Revisiting an old friend: Alejandro Fernandez wines.

20170730_111904

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.

 

How I learnt to love Atlantic Garnacha

wp-1489630735008.jpg

In my formative years of learning about Spanish wines, I had a passion for the wines of the Mediterranean coast and northeast of Spain. Dont get me wrong, I still love them but there are other wines that enchant me as well.

Garnachas and Monastrell..with their heady aromas of deep black fruit, lead pencil and balsamic spice ( more like a fairy spice for me). Day and night, I will sip these wines from my apartment in Madrid and through the window and i would watch the time pass by listening kind of blue by Miles Davis.

wp-1489631611407.jpg

Back in those days I had a mentor that i was an adolescent with my wine drinking habits. He always used to tell me that my passage to adulthood wine drinking would occur when i started drinking wines with atlantic influence. Those were the wines of Rioja, Navarra and Bierzo. As we head north, the acidities get more pronounced and the fruit gives less gratification. The Garnachas of the north bring to mind red fruit such as raspberries and strawberries. On the mouth, there are fresh and juicy bringing to mind herbal flavors such as diverse teas. They are wonderful but require a bit more attention because these are more introverted wines.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Famously known for its annual bull-running festival in Pamplona and its endless fields of white asparagus, red peppers and succulent artichokes, Navarra is also the birthplace to some of the world’s oldest Garnacha vines – offering drinkers some of Spain’s best value reds.

In Navarra, the Garnacha style is quite peppery with fine tannins and sour cherry acidity like. The acidity is the product of the terroir of Navarra: Atlantic climate with a combination of poor mountain soil In Navarra Garnacha has traditionally been used to produce pale wines labelled either rosado or clarete.  But more and more, producers are keeping the Garnachas to make singular reds.

One of this producers is Bodegas Artazuri. Part of the group Artadi in Rioja, Artazuri makes a joven entry level Garnacha. It has a very simple elaboration process in which the grapes are destemmed and cold macerated before fermentation occurs at a controlled temperature.

Some of the best wines I have tasted in Navarra are made by Bodegas Artazuri. Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle made his name with his Bodegas Artadi in neighbouring Rioja, then moved across the border to neighbouring Navarra to run Bodegas Artazuri in the village of Santa Cruz focusing on just 100% Garnacha wines.

20170309_123643.jpg 

Garnacha Artazuri. SAQ # 10902841. $15.20

This is a very easy to drink and elegant wine. Lovely nose of coffee, cherry in dark chocolate with  lead pencil shavings. In addition,  crushed peppercorns. On the palate, earthy with a medium to high acidity. It may not be hedonistic like the Garnachas further south but provides a fine intelligent drinking. Also it comes with a very friendly price.  You can pair it with a dish of baked dry cod with tomatoes or a seafood stew. Or if you feel like an Italian mood, fettuccine with shrimps alla diavola. 

 

I cant tell you which wine drinker you should be, but it should be a mix of a connoisseur and expert. For a fun text regarding different wine drinkers, please consult the text of my colleague Yves Mailloux, what kind of wine drinker are you? ( in french).

Hasta luego!!!

 

A mixed case of wine for the fall

20161009_133554.jpg

The crisp cool  days of autumn are the perfect time to throw on a cozy sweater and light jacket, take  your loved one, and enjoy the outdoors for one last call before winter arrives at our doorstep. Here is my modest selection of Spanish wines to complement your enjoyment of fall weather.

In Red:

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

Izadi Reserva 2011. SAQ Code: 12604098. $20.50. Vintages:  461269

Rich aromatic intensity with a nice balance of red fruit, liquorice and spices and hints of smoke in the background.Elegant and round on the palate with a long aftertaste full of floral and ripe fruit notes. Will grace a cubed beef stew with navy beans in rich tomato sauce. 92/100

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

Condado De Haza 2012. SAQ Code: 00978866 . $26.85

On the nose, this classic Ribera del Duero exhibits a gorgeous nose of crushed blackberry, plum, currant, cedar, and tobacco. It, also, possesses a rich and savory feeling in the mouth to match its big cstructure and ripe tannins. Firm, full-bodied, and full of flavor, it will be a hit with braised lamb shanks and lentils. 90/100

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

Cune Gran Reserva Rioja 2009.SAQ Code: 12591944 . $28.75

In the middle of the Cune range, this out this world Gran Reserva offers plump, beautifully ripe fruit from a lovely warm, ripe vintage. Two full years in oak have both softened and structured the wine even more, to produce a classical  known of Cune.  Give it a try with a carrot and beef stew. 95/100.

Tinto Pesquera Ribera del Duero 2013. SAQ Code: 10273109. $32.75.
Vintage tasted 2012: This Ribera del Duero is aged mostly in American oak with 10% french oak. It has a seductive bouquet of black fruits such as cassis and with dry violets. On the mouth, it is elegant with mineral and pure black fruit flavors with an excellent aging potential for aging. 95/100. Give it a try with roasted prime rib roast.

In White:

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

Pazo de Senorans Albarino 2015. SAQ Code:  00898411 . $23.20
Aromas of nectarine, fresh figs, orange zest and white flowers. Dry,  medium body with citrus flavours and a mineral-driven finish, which dances a long time in the palate. Offers an excellent balance between power and finesse. 92/100. Food match: Fresh Oysters, Steamed mussels.

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

Vina Gravonia Rioja Crianza 2006. SAQ Code: 11667927. $30.50

On the nose, floral notes of chamomile, ricola with honey and aromatic herbs. The palate is  medium-bodied with a fantastic  acidity and freshness that is amazingly crisp and persistent; it is more austere than exuberant, which was a real surprise. Tasty with lots of depth. 95/100 Food match: Indian curries.

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

Castano Chardonnay / Maccabeo 2015. SAQ Code: 10855758 . $14.10

This white blend from Murcia is medium bodied without being oaky. Great flavors of peach, melon and papaya with a soft finish.  Their organically and sustainably farmed Macabeo and Chardonnay vines are well-established, now averaging more than 19 years old, at an altitude of 1500-2250 feet. Seafood based rice dishes. 90/100

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

Parès Baltà Calcari Xarel-Lo 2015. SAQ Code: 11377225. $19.85

Medium intensity nose with  touches of pear and banana. Elegant and balanced with a very good acidity, fresh and structured. It passes the palate as a big wine would, with great flavors, and a medium-strong aftertaste. An elegant organic wine that is silky with good minerality, which I have enjoyed over and over again, when it comes down to price/quality, this is a winner!. 93/100. Try it with salmon roasted in the BBQ.

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.

Think Cava!, Drink the Cavas of Pares Balta

image

Pares Balta is a very familiar name among the Cavas listed on the SAQ. I have been buying from this producer for a few years and never been deceived. If i had to do a reccomend a producer, it will be this one.

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

Their brut bottling is a steal at $17.45. It Brut is soft yellow-green in color with fine bubbles. It has a beautiful bouquet that brings to mind  white peaches, apples, pears, cantaloupe and grated zest lime. Crisp and bright, dry with medium body, this cava  has savoury flavors of apple, honeydew, peach with racy mineral notes. Fruity and nicely balanced, it has clean flavors of tropical fruits.

image

Their agent in Quebec, Trialto is about to release their pink version in the Quebec market. Available in private importation by the case of 12, at a very modest price between 19-20$, it is a steal. With the holidays coming around the corner, it is a good idea to stock up by buying a case or two.

image

Elaborated using the traditional method developed in Champagne, this terrific pink Cava from Parés Baltà is quite amazing, and so far the best one in the category. This modern blend replaces the traditional Xarel.lo component of their white version with 38% Garnatxa, alongside with 32% Parellada and 30% Macabeu.

image

Lovely perfume of raspberries, strawberries with intriguing floral nuances. On the mouth, fresh and balanced. Delicate texture with an almost feminine quality. Long and racy with the perfect amount of residual sugar. Very fresh finale. It will be the perfect partner for an elegant lobster salad dressed with cherry tomatoes, basil and cubes of watermelon.

wpid-20150930_173254.jpg

On the left. Etienne Bezard from Trialto and Joan Cusine Carol from Pares Balta

Joan Cusine Carol, the director of Pares Balta passed in Montreal this week to present and talk about this new pink cava offering in the Quebec market. A very affable person, he reminds me of everything that is elegant from Barcelona and Catalan culture. I had a pleasant exchange of words with him. We talked about familly, the gastronomical traditions of Catalunya and Pares Balta. I was very surprised to learn that Pares Balta is the largest organic producer in the region.

wpid-20150930_172800.jpg

I and a small group of journalists enjoyed this cava with the elegant canapes of tommy restaurant in the old montreal. Some included salmon tartarte with wasabi, beets with walnut with parmesan cheese. It was a very intimate setting along with the staff of Trialto.

wpid-20150930_184331.jpg

Patrick Desy from Les Mechants Raisins talking with Joan

In another tasting at the Trialto offices, I had a chance to taste their Cuisine bottling 2009. This is an exclusivity of SAQ signature. They only 38 cases available in both Montreal and Quebec. It is also an amazing bottle, showing more depth and complexity than their standard bottling.
image

On the nose this cava displays lemon pie notes with verbena leaf and plain yogurt. Medium acidity. Full body and rich with halzenut and butter flavours. Very long. Should be perfect with seared scallops.

Spanish presence at the Trialto Tasting

image

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

wpid-20150609_122528.jpg

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