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.


Spanish Halloween wines: Numanthia and Termanthia

Its Haloween weekend in a few days and I thought that I would this ghoulish yet commercial holiday to talk about some wines that are in a way scary in a sort of way. I would like to talk about two of the most iconoclastic Spanish wines, Numanthia and Termanthia.

Castilla y Leon is the region were the famous Toro wines are produced. This Spanish region has a long oenological tradition, which dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks.

In the Middle Ages, wines from Toro became a hot ticket item in Spain, so much they received royal endorsement.They were the choice of wine of the Spanish Conquistadores of the Spanish armada that colonized the New World, and later, during the 19th century, they were exported to other European countries affected by the devastating phylloxera plague that left vineyards barren for decades.

Toro wines are made from a single type of grape named Tinta de Toro, which belongs to the same family of Tempranillo, used in Ribera del Duero. These legendary Toro vines are tough. Some are 140 years old.  They are hardy and resistant, able to endure the region’s extreme climate temperatures  from harsh winters and scorching summers. Situated in northwest Spain, on clay plateaus and slopes, those vines give out intense, aromatic, and powerful wines year after year.

One of the wineries is Numanthia, located in the town of Valdefinjas, Province of Zamora. Currently part of the LVMH Group, the winery was founded, in 1998, by the Eguren family with the sole mission of making the best wines in Toro.

The winery’s name is a tribute to Numantia, an ancient settlement known for its brave resistance to Roman invasion. In 133 AC, the town was stored by legions led by the Roman General Scipio. Its citizens resisted, heroically, for years, opting for death rather than surrender and dishonor. Numantia has become a historic icon of resilience and endurance, characteristics that define the Toro vineyard, a true warrior, able to overcome merciless weather and resistant to plagues.

Numanthia owns 121 acres of vineyards. About 20 are planted with vines 70 to 100 years old, but it is also important to bring into attention a small plot of 12 acres, in Argujillo, that is 120 years old. The land is divided into parcels facing south and southwest, with an average altitude of 2,300 feet. These vines produce thick clusters of small grapes, rich in color and with strong tannins, despite the  fact that the yield is quite small: 2,000 to 3,600 pounds per acre, perhaps one of the lowest in the world. For these reasons,  In order to adapt to the extreme climate, the vineyards have lowered their production, but, as a trade off, offer a high concentration of fruit, resulting in complex wines of great balance and finesse.

Along Vega Sicilia and Pingus, the wines of Numanthia were my first introduction to fine Spanish fine wines. I have fond memories of drinking Numanthia while I was living in Madrid, Spain. Wonderful wine to have with Lechon asado. Termanthia is amazing as well but is more a wine of meditation than to eat with it. This is to show that the appellation can make world class wines that can par with the best of France and Italy.

With this final note, I will leave with this video that I found on youtube. Wine Spectator interviews Manuel louzada, the director and winemaker of Bodegas Numanthia. In five minutes, the video really captures the essence of Numanthia. There is liitle left at the SAQ Selection brances and SAQ Signature of these wines. So get the last bottles while you can. It is a shame that the new generation of young wine lovers and sommeliers express no interest for these classically made wines.

Have a good halloween and don’t eat all the candy. Keep some for me.

The wines:

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Numanthia 2008. Price: $63.00. SAQ Code: 12134575

It has a dark, and deep red color with intense ruby highlights. Its bouquet  is vivid and very complex. At the beginning, there are marked notes  of red and black fruits (currants, raspberries and blackberries), perfectly integrated with savoury spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, black pepper, licorice and toasty aromas. On the palate, the wine is fleshy with well-endowed tannins. The finish is long and elegant with  more aromas of spices, raspberry, cocoa and toasted oak that enhance the complexity and  fine hand of this world class wine. 97\100. Perfect to sip by the fire on the haloween night.

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Termanthia 2011. Price: $179. SAQ Signature Code:  11646819

Powerful nose of cassis and other ripe dark forest fruits with a good dose of newoak.On the palate, more luxurious oak sweet spices with a good acidity with round and  powerful tannins. Extremely  concentrated. A beautiful monster of a wine. Long, lush and decadent. However, not expressing its full greatness yet. but I would love to taste this again around 2030 to see what has become. 99\100. The wine to bring for a hunting trip.

Spanish presence at the Festival Vins de Terrebone 1\4: Spanish caballeros of LBV International

Every year for the last 10 years or so, I assist to the Festival Vins Terrebone. It has become a tradition of mine.  It is one of the biggest wine festivals in the Lanaudière. You can taste more than 1000 wines from some of the most important wine agencies established in Quebec. The products can be found both at the SAQ and in the private import system. This is a small winelover’s dream

I was quite pleased by the Spanish presence at this year edition.  Here are my tasting notes. From the stand of LBV International, I was very fortunate to taste the following wines:

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Imperial Gran Reserva 2007. Code SAQ:12203796. $51.50

This wine is dominated by Tempranillo, with a good proportion of Graciano and Mazuelo added to complete the blend.. Maturation takes place in new French and American oak and one has to wait patiently for 24 months prior to bottling.

Iconic, to say the least, this Cune Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja is the stuff of wine dreams… It’s here for a long time, so you can wait a decade or two to savor it, or just a year or two if you cant. The luxury of choice and time for winelovers!! If sooner is your preference, I say open your beautiful bottle and give it some air while you prepare a big plate of patatas con chorizo to eat with your first glass.

Cedary. Lovely ripe black fruit expression with pencil shavings nuances. Tar and chinese ink undertones. Perfect oak integration. On the mouth, plush with a good concentration. Noble and mature tannins with an exquisite balance. Long and racy. Retronasal flavors remind me of dry mountain leaves, flowers. Long aftertaste. Perfect Rioja. 100/100

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Contino Rioja Reserva Rioja 2008. Code SAQ : 12347159 . Price: $26.40

Contino is a single-estate bodega (62 ha of vineyards) based in a 200-year-old farmhouse just outside the town of Laguardia in the Alavesa region.  The estate’s name comes from the royal guard of 100 soldiers who protected the monarch. The label is adorned with the bust of San Gregorio, the patron saint and protector of vineyards

On the nose, traditional american oak aromas with lots of cedar, tobacco and roasted black fruit nose. In addition, herbs. On the palate, amazing elegance. Chewy fruit bringing to mind dark plums. Magnific finale. 95\100

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Fontaura Aponte Reserva 2005 Toro. Code SAQ: 12259407. Price: $23.90

The wines of Toro, an appellation next door to Ribera del Duero tend to be richer and more extracted than its neighbor. In some instances, they can be heavy and out of balance. However, it seems to be the exception with Fontaura. This is a property that its origins go back to the XIX century. The estates comprises 120 ha and the wine is a blend from old vine tempranillo vines situated at different parcels of the estate.

Wild Blackberry nose, almost passified in nature with dry indian spices. On the nose, full body. Jammy fruit. Retronasal reminding me of butterscotch with dark chocolate and cocoa. Smoky with mineral flavors and smooth and mature tannins. 90\100.