Wine Tasting of the Week
Spain, Portugal and Argentina
This week we will try a variety of wine including three whites and three reds from Spain, Portugal and Argentina. They are imported by various companies including Grapes of Spain, Bourgeois Family Selections, William Harrison Imports and Lunau USA. The whites are light, fresh and aromatic, while the reds are a bit on the heavier side, let’s call them “grilled food-friendly.” Altogether it is a fantastic line-up of great values perfect for the season.
From Spain we will sample three wines; two white and one red from grape varieties including Airen, Albarino, and Garnacha.
Bodegas Latúe “began as San Isidro Cooperative in 1954. Between 1954 and 2007, the Cooperative membership grew to more than 600 experienced vine growers focused on preserving the integrity of producing quality products. With the increased demand for their products, more than 50 years of experience and the growth of a great human team, in 2007 San Isidro implemented an “export” business model. This enabled a greater disbursement of San Isidro Cooperative products to regions outside of Spain. In 2007, with growing interest in its products in wider international markets, San Isidro Cooperative added “Bodegas Latúe” to its organizational title. This name represents the quality and environmental care that is a historical way of Bodegas Latúe doing business with international companies. Bodegas Latúe products have been recognized worldwide because of the quality of its wines both conventional and organic.
Bodegas Latúe uses the latest technology in oenology to create its different product ranges. When the wine is filtered and stabilized, it is stored in constant and controlled temperature. There, it remains until it is prepared for customers in bottles or in bulk deliveries. This refrigerated storage enables Bodegas Latúe to preserve sensory characteristics during a full year. Bulk deliveries include transferring stored wine directly to refrigerated tanker trucks that move the wine to the customer’s designation. The bottling process is tailored to meet customer specific desires. Size, shape, type of bottles or bag in box, capping and labeling methods are all sought by Bodegas Latúe when planning customer goals for product development and delivery. The conventional and organic production lines are totally separated, from growing, harvesting, bottling and through the production processes. Since 2009, all wine created from organic farming at Bodegas Latúe is produced and handled in accordance with the rules determined by the United States National Organic Program (US-NOP).”
Bodegas Latue Airen 2012
La Mancha, Spain. 100% Airen, organically farmed. “100% Airen from organically grown grapes, aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. A bright yellow color with intense aromas of white flower, green apple, and fresh citrus. On the palate, this wine is crisp, fruity, with a fresh lingering finish. A real pleasure for all your summer meals or by itself.” Imported by Bourgeois Family Selections. $8.99
Mar de Vinas
“Adegas Gran Vinum is a family winery owned by Enrique Pineiro. In 1998 the Val do Salnes sub-region was added to D.O. Rias Baixas spurring a renewed focus on quality wines. Adegas Gran Vinum reacted by adding new vineyard plots on steep, sandy, south-facing slopes, near the ocean which minimized temperature swings and extended maturation times giving more spice, saline and fruity varietal character to the wines. Soils in the vineyards are enriched in the traditional manner by digging in shells of local mollusks.
Albariño is the local grape and is known for its ability to ripen in this cool corner of Spain [Rias Baixas]. In addition, it maintains its natural acidity well leading to fresh, balanced wines. Adegas Gran Vinum uses different rootstocks on free-draining slopes as opposed to slightly more fertile plots to assure even ripening.”
Adegas Gran Vinum ‘Mar de Vinas’ Albarino 2012
Rias Baixas, Spain. “This wine is produced from estate grown vines. All fruit is hand harvested followed by cluster sorting at the winery before pressing. The grapes are whole cluster pressed in a pneumatic press, followed by settling of the must with dry ice. The wine was fermented at 64° F in stainless steel tank. No malolactic fermentation. Aged for almost 2 months on fine lees for increased texture and mouthfeel.” “Medium straw-colored with a reticent nose of mineral, lemon zest, and floral notes. Smooth-textured in an elegant style, the wine has good balance and medium length. These Albarinos should be consumed over the next 2-3 years.” Imported by Grapes of Spain. $15.99
“Isaac Fernandez Selection is the newest venture of the famous winemaker, Isaac Fernandez, who has spent more than 25 years producing some of the best wines in northern Spain. He seeks to respect the identity of each vineyard and to nurture wines that balance power, finesse and purity with the capacity to age.”
“Located in the Province of Zaragoza (Aragon) in north eastern Spain. Climate: Continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters. This is among the driest growing regions for wine grapes of all of Spain. Soil: Soils are typically based on iron-rich clay or a combination of clay and chalk. They often also exhibit stones, either rounded large (~3 inch) stones or broken slate.”
Acentor Garnacha 2011
Catalayud, Spain. “This wine is produced from old vines, aged 50 years and older which are trained en vaso. The vineyards are located between 750 and 1000 meters above sea level and have iron-rich clay soils with many large stones. Fruit for this wine was hand harvested in late September The grapes were destemmed and fermented in cement tanks. Malo-lactic fermentation was also completed in cement. Following fermentation the wine was aged for 4 months in a combination of 50% used French oak barrels and 50% used American oak barrels.” “Spicy berry flavors are typical of good, inexpensive Spanish garnacha, and this wine delivers them, along with smoky earthiness for added interest. Another hit from sommelier-turned-importer Aurelio Cabestrero.” Imported by Grapes of Spain. $12.99
From Argentina we will try two reds from Parados Winery of Don Mañuel Villafañe. These wines present bang-for-your-buck, approachability and complexity considering their meager price.
“Founder, Tomas Machado’s family ancestor Don Manuel de Villefane began making wine in Argentina in the year 1611, which gives us nearly 400 years of wine making experience here in the heart of South America. This impressive winery represents his ‘Legacy’ or ‘Legado’ (in Spanish), and we are proud to honor his memory with these fine wines of Maipu, Mendoza.
The Parados line from Don Mañuel Villafañe is made differently than the other two offerings from the winery, Legado and Don Mañuel Villafañe. This line is intended to be a little easier-drinking and more of an everyday wine of high quality. The reds are characterized by lively fruit aromas, supple texture on the palate, and a smooth, long finish without the use of oak.”
Parados Malbec 2012
Mendoza, Argentina. “Malbec is the backbone of the Argentine wine industry for a good reason, it is fantastic! The grape that came from Cahors near Bordeaux has found its perfect home in Argentina, and more specifically in Mendoza where these are grown. This is an absolutely superb example of how good this wine can be at an affordable level. The wines dense red color gives a full and rich fruit nose of wild berries and black currant. The mouth is lush and full leading to a very well balanced and long finish…the true mark of a great Malbec.” Imported by William-Harrison Imports. $9.99
Parados Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Mendoza, Argentina. “The Cabernet sauvignon grapes for this wine are grown in the renowned and rocky soil of Maipu, Mendoza…at the base of the Andes range. The aromas in the glass are pure Cabernet fruit from the start, with deep flavors of both red and black fruits. A touch of wood from 2 months in barrel simply adds an elegant structure to the wine, while keeping the quality and power of the fruit up front. A truly spectacular Cabernet for the price.” Imported by William-Harrison Imports. $9.99
From Portugal we will taste a spritzy white called Vinho Verde. This is a seasonally-appropriate wine that is inexpensive and low in alcohol.
“Vinho Verde (an appellation, a literal wine type [translates to green wine]) is the perfect summer refresher. Tongue tickling spritz, light and tangy yellow fruits and a dryish, saline-tinged finish comprise the simple charms of VV. This fresh off the boat [vintage] out does itself with all of the above in more abundance than its worthy predecessors. Low in alcohol and low in pretense Octave is the perfect casual mate for your Summer fun!”
“Vinho Verde (VEE-nyoh VEHR-deh) is a light and lively Portuguese white that pops up in American wine shops around the time the lilacs bloom and disappears as Thanksgiving looms. It’s usually, but not always, slightly fizzy, a little spritzy on the tongue, which contributes to its liveliness.”
Octave Vinho Verde 2012
Vinhos Verdes, Portugal. Made from a blend of local, indigenous grape varieties. “Pear & citrus notes, with a slight spritz & just enough acidity to keep it from being too fruity.” Fruity and aromatic on the nose with a pleasant perfume of tropical notes and floral qualities. The palate is spritzy, light and refreshing, and drier than the nose suggests. A low-alcohol (9%) pleasant summer sipper. Imported by Lunau USA. $7.99