August 25, 2011: Small Vineyards Importing Company: Wines of Spain

Small Vineyards is a specialized importer featuring wines from small, family-owned producers. Originally their portfolio included only Italian wineries; they were so successful in their endeavors to bring unheard-of, limited production wines to the United States that they recently expanded and are now representing high-quality, artisanal wines from the Iberian Peninsula (including Spain and Portugal).

Their wines come from vineyards that are not driven by “corporate mentality” but rather a genuine desire to “capture the fullest gifts that their vines have to offer.” They believe that it is important to tell the stories of the families and artisans who have dedicated their lives to their “art,” therefore most of the bottles include a short biography about the producer on the back label.

Small Vineyards is involved with their wines from the time the cork goes into the bottle until it reaches the distributing company in America. This philosophy of hands-on control ensures that the wines remain in temperature-controlled environments throughout the shipping process, the wines “over deliver” for the money, and the bottles contain “user friendly” labels as well as a “Small Vineyard” sticker on the front.

The Small Vineyards wines exemplify quality and value. The products are customarily hand-harvested, earth-friendly, and always superior for the money. For the tasting we will sample five wines of Small Vineyards, one white and four reds from regions including Rias Baixas, Bullas, Ribera del Guadiana, Ribera del Duero, and Terra Alta. The grape varieties include Albraino, Monastrell, Tempranillo (2), and a blend of Garnacha, Syrah, and Carinena. The wines are priced at $11.99-$22.99 tomorrow night.

The final wine for the tasting is Conde de Subirats Cava Brut, an excellent-value sparkling wine that’s imported by Grapes of Spain. They represent high-quality, old vineyards, and lesser-known producers who make balanced wines that present good value. The Subirats Cava is an excellent value at $9.99 for the tasting.

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Conde de Subirats Cava Brut NV– Penedes, Spain. A blend of 55% Macabeo, 40% Parellada, and 5% Chardonnay produced from grapes grown in the heart of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, the birthplace of Cava, among the high-altitude hills of the subregion of Espiells. The grapes are harvested early to preserve freshness then fermented separately in stainless steel. The base wines are then blended and bottled with a bit of yeast to age 18 months on the lees prior to disgorging. It offers fresh fruit aromas and flavors of melon, sweet green apples, and citrus hints, with notes of mineral and savory herbs. A great-value sparkler with crisp acidity and a refreshing finish.

Beira Aral Aravo Albarino 2009– Rias Baixas, Spain. Albarino is indigenous to the Galicia (Northwest Spain) and Portugal. It is an aromatic grape variety that is thought to be related to Alsatian Riesling or possibly the French grape Petit Manseng. This example is delicious and incredibly textured with inviting scents of lemon curd, ripe honeydew melon, salt, herbs, and lanolin, with hints of floral/honeysuckle notes. The palate is silky, textured, and layered with great viscosity, extreme complexity, and a gentle, soft mouthfeel. It is summed up by a bright and juicy finish that is silky and long. It is one of the best Albarinos I have ever had!

San Isidro Cepas del Zorro 2009– Bullas, Spain. 100% Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvedre) that fermented and aged in stainless steel. On the nose, deep scents of dark red fruits are followed by earthy, smoky, rustic notes. It is juicy and textured in the mouth with savory flavors of soy sauce, spice, dried leaves, and game hints. Mild acidity, low tannins, and savory fruit qualities make this a food-friendly offering that certainly presents good value.

Finca el Tesso Tempranillo 2009– Ribera del Guadiana, Spain. 100% Tempranillo from young vines that aged in oak barrel for three months. It’s juicy and perfumed nose gives-off scents of violet, rose petal, toasted oak, and generous red and black berry fruits. It is medium-bodied on the palate with flavors of berry fruits such as plum and blackberry, with hints of vanilla/oak, floral notes, and sweet tobacco. It is nicely balanced with bright fruit flavors and nice acidity, and a juicy, plummy finish.

Lopez Cristobal Tinto Roble 2010– Ribera del Duero, Spain. 100% Tempranillo from young vines that aged in oak barrel for three months. In the glass it is plum purple in color with beautiful aromas of ripe blueberry fruit and minerals. Darker fruit flavors are abundant on the palate with notes of baked berries that are enhanced with hints of earth and minerals. It is nicely textured with grainy tannins, well-balanced acidity, and a big, lingering finish.

Alta Vins Domus Pensi Tinto Joven 2010– Terra Alta, Spain. A blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Garnacha, and 20% Carinena that fermented and aged for four months in stainless steel. On the nose “pretty” smells include sweet fruits, candied red cherry, and spicy undertones. It is very juicy and bright with a textured mouthfeel, and excellent balance of acid, fruit, and tannin. The finish is tangy with acid and very layered with lingering sweet/tart fruit flavors. An outstanding value.

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