Monday, May 12, 2014

IESE Wine & Spirits - The Grand Wines of Spain

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2013 Marques De Caceres. Ecológico Bio | Rioja
2012 Legaris Roble | DO Ribera del Duero
2011 Arzuaga Crianza | DOC Ribera del Duero
2009 Marqués de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva | DOCa Rioja

As in life, wine is about time and place. Time and place. A few hundred metres in one direction, a few hundred in the other ... a few months early, a few months late ... it's all to give a sense of identity, a sense of purpose to the wine, isn't it. And just like in life, the best wines represent those three immutable qualities: authenticity, honesty, and character.

I was excited for this. IWS hosted a tasting of the two most famous wine regions of Spain: Rioja and Ribera del Duero. A pair of wines from each, of varying ages. What we wanted to achieve was to give our members a sense of how differently the same grape varietal - tempranillo - can react depending on where it's grown, and the winemaking applied. So we started with the Marques de Caceres, an organic wine. Young and fresh, a bit nondescript, but a good, simple wine for the table. The Legaris was a clear step up in quality. A wine I've tasted before, and what I felt was a good representation of the modern Ribera. Fruit forward, but remaining balanced, a plushy, well-textured wine. The Arzuaga was a major discovery for me. Grown just downwind from the vineyards of Vega Sicilia and Pingus, this was a throwback Ribera del Duero. Structured and tight, but with the most beautiful red fruit character and integrated oak. Creamy vanilla and bright fruit, finishing focused and tensile. Square-shouldered yet remaining elegant. And finally, the Marqués de Murrieta, the grand old man of Rioja. Superbly delicate and fine, all silk and cashmere on the palate. The ballerina to the blockbusters of Ribera. A slight orange hue on the rim, but youthful and linear. Sheer elegance, class in a glass.

Time and place. We look for these inimitable influences in wines of quality and distinction. Is there really a framework for tasting? I don't think so. Sure, experience teaches us to look for certain things, for certain attributes that tell us about a wine. But is that the only point? Put in another way, should we be tasting or drinking? Perhaps a discussion for another time, another bottle. Let's think a bit on it, the next time we reach for a glass. The tasting brought up a lot of interesting discussion - about tasting, about the influence of winemaking, about the language of wine. Let's keep those conversations going.

Many thanks to my officers for making this tasting happen, as well as to our members who continue to show love and support for IWS.

The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards ... above all the elusive promise of friendship and love

Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life: A Memoir
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