The great Alejandro Fernandez on form with this Crainza that punches well above its weight.
Available from Armit
A tremendous evening of wine and tapas with Codorniu Raventos at Iberica Marylebone.
Oscar Urrutia presented the wines and gave us an insight into three of Spain’s most important regions, a super opportunity to compare and contrast. However some common feature ran through all the wines: the high standard of the winemaking and their superb value!
Here are the tasting notes:
Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Reserva, NV.
A fresh sparkler with citrus & ripe stone fruits and a nice touch of toasty pastry made with chardonnay by the champagne method.
Vina Pomal Rioja Blanco, 2014. 70 % Viura and 30 % Malvasía.
Nose a little subdued. Citrus notes, nice mouthfeel and a touch of toast from the American and French barrels the wine was aged in. Not particularly long.
Legaris Roble, Ribera del Duero, 2014. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo).
Roble wines are intended for earlier drinking and with less oak and bottle aging tend as in this case to be more fruit focused. Balanced with nice high altitude freshness there is never the less a lick of coconut and vanilla that adds interest. Very drinkable & great value!
Scala Dei Garnatxa, Priorat, 2014. Grenache.
Fresh red fruits on the nose, I loved the bright crunchiness that the high acidity gives this wine, great balance, and definite mineral / stoney notes no doubt from Priorat’s famous licorella slate. A superbly made wine, one of my favourite wines of the evening.
La Vicalanda Reserva, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Rioja, 2010. 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja Alta region.
This wine was wine of the month recently and for good reason. Lovely smoky, toasty notes on the nose then dark fruit, blueberry & cherries, smooth soft round tannins on the palate, more fruit and tasty hoisin and balsamic savoury flavours. Long and very delicious.
Legaris Reserva, Ribera del Duero, 2011. 100% Tinto Fino
Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% old, then a further 2 years in the bottle before being released. This wine is definitely the roble’s big brother, darker and more powerful with concentrated dark fruit, combined with toast & coffee on the palate. Full bodied with firm but ripe tannin and great length.
Scala Dei Prior, Scala Dei, Priorat, 2013. Cabernet, Grenache & Syrah.
Dark colour from the cabernet and Syrah, Black fruit, pepper, spice & herbs on the nose, More concentrated dark fruit in the mouth, with forward mouth coating tannins and very full body, good overall balance and very long. Needs decanting or a few more years of bottle age to really unfold its many layers.
Septima Tardio, Mendoza, 2103, Argentina 100% Gewürztraminer.
This is a late harvest wine made 1,050 metres above sea level in the Southern hemisphere. Lovely floral notes mixed with an interesting whiff of vanilla and smoke on the nose. Sweet dried & exotic fruits on the palate, again with a lick of vanilla from the American oak barrels, rich without being flabby, linger nicely.
We brought in the New Year at Iberica in Marylebone a fabulous tasting from the excellent portfolio of Codorniu Raventos , presented by the charismatic Oscar Urrutia , their fine wine manager.
Codorniu is best known for their Cava, however they own 10 wineries and 20 prestigious brands in the best wine regions including Rioja and Ribera Del Duero: Codorníu, Raimat, Legaris, Bach, Scala Dei, Abadía de Poblet, Bilbaínas Winery, Nuviana, Artesa and Séptima in Argentina.
Codorniu Raventos are the oldest family business in Spain and the 17th oldest in the world. With more than 460 years of history dedicated to creating wines and cavas
Cava from Codorniu or Bilbainas
Vina Pomal – Rioja viura and malvasia fermented in barrel
Legaris Roble: young, fresh Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero
Scala Dei Garnatxa: Young Grenache from Priorat
Bread with olive oil
Spanish cheese selection with quince
Toasted bread with tomato
Selection of cured meats
La Vicalanda Reserva: Classic Rioja Alta Tempranillo
Legaris Reserva: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo concentration and fresh fruit
Scala Dei Priorat: A fanatastic example of what Priorat can offer.
Warm endive salad
Valdeón cheese & caramel coated hazelnuts (v)
San Simón cheese dip,toasted bread, sun blushed tomatoes & rocket (v)
Potatoes with spicy brava sauce (v)
Fish & chips with mojo verde sauce
Padrón peppers with Maldon salt (v)
Ibérica’s serrano ham croquettes
Seared cod with Vizcaína sauce
Fried chorizo lollipops with pear alioli sauce
The Ibérica burger with secreto pork loin & Piparra peppers
Creamy black rice with squid, prawns and alioli sauce
Septima Tardio, which is a Gewurtztraminer from vineyards in Mendoza.
Caramelised Spanish rice pudding
Chestnut crème caramel, coffee soil & chocolate ice cream
with black fruits, rich concentrated ripe blackberries , black cherries and cassis.
It has a lovely tone of herbs, tobacco and liquorice and importantly beautiful soft integrated velvety tannins .
Brilliant with searingly hot sealed organic ribeye.
Less oak than a Rioja and more fruit forward it is delicious.
Another top quality wine from the excellent Codorniu group and well worthy of the WanderCurtis July wine of the month .
There were 15 people and 13 wines. Hosted outside with jamón, tortilla, anchovies and manchego.
Round 1: Style and category of wine
Round 2: Cost of wine
Round 3: Ageing and spot the Rioja
Round 4: Same year, what’s your favourite
Wines of the evening:
For detailed tasting notes see the blog. ‘ Wine tasting trip to the Ribera Del Duero. May 20th to 23rd’
First tried with Maria, the winemaker at the fantastic Rogers 12 million euro winery. Enjoyed more at the Tempranillo event on the 22nd. Very full with purple rim. Lovely smokey nose with great length and hints of herbs. Baileys wine import Protos crianza 2006.
A stupendous long weekend in Ribera Del Duero arranged by R-C tours.
Commenced with a private tour of Dominio de Pingus, which was very hard to find just off a back street in the village.
Winemaker Patricia Benitez took us first around the super modern science labs including PCR machine! The scientists among us were already drooling even prior to the barrel samples of Pingus and flor de pingus 2009. A fascinating insight into one of the worlds most expensive ‘garage wines’.
We were whisked off to the ultra modern Bodegas Alion (Vega-Sicilia). Purification answered every last question, valiantly, from the density of the grain of French versus American oak to the concentration of TCAs on corked samples. Then to the exotic Japanese Gardens of Pablo Alvarez’s Vega Sicilia, and finally the private tasting from immaculately pristine top range Riedel-Alion 2005, Valbuena, Unico 2000 and the most mindblowing luscious marmalady Tokay 2002. This was going to take some beating!
Off to Bodegas Protos – a very much larger more modern, and somewhat colder operation.
Impressed by winemaker Maria but the wines were disappointing. In fairness they did have a very hard act to follow.
Viejo Coso by Jesus Ramos who descended from his castle in Curiel de Duero to show us his maturing barrels in a converted church with 2m thick stone walls. Then off up to the spectacular castle-hotel, hundreds of feet high on a limestone escarpment. Amazing setting, interesting toilets and good quality wines. He kindly invited us back for lechazo (baby lamb stewed for four hours) and Champions League final.
30km by bike later and to the highlight of the trip -Juan Carlos Vizcarra, Bodegas Vizcarra.
Vinification takes place in Peniefel, followed by aging in barrel and bottle in a restored church with 1.5m thick walls. Our tasting took place in the hotel Coso Viejo also run by Jesus, a restored castle on the hill with fantastic views over the valley and back towards Peniefel. Hotel Coso Viejo, Encarnacion 9, 29200 Antequera, Spain
Jesus ages his wines for longer than the minimum stipulations for Roble, Crianza, Reserva and sells 70% of his wine in Madrid and the rest to central Europe.
Roble 2005, released 2008.
Slightly brick coloured rim. Fruity nose, simple and tasty on the palette. Develops in the glass, soft ripe tannin, black cherries and becoming even more enjoyable. Shows the extra effort and aging ** Sells for 7 EU.14%
Crianza 2003 released 2008.
Again a bricky rim, blackberry fruit, compost and vegetal notes on the nose, smooth with plenty of tannin on the palette, needs food as many of these wines do. Opens up on returning to the glass later with caramel and more complexity. Very tasty. For 9 EU a bottle fantastic value. **
Reserva 2001 released in 2006.
A sweet nose, vegetal with hints of spice and caramel, nice and interesting. Soft and smooth on the palette, quite long, a lot of tannin has dropped away. Some still present, but the fruit is disappearing. A little rioja like. We returned that evening for chuletas, baby slow cooked lamb at the castle, which was accompanied perfectly with another couple of bottles of the Reserva which really came into its own. Again at 12 EU a bottle certainly the best value wine we had delivering loads of please.**
As we cycled back from Roa del Duero through Mambrilla wondering how we were going to find our last appointment of the day, we noticed some guy in a tractor in a field shouting and waving at us. It turned out to be Juan Carlos, owner, oenologist, winemaker, PR department, labourer and everything else at Bodegas Vizcarra. An inspiring and passionate man who has since our meeting pipped Cantona as Adam’s all-time hero.
Having visited four fascinating wineries and learnt all about winemaking in Ribera, and after a rather large lunch in Roa we thought we knew what to expect. But from the moment Juan Carlos stepped off his tractor to when we left three hours later it was clear that Bodegas Vizzcarra was something very special.
We visited the vineyards themselves and heard about the low yielding old bush vines and the younger row planted vines, also the different soils and positions in the valley. In the new winery, JC explained his use of larger new oak barrels to encourage a more gentle expression in the wines. We tasted 2009 from the barrel and were privileged to visit JC’s family cellar in the town and taste a mature bottle of one of his premier wines.
Senda del Oro 2009 from barrel
Fruity nose then packed with fruit, chewy yet fresh, tasty and balanced, nicely under oaked. **+
From 20-30 year old vines, a crianza. Roasted coffee beans on the nose also fruit. Lovely sweet blackberry and coffee beans, soft tannin, long viscous and tasty. **++
From 55 year old vines. This is the wine where JC is aiming for the perfect Ribera Reserve, made in bigger barrels to temper the effect of the oak. Full fruity, concentrated with a mineral undercurrent, powerful, viscous with a long lingering fruit aftertaste. ***+
Some Garnacha in the blend here again in big barrels with attractive pink metal bands (Celia’s favourite colour?) This wine is more feminine and refined in every respect, even delicate following the Torralvo. Compact and a little closed but beautifully balanced dense complex core and soft lingering tannin at the end. This has amazing potential. ****+
This blend has a10% merlot in it and again a long maturation in large barrels. Wonderfully cool and fine textured, sweet and compact, with plenty of tanning, a great mouth feel. ***++
Delicate nose, sweet with hints of the savoury/sweet plum sauce one gets with crispy duck, complex and powerful in the mouth, soft tanning, very long and persistent on the palette. Evolves in the glass, passing through waves of sweet fruit flavours and savoury soy notes. One of the best of the trip, absolutely delicious! ****
Bit closed to begin with but opens up with fruit, limestone and persistent nose, then in the mouth, wow! Big, intense, powerful seemingly endless, good balance, and so very, very tasty. ****
By the time we got to these last two we all gave up spitting – the wines were just too good. When we finally got back on our bikes, and JC got back into his tractor, there was not a drop left.
A stupendous example of what the Ribera can produce. Wonderfully luscious/coffee/vanilla/mocha with harmonious balance and plenty of ripe black fruits. This is a real treat and overshadowed Pesquera reserva and tinto 2005.
Was the most popular of five Ribera reds. Wonderful food matching provided by masterchef Rob Revel-Chion, the producer of the finest paella north of the Pyrenees, laden with clams, king prawns, chicken and smokey paprika.
A fine wine indeed and many more to come on our wine tasting and buying trip to the Ribera del Duero later in May.