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Spanish Wine Club

Spanish Club - February

February 17th, 2012

This month we present two great wines - a Tempranillo based wine from La Mancha and a Montua from Extramadura.

Your allocation is for one bottle each of   Viña Santa Maria Altara Montua Vino de l'Extramadura and Pago Florentino Vino de Pago

Altara Established in 1999, this modern estate lies at the base of the Lamoneda mountain range near Meridia, Spain. Currently 58 hectares are farmed in Extremadura and D.O. Ribera del Guadiana. Red grape varieties include Tempranillo, Graciano, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. White varieties include indigenous grapes such as Montua, Cayetana Blanca and Pardina. All grapes are vineyard-selected and hand harvested, table sorted, de-stemmed and very carefully pressed. 

Pale straw color with greenish hue. Aromas of white flowers, white fruit and aromatic herbs. Balanced and delicate. Fresh in the mouth with notes of spices and fine herbs. Very original, smartly dry, it will surprise you! To be paired with fresh seafood and crustaceans. Great also as an aperitif or after a meal with fruit salads. The wine’s original character comes from the choice of its grape varieties, 3 indigenous grapes, Montua, Cayetana Blanca and Pardina, that were nearly lost in the Extremadura area. The Spanish name of this wine is “Altara”, a unique remote constellation difficult to perceive. A unique name for a unique wine!

Pago Florentino  The 2008 Pago Florentino is 100% Cencibel (Tempranillo) aged for 12 months in French and American oak. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it offers up an excellent perfume of Asian spices, cedar, mineral, blueberry, and black cherry. Surprisingly rich and concentrated, the wine has a succulent, roasted character that is immediately appealing. It is a great value that over-delivers in a big way.  90 points Parker.

Pago Florentino (which now has its own DO) is a single estate of 158 acres. Its vines are still young, but if this wine is any indication, the future looks very bright indeed.

Founded by Don Florentino Arzuaga. The winery made its first steps in 1980 by acquiring a piece of land in Ribera del Duero which is now “Finca La Planta”. Winery is located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero, in a town called Quintanilla de Onesimo.

Read more: Spanish Club - February

Spanish Club - November

This month, we present two great wines from northeastern Spain - Bodegas Piñol Portal Blanco, an organic white blend from Terra Alta, and Joan Anguera La Planella, an organic and biodynamic red blend from Montsant.

Pinol Portal Blanco   "Portal Blanco is a blend of 80% Garnacha Blanca with the balance Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo, and Viognier fermented and aged in stainless steel. It displays a slightly pink tint from 36 hours of skin contact along with a hint of herbs, baking spices, and plenty of minerality. In the glass lively acidity comes into play providing refreshment to the medium-long finish. This excellent value will drink well for another 3 years.

Celler Vinos Pinol is a 4th generation family-owned winery consisting of 100 acres in and around the village of Batea in Terra Alta, the southern-most DO in Catalunya."  88 points, Jay Miller, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Portal Blanco is an estate-bottled wine made by Celler Vinos Piñol with organically grown grapes in the region of Terra Alta, located south of Barcelona. To understand how Portal Blanco relates to the world of wine, it’s important to note that the birthplace of the Garnacha Blanca grape is Terra Alta. Today, Terra Alta’s beautiful panoramic landscape is home to 35% of the world’s Garnacha Blanca vineyards and 70-75% of those in Spain. Portal Blanco contains a small percentage of other grapes, but its essential identity is derived from Garnacha Blanca. This limited production wine is made in stainless steel tank to emphasize purity of fruit and terroir. Here, Garnacha Blanca makes a gutsy, full-bodied wine with a character similar to a red. This white is a perfect compliment to all seasons. With lots of dry herbs, it’s not an overly ripe “tropical wine.”

Read more: Spanish Club - November

Spanish Club - September

This month we present two amazing but very different wines from the Primitivo Quiles winery of Alicante:  Primitivo Quiles Raspay and Primitivo Quiles Cono 4 - both made from the Monastrel grape (aka Mourvèdre in France).

Your allocation is for one bottle of each. 

Senor Don Primitivo Quiles is one of the great figures of Spanish wine. His bodega in Monovar is the oldest in Alicante (since 1780), and probably in all the comunidad Valenciana.

Located in eastern Spain between the plateau and the Mediterranean Sea, the Alicante DO covers two sub-regions: the hot and humid coastal La Marina which is mainly a source for sweet wines, and the more continental Subzona Classico further inland which specializes in joven and dessert wines.  

Like many of its neighbors in this part of Spain, the last two decades has seen Alicante move away from being a source of cheap, bulk wine to producing modern-style, competitively-priced red and white wines. However, it still produces its beloved, traditional sweet and fortified specialities, the most famous of which is called (locally) Fondillón.

Raspay was sourced from estate vineyards averaging 50 years of age and aged for 12 months in seasoned American oak before bottling without fining or filtration. Medium ruby-colored, it offers an old-style perfume of cedar, saddle leather, earth, smoked nuts, plum, and blueberry. This leads to a smooth, velvety-textured wine with mineral, earth, and spice notes followed by a long, pure finish. In the Alicante region along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Primitivo Quiles is best known for a fortified wine called Fondillon, made from the local Monastrell grape in a style similar to Sherry. The same old vine Monastrell also goes into Raspay, their traditionally styled red wine.  The ruddy, brick red tint and savory tannic aroma give way to dried cherry fruit character. This is no fruit bomb. Lightly oxidized raisiny aroma and flavor give this wine a taste of old Spain. The label art reflects this ‘old-school’ mindset. This is very special stuff.

Cono 4 Made in 80 year old Conofors (think of large tanks but made of American Oak), this wine is filtered by gravity and, following tradition, is made in slighty oxidative style which gives the wine its very unique character. It’s is ripe and lush which is to be expected from Alicante, while still expressing the leathery and tobacco quality that the region’s terroir is known for. If you’re looking for something traditional with a enough fruit and complexity to please all palate types, and a great deal,look no further!Floral blackberry, rose, cracked pepper, and a touch of chocolate on the finish.  Great balance and acidity, to boot.

Read more: Spanish Club - September

Spanish Club - October

This month, we travel to Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, the northwest corner of Spain, to sample two wondeful wines from Bodega Adega Vella.  Your allocation is for a bottle each of Adega Vella Godello and Adega Vella Mencia.

Ribeira Sacra is a barely accessible, exquisitely rural wine region in northwestern Spain's vast, mountainous Galicia (some 350 miles northwest of Madrid), is exhibiting potential more exciting than any emerging region.

The largely godello-based whites and mencía-based reds are so irresistibly delicious, enticing and often profound that Ribeira Sacra is rapidly becoming one of the most compelling wine regions on earth.

In the bargain, it may also be the most strikingly beautiful for its terraces of indigenous dry-farmed, old vines that plunge precipitously down the majestic slopes of the damned-up canyons of the Minho river, which meanders from the north and defines the western zone, and the Sil, which flows from the east and marks the southern tier.

Such radical terrain requires Ribeira Sacra growers, like their Priorat peers, to practice "heroic viticulture," dangerous and laborious vine tending on steeply inclined terraces.

Ribeira Sacra has been growing wine since the Roman occupation (and possibly longer), yet over the past five years, this former backwater has awakened from its centuries-long slumber and appears poised to make a long-term impact on the Spanish wine world. It has already become a moderating force in a national wine culture with a predilection for overblown, inky monsters. Refreshingly, Ribeira Sacra's wines display a sense of terroir that can rival the ethereal, sublime qualities of great, Atlantic-influenced red and white Burgundies and the cabernet franc-based reds of the Loire.

Adega Vella Godello This wine has an intense nose of citrus and peaches. A midweight wine, with very fresh and crisp notes, with great minerality and food friendly acidity, it's very long and tense in the mouth.

Adega Vella Bierzo.  The grape here is Mencia- a distant relative of Cabernet Franc.  The wine has been vinified in stainless steel - no oak to maks the fresh, vibrant flavors.  Dark purple color with a nose of cherries and grenadine. This full-bodied red is loaded with crisp mineral notes mingled with ripe tannins.   These are natural wines, without a lot of added sulfur.

Read more: Spanish Club - October

Spanish WIne Club - 8th Allocation

Sherry is one of the world's most misunderstood and underappreciated wines.  Most folks who don't know Sherry think it's either for cooking or for Grandma. 


This month, we present three Sherry wines for your edification:  a Fino, a dry Oloroso and an off dry Oloroso - a bottle each of Tio Pepe Fino (half bottle), Alfonso Dry Oloroso and Dios Baco Oloroso (full bottles). 

Tio Pepe Fino (88 points Wine Spectator)  Bracing and ultradry, here's a fino that begs for tapas. Nut and apple flavors are accented by iodine, and the finish leaves a mouthwatering impression.

Alfonso Oloroso Bone-dry on the palate, this Sherry shows walnut, orange peel and raisin flavors that linger long on the finish. Ideal served slightly chilled with salted, Marcona almonds on a hot afternoon.

Dios Baco Oloroso (93 points Wine Spectator):  Unctuous is the only way to describe this velvety-smooth, chocolate- and treacle-infused Sherry. Quite light on its feet, yet intense and long, with lovely cut that just sends it soaring on the finish.

Read more: Spanish WIne Club - 8th Allocation

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