Dominio de Fontana-Honest and soulful wines from Cuenca

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Bodegas Fontana, owned by the Cantarero Morales family for more than  30 years, has been a leading pioneer in making Uclés a new winemaking zone with a protected appellation status’. Jesús Cantarero, brought together a multi star team of wine professionals to produce  terroir-driven, single-vineyard wines of great complexity.

The Fontana estates are located in Uclés, in the northern part  of Castile region, an area famous  for both its fresh, aromatic whites as well as outstanding reds from the Tempranillo grape. At a high altitude, the wines of Uclés display the fruitiness of the northern mountains  with the intensity and ripe, velvety tannins of the Mediterranean. Fontana manages its estates sustainably and as integrated ecosystems, taking advantage of the low levels of disease in this dry, continental climate. No pesticides are used, organic manure is the only fertilizer applied and weed control is done by light, superficial tilling.

Tempranillo is the main protagonist of the wines produced with International varieties taking a second role ( Cabernet Sauvignon,  Merlot and Syrah). The blend varies vintage to vintage.

Aging time as well is determined by the quality of each vintage. In general, Fontana makes rich and modern wines with lots of depth of flavour. The  bodega works really well with new wood aging.

I had a chance to taste some of their wines in the heaven and earth wine salon from the group Charton Hobbs in Montreal, Canada. They are the importers in Quebec, Canada.

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Dominio de Fontana. Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

( 70% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged in a mix of american and french wood for 12 months)

Intense aromas of blackberries with vanilla bean and smoked spices such as paprika. On the mouth, round, ample and very long with a very persistent finale. Pair it with smoked meat sandwich.

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Dominio de Fontana. Vendimia Seleccionada 2013. Tempranillo/ Graciano

( 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano. Aged in american oak for 18 months)

On the nose, aromas of ripe fieldberries, wild herbs such as tarragon and thyme, earth and spices. On the mouth, round and quite spicy. Ripe tannins with a delicious balsamic aftertaste. This wine would be amazing with charcoal grilled lamb chops.

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Quinta de Quercus 2013 Single Vineyard

100% Old Vines Tempranillo. 30 years+, 12 months aging in American and French oak)

Quercus comes from an estate in central Castilla with that is surrounded with 300 oak trees (hence the name Quinta de Quercus) this is a collaboration between the  local winemaking staff  and New Zealand M.W. Sam Harrop.

On the nose, lush ripe red and black herbs. Roasted herbs and toasted spices such as black cumin,  sumac and cloves. Full bodied, juicy acidity, muscular tannins and a great length. Great wine with a tira de asado a la parrilla.

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New Spanish wine arrivals at the SAQ Cellier

Recently, I have been tasting a number of Spanish new wine arrivals that are part of the latest SAQ Cellier catalog. These wines over deliver in quality at their price point and are excellent choices for weekday suppers. Here are my favorites. These Spanish wines were awarded very high scores by renowned critic Robert Parker. We all know how he loves Spanish wine.

In Red:

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Agricolas Aguaza SA RA DA Seleccion 2009. $15.30. SAQ Code: 12744816 , Bodegas Almansenas, Castilla La Mancha. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

This wine come from the Almansa wine appellation. At 850 meters above sea level, the vineyards of Aguaza are located in Albacete near the mediterranean ocean.

Fresh and silky on the mouth with a slight sweet sensation. Love its voluptuous tannins and flavors that bring to mind blueberry, blackberries and blackberries with a slight balsamic and oak touch. Very persistent finale. This is a wine that will please both the new wine amateur and the wine expert. I paired it with Penne with meat sauce and it went wonderful. It will also go well with beef and pork stir fry.  92\100

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Terra d’Uro Finca la Rana 2011. $19.15. SAQ Code: 12775241, Hacienda Terra d’Uro, Toro. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

Terra d’Uro is the proyect of Oscar Garrote, Cristiano Van Zeller y Pipa Ortega. The Uro wines are situated relatively high above sea level ( 750 meters) in the area of Bardales. The vineyards are a mix of tinta de toro, prephyloxeric, from 25 years to 140 years. La Rana is their entry level wine, aged 11 months in french barrique.

Compared to its peers in the apellation, La rana is a lighter and more accessible wine. Lovely nose evoking red and black fruits, spices and Mediterranean herbs ( Rosemary and Lavender come to mind). On the mouth, the wine is full body with muscular tannins. Fresh, yet very elegant and balanced. Imposing poise in a classy style.  Enjoy every bit of this wine with grilled deer medallions in a green peppecorn sauce. 96\100

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Bodegas Paniza Viñas Viejas de Paniza 2012. $15.95. SAQ Code: 12721905, Bodega Paniza. Aragon. ( Represented in Quebec by Valmonti.)

From the D.O Carinena, comes this high altitude Garnacha bottling made with up to 100 years old vines. Paniza is made around the village of Paniza. The vines enjoy a continental climate with a marked contrast in temperature between night and day. In addition, the amount is very low ( 360 mm) while the sunlight hours are quite high. Also, the Garnacha sits on a marvelous terroir composed of schist, chalk, loam and red clays.

On the nose, very marked aromas of black cherries, herbs with some nuances of dark chocolate. On the mouth, the wine is full body, very flavorful with a dense structure. Tasting it reveal aromas of black fruits, licorice with vanilla bean,oak and mineral dust. Excellent value for the price paid. Perfect with grilled lamb chops. 88\100.

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Albet i Noya Xarel-Lo El Fanio 2014. $19.50. SAQ Code: 12674221

Albet i Noya are pioneers in organic winemaking in the Penedes region of Spain. Their wines are pure and flavourful. El Fanio is monovarietal Xarel-Lo aged 6 months on the its lees in oval porous cement tanks and in acacia barrels. The grapes are grown in terraces on La Guardia hillside. They originates from vines located in Turó de la Gúardia, one of the most unique places in the Serra del Ordal. The grapes are treated with biodynamic methods to bring out the minerality of the Terroir. The soils are characterised by for being poor in organic matter,  permeable and for being sandy-loam.

On the nose, this wine brings to mind delicious floral notes with vegetable and mineral undertones. Very fresh and delicate. Medium body with flavors reminiscent of white fruits. Very good with a shrimp rice with green peas. 85\100.

 

A succulent Spanish tradition: Tapas and Wine

For those of you that do not know , a tapa, the miniature cuisine from Spain, is a finger food eaten between the meals. In Spanish culture, tapa means “cover or appetizer”. The Real Academia Española de la Lengua defines a tapa as “any portion of solid food able to accompany a drink”.  In Spain, you can choose from four types of tapas: cold, fried, sauce based and warm. The fried tapas available in Madrid, like boquerones, calamares, croquets, fritters and sausages, are the most popular. The tapas served with salads can even replace a complete lunch. Tapas are made from both animal-based and agricultural products: anchovies, beef, cheeses, cocktail onions, dry nuts, meat, mackerel, sardines, squid, tuna, and vegetables. However, no tapa will be complete without olives.

In ancient times, many taverns covered sherry glasses with bread or meat slices to prevent dust particles and flies from falling in the drink. In fact, salty chorizo or ham pieces stimulated thirst, increasing alcohol consumption. Taverns, as a consequence, recorded an increase in sales of alcohol, the slices and other related snacks, which were known as tapas. And tavern owners became more creative in offering snacks to accompany the drinks. This tradition of special snacks continues, but in a different form. The main purpose of contemporary “tapeo”, the art of eating tapas, is bringing people together for a conversation instead of focusing on meals.  In Spain tapas are generally eaten standing and in small quantities like birds. Another reason to nibble tapas between meals is the Spanish custom to have dinner very late (9-11 p.m.). Tapas are also a good choice for afternoon socializing on weekends.

If you want to learn to make tapas, there are a few places in Montreal and its surroundings offering courses on Spanish cuisine. These are: La Guilde Culinaire and La Academie Culinaire. La Guilde Culinaire offers a 3h 30 min course for a cool $129. You get 2 glasses of wine.  On the other hand, La Academie offers you a 3 h course for a $109. There is also in Montreal south shore, Atelier Culinaire, offering a 3 hour block of tapas and Spanish cuisine for $104. But if I were you, I will keep my 100 bucks or so and get the recipes from the internet. There are many  terrific sites such as Foods and Wines from Spain  with authentic recipes. Keep your money to buy the food and the wine.

5 All time favorite Spanish wines to accompany home-made tapas that wont break your bank account:

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Parès Baltà Calcari Xarel-Lo 2013. SAQ Code: 11377225. $19.25. D.O Penedes.

The roots of Parés Baltà goes all the way back to the 18th century. Parés Baltà produces a wide range of high quality wines and cavas that has been both nationally and internationally acclaimed. In addition, their vineyards are biological.  Pale yellow color with green nuances. Clear and transparent with medium intensity on the nose that brings  to  mind pear and banana. In the mouth it is fresh with a good acidity and balance.  90\100.

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Ijalba Maturana Blanca 2013. SAQ Code: 11383596. $23.35. D.O Rioja.

This is, in case you were wondering, the only Maturana Blanca in the world. Ijalba has taken upon themselves a mission to resurrect this almost extinct variety, fostering the world’s only known vineyard of it – just a bit over two hectares, which is almost peanuts. And yet, it is the grape variety with the oldest known citation in all of Rioja – a written reference dating back to 1622. On the nose, the wine display beautiful citrus and peachy notes. On the mouth, it is round and velvety with a zippy acidity. Beautiful balance displaying tropical fruit notes. 91\100.

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Bo Bobal Unico. $16.75. SAQ Code:  11676680Utiel-Requena

Bobal  is the second most widely planted vine in Spain, after Tempranillo, and it gives its best expression in the D.O. Utiel-Requena (high elevation, short and dry summers). Actually, the variety is native to Utiel-Requena region. On the nose, this wine presents intense aromas of dark cherry with notes of toasty oak and licorice. In the mouth, full body with a medium to high acidity and fleshy tannins. Smooth with a balanced with a flavorful finish. 92\100.

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Marques De Grinon Caliza Syrah / Petit Verdot 2011. SAQ Code: 11194980. $21.45 Pago Dominio de Valdepusa.

Dominio de Valdepusa is a Denominación de Origen (DO) de Pago in the comunity of Castilla-La Mancha. Dominio de Valdepusa has been in the family of the Marqués de Griñón Carlos Falcó since 1292. The family has played an integral part in Spanish wine culture for centuries. Dominio de Valdepusa produces red wines only, whose primary grape varieties are Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, and Merlot.

On the nose, this wine shows intense and complex fruit aromas that bring to mind fieldberries and ripe black cherry. In addition, subtle notes of minerality and spearmint.  On the mouth, this is an ample wine with silky tannins and great structure. Fleshy and balanced with a persistent aftertaste. 92\100

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Alejandro Fernàndez El Vinculo Crianza 2009. SAQ Code: 11896691. $26.30. D.O La Mancha.

Like all proyects that Alejandro Fernández embarkes on, his enthusiasm  elevated this Tempranillo from the hot plains of central Spain into a classy wine that goes byeond its rustic origins. In 1999 the discovery in La Mancha of oldTempranillo vineyards convinced Fernández, of t Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in Ribera del Duero, to undertake one last wine proyect. A deep  black cherry color in the glass, El Vínculo Crianza explodes with deep, brooding aromas of plums, cherries, blood oranges, vanilla and tobacco. Velvety and supple on the palate, the wine adds layers of blackberries, dried herbs, dusty soil and dark leather. Fine, silky tannins emerge on the back-palate that leads i to a long, powerful finish and a long aftertaste of vanilla, tobacco and tar. 94\100

Guerrilleros del Vino: Moraza Tempranillo, Barranco Oscuro, Terra Remota

This week, I was looking back at my past tasting of some Spanish Natural wines, I could not help thinking about the analogy between Guerrilla and the Natural Wine Movement. The webster dictionary defines Guerrilla as a a member of a usually small group of soldiers who do not belong to a regular army and who fight in a war as an independent unit. Notable gueriila movements in Latin America include FMLN, FARC, Sandinista National Liberation Front and other more. Their goal is to overthrown the current political establishment using non violent and sometimes violent tactics. They are motivated by a specific political ideology. Left or Right wing. I will not comment anymore on this, since this is not a political blog.

In general, the natural wine movement are like the Guerrilleros. This is a globalized movement of winemakers who seek to make in the most natural way possible. Biological in spirit, they do not employ pesticides or any other foreign element that conventional winemaking employs. By doing so, they have turned their backs against the established winemaking order. Natural wines are revolutionary in nature. They have nothing in common with conventional wines. The ray of aromas, flavors and texture often set you out of your chair.

Spain is kind of late comer in the natural wine movement. According to some sources, the concept was introduced in Spain in barcelona via the store L’Anima del Vi. In 2008, an association of natural wine producers in Spain was founded. A specialist of natural wines in Spain is Joan Gomez Pallares who is the author of the blog De Vinis and author of the first Spanish natural wine book in Spain.

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Moraza Tempranillo 2013. $17.85. SAQ Code:  12473825

A Natural Tempranillo from Rioja that set itselfs apart from the rest of the pack. A joven with aromas redolent of wild black fruits, gunpowder. In addition, complex animal nuances such as black truffles, boar skin and horse saddle. In the mouth, very fresh with a high acidity. Very elegant and well balanced with retronasal reminding of pimenton and adobo spices. Long finale. 95/100.

For those not familiar with Moraza, they are one of the star clients of the portfolio of Agence Boires. If you are new to my blog, you can read my older post about their Garnacha. For a new agency, Boire has gathered an impressive list of wineries from Italy, France, Spain and California. At the moment the Moraza is sold out at the SAQ, but will have more at the end of August.

Barranco Oscuro BO2

Barranco Oscuro makes natural wines in some of the highest altitude vineyards in Spain,They are up to 1368 meters high, in the area  of La Contraviesa, in Alpujarra of Granada.  These are natural wines crafted with a high respect for the environment. I discovered them last year in the Raspipav salon of Montreal. They are represented by Symbiose, another stellar Quebec agency specializing in natural wines.

B02 is a pure tempranillo displaying intriguing nuances of black earth with complex animal nuances. Wild blackberries add to the mix creating a magical bouquet. On the mouth, the wine has excellent balance between fruit concentration and balance. Lovely mineral finish. This cuvee is vinified with indigenous yeast and no SO2 is added. 93\100

Terra Remota Tan Natural Garnatxa Emporda DO 2013. La QV ( $27.05)

Terra Remota is the proyect of Marc and Emma Bournazeau, a french couple with Catalan business connections. Their vineyards are located north of Girona and not far from  the French border or the Costa Brava on the Mediterranean coast. They are represented in Quebec by La QV.

On the nose, this pure Garnacha displays notes of violets and ripe black fruits. On the mouth, the wine is full body and structures. Retronasal flavors remind me of dry black fruits. Beautiful minerality on the midpalate with a long aftertaste. 95\100.

Petit Verdot in Spain

Petit Verdot is one of those grapes that probably every (somewhat serious) wine drinker has had at some point, though until recently, it was probably only in a blend.  In its best known form, Petit Verdot is one of the “classic” varieties planted in the Bordeaux region of France.  It has never been a majority player in Bordeaux, but it is popular with wine makers there for its ability to add color, structure and aroma to the classic Bordeaux blend.

The major issue with Petit Verdot in Bordeaux vineyards is that it ripens very late, even later than Cabernet Sauvignon, so the grapes only reach full ripeness in the warmest years (its name means “little green” because of the fact that under improper ripening conditions, the grapes never undergo veraison and remain as unusable small green berries).  As a consequence of this, in the past, many estates pulled out their Petit Verdot vines in the 1960’s and 70’s, reducing the total vineyard area of the grape to less than 300 ha by the 1980’s.  As vintages have gotten progressively warmer through the 90’s and 2000’s, many estates are replanting Petit Verdot vines (or, in some cases, tending to vines that they had previously abandoned) and are using a bit more of it in their blends. For example,  By the year 2000, total acreage in Bordeaux had reached around 400 ha.

Many new world countries present warmer and more homogeneous climates than Bordeaux, so plantings of Petit Verdot have started to appear and have taken off in some regions.  Australia is the leaderwith four times more Petit Verdot plantings than France and a fairly substantial number of varietal bottlings.  That California is very high on the list (with about 900 ha planted) shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the large number of Meritage bottlings in the area and the fact that varietally labeled wines can have up to 25% of other grapes in the blend (so some Petit Verdot probably sneaks in to quite a few wines labeled simply “Cabernet Sauvignon,” “Merlot,” what have you).  Petit Verdot is used mainly as a blending grape here, though there are a few varietal bottlings as well.

The variety was introduced to Spain in the 1990’s by Marques de Grinon of Dominio de Valpedusa near the city of Toledo. By 2008, plantings in Spain reached 1,042 ha.  Petite Vedot ripens very well in the region of Castilla La Mancha. It makes wines that have deep black colour with rich spicy flavors, good acidity and excellent tannic structure, allowing to age wonderfully in the cellar.

Such is the case of the Petit Verdot of Vina Cerron. This is small family producer located in the  in Fuenteálamo (Albacete) in the region of Castilla la Mancha. The produce both wines under the Designation of Origin “D.O.P. Jumilla” and the appellation “Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla”. They are organic since 1995. At Cerron, the terroir is very propitious for the growing of Petit Verdot. The area has extreme temperatures during the summer and winter. Their red soils consist of are rich in clay, chalk and other minerals. Cerron vineyards are also located between 800 and 850 above sea levels giving a nice elegance to counter the power and exuberance of Petit Verdot.

Cerron is represented by Elixirs in the province of Quebec.

 

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Bodegas Cerron

Rabia Petit Verdot 2010.
Vinos de la Tierra Castilla

Deep dark purple Colour. On the nose, the wine deep and enticing aromas of blackcurrants, french oak and balsamic notes.In the mouth, the wine is full body with a smooth feeling on the midpalate and angular tannins on the edges. Mediumacidity, the wine has a Bordeaux cut like profile with lots of black fruits such as black plums, smoked ripe cassis with spices. Long afteraste. Shows lots of promise in the medium to long term future. 92\100

Don’t forget to visit my continuous and improving tasting notes section and region profiles of Spain. Until then, Salud!!!!.