Revisiting an old friend: Alejandro Fernandez wines.

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Alejandro Fernandez created Pesquera in Ribera del Duero and forever changed the face of Ribera del Duero. By the early 80’s, Pesquera persuaded the top wine government organizations and Ribera del Duero was granted status in 1982. And you know the rest of the history…the ascension to stardom of Pesquera and the appellation.

Alejandro Fernandez Condado de Haza may be less famous than its sister winery, Pesquera, but it also produces terrific wines that are classically built Ribera del Dueros. Less powerful than his big brother, but with more restraint and elegeance, this monovarietal Tempranillo wine comes from vines originally planted in 1989 on an ideal, south-facing slope of calcareous clay soil, with some gravelly sections as well as a vineyard slope downward towards the Duero river.

 

 The Condado de Haza 2012 (  SAQ #00978866, $26.85) , exhibits an amplifying nose of crushed blackberry, plum,currant, cedar, and more. It, also, possesses a rich, savory feel in the mouth to counteract  its considerable structure and ripe tannins. It is firm, full-bodied, and full of flavor.Aged 15 months in oak barriques, this sophisticated but intense wine offers plenty to enjoy now, yet it will continue to improve in bottle for a decade or more. Clearly, the 2012 Condado de Haza is one of the finest Tempranillo wines from Ribera del Duero

Alejandro Fernández and his wife Esperanza Rivera, after setting up Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in their native Ribera del Duero, continued expanding their horizons afield in the Spring of 1998, purchasing  Dehesa La Granja bordering the Guareña River in the province of Zamora, in the heart of one of Spain’s earliest-recognized wine regions.

Known in the  20th century as “La Granja Valdeguareña de los Moleros”, the 1800-acre ranch had been developed  by the Moleros brothers to the breeding of fighting bulls, still in operation at the time of purchase. However, from the 17th through 19th centuries the estate had a strong tradition of winemaing During that time the local wine producing area was known throughout Spain and Europe as Tierra del Vino.

Alejandro quickly  set to work reconverting the estate to wine production, with 525 acres of old-clone Tempranillo planted by late 2000. House and ranch compound were renovated and a modern winemaking facility installed, directly over the 17th- century cellars. Meanwhile, Alejandro discovered plots ungrafted old Tempranillo vines in the Guareña River Valley which have formed the basis for concentrated red wines beginning with the 1998 harvest.

Meanwile, Alejandro found ungrafted old Tempranillo vines in the Guareña River Valley which have formed the basis for concentrated red wines beginning with the 1998 harvest.

 The Dehesa La Granja 2012 ( SAQ # 11896691, $22.20)   has smoky dark fruit, toasty oak and dark chocolate aromas on the nose, with an impressive structure and muscular tannins of this terrific Spanish red wine made from Tempranillo grape.  Like a Pesquera but cheaper in your pocket.

El Vinculo was Alejandro Fernandez quest to demonstrate that La Mancha could produce greatest wines. Like its predecessors, the 2012 El Vinculo ( SAQ #11896691, $22.20)  brings out a contagious charm with beautiful aromatics and plush juicy flavors. Blackberry and currant nuances and flavors mix with hints of sandalwood, Asian spices and touches of new oak to delight the nose and the palate. One discovers deep down flavors and power as well as subtle complexity in this El Vinculo.

 

Two Hearty red wines to complement your meat fix

Yesterday, I was BBQ a tough piece of pork loin in the BBQ. I did a marinade of tamari, brown sugar and sambal olek with a touch of bourbon and sesame oil. It was stunning and it was a perfect match for two previous reds that I tasted in the morning. One from Ribera del Duero and Toro.

Yaso 2012. DOP Toro. SAQ # 12298975. $21.25

Charming red fruits and spice. Full body, nice freshness with ultra fine tannins. Not too much oak with pleasant notes of flowers such as roses and violets. Long and very elegant.

Senorio de los Baldios Crianza 2009. DOP Ribera del Duero SAQ # 12417807. $22.10

Very spicy nose. Quite aromatic bringing to mind cloves, anise, stewed prunes. On the mouth, structured and potent. Cocoa, cofee with lots of lush new wood. Grainy tannins. A beast of a wine. Excellent candidate for a cellar.

And I pair these with the below picture. The Yaso worked better complementing and bringing a certain freshness to the asiatic notes of the pork. The Ribera del Duero was good too, specially with the charred parts of the meat but it had a bit too much power for the meat. It would have been better with beef.

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Telmo Rodriguez: Making wines with soul

At some point or another if you are an amateur of Spanish wine, you have heard the name Telmo Rodriguez. A man ahead of his time, with many facets-from businessman to surfer.  He is the knight of shining armour of Spanish autoctonous varieties. Through his company,  Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez he has created some of Spain’s most emblematic and original wines.
Telmo has quite an international background. After studying enology in Bordeaux, he did stints at Cos d’Estournel and Petit Village. After that he continued in the Rhone Valley his journey working with Chave and Trevallon.  It was in the Rhone that he discovered terroir driven wines.During his academic formation he made friends with Pablo Eguzkika which became his partner in his current wine company.

Telmo started his wine venture in 1994. The beginnings were quite difficult. At the moment, the Spanish wine industry was wore interested in producing quantity rather than quality. In addition, at that time there was crazy fashion was to pull old indigenous grape varieties and replace them with international french ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon. With humble means, Telmo started his proyect by looking back at the heritage of Spanish wine. His company became the defenders of the old and authentic vines.

Currently his company has proyects across many appellations in Spain. They include Alicante, Cigalas, Malaga, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Rueda, Toro and Valdeorras.  Some of his well known wines include Dehesa Gago, Basa, Gaba do Xil, Viña 105, Gago, Gazur, Almuvedre.

Lucky for us, Telmo will be in Montreal on September 8th to present some of his wines  the Galerie du Gouverneur. The event will be hosted by the SAQ Signature. The price is $195 per person and includes a gastronomic supper made by Sebastien Muniz, celebrated chef of Montreal  Spanish restaurant Meson and Tapeo. The wine list include:

Mountain Blanco 2013, Sierras de Málaga
El Transistor 2014, Rueda
Pegaso Pizarra 2010, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León
Matallana 2005, Ribera del Duero
Altos Lanzaga 2011, Rioja
Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva 2009, Rioja
Molino Real 2009, Málaga

For those fortunate to attend, it will be a chance to taste three of Spain’s cult wines. These are Matallana, Altos Lanzaga and Molino Real.


Matallana is the flagship wine of the portfolio of Telmo Rodriguez. A 100% tinto fino from old and new vines from  Ribera del Duero vineyards in Sotillo, Roa, Fuentecen; Fuentemolinos, Pardilla  and Fuentelisendo. This is an incredible sensual yet powerful wine aged 15-18 months in french oak. See my post on souvenirs from an old tasting salon for the tasting notes of the 2000 vintage.

Altos de Lanzaga is another exceptional cuvee from the region of Rioja. This wine is born from four plots of old head peruned vines in the village of Lanciego at 500-600 meters altitude, which are worked biodynamically. The wine ferments in 3,000 kilo oak vats with wild yeasts for 20 days and matures in 1,500 and 225 liter oak barrels for 18 months. 

An avant garde Rioja as it best. The nose is full of glorious dark plums and heady blackberry jam with stewed prunes.  On the mouth, it is silky, chunky with a fine tannins structure. Flavors bring to mind more blackberry and cassis aromas with a Madagascar vanilla finish. Drink until 2025


Molino Real is  a very concentrated moscatel wine. This is the fruit of bush vines near Malaga. It has spent 20 months in new french barriques. The fruit is such of an amazing quality that you can barely feel the wood except for a savoury spicy thin coating. This is a cult Spanish wine with strict allocations across the world and ranks among the finest wines of Spain. 
If you are in Montreal, dont miss this chance to meet Telmo and taste some of his wines. For sure, you wont be dissapointed.

Until next me and you have heard it in El meson del Vino.

BBQ is Barbacoa, an American- Spanish thing

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As the weather gets warmer in these parts of the worlds, the cooking moves from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor patio.

No one is really sure where the term barbecue originated. The conventional knowledge is that the Spanish, upon landing in the Caribbean, used the word barbacoa to refer to the natives’ method of slow-cooking meat over a wooden platform. The practice of barbecuing in America came as a result of the introduction of domesticated livestock by Spanish and Europeans settlers in the 15th and 16th centuries. This technique involves putting meat in an iron cast grill and put directly on a fire.  It is something very common to find in Latin American and Spanish Gastronomy.

The best Parrillas are made in Northern Spain. It is not surprising since most of the livestock that ends up in a grill comes from those parts.

I came to know the gas bbq when I moved to Canada. Up to the age of 15, I only BBQ with the coal system. In Venezuela, this cooking method is called La Parrilla.  This was a very social thing, since it was done with a group of family and friends on a weekend. It involved large quantities of meat and some organs too.  It also involved large quantities of booze involved. During those years, I was not a wine drinker. In a Parrilla, it is custom to have beer or scotch. There is not really a wine culture in Venezuela

When choosing a wine for La Parrilla, you need a full body red wine with bold flavors and maybe a bit of oak. Otherwise, the charred and smoke impregnated flavours will dominate everything. My top choices for Spanish wines, include wines from the two R’s, Ribera del Duero and Rioja. I also very fond of Garnachas from Calatayud specially with blood sausages or morcilla .

The latest SAQ Cellier offers some excellent Spanish  wines, to get you in the mood to start barbequeing.

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Bodegas Balbas Ardal Reserva Ribera del Duero 2010. SAQ #  12806984. $31.50

Decadent fruit on the nose, showing lots of depth and concentration. On the mouth, very structured with savoury animal, mineral and smoke flavours. Hefty tannins, this wine with get more civilized with a few years on the cellar. Perfect with a charred T-Bone steak. 93/100

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Celler la Muntanya Negre 2010. SAQ # 12818109. $20.45

This wine is  a blend of Monastrell with some 25% Garnacha, 20% Garnacha Tintorera and a hint of the local red Bonicaire, an almost extinct variety they are recovering from 40-year-old, head-pruned vines vines. Big nose, bringing to mind lots of earthy and herbal characters such as mountain scrub, ripe black fruits and aromatic fresh herbs. On the mouth, the wine is full body, with a restrained balance and a interesting elegance. A very nice. 90\100

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Burgo Viejo Rioja Crianza 2012. SAQ # 12848308. $17.00

Red ruby  hue with violet tones. On the mouth, it is a  well-balanced with old style black fruit, vanilla and coconut flavors. Powerful, complex and silky smooth. Traditional Rioja with a friendly pocket price. 91/100

 

 

 

Spanish presence at the Trialto Tasting

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Trialto, one of the leading agencies in the Canadian wine importing business, hosted on June 9th, their second annual tasting. I was in the company of other members of the Quebec wine press. The wine tasting was an intimate gathering and was followed by a fine selection of cured meats and fine cheeses. The Spanish wine presence was quite high, about 30% of the wines tasted. From 17 wines presented, five were from Spain. Most of the wines are available all year round in the Quebec market, with two exceptions that I will mention below.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Navarra-Garnacha, Bodega Artazu 2013. SAQ Code: 10902841. Price: $15.45

On the nose, aromas that bring to mind different layers of black fruit. In addition, black pepper with paprika nuances. In the mouth, full body, fruity in the mid palate. Dusty tannins with a medium lenght finish. 87\100

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Catalunya-Montsant Mas Collet, Celler de Capcanes. 2012. SAQ Code: 642538. Price: $17.55

On the nose, aromas of redcurrants with dark plums and roasted herbs. In the mouth, full body with confit red berries flavors . Great tannins expression. 90\100

Rioja-Izadi Reserva 2010. SAQ Code:  12604098 ( Lot Specialty to arrive in August )

On the nose, noble oak notes with distinctive nots of crayons. In addition, cofee with ripe dark fruits. In the mouth, full body with coconut and cocoa flavors. Brambly tannins. Difficult to approach nose because of its youth. 90\100

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Ribera del Duero-Pruno Finca Villacreces 2013. SAQ Code: 11881940. $22.45

On the nose, lots of red ripe red fruits with smoke and barnyards. Less oak than previous vintages. In the mouth, lovely flavors of leafy blackcurrants. Big but quite polished tannins. 92/100

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Castilla-leon. Rueda Basa. Telmo Rodriguez 2014. SAQ Code: 10264018. Price: $16.45

On the nose, lots of green and tropical fruit character. In the mouth, medium body. Fresh and a bit sparkling. Lovely citrusy fruit character. 89/100

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The tasting was more special, because during lunch, we were lucky to have the presence of Juan Palomar from Grupo Artevino. Mr. Palomar is the export area manager for Artevino in the North Aamerican market. This is a group of wine companies led by the Anton family. They include Izadi ( Rioja), Finca Villacreces ( D.O Ribera del Duero), Vetus ( D.O Toro and Rueda) and Orben ( Rioja).

I had a nice dialogue with Juan regarding the style of Izadi in Rioja and Villacreces in Ribera del Duero. Regarding Izadi, it is a very special since it marries the traditional style of Rioja with the modern one. I also was pleased with the latest vintage of Pruno. There was more fruit character and less oak.

You heard it first in spanishwineguide.com.

Hasta Luego

The perfect Spanish red wine for weekday drinking and a Ribera del Duero for the weekend.

The appellation of Yecla has a reputation of producing of robust, high alcohol wines with an inky appearance and heady aromas. However, I might have found the exception of the rule with the 2012 Las Carretas Monastrell.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Mediterráneo, also known as Altos del Cuadrado, is the proyect of the Castaño family in Jumilla and Yecla . In both winemaking regions, Monastrell is king.

A name given to Mourvedre grapes grown in Spain, Monastrell is a big wine with complex and deep flavors. Primarily used in blending, Monastrell stands alone well as a delicious red. As a function of Spanish terroir, Monastrell tends to have a deeper plum and licorice note compared to other varieties of Mourvedre.

Rezin imports Las Carretas in the province of Quebec. This is a private import available in case of 12. At $14.85, it is a hard to beat for the quality delivered. My tasting notes below:

Las Carretas Monastrell D.O Yecla 2012

On the nose very fresh aromas of black berry fruit with violets, licorice and cracked black peppercorn with juniper berries. On the mouth, full body, with an incredible freshness. Crispy fruit that reminds me of raspberry coulis, with hints of fennel seed this wine has an  amazing silky texture with easygoing tannins. A very floral retronasal with a very polished finale. Quite possibly, the best value in the Spanish wine value at the moment in the private importation segment in Quebec. 93\100.

Food Match: Anything from blood sausages, chorizo to Paella or other poultry based rice dishes containing rabbit or hare. 

Here is a very nice little video that talks about the wine regions of Murcia:

Recently, in a recently arrival of the SAQ Cellier, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the wines of the Matarromera Group was available in the province of Quebec. Matarromera is a very important player in the fine wine market of Ribera del Duero and in Spain.  Bodegas Emina is sourced from the Valbuena ring of paths, a very important wine sub region of Ribera del Duero.  The Emina Crianza 2010 is a 100% tempranillo with 12 months barrel aging and a further 12 months in bottle. It is sourced from a vineyard called  Pago El Coto de San Bernardo which have a mixed soil composition consisting of clay, sand and limestone which explains why it has such as powerful structure. My tasting note below:

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Emina Crianza 2010. $27.20

Dark violet colour. On the noses aromas of dry black fruit, cocoa, meat extract with iron nuances. In addition, violets with couscous spices. On the mouth full boby with a powerful structure. Good acidity with flavours of cassis, black cherry. In addition, cloves, toasty oak and vanilla. Ripe tannins and long finish. 95\100. One of the best Ribera del Duero available on the Quebec market at the moment

Food Match: Perfect with any a Bavette marinated in homeade bbq sauce over a hot fire. 

Here is a short promotional video of  Bodegas Emina that explains what they are all about:

Emina is represented by Valmonti in Quebec. This was a sample given by the agent for review in this blog.

The Rivalry between Rioja and Ribera del Duero

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In Spain, the two main classic wine regions are Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Over the years, a friendly rivalry has developed between these two years. Often, the two regions are compared against each other. In this post, i will try to shed some light between the differences between these two giants.

Rioja became the first Spanish wine region to get doc status in 1925. In 1991, they received the most prestigious Denominación de origen Calificada (DOCa) which is very similar to what the italians call DOCG. In contrast, Ribera del Duero 1982 (It was called then Ribera de Burgos). In legal terms, Rioja is older than Ribera del Duero. Ribera does not posses the DOCa but many experts suggest that they should grant them, since it exist an historical quality precedent.

The geographical area of the DOC Rioja comprises the municipalities of Rioja and the basque country, with some areas of production in Navarra. The principal production areas are Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Alavesa. Naturally, the terroir and climate is taken into consideration to define the boundaries of each area.

The  D.O. Ribera del Duero is located on the southeast part of Castilla and León, particularly in the provinces of Burgos, Segovia, Valladolid and Soria. The most important cities in this D.O are Aranda de Duero, Peñafiel, Roa and San Esteban de Gormaz.

It is important to mention soil and climate, since it will determine how the wine taste alike

Rioja Alta has clay and chalky soils with a moderate continental climate. Rioja Baja is drier with a semi mediterranean climate and the soils are again clay type but with a rich mineral character that recalls iron. Rioja Alavesa has moderate winter temperatures with low incidence of frosts  and a landscape consisting of an abrupt orography and chalky soils. To resume, the soft temperaturates of Rioja permit a slow ripening of the grapes.

On the other hand, Ribera del duero has a climate characterized by low rainfall and extreme temperatures that combine the cold winds of the winter with the dryness of the summer season. As a consequence, the ripening of the berries will be less, making highly aromatic and concentrated wines but at the expense of finesse.

The D.O. Ribera has very diverse soils. In the part with the highest altitude, there is a mixture of limestone and chalk. In the mid-slopes sand and clay. In the lowest part just limestone.

In Rioja with regards to the grapes authorized , there are four red authorized:(Tempranillo, Garnacha tinta, Mazuelo and Graciano) and three white varietied (Viura, Malvasía and Garnacha blanca). However Tempranillo is king on those parts.

On the other hand in Ribera del Duero,Tempranillo, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec are authorized,Garnacha and Albillo as well but in small quantities. Like in Rioja, the most important variety is Tempranillo.

Rioja has white, red and rose wines while Ribera del Duero only make red and roses. Rueda does not count, although it is considered by some as a satelite of Ribera del Duero.

In both DOC’s, traditionally wines have been classified according to their aging requirements: jóvenes (no aging in wood), crianza (minimum 2 years aging, one of them in wood), reserva (minimum 3 years aging, 2 in wood and 1 in bottle).Gran reserva (minimum five years, 2 in wood and 3 in bottle).

My Rioja wine picks of the moment:

Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2009. Code SAQ:  00741330. $22.10

On the nose ripe aromas of plums, prunes and red and black fieldberries. In addition, lots of spice character remind me of middle eastern cuisine. Also, licorice and present notes of oak. However, not dominating the nose of the wine. In the mouth, full body with a very polished texture. Long and smooth in the palate with flavors reminding me of mocha, blackberries covered in chocolate. Lush but with a impressive acidity. Powerful and concentrated bringing to mind  high end bottling of Rioja such as El Bosque. Keep this crianza on the cellar for 5 years. It still needs a bit of time to come to perfection. 92\100

Vina Gravonia Rioja Crianza 2004 – white wine-Code SAQ: 11667927: $30.25

Golden colour with amber nuances, aromas of butterscotch pudding with coconut, bitter orange and dry fruit notes. In the mouth, medium to full body with a grea acidity despite 10 years and great retronasal flavors. Again that intrepid bitter orange with some minerality. Also very perfumed, reminding me of toast and the Boudoir of my grandmother. Very long with an intriguing finale reminding me of popcorn. 95/100

Glorioso Reserva 2008. Code SAQ:  00857599$25.40. ( The link is for the reserva especial 2007)

Light to medium ruby colour. Ripe concentrated red fruit nose with leathery nuances. Nice oak integration with raspberry dark chocolate. Sweaty with hints of nail polish. In the mouth, full body, fresh and nicely concentrated. Well balanced. Chewy in the mouth with more animal nuances and ripe raspberry and cherry candy notes. Long in the mouth with a rather long aftertaste. 92\100

My Ribera del Duero picks of the moment too:

Rolland Galarreta Ribera del Duero 2010. Price:$26.70. Saq Code: 12258391

Beautiful concentration of dark blackberries, damson plums with a flowery and spicy character. In the mouth, full body with a smooth-silky profile. Medium to high acidity. Concentrated with lots of dry fruit extract. Precise and well made wine. Massive and chewy tannins. 92\100

Tinto Pesquera Ribera del Duero. $43.50. Saq Code: 10273088.

Very aromatic nose displaying black fruit paste, moka and dark chocolate notes. In addition, notes of seasoned wood. In the mouth, full body. Highly structured with firm and austere tannins. Complex flavors come to mind ranging to ripe black fruits, graphite, tanned leather to indian spices. Very long finish. 94/100.