Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nov. 21 Tasting the Wines of Spain

We begin with the Spanish wines. Spain before Portugal because, in my opinion, Portuguese wines can be so concentrated that they'll obliterate anything coming after them. In general, tasters enjoyed these wines. While drinkable, this blogger feels that more traditional examples of Rioja would have served to present a more accurate picture of what a Spanish wine is. The albariño, as is often the case, was delicious.

2008 Salterio Albarino

2008 Salterio Albariño, DO Rias Baixas

Always a source for value-driven wines with great expression, wines from Rias Baixas combine ripe fruit with minerality and balance. All the ingredients to a versatile white wine which shines on the table. While still very young, this wine shows purity of fruit, with spice and just a hint of saline minerality beginning to show. The touch of sweetness is perhaps a bit more prominent now, but 2-3 years of further age will calm it down. Retains a high acidity, and is extremely fresh and lively on the palate. Delicious, with a spicy, lingering finish. I was happy to see many tasters who were not familiar with Rias Baixas, or this grape varietal. I prefer not to have tasters rank the wines - there is a time and place for all wines. Hopefully, this bottle will have inspired our tasters to seek out Spanish white wines in the future, in place of the regular standby.

2008 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia

2008 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia, DOC Rioja

As a student of history, I like devoting a few minutes before tasting to discuss the historical significance of the wines before us. Rioja has a rich tradition of keeping wines in the estate for years before releasing for sale. However, the bottle we were tasting was made in a modern style - the 2008 being released already. Fruit-forward, soft, plushy, round, confected - all the hallmarks of a modern wine. Which isn't to say that it's a bad wine. Just a wine that this blogger finds...inauthentic to Rioja, if I'm to be diplomatic. But, my opinions aren't important - several of the tasters, especially the gentlemen, loved it. And if this is a means for people to begin paying more attention to Spanish wines, and be directed towards traditional Rioja, then I think we've made our point.

2004 Castillo Labastida

2004 Castillo Labastido Reserva, DOC Rioja

This was the bottle I had hoped showed more regional typicity. Being a Reserva (minimum 1 year in oak, 3 years in winery), and a bottle with some degree of age, I had high hopes. But alas......alas.....a modern wine, with this one showing a bit more warmth, more jam, and even more softness. Where is the austerity of tempranillo? Where are the angles, and the sharp, sharp edges?



  1. Have you toured Rioja? I have done so twice, and the wines are ... amazing! Old World wines for me. The Aussies have lost out.

  2. I'm jealous - Rioja would be a dream trip for me. I completely agree, Rioja needs to focus on making its traditional reserva and gran reserva wines instead of emulating New World trends.