An stellar Spanish wine to sip in the campfire!!!

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Campfires are not really my cup of tea, or should I better say my glass of wine!!. I occasionally enjoy them at this time of the year when the nights turns chilly. It’s the perfect picture for a glass of red in one hand and sausage on the other in a dark night

A good sommelier friend of mine told me that good wine with elaborate gastronomic meals is a no brainer. The challenge is how to drink well when the food in front of us is not a par.

Brainstorm Campfire food: Hot dogs, cheap meat brochettes, marshmallows, thick slices of bread embedded with olive oil getting burned on the flames..

Today when I was picking up some wine in my local SAQ Outlet, I tasted an amazing Spanish red and had a revelation. This could be amazing to drink in the campfire outside the chalet.

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Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2017. SAQ # 13619321, $24.25 DOP Valle de la Orotava

Listan Negro is an indigenous variety  from Spain, however very little Listan Negro is found in mainland Spain. It is concentrated on the Spanish Islas Canarias, particularly in northern Tenerife.   The soils are volcanic in origin with the weather is warm and humid due to the influence of the Atlantic ocean. This  high index of relative humidity, the complex characteristics of  its wind currents, and the original composition of the La Orotava Valley soils, give its wines a special taste and aroma, distinguishing them as amazing reds.

Bodegas Tajinaste has some of the oldest Listan Negro vineyards going back to 1914. It is run by the perservant Agustín García Farrais who trained in Bordeaux. The family owns 3 ha and they further lease 9 hectares with 25-year contracts with their neighbors and adquire grapes from another 16 hectares worth of vineyards, so the total under management is 28 hectares.

A lovely red with hints of petrol and smoke with nuances of olive tapenade. After aeration, bright notes of ripe red and black fruit emerges. Fruit driven with lovely caressing tannins and a beautiful long floral aftertaste. Would pair well  with classic campfire fare such as grilled sausages or even a steak grilled on an open flame!!

 

Jerez de la Frontera

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Jerez de la Frontera was one of the “Frontier” towns between areas ruled by the Moorish Caliphs and by the Christian Monarchs. “De la Frontera” (on the border) was attached to many of those towns who existed on that strange  border, including Chiclana, Arcos, Conil and Vejer. Jerez was reconquered and conquered several times by both Spanish and the moors.In fact, Jerez is the capital of Sherry country. “Jerez” is actually “Sherry” mispronounced, centuries ago by British wine importers. It is the native place to many of the historical names. such as Gonzalez Byass, Garvey, Emilio Hidalgo, John Harvey, etc). If you ever visit you will find that the town has an aristocratic feeling, with wide avenues linked with palms, and many lovely squares. The two most interesting architectural monuments are the Cathedral of Salvador (boasting a masterpiece painting by Zurbarán, “The Sleeping Girl”, in the Sacristy) and the remains of an 11th century Moorish fortress (called the Alcazaba, it contains a maintained mosque).

Jerez came onto the world scene with the huge increase of demand for its local fortified wine.

The Solera System is the traditional Spanish system used for the production of Sherry. It is a process of gradual blending of different vintages which helps achieve uniform character and quality.

The traditional Sherry Solera is exposed to the sun, hence the name. The warmth of the sun encourages an active fermentation and natural aging. This unique blending system consists of several rows of small oak barrels stacked upon one another grouped by vintages. The oldest is at the bottom and the most recent at the top.

At bottling, approximately one third of the contents of each of the barrels on the bottom level is removed. Sherry from the row immediately above will replace what was removed and so on until a complete transfer is made from top to bottom.

The soil in the region of Jerez plays a very important role in the quality and characteristics of the wine. There are 3 types of soil in Jerez: Albarriza, Barro and Arena. The main differences between the 3 is the amount of calcium carbonate that is present. The higher the calcium carbonate present the better the soil is for the wine. The richest deposits of calcium carbonate are found in the Albarriza zone. The percentage of calcium in this soil can range from 30% to 100%.

The grape varieties that are permitted by the regulatory body of Jerez are all white and are as follows: Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Jimenez. Palomino is the predominant grape variety accounting for over 90%.

 There are four main styles of sherry that are produced.

Fino is a light pale golden colored dry wine with an alcohol content of between 15.5% and 16.5%.

Amontillado is an older fino, richer in character with a soft copper or amber color and an alcoholic content of between 18% and 20%.

Oloroso is a rich dark dry mohogony wine with a full rich nose. Most Olorosos have an alcoholic content of 21%.

Cream sherries are a blend of dry Oloroso and sweet Pedro Jimenez. Cream sherries are dark rich wines with a soft sweet finish. The alcoholic content of these wines are generally 20% – 22%.

 At the heart of this classification lies the concept of Flor in Jerez. T is the veil or thin layer of indigenous yeast cells that forms on top of sherry wines. It is a kind of Ivory coloured, wrinkled, waxy foam, up to two centimeters thick, that protects the wine from air contact and that can only grow naturally in the specific climate of Southern Spain.

Flor basically divides all wines from Jerez into two main categories:biologically aged sherry (which matures entirely under this layer of flor – Manzanilla  and Fino)and oxidative sherry (which matures partially or entirely without flor – Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez). Recently quite a lot of research has been conducted to understand this microbiology  especially since the popularity of biologically aged sherries has increased.

The production of sherry has been reduced significantly since the early 70’s, with an annual production around 90,000,000 litres today.

Sherry is making a comeback, although slowly. There has been some rumours that the Scotch whisky business’s need for sherry casks was keeping the sherry wine business afloat, and it would be ok to say the used barrels over from sherry production are still a big part of a sherry bodega’s bottom line.

These wines are meant to be drank with food, and not just tapas. Seafood such as sushi is stunning with fino, but so are olives, almonds and hard cheeses. Olorosos can handle creamy mushrooms soups, lamb or mushrooms, and hard or blue cheeses. Cream or sweet sherry is probably best for the cheese or dessert course, though. As for service, a small white wine glass is a good way to go. Fino should be served very cold, while palo cortado and olorosos should be a little warmer, but not quite room temperature.

Here are some to try from acclaimed producer Emilio Lustau

Manzanilla Papirusa. SAQ Code: 11767565. Price: $12.65

Dry walnuts, butterscoth. Medium to full body. Refreshing and so elegant with retronasal flavors of green olives. Fruity notes as well. Very long  with a smoky, mushroom finale. 93/100

Almanecista-Fino del Puerto. SAQ Code: 12340150. Price: $21.80

On the nose, toffee, macadimia  nuts and a delicious grilled peanuts nuance. Lots of white flowers as well. Full body with a beautiful mellow texture. Midpalate reveals a lot of tension. Refreshing with a ground coffe finale. 93/100

Puerto Fino. SAQ Code: 11568347. Price $20.30

Very vibrant. Dominant in flowers with spices bringing to mind mustard seed oil, Medium body. Refreshing with a silky rich texture. 92/100

Palo Cortado. SAQ Code: 12365761. Price: $33.50

Smokey nose. Dry meat, roasted cashews, tamari almonds. Pecan  Neurotic nose. Screaming with life. Capuccino Apricots. Full body, elegant with a unique personality. Iode and smoke with notes of cofee bean. caramel. Sweetish but balanced by the acidity. Very long. 95/100

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.