Last month, in addition to bringing back wine tasting dinners, we introduced wine flights to our regular routine. The trial run, with Rhone-style wines, proved a success. It gave us a chance to share new wines with both our staff and our customers, and create a fun and educational conversation about those wines.
This month, we are continuing our exploration of traditional and contemporary European wines, but are heading to Spain! Spain is one of the oldest wine-growing countries in the world. Historians believe that varietals have been cultivated there for close to 3,000 years. In the late 19th century, as phylloxera killed off most of France and Italy’s vines, winemakers from those areas moved to Spain and brought with them varietals and expertise. Phylloxera eventually reached Spain, but not until many years later and had much less of an economic impact than it had on France.
Over the last several decades, Spain’s wine industry has seen a revitalization. Though the country is known globally for its spicy, full-bodied Tempranillos, other varietals are on the rise, and blends that incorporate non-indigenous grapes are proving that Spanish winemakers are serious. David has carefully selected four Spanish wines for our current wine flight:
The flight’s white offering, a Fillaboa 2010 Albariño, is a beautiful example of Spain’s special place in the international marketplace. Albariño is commonly grown in Portugal and is sometimes called the “white Rhine” for its similarity to Reisling. The Fillaboa winery is located on the western coast of Spain in the Rías Baixa region. It’s just north of Portugal, yet its interpretation of Albariño is purely Spanish. The varietal has done exceptionally well here, lulled by the cool Atlantic breezes, creating a bright and crisp, yet full-bodied white wine that drinkers of Viognier are likely to appreciate. Unlike the majority of wineries, which purchase fruit from various vineyards, Fillaboa uses exclusively estate-grown grapes, ensuring quality and consistency.
The first red is a Castillo de Monseran 2007 Garnacha, a very traditional red wine from the Cariñena region. The region is about halfway between Barcelona and Madrid with long, hot summers and cold winters. A fairly constant dry wind keeps humidity low and makes it an ideal region for Garnacha. This wine is made 100% from the Garnacha grape. It’s fruit-driven, well-rounded, and smooth: a perfect example of a traditional Spanish red.
To showcase the introduction of international varietals into traditional Spanish wine-making we are off to the legendary region of Priorat, offering the Vall Llach 2007 Embruix. The backbone of this wine is made from Garnacha and Cariñena grapes, which are two of the most popular varietals in Spain. In addition to coming from a very small-production winery, there are a couple of things that make this wine decisively unique. One is that these indigenous varietals are blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, which lend the wine a fullness and complexity.
The flight finishes with a world-renowned wine from a well-reputed winery: Torres 2005 “Gran Coronas” Cabernet Sauvignon. Torres over-achieves at every price point and this wine is no exception. The winery was founded in 1870 and remains a family-owned operation to this day! It has been showered with recognitions and awards for environmental sustainability, creativity and innovation in wine-making, and for its important role in the resurgence of Spanish wine industry. By the way, Torres is an even more prolific distiller of fine Spanish brandy.
The wine we are featuring is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tempranillo. Miguel Torres took a calculated risk in the 1960s and early 70s when he first planted Cabernet Sauvignon in the Penedès region of northeast Spain. Tasting this wine, you can appreciate Torres’ expertise. The wine is well-structured, silky, with a hint of spice. A true “New World” wine from Spain!