional method.
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes are permitted

It’s interesting that this wine is not labeled as a Reserva because according to the El Xamfrá website, it was aged for 18 months.  I also found it interesting that this wine has no dosage, which means there is no added sugar. So it’s very dry.  I must also add this bottle has one of the prettiest labels I’ve seen!

El Xamfrá Mercat Brut Nature

N.V. El Xamfra Cava Mercat Brut Nature

Where it’s from: Spain>Catalunya>Cava

The grape(s) Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 11.5%

Dosage: 0.3 grams/l residual sugar

 Retail: $15

My tasting notes follow:

Pale straw yellow color with lot of bubbles, and floral, stone fruit, citrus and slight sweet yeast aromas. On the palate, it has a surprisingly explosive, yet soft mousse, and approaches medium-bodied with stone fruit, citrus, and toasted nut flavors.  Medium finish. 11.5% alcohol.

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one would be pleasant as a sipper, but it’s also good with food.   I enjoyed this with a Chicken Burrito rather than a beer, and it was quite good!  It would be nice with a salad, especially one with a citrus based dressing because of its citrus flavors.  This would also make be a great bubbly for a picnic, or with other light summertime fare.

Recommendation:  I’ll be buying more this.  I highly recommend!

Value Alert – 90pt Gem From Spain for $12!

Several months ago, I attended a La Mancha tasting in San Francisco.  I blogged about it in a post entitled Is La Mancha Ready For Primetime?  Of course, most of us are familiar with La Mancha thanks to the famous book by Miguel de Cervantes entitled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (or perhaps for the less literary types such as myself, the Broadway musical The Man of La Mancha) 

These days La Mancha is trying to make a name for itself with its wines.  Here’s the 411 on La Mancha:

  • Part of the Castilla-La Mancha autonomous community
  • Largest of 9 DOs in Castilla-La Mancha, which is the largest continuous vine-growing area in the world
  • Climate – According to a local proverb – “nine months of winter and three months of hell
  • Authorized red grapes: Cencibel (a.k.a Tempranillo, Grenache, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah
  • Authorized white grapes: Airén (pronounced “Aye ran”), Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Chardonnay, Verdejo, Moscatel de grano menudo, and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Achieved DO status in 1976
  • There are  5 wine classifications rather than 3 typically found in Spain.  In addition to the traditional Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva classifications, La Mancha also has Young (Jóven), and Traditional classifications. The wines classified as “Joven” typically see no oak.  And according to LaManchaWines.com, the Traditional is “Made with the traditional system, reinforced by the latest technological advances. They keep a distance and equilibrium point between the young and aging wines.”  In other words, it’s a New World style.
  • Known for producing wines with great price/quality ratio, and formerly known for producing bulk wines

The orange tag indicates this is classified as a "Tradicional" wine (click to enlarge image)

2009 Bodegas Volver La Mancha Single Vineyard - $11.99 at Costco

2009 Bodegas Volver La Mancha Single Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Inky purple-black color with black fruit, clove, allspice, and tobacco aromas. On the palate medium- full bodied, and smooth with well-behaved tannins, and with vibrant black cherry, plum, a touch of black currant fruit and spice flavors. Medium plus finish.  - 90pts

This wine,  which is  classified as “Tradicional,” is a fine example of a wine that can win over New World palates and put La Mancha on many a wine lover’s map, particularly if seeking great price/performance.   It’s 100% Tempranillo.  The grapes were sourced from a 72-acre vineyard planted in 1967.  It’s fermented in barrel and aged 14 months in new French Oak.   Rated 92pt by Wine Advocate.   I’ll be buying more, and highly recommend you give it a shot!   I purchase the wine at Costco.  But it’s widely available.  Click here to find.

Wine Words Demystified: Old World

You know the deal, the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Old World

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

 Old World refers to those countries where wine first flourished, namely European ones and others ringing the Mediterranean basin.  Old world techniques, by extension refer to ways of growing grapes and making wines that rely more on tradition and less on science.

In other words, Old World refers to countries like France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany.  Tradition, of course, has it’s place in wine making, especially when it comes to where grapes are grown.  However scientific advances, including things like the organic movement have blurred the lines between the Old World and the New World (United States, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Chile).  Sounds a lot like Ole Skool/Nu Skool to me!

Image courtesy of Google Images

Which wines do you prefer Old World, or New World?