One of the rarities on the appellations systems that you can find in wine world is the Spanish appellation Cava.
Yes, méthode traditional, sparkling wine attached to some villages entitled to produce such wine just following AOC or DOP requirements. You can rely on native grapes such as Xarel.lo (Pansá), Parellada or Macabeo (Macabeu or Viura as it called in Rioja), Trepat and some others or just choosing the international varieties lead by the everywhere striving Chardonnay or the former called oddity out of Bourgougne, fruity, herbal, refined and animal: Pinot Noir.
One of the biggest challenges to find in any Cava appellation wine is the acidity, once getting it, green is everywhere and immaturity sensations conquers the palate, otherwise the wine can become bland and uninteresting.
Nevertheless, Cava holds some of the greatest examples in sparkling wine world, from Mestres to Recaredo there is a plethora of incredible wines conceived for a nice ápero chat to a several dimensions dinner in a starred Resto.
The eternal challenge for Cava is forgetting the hinterland short view, open the landscape and starting a proper cru classification. The Catalan shire of Alt Penedès should gleam, Pyrenean close by areas like Pallars Jussà could compete in the international thirsty bubble market and the mastering winemakers in different catalan spots (and maybe one from Valencia region and Rioja –Artadi-) have enough grounds to place Cava brand in proper international cellars, wine lists and not the gross discount areas.
I discovered some years ago something amazing in the catalan wine panorama: DG Viticultors, I was amazed by a wine called: Vi de Boira (Fog Wine) that was an extremely elegant way to address to maybe the first rarely seen Botrytis wine based in Spain. Once seen so, we have to credit them and therefore tasting their sparkling wine, becomes mandatory.
We can advance good news from this DG Viticultors Rosé 2012 Brut, Pinot Noir (“Reserva” tagged, then green kitemarket)
They claim this wine a single state from Mas Fonoll accounting 800 meters over the sea level viticulture. Both are promising label comments.
This Cava has been bottled aged approximately 15 months and you can clearly observe this in the tiny but hectic life of its bubbles. Nose is fresh, red fruited built on fresh raspberries, herbal notes everywhere but bottomed by slightly stalky character far from bothering but enriching the bouquet, lightweight homemade bread curling up the nose and almost unnoticeable animal hints.
Where the palate comes, the wine performs vivid, crisp and fresh, this Brut style sparkling wine abide freshness and quite repeat the nose in a light passing through manner. Quite elegant, sincere and easy to drink where the harvest time reveals accurate and balanced.
This is not a long, complex and chewing body wine but as the pale color announces perfect for vegetables typical Mediterranean based dishes and baked mackerel or herrings.
Considering that we are about to open the door of Bordeaux, I am afraid some readers will be frightened by a considerable flicking on the nose from this humble owl.
Please, do not run array, I just hoot wines, no matter the price or the appellation, the point is: drinking and enjoying a lovely wine.
When Bordeaux flaps the gate you can expect impossible bespoken prices to deep pockets or bland watering wines or just dull ones designed for wanderers of the name of this region.
Maybe this is the truth, but not the whole one. In this amazing chunk of land you can find almost 70 different appellations outnumbering the ones you can find in the first to third (depends the year) wine producer of the world, Spain.
The basic line appellation of Bordeaux is the AOC Bordeaux, heavily attacked by wine moguls (except if this is their area of production) and some part of advisors, consultants, sommeliers, bloggers, flying whatever etc.
Well, I have to admit that before diving on the immense ocean of AOC Bordeaux wine I check few aspects and sources, nevertheless that was not my case in August 2013, when I paid a visit to the Maison de l’AOC Bordeaux et AOC Bordeaux Supérieur. I was guided by a young intrepid, posh and intelligent student outlining clear indications like… “Do not ever taste this bottle, that’s bad vinegar”… or “please, by three cases of this, nobody is realizing such a great deal”… therefore I followed the guy and I have to state this, he was an extremely accurate consultant in such measureless place.
I bought 24 bottles, I had some other appellations to visit and my car had a limited availability. One of those bottles was: Château Turcaud 2011, Cuvée Majeure AOC Bordeaux.
The colors of this wine after three years cellaring became deep golden with a remarkable brightness so clear and appetizing.
Before nosing the wine we need to check its blended material, with an almost traditional 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Gris (hello, stranger!) and 15% Sémillon. The wine was fermented in oak barrels and partially in first used French oak.
Just let´s enjoy an upholding fragrance along its long lasting aromas as a result of a very good winemaking (probably)
The first ideas while sniffing tends to the natural herbal character of the Sauvignon family where fresh grass and mature olives hand-smashed opened the nose and nutty character exposes fermentation process.
The matured stone fruits (apricots mainly) follows the lead and the cinnamon and nutmeg opens the lovely choral whereof chamomile surrounds the whole spectacle while some honeysuckle and vanillas wait for their turn in a really delicate movement.
Afterwards the wine reveals a mouthwatering sensation thanks to a well-integrated and living acidity tracked by creamy texture where some buttery aspects claims attention and the oaky developments takes the first row, where vanillas, nutmeg and the refreshing white pepper remembered you that they were still in the nose.
The length of this wine is not too long and the concentration maybe is the weakest point, however I would be more than happy to pay 20€ for this wine and the average cost for this little bordelaise gem plays around 8€ to 11€.
A lovely job in the gigantic AOC Bordeaux….and welcome back winehiker…. I was missing myself writing my comments.
The reason? Two lovely daughters, a good one, hugh?
Delicacy is the milestone for many high quality white wines around the globe.
One of the driven reasons why I point out certain grapes like “dream makers” are the gracefulness when it collates difficult and scarce conditions to create great wines from uneasy varieties.
If I have to name just one, I would say: Viognier
Viognier is the hallmark for fragrant, elegant, complex and persistent wines, nevertheless the risk for early harvesting would leave you under some harshness and unripen flavors albeit missing few days would kill the florally character ending into a high alcoholic burning wine.
Then, the key is the careful selection of the climate and the geological conditions grasping the right momentum.
Many of the Viognier you will find in new areas shall deem like hard, bitter and flavorless breaking up the subtle conditions of this French Rhône like grape.
This brittle essence force you to focus on certain particular areas where the AOC Condrieu, in Northern Rhône, is the fireplace of this particular grape able to warm up dreams about what the viticulture good practices means and how grace and really difficult balance can be achieved.
I remember many times the lovely and unforgettable sensations of tasting the Viognier from AOC Condrieu made by E.Guigal.
Just a legend from my humble point of view.
But searching, you could find great qualities Viognier from other winemarkers, vintners and producers giving you pleasure at an affordable price.
That particular one is AOC Condrieu, Vidal-Fleury 2009, 100% Viognier.
The golden like color, turning to amber in the hue is a clear signal of the grape and its typicity, the remarkable aromas while pouring is another key and the way the sticky legs are surviving while swirling the definitive clue.
It is difficult not becoming emotional with the complex aromas shown, orange flower, ripen stone fruit, quince, milky toffee candy, dried peaches, pastry, bready, honeyed notes and a plethora of species like, clove, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg with insinuations of white pepper and herbal minty overall sensation with thyme and dried white flowers like fair descriptors for this wine paying you back deeper aromas at any sniff.
The difficult part of the Viognier is the following and the success is clear. In the palate, the spiciness is noteworthy, the alcohol, despite of warming is manageable and balanced, not really fresh, but walking in the edge with some light grippy tannins once the wine has been partially aged and fermented in oak.
Any single compound well integrated and enlarged the minor bitter finish thanks to a persistency that bring you to a little island of thoughts and dreams.
Once upon a time there was a land where a forgotten grape called Juan Garcia was hanging from some vine trees.
This is a ribbon of land located in a Centre to North boundary separating Spain from Portugal accounting some space of the historic Spanish provinces of Salamanca and Zamora, the southern part of the former Kingdom of Leon one the parents of the modern Spain along with Castille, Aragon, Navarre and other territories like Asturias and Catalonia.
In the modern times, it was created a Natural Park called Arribes del Duero, taking the name of the crossing river of Duero in Spanish and Douro in Portuguese link the two Iberian countries.
A lush park full of mountain ranges, valleys, terraces, everything you can ask to a environmental place, including a hiding language or dialect mixing original Spanish languages like Bable, Galician and Spanish itself with an almost forgotten called Castuo.
Arribes del Duero became years ago a wine appellation and it tried to build up a flagship name using the almost forgotten “Juan Garcia” grape with the Bruñal and the Rufete
A name coming from a pirate, a peasant or whatever, an easy name, humble and querky grape acknowledged by a few with a powerful neighbor westbound, Porto and eastbound, Tempranillo and Verdejo grapes from the fashionable areas of Ribera del Duero and Rueda.
This is like pretending to win the “La Liga” against F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F. a battle since the last ten years, almost always to no avail.
But a princess, a queen, an empress… whatever, landed in this area, along with some locals and believers.
She came from the United Kingdom, somewhere, falling down in this “in the middle of” (literally). That brave woman, Charlotte Allen, incorporated a winery called “Alma Roja” (Red Soul) and she was not reluctant to offer the humble and overlooked grape, Juan Garcia, the deserved place.
And she did it
We taste the “Charlotte Allen 2009; grapes: Juan García, Bruñal, Rufete and Tempranillo from the winery Alma Roja”.
The deep ruby color of this wine is not only bright and shiny but charming full of sticky legs ordering the considerable alcohol level.
How this wine smell can be firstly summarize in two insights, black fruits, like black cherries over ripen relatives with a side candy flavored and the black chocolate with smashing roasted coffee beans of the shelf.
Dark flowers, herbal notes like eucalyptus, pine tree leaves, drying sunny summer grass, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla beans surrounded by nutmeg and oaky smoky aroma with some hints of farmyard.
The palate encompasses the fragrant nose where the species are the main rulers as the black fruits like plum and blackcurrant sit down to see how the spectacle develops.
No full body and thick wine you will find, just startlingly elegant and poised alcohol sensation relating, well not freshness but not overwhelming at all.
The tannins are marked but ripen and silky and the farewell becomes with a long embrace of cacao and chocolate sideways and a little bitter appetizer sensation.
An outstanding wine, full of amazing corners, a reviving grape, Juan Garcia, reveling himself like a gentleman able to fulfill a Queen’s hope.
End of the tale.
*Based on real facts
Someone told me few weeks ago :
“Chardonnay is rocking back”
Two weeks after that statement I was in a really refine event, so accurately chosen the audience and the tasted wines, around 500 people tasting and discussing.
We spoke about grapes, new ones, some classics, even about the Canadian Vidal, some other that are known for a little population in the middle of nowhere, the newcomers like Godello (used to be a newcomer), classics like Riesling etc.
The only missing grape was Chardonnay, nor in the bottles, nor in the palates, nor in the speeches and, nor in smart sentences. Nowhere.
Someone told me with wicked smile saying:
“Yes, it looks like Chardonnay is coming back, but it looks like the train she was using has been stuck in the middle of the Goby desert”.
Mean people I thought.
Maybe because the Monarchy is old fashioned we forgot that the Queen is the Chardonnay.
Who else can offer to you so many options? Clima? IT thrives in California, Burgundy, Spain, Australia etc. Maturing method? Oak friendly? Yeasty essence?
Listen, gather four people, take 7€ each and buy a bottle of Meursault. Southbank of the Côte d’Or, where you will get Côte de Beaune with creamy, sinewy, lively fruity and yeasty long lasting wines that are produced there.
Let’s uncork: AOC Meursault, 100% Chardonnay, Pierre André au Château de Corton André (claiming vineyards in Beaune and Nuits)
This particular burgundy wine shows classical note of cedar, sniffy smoky remembrances and sweetie species like vanilla and hits of cinnamon and fresh ginger and physalis. It has tempered acidity showing the real complexity of the magnificent type of wines and the aging potential coming from a real grape with natural backbone.
The fruit of this wine is extremely complex and deep, starting from some lemony areola to the ripe peaches, apricots arriving to dried stone fruit in the palate where some hay and dried grass shows up.
The creaminess of the wine and its body is not the strongest point, this wine is being called to repeatedly being poured and toasted after three years in the bottle.
I agree, everything in this life cannot be Chardonnay, but having a bottle in your cellar ready to drink will relieve some time the idea of why Chardonnay is a reliable companion not only for Champagne and one the reasons why wine is gaining new markets.
A humble owl hooting rare or special wines. And yes I am Diploma WSET student and I am training myself reason why I use the Systematic Approach of Tasting