Share This Blog Post

Instagram

12/31/2015

Experience Gerry Dawes's Spain: Customized, Specialized Food, Wine Cultural & Photographic Tours of Spain & Tour Advice


* * * * *
Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid.

In October 2013, I led 28 people, including baseball great Keith Hernandez, on The  Commonwealth Club of California Taste of Spain Tour with Gerry Dawes 2013 to Madrid, Córdoba, Sevilla, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Ronda, Granada, Almagro, Toledo and Chinchón, highlighting gastronomy, culture and wine. 

In January 2014, I organized and led the Club Chefs of Connecticut and New York on a culinary educational tour through Barcelona, San Sadurni d'Anoia (Cava country), Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. 

The following week, I organized and led John Sconzo (Docsconz:  Musings on Food and Life http://docsconz.com/2014/02/a-master-cortador-makes-his-mark-in-avila/) and his son L. J. on a week-long trip through Segovia, Ávila, Segovia, Cáceres, Mérida, Jabugo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the Sierra Morenas north of Córdoba, Chinchón and Toledo.  With more posts to come on his blog, John Sconzo wrote this in one of his first entries about the trip:

"Nights like this are ones that just need to be appreciated for the something special that they are. It is no exaggeration that Gerry Dawes, my friend, traveling companion and guide “knows and appreciates Spain more than all but a few Spaniards” let alone people from other countries. That statement came from our host for the evening, Benjamin Rodriguez Rodriguez, the proprietor of the humble appearing, but fully sensational El Rincon de Jabugo situated in the equally humble, but comfortable Gran Hostal San Segundo located just outside the historic walls of Avila near the  San Vicente gate."
 
* * * * *

For customized trips, contact Gerry Dawes (based in New York) with desired dates, areas of interest in Spain (gastronomy, wine, art, history, culture, photography, etc.), specific sights you might like to see, number of possible travelers, and an estimated budget for your group. 


Phone: 914-414-6982 
Teléfono movíl (during stays in España): (011 34) 670 67 39 34



4/07/2015

Gerry Dawes's Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy & Wine Beans: Spanish Bean Dishes--Fabada Asturiana, Alubias con Chorizo, Pochas, Verdinas con Mariscos, Mongets, Caparrones



* * * * *

La Maquina restaurant's famous fabada asturiana, fabada bean stew with chorizo and morcilla.   
Conde Santa Barbara 59, 33420 Lugones, Asturias, Spain. 011 34 985 26 36 36. Closed on Sunday.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

 
Asturian verdinas con mariscos (beans cooked with shellfish), a dish made with beans brought back from my recent trip to Asturias, crab legs, clams and shrimp. 11-11-2012. 
Dish and photo by Gerry Dawes©2012; gerrydawes@aol.com
 
 
Botifarra amb mongetes, Catalan sausage with white beans and balsamic vinegar at Pinotxo, La Boqueria, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012; gerrydawes@aol.com



Fabulous alubias de Ibeas, Casa Quintanilla, Burgos. Ibeas is a village east of Burgos. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012; gerrydawes@aol.com




 
Slide show on Spanish beans and bean dishes.







Pochas at El Crucero, Corella (Navarra)
______________________________________________________________________________________  
About Gerry Dawes  

Gerry Dawes is the Founder, President & Chairman of the Board of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group -  Gerry Dawes Selections.  

He was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain, including for such chefs and culinary luminaries  as Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Norman Van Aken, Ryan McIlwraith, Terrance Brennan, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Whiteman and the Club Chefs of New York & Connecticut. 

He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com.

3/17/2015

Food Arts Silver Spoon Award December (Written by José Andrés)



* * * * *

Some days, the Gods smile on you.  Tuesday, December 1, 2009, was one of those days for me. When I came home from Thanksgiving weekend there was a FedEx envelope on my front porch. In it was the December issue of Food Arts, which contained my Silver Spoon Award. The profile was written by my friend, the great chef-restaurateur-television personality-and expert on Spanish cuisine, José Andrés, whose new restaurant Bazaar has taken Los Angeles by storm.

I am very grateful to José for his kinds words in this supremely gratifying piece and to Michael and Ariane Batterberry, founders and publishers of Food Arts, and to my editor Jim Poris, who selected me for this prestigious award and got José to write it.

And many, many thanks--miles de gracias--to Ferran Adrià, the great Catalan chef whom many consider to be the greatest--and certainly the most innovative--chef in the world, who contributed this: 

 

"Spain wouldn't be as known to Americans without the stories Gerry tells and writes."


But, few lines could be better than the ones José Andrés wrote, especially these:


"As a young chef arriving in America from Spain in the early 1990s, I came to see Gerry as an ally. At the time, I found myself struggling to explain Spanish cooking because people either had no idea or they had the wrong idea.  It was a battle.  But Gerry's writing meant I was not alone in telling Americans about piquillos and escudella and jamón.  At a time when most food journalists were writing about France and Italy, Gerry went off in his own direction to become to first to really tell the story of Spain."


Like I said, some days the Gods smile on you and when the culinary Gods smile on you that is some great day indeed. For many years I have lived believing that the greatest day of my life is still ahead of me, not behind me. Receiving the Silver Spoon Award made this one of my greatest days and it also re-affirmed that the best day of all is still ahead.


Mil gracias a todos, Gerry

From Food Arts Silver Spoon Award December 2009 Gerry Dawes
____________________________________________________________________________

About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.


video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television
series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Culinary Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): gerrydawes@gmail.com

3/10/2015

Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 1 - Valencia and Alicante by John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life


* * * * * 
I have said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows Spain like Gerry Dawes. I sincerely doubt that there is another American, and very few, if any, Spaniards can approach, let alone surpass his knowledge of the people, food, wine and culture of Spain. He has been frequenting the depths, breadths and heights of the country as a second home for nearly fifty years, leaving no stone, and especially no wine, unturned during that time. I have come to know him as a good friend over the ten years or so and have now had the pleasure to travel around Spain with him on a number of occasions, including last year, when he led my son and I on La Ruta del Ibérico, a tour of the major Jamón Ibérico de Bellota regions of Spain, which is to say the finest pork producing regions of the world. This year, Gerry and I did something a little different and no less unforgettable – we visited the finest wine regions of Spain, wining and dining like kings along the way.

Chef and all-around Spanish food star María José San Román and John Sconzo at one of the chefs restaurants, Tribeca, a great hamburger and casual food restaurant in Alicante.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  
Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

Gerry is in the midst of unrolling a new Spanish wine importing company, The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group – Gerry Dawes Selections. With a life built around wine, both Spanish and otherwise, Gerry has long experience tasting, importing and selling wines from Spain and elsewhere in Europe as part of such major importers as Frederick Wildman, Vineyard Brands Robert Haas Selections, the legendary Gerald Asher at Mosswood and Winebow. He has long bemoaned the influence of Robert Parker on the wine world, espousing wines reflecting terroir with low alcohol, little to no oak and a strong acid backbone with lush fruit expressing the varietal origin of the grapes. For years, that had been a difficult battle as more and more of the global world of wine fell under the sway of Parker’s mantra of big, bold, and brutish wines of high alcohol, full extraction and low acid, all bound together by the unifying flavors of wood.  


Paco Torreblanca and John Sconzo at at Paco's taller (workshop) and International School of Pastry Arts in the town of Petrer (Alicante).  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8.
______________________________________________________________________________________  
About Gerry Dawes  

Gerry Dawes is the Founder, President & Chairman of the Board of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group -  Gerry Dawes Selections.  

He was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain, including for such chefs and culinary luminaries  as Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Norman Van Aken, Ryan McIlwraith, Terrance Brennan, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Whiteman and the Club Chefs of New York & Connecticut. 

He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com.

Report on The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group's wines from outside Galicia in John Gilman's View From The Cellar (February 2015): Madai (Bierzo), Viña Barroca (Bierzo), Viña Catajarros (Cigales), José Pariente (Rueda) and Bodegas Lecea (La Rioja).



 






 * * * * *
 Recently Tasted Spanish Wines - February 2015
And More Notes from October 2014 Visit to Spain

John Gilman, View From The Cellar

(John Gilman accompanied me to visit all these suppliers, including all my producers in Galicia, in October 2014.  He paid for his own airfare, hotels and his share of the rental car, gas and meals to which we were not invited by producers.) 

 
View From The Cellar Publisher-Writer John Gilman, Eugenio Merino from Bodegas Hermanos Merino with his Viña Catajarros Rosado, and Gerry Dawes, President of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group, Corcos del Valle (Valladolid), October 3, 2014.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

As readers will recall, I spent nearly half the month of October of 2014 in Spain and wrote extensively about my visit to some of the very top producers in the magical region of Galicia back in Issue 53. However, my fortnight in Spain was not exclusively spent in this breathtakingly beautiful northwestern corner of the country, as I managed to stop in at a handful of bodegas in several other regions over the course of my visit to the Iberian peninsula, but have not yet had the opportunity to write up the notes from these other visits. Several of the bodegas that I visited outside of Galicia were also very classically, old school producers, of which there sadly are such a small percentage of the overall number of wine producers in this beautiful country, as the modern wine bug has bitten this country as hard as any in the last twenty years and there are an awful lot of wines produced these days that are wildly popular within Spain and which I find absolutely undrinkable. 

Happily, for the most part, my Spanish sojourn managed to steer clear of virtually all of these, which is not that easy to do when one is dining in Madrid these days, and as I had a very good tour guide in Gerry Dawes, whose passion for old school Spanish wines probably burns even brighter than my own (though perhaps not so diplomatically), so there were very few visitations by the over-oaked and high alcohol school of modern Spanish wines during our trip. 


Gerry Dawes, Jorge Carnero of Viña Cazoga and John Gilman of View From The Cellar at Cazoga.  John is holding a bottle of the stellar 1996 Viña Cazoga Joven Mencía, which had not only withstood 18 years in tank and bottle without oak, it had grown into a gorgeous wine that may be the greatest Ribeira Sacra wine I have ever tasted.  Photo courtesy of Gerry Dawes.

While the two primary purposes of my October trip were to spend an extended period of time in Galicia, which I think is quickly becoming one of Spain’s very top regions and surpassing several far more famous D.O.s in wine quality, as well as visit Cuné and Contino and complete the necessary research for the historical feature on those two great Rioja estates, I did have time for several more days of tasting across the Iberian peninsula during the trip. This article primarily covers those other visits from October, with the exception of the great morning spent in Ribera del Duero with Goyo Garcia, whose utterly brilliant wines merit an estate feature on their own and which will appear in an upcoming issue of the newsletter. Suffice to say that Señor Garcia is currently making the very finest wines in all of the Ribera del Duero D.O. and it is simply a waste of time to be drinking anything else from this region- including the most famous names- if one has access to the wines of Goyo Garcia.

I have fleshed out this article with recent tasting notes on several various Spanish wines that I have sampled here in New York between November and February, as I returned to the states with a powerful thirst for more old school Spanish wines and sought out samples wherever I could find them over the course of the subsequent months. Not that I am opposed philosophically to more modern styles of Spanish wines, if they can be done well, and a few of these types of wines are also featured in the notes that follow in this article. The problem, at least to my palate, is that the vast, vast majority of the modern Spanish wines that I taste these days are really poorly balanced wines, with alcohol that is excessive for positive evolution in the bottle, and often the high octane is coupled with heavy-handed new oak treatments as well, and the combination of the two is usually highly detrimental over the long haul for the wine in question. I am well aware that this modern style of wine is far, far more popular in Spain itself than the more old school and elegant wines that I gravitate towards, and producers here for the most part are dependent on the domestic market for most of their sales, so it makes financial
sense to craft wines from overripe grapes and lots of new oak, for that is what their clients primarily want these days.

To my mind, while it is understandable that the market and their attendant taste makers dictate the style to a large extent in many bodegas across Spain these days, I find the situation a bit sad and emblematic of the greater malaise that affects businesses ingeneral in the twenty-first century. There was a time when the landscape of commerce was sprinkled with innovators and visionaries who truly believed in their business models and sought to educate clients and expand their horizons, rather than simply following the herd so as to book a few orders as the parade rolled through town. In the world of wine, some regions have a stronger foundation of tradition to withstand the fickle fate of fashion, whereas in others, it is all too easy to join one’s neighbors and simply make the same formulaic modern wines.

Happily, there remains a small percentage of wineries in Spain that are out of step with the modern trends in the world of wine, and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit several of these during my October trip. As many of these bodegas are starting to gain a reputation in their own country, finally, for the excellent quality of their wines, it seems pretty clear that an undercurrent of classicism in the world of Spanish wines is starting to stir and we may well be in an age where the cornerstone is being laid for a Spanish renaissance of more classically styled wines that will rise up and challenge the modern school in the decades to come.

Given the gorgeously diverse and impressive range of terroir to be found throughout Spain, there will always be hope for the wines of this country, if the heavy hand of vinous modernism can be rolled back a bit in the coming years. One of the overriding issues of concern in the world of (p. 122) Spanish wine in most regions is how widespread irrigation can be better utilized to return wine styles to their traditions, as irrigation has made it possible to grow enormous crops in some of the semi-arid regions where wine production is entrenched, and these huge crop loads almost demand a modern style of winemaking to cover up the inherent defects of too many grapes on too many hectares of vineyard land. The overly abundant yields simply eradicate expressions of terroir in wines, and this is an issue that will need to be confronted bravely for many of the decidedly second division modernists to start making wines that are truly worthy of connoisseurs’ attention. Slick public relations, high profile consulting oenologists, attentive brand building and illicit generosity to market makers may be able to push the cases out the door of the bodega for a while, but in the long run, the vitality of a winery’s business has to be founded on the true quality of the wines which they produce.
 
The following article is broken up into two sections, with the first dealing with my October visits to various wineries outside of Galicia, which I have not yet had the opportunity to write about. The second section covers recently tasted samples of Spanish wines tasted here in New York since my return from my autumn trip to the country, and these notes have been organized by region, starting in the northwest and working across the peninsula in an easterly fashion. Within each regional grouping, I have listed white wines first, followed by red wines, with the same categories of wines posted in alphabetical order by winery name. My notes on recently tasted Cava appear in the article on Champagne and Sparkling Wines, rather than here. I should mention that there was no attempt to organize samples from specific regions of Spain when I began contacting importers (or they reached out for me), as I was in the mood to taste anything of quality from Spain, and if an importer asked if I wanted to taste any of their producers from Galicia, I of course responded in the affirmative, even after just having written fifty pages on this beautiful region!

I should note that one of the great unexpected pleasures of my October trip was to be introduced to yet another absolutely classic producer in Rioja, Bodegas Lecea, whose wines I had never even heard of before and which I found to be absolutely stellar. The family winery of Bodegas Lecea is currently owned and run by Luis Alberto Lecea and now ably assisted by his son, Jorge. Luis Alberto is interesting in that he is the very first head of the Rioja D.O. to actually be a vigneron and farmer, as all of the previous heads have been négociants or representatives from one of the very largest producers. His wines are utterly classic and a great new addition to the international Rioja scene, as they have just begun to be imported into the US. For importers in other markets, I strongly urge you to pay a visit to Bodegas Lecea pronto, as these are great wines that have been virtually unknown outside of the region.

Bierzo Estates Visited

Though Bierzo lies just outside of the borders of Galicia, in the neighboring province of Castilla y León, in spirit and wine style, it really should be considered part of Galicia. The two most important grapes in Bierzo are Mencía for red wines and Godello for white wines, and with plenty of high altitude vineyards planted on a mix of clay, stone and slate soils, this region, on the eastern borders of Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras should probably be included in Galicia if the provinces of Spain could be re-written along wine-producing lines. However, the climate here does tend to be a touch more “continental” than a bit further west in Galicia, with warmer days in the summer and less rainfall, so that the resulting wines can be a bit more concentrated in style than the slightly more filigreed examples across the border in Galicia proper. Many of (p123) the top vineyards in Bierzo are up in the foothills of this mountainous country, scattered amongst the timbered ridges, where the evening temperatures plunge sufficiently in summer to keep the resulting wines fresh and focused. This is a ruggedly rural wine-producing region, but with excellent terroirs and lots of old vines and the potential to produce some of Spain’s most interesting wines.

 
Gonzalo Madai of Hermanos Madai, Gerry Dawes and Gregory Pérez of Bodegas Mengoba, where Madai leases space and hires Pérez as their enologist, at Bodegas Mengoba in Cacabelos (León), Bierzo. 
 Photo courtesy of Gerry Dawes.

Madai, Bodegas Hermanos Amigo, Gonzalo & Daniel Amigo, Cacabelos

Grégory Pérez is one of the top consulting winemakers in Bierzo, and in addition to making his own wines at Bodegas Mengoba, he is the man behind the wines at several other top estates in Bierzo (including Hermanos Amigo’s Madai) with Godello his particular specialty for his client wineries. Señor Pérez was not born and raised in Bierzo however, as his home payee is actually Bordeaux, and he graduated from the University of Bordeaux in 2001 with his degree in oenology. One of his classmates at the university was Eduardo Garcia, one of the sons of Mariano Garcia (formerly cellar master at Vega Sicilia and now the producer of Mauro and Aalto in Ribera del Duero), and after a couple of internships at well-known châteaux in Bordeaux, Grégory accepted a job in Bierzo at a winery where Mariano Garcia was consulting at the time.

His first few years in Bierzo were spent producing oaky, high octane Ribera del Duero copies in Bierzo, out of Mencía primarily, but he eventually began to dislike those oaky and heady wines and began to yearn for a more classic expression of Bierzo’s terroir. In 2007 he purchased five hectares of high altitude vineyard land and founded Bodegas Mengoba to pursue his vision of Bierzo wines, unadulterated with heavy doses of new wood. The vineyards that he purchased included plenty of old vines, with the vine range these days running anywhere from thirty years up to eighty years of age, with most of the vines pruned goblet style and scattered in small parcels amongst the wild, mountainous countryside of Bierzo.

A few years later, he started a second line of wines, called “Brezo” and made from purchased grapes in the region. In the last couple of years, Señor Pérez has moved away a bit from using older barrels and stainless steel tanks, having purchased some large oak foudres for the raising of several of his cuvées, with a few of these holding two thousand liters and now being designated for his Mengoba Blanco bottling. There are some five thousand liter foudres as well, which are being used for the elevage of a few of the reds wines here. The wines are across the board excellent, with plenty of soil character, outstanding focus and balance and seemingly, plenty of capacity for aging in the bottle. Grégory Pérez is clearly one of the budding superstars in the Bierzo region and it is pretty easy to be persuaded that there are a lot more interesting projects going on in his cellars than in ninety percent of the cellars these days in his native Bordeaux.

(Note from Gerry Dawes:  Grégory Pérez leases winery space and conducts the enology for Hermanos Amigo’s Madai wines.)

2013 Madai Origen Godello – Hermanos Amigo

The 2013 Madai Origen Godello offers up a lovely nose of peach, fresh almond, white soils, a touch of beeswax and a nice touch of spring flowers in the upper register. (p124)he 2013 Madai Origen Godello offers up a lovely nose of peach, fresh almond, white soils, a touch of beeswax and a nice touch of spring flowers in the upper register. (p124) On the palate the wine is medium-full, focused and shows excellent mid-palate depth, with fine focus and grip, sound acids and blossoming complexity on the long finish. Classy juice. 2015-2020. 90.

Old vines Godello in the family vineyards of Hermanos Madai, near Cacabelos, Bierzo. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 7D / Canon 24 105mm f/4L IS USM (38.4-168mm equivalent).
2011 Madai “Godello Sobre Lias” Blanco – Hermanos Amigo

The 2011 Madai “Sobre Lias” is comprised of one hundred percent Godello and was raised entirely a one year-old demi-muid. The bouquet offers up a very pretty blend that recalls white Hermitage a bit in its blend of pear, beeswax, chalky stones, dried flowers and a discreet vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and complex, with broad shoulders, good bounce and fine length and grip on the still quite youthful finish. This is good juice, but the extended period on its lees may have sacrificed a bit of precision in exchange for more stuffing. However, the wine is still on the young side and it may more fully snap into better focus with a bit more bottle age. If so, my score will seem unduly conservative. 2016-2020+. 89+.

2013 Madai Origen Mencía Tinto – Hermanos Amigo

The 2013 Madai Tinto is made up of a blend of ninety percent Mencía and ten percent Alicante Bouschet. The wine is quite lovely, wafting from the glass in a blend of cassis, woodsmoke, espresso, slate and again, that lovely topnote of leafiness from the Alicante that I simply adore in wines with this varietal in the blend. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a fine core, excellent focus and balance and a long, moderately tannic finish. The acids are a bit lower in the 2013 Madai bottling, (p126) but this seems likely to just make the wine accessible a bit sooner in its development. Good juice. 2016-2025+.  90.

2010 Madai “Mencías Sobre Lias” Tinto – Hermanos Amigo

The 2010 Madai “Mencías Sobre Lias” Tinto is a dynamite bottle of wine that truly shows the potential inherent in these old vines scattered around the foothills of Bierzo. This cuvée was raised entirely in “one wine” barrels and came in at fourteen percent octane, but is absolutely cool and precise in the mouth. The pure and blossoming bouquet jumps from the glass in a blaze of cassis, dark chocolate, incipient notes of venison, espresso, slate, a touch of vanillin oak and a lovely topnote of smokiness. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a fine core of fruit, excellent balance and focus, ripe, suave tannins and a very long, poised and palate-staining finish. This is really a high class bottle in the making, but I would still keep it tucked away in the cellar for at least another five years and really let it blossom completely. 2020-2040+. 93.

Bodegas Adriá (Villafranca del Bierzo)

Bodegas Adriá is located in the small town of Villafranca del Bierzo, which is the first sign of civilization after one descends out of the mountains between Galicia and Bierzo. The estate specializes in inexpensive wines that offer good quality and value for their price points, and until quite recently, Grégory Pérez was the consultant here. The winery was founded all the way back in 1940 by Señor Francisco Pérez Adriá, and the estate continues to be run to this dayby his family. The Adriá family owns twenty-five hectares of Godello vines and has long term contracts with local growers around Villafranca del Bierzo for an equal amount of Mencía vines, as well as a small amount of Tempranillo. These are vineyards up in the hills above Villafranca, with no irrigation and good stony soils that are a mix of clay and fractured slate. The winery bottles wines under two labels, Viña Barroca and Vega Montán. They seem to offer good depth (p 127) and stuffing, in a slightly rustic pattern. . .

2013 Viña Barroca Tinto - Bodegas Adriá

The 2013 Viña Barroca Tinto from Bodegas Adriá is comprised of a blend of ninety percent Mencía and ten percent Tempranillo, with the wine raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. It really is quite pretty, as it wafts from the glass in a blend of dark berries, espresso, a bit of bonfire, a nice base of soil tones and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and a bit rustic in structure, with a good core, moderate tannins and a long, fairly complex finish.This is a good, solid “country wine” that may gain a bit more polish with bottle age, but delivers plenty of depth and Mencía character for a low price. 2015-2020. 87+.

 
Viña Barroca Bierzo Mencía 2009 (far right) from Bodegas Adrià (Vilafranca del Bierzo, Léon),
 which also makes Vega Montán.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Rueda Estate Visited

Rueda is Verdejo country and one of Spain’s most interesting and ageworthy white wine grapes reaches its apogee in this lovely region.

Bodegas José Pariente
José Pariente was a grape-grower in Rueda in the 1960s and he began to produce a bit of Verdejo for himself, his family and his friends during this decade, convinced that the grapes that he was growing were of top quality and capable of producing outstanding wines. However, he never realized his dream to create a commercial winery prior to his passing away in 1997, but his daughter, Victoria Pariente, was able to found the family winery in his memory in 1998 and over the brief history of this bodegas, the wines have become reference point examples of Verdejo.

Today, Victoria Pariente is joined in the running of the estate by her daughter, Martina Prieto Pariente and her son, Ignacio Preito and the two generations work side by side crafting some of the most distinctive wines to be found in the D.O. The winery today offers up five different cuvées: a regular bottling of Verdejo raised in stainless steel tanks, a Sauvignon Blanc also raised in stainless, a Verdejo “Cuvée Especial” whose elevage is done in concrete eggs, a barrel-raised Verdejo “Fermentado en Barrica” and a rare, Rueda dessert wine based on Sauvignon Blanc, called Apasionado de José Pariente”.

The family was the very first to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines in Rueda, back in 1984, and the family used the grapes from their oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines to make this late-harvest bottling. In addition to the five commercially available wines produced here, the Pariente family is also experimenting with a solera of Verdejo that is developing into a Sherry-styled wine and which has been going since the 2008 vintage. Across the board, the quality of wines here is absolutely exceptional and these must represent some of the finest white wines values to be found anywhere in Spain today.
 
 
View From The Cellar Publisher John Gilman with Martina Prieto Pariente at Bodegas José Pariente in La Seca, Rueda.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

2013 Verdejo - Bodegas José Pariente

The 2013 Verdejo from Bodegas José Pariente is an excellent bottle, jumping from the glass in a vibrant aromatic mélange of lime, pear, green olive, wild fennel and a nice touch of other exotic botanicals in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish and zesty, with a beautiful signature of salty soil tones, excellent focus and grip, lovely complexity and a long, vibrant and classy finish. Really an excellent bottle of Verdejo and a great value. 2015-2020. 90.

2013 Sauvignon Blanc - Bodegas José Pariente

Sauvignon Blanc has been part of the vineyard patrimony in Rueda now for thirty years
and the grape variety has taken beautifully to the stony terroir of the region. The 2013 example from Bodegas José Pariente is a first class example of this lovely varietal, delivering a classic bouquet of gooseberry, fresh-cut grass, a lovely base of soil tones, pink grapefruit and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and impressively complex, with a fine core, bright acids and excellent focus on the long and beautifully balanced finish. High class juice. 2015-2020. 91+. (p129)

2012 Verdejo “Cuvée Especial”- Bodegas José Pariente

The 2010 vintage was the first of Cuvée Especial produced by the estate, after four years of experiments working with Verdejo under several different aging protocols to finally arrive at the cellar methodologies now used for this lovely cuvée. Today, the wine is aged for eleven months on its fine lees, entirely in concrete eggs, with a bit of lees stirring in the early days of its elevage. The 2012 is a touch riper than the 2013 regular bottling of Verdejo (13.5 percent versus thirteen), but the wine is impeccably balanced and cool in the mouth. The stunning nose soars from the glass in a blaze of pear, green olive, gentle leesy tones, dried flowers, a great signature of salty soil, wild fennel and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and absolutely rock solid at the core, with a youthfully snappy structure, outstanding focus and gripand stunning length on the pure and complex finish. This is reference point Verdejo that should age beautifully! 2015-2030+. 94.

2012 Verdejo “Fermentado en Barrica” - Bodegas José Pariente

The barrel-fermented and aged cuvée of Verdejo from Bodegas José Pariente is alsooutstanding. The wine is aged for six months in barrel, of which one-third are new casks, prior to assembly in tank and bottling. The 2013 is outstanding, offering up a deep, complex and gently oaky bouquet of pear, wild fennel, a lovely base of soil, green olives, vanillin oak and just a touch of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully (p130) balanced, with a fine core, bright acids and excellent length and grip on the focused and complex finish. The oak here is done very discreetly and this too is exemplary Verdejo. 2015-2025+. 94.

2013 Apasionado de José Pariente - Bodegas José Pariente (500 ml.)

The 2013 Apasionado de José Pariente is a lovely example of late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Botrytis is not a possibility in the dry region of Rueda, so the grapes here are left out on the vine to ripen as much as the autumn will allow, and then fermented at cool temperatures to maintain the aromatic purity of the wine. The 2013 Apasionado de José Pariente carries eighty grams per liter of residual sugar and offers up a very pretty bouquet of gooseberry, currant leaf, tangerine, a lovely base of soil and gentle grassiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and impressively light on its feet, with fine focus, length and grip, great acids and a fairly modest impression of sweetness on the palate for its percentage of residual sugar.  This is a lovely wine. 2015-2025. 92.

Verdejo “Barrica Solera” - Bodegas José Pariente

This wine is an experiment that is basically being made for family consumption and events at the winery, but Martina Prieto Pariente was kind enough to allow us to taste the wine. I  would assume that this one hundred percent Verdejo wine is still very early on in this its evolution and that the plan is to allow this solera to go on for decades and decades, eventually producing a very distinctive, oxidative wine that will be used for special events at the bodegas.

The wine is really very lovely already, offering up aromatic notes of lemon peel, a salty base of soil, nutty overtones and Verdejo’s telltale smokiness. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, complex and already quite Sherry-like in profile, with lovely focus, length and grip. Fun stuff. 2015-2065+? 89.

Cigales Estate Visited

To my palate, some of Spain’s most interesting dry Rosados hail from Cigales, with the stony soils here perfectly suited to producing deep and classy rosés from grapes such as Tempranillo and Garnacha. There are some good, solid, everyday reds also produced in Cigales, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Rosados from this rugged countryside.

Bodegas Hermanos Merino

Bodegas Hermanos Merino is run by the Merino brothers, Eugenio and Alberto. The estate owns fifteen hectares of vines in the stony soils of Cigales, with eighty percent of the vineyards planted to Tempranillo, ten percent to Verdejo and five percent each to Garnacha and Alvillo. The Merinos focus almost exclusively on Rosado sold under their Viña Catajarros label, for which the region of Cigales is rightly famous. The Merino brothers only produce a small amount of red wine here to augment their production of great Rosado. 
 
 
Eugenio Merino of Hermanos Merino, producers of Catajarros Rosado, Cigales, Castilla y León, Spain, with one of his magnificently tended Tempranillo vines (note the stony floor of the vineyard).  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

They have lots of old vines here, goblet-trained and sticking up out of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape-like stony soils like wizened old hands. Twenty percent of their vines are over fifty years of age and they have more than a thousand plants in excess of one hundred years old! Their Rosado is fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures and bottled the following May after the harvest, with ten percent of the blend made up of the white grapes of Verdejo and Alvillo. It is a darker-colored Rosado and ages very well indeed, as Eugenio Merino was happy to show us when we stopped by on a sunny October morning during my trip to Spain.

While I am a fan of Spanish Rosado when it is first released, I like it even better with a bit of bottle age, as like so many other traditionally-styled wines on the Iberian peninsula, good Rosado from Cigales is clearly capable of gaining in complexity with some bottle age. (p. 131)
 
2013 Rosado “Viña Catajarros”- Bodegas Hermanos Merino

The 2013 Rosado “Viña Catajarros” from the Merino brothers is a lovely bottle in the making, but probably still a tad on the young side and will offer up even better drinking come springtime. The bouquet wafts from the glass in a youthful blend of cranberries, pomegranate, lovely spice tones and a fine base of salty soil nuances. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and nicely balanced, with a good core, fine focus and a nice touch of spices meats adding complexity on the long finish. Good juice. 2015-2019. 88+.

 
At Hermanos Merino, producers of Catajarros Rosado, Cigales, Castilla y León, Spain.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
 
2012 Rosado “Viña Catajarros”- Bodegas Hermanos Merino

The 2012 vintage was a top recent year for Bodegas Hermanos Merino and their Rosado is really showing well, but with the structure to also carry it for several more years. The bouquet is a youthfully complex mélange of pomegranate, tangerine, rose petals, salty soil tones and a touch of smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and more complex than the 2013, with a lovely core, crisp acids and really impressive length and grip on the still quite youthful finish. This wine is coiled to spring and will be drinking beautifully in the next six months and should prove to be one of the longer-lived recent vintages of the Merino brothers’ excellent Rosado. 2015-2020+. 92.

2011 Rosado “Viña Catajarros” - Bodegas Hermanos Merino

The 2011 vintage of Viña Catajarros Rosado is drinking very nicely and is showing some fine secondary layers of development on both the nose and palate, while still retaining lovely freshness. The evolving bouquet is a blend of dried cherries, a touch of orange peel, lovely smokiness, salty soil tones and just a touch of dried rose in the upper register. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and lively , with good complexity, a moderate core and fine length and grip on the à point finish. Good juice, but ready to drink up in the next few years. 2015- 2017. 89.

2009 Rosado “Viña Catajarros” - Bodegas Hermanos Merino

The 2009 vintage in Cigales was quite warm and this is a riper-styled wine than the three vintages that preceded it in the tasting. The bouquet is consequently more evolved, as it wafts from the glass in a mix of cherries, a bit of new leather, orange peel and more deeply-pitched soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and a bit heavy-handed stylistically (particularly in comparison to the 2012 and 2011 versions), with a good core, fine complexity and fairly discreet acids today. The finish still has good length, but it is time to drink this vintage up. 2015-2016. 87.

2008 Rosado “Viña Catajarros” - Bodegas Hermanos Merino

The 2008 vintage of Viña Catajarros Rosado is excellent and is still cruising along beautifully, with bright acids, lovely complexity and impressive refinement on both the nose and palate. The bouquet is a blend of cherries, violets, orange peel, a lovely base of salty soil, gentle spice tones and a lovely topnote of meatiness. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully balanced, with a good core, fine complexity and lovely bounce on the long and classy finish. Very impressive for a six year-old Rosado and today, a perfect wine for Paella. 2015-2017+. 90.

Rioja Estates Visited (p. 135)

Bodegas Lecea

Luis Alberto Lecea is making totally classic, outstanding examples of Rioja from his family bodegas in the small village of San Asensio, which is located in the La Rioja Alta sector, about halfway between the cities of Haro and Logroño. The village sits at an elevation of 535 kilometers above sea level, and the bodegas is found towards the very top of the hilly village center. This is an old-fashioned winery, with caves cut into the hillside and small wandering galleries outfitted here and there with a couple of cement tanks and plenty of old American oak barrels for raising the wines. Luis Alberto took over as the head of the small family domaine from his father, Rufino Lecea more than a quarter of a century ago, but his father is still cruising along nicely at age eighty-seven and was still to be seen out dancing frequently with Luis Alberto’s mother until only a few months ago. 

 
Luís Alberto Lecea of Bodegas Lecea and now Presidente of the La Rioja D.O.C. draws a sample of one of his vinos tintos from a cement tank in his underground cave cellars in San Asensio, La Rioja.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm.

In addition to running the family winery and turning out utterly classic, old school Rioja for the last twenty-seven years, Luis Alberto Lecea has also been the President of the Rioja D.O. since July of 2013, being the very first vigneron to occupy the top position in the history of Rioja. Señor Lecea likes to start his fermentations in stainless steel tanks for each wine, “so that I can make sure that I have good, clean juice to start with” and then does quite a bit of aging in old cement tanks for his wines, as he loves the way the cement protects the expressions of both fruit and soil in the finished wines. However, there are a couple of large old stone lagars that are used for the fermentation of one of his bottlings, the Corazón de Lago, which is made in a very individualistic style, with whole clusters, foot trodding and carbonic maceration. One might think that this style leads to an earlier drinking wine, but it was just a different approach that Luis Alberto’s father devised for one of his wines and it has been popular with the family’s clients since it was first crafted in 1970s and so the bodegas continues to produce this bottling. As the notes below will attest, the Corazón de Lago cuvée is also quite capable of aging long and gracefully.

The Lecea estate also produces a full range of classic, old school Rioja bottlings, with a  fine Rioja Rosado produced from a blend of seventy-five percent Garnacha and twenty-five percent Viura, a Rioja Blanco from a fifty-fifty blend of Chardonnay and Viura, and a full range of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva Rioja Tinto bottlings. As the harvest was in full swing at the time of my early October visit here, Señor Lecea very kindly agreed to see us in the evening and he was clearly quite exhausted from all the work of the previous days, as he had been up before dawn to harvest and was still working in the cellars until only a few minutes before our arrival. Consequently, we did not taste the entire range of his current bottlings, but jumped around a bit amongst his various cuvées and a range of ages of wines. Señor Lecea likes to age his red Rioja bottlings in a combination of both French and American oak casks, with about eight percent new in any given vintage. In traditional Rioja fashion, the new casks are most oftenseasoned for a few months with his white wines, prior to being introduced into the rotation for the various red bottlings, so that it is quite rare for the Bodegas Lecea Rioja Tinto bottlings to see any completely new wood. On the occasion when the size of the harvest might require a new barrel to be used directly for one of the red wines, the wine will only stay in a new barrel three or four months prior to be racked into a significantly older cask.

Luis Alberto also likes to rack his red wines out of barrel and into one of the varying-sized cement tanks that he also has in his cellars, and it is quite typical for one of his Reservas or Gran Reservas to spend a year of its elevage in cement, in addition to its requisite years in cask. He is a big fan of using cement for at least part of the aging process of his red wines, as he finds the wines retain their freshness and terroir very nicely in these vats. While he does use a mix of French and American barrels, the (p. 136) vast, vast majority of his casks here are American oak. The age of the barrels used here ranges generally up to fourteen years of age at the present time, before the casks are rotated out of the cellars. Señor Lecea noted that he is not a fan of wood that is too old, but does not want any flavors or aromatics in his wines from new oak, and consequently finds that the current rotation of changing around eight percent of the barrels each year gives him good quality wood to work with that will not overly mark the wines. These are really outstanding, classically-styled Rioja bottlings- red, white or rosé, and it was a great, great pleasure to be introduced to Señor Leceaand his son, Jorge, who works alongside of his father and will continue on the fine tradition at Bodegas Lecea in the decades to come. I look forward to my next visit and further exploring the range of old school Rioja here at Bodegas Lecea.

2013 Rioja Rosado - Bodegas Lecea

The 2013 Rioja Rosado from Bodegas Lecea is a lovely wine in the making, and seems likely to be even better with a few years’ worth of bottle age. The wine is quite pale salmon in color (notably lighter than most Rioja Rosados) and offers up a lovely, nascently complex nose of melon, orange, salty soil tones, a touch of smokiness and a nice topnote of citrus peel. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and beautifully balanced, with a fine core, crisp acids and a long, focused and youthfully complex finish. This is very tasty today, but as the next two notes will attest, this is still very early days for this wine and it will be better with more bottle age. 2015-2030+.  88+.

2010 Rioja Rosado - Bodegas Lecea

Luis Alberto Lecea’s 2010 Rioja Rosado is starting to really blossom and is drinking with great style and class at the present time. Like the 2013, this is still a very pale colored example, with a glints of orange starting to streak through the salmon color in the glass. The bouquet is really lovely, offering up notes of wild strawberries, clementines, smoky tones, an exotic touch of chorizo, white soil tones, dried roses, orange peel and a hint of walnut in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and wide open, with lovely acidity, excellent focus and balance and a long, zesty and very classy finish. 2015-2030+. 90.

1990 Rioja Rosado - Bodegas Lecea

The 1990 Rosado was opened as a bit of a curiosity, as Gerry Dawes is a huge proponent of aging Spain’s best Rosado bottlings. The wine turned out to be truly stunning and was a great accompaniment to the tapas on the table, as it remains complex and vigorous at age twenty-four and shows no signs of imminent collapse. The beautifully complex and tertiary nose offers up scents of dried strawberries, new leather, lavender, nutskins, a beautiful base of salty soil tones, nutmeg, white cherries, hints of cloves and a very exotic topnote of cigar wrapper. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very complex, with a still quite vibrant personality, a good core and fine length and grip on the well-balanced and long finish that closes with a note of fruit skin. Lovely juice and still with some life ahead of it! The 2010 Rosado here could well end up similar to this wine with sufficient bottle age. 2015-2020. 92.

2011 Rioja Blanco Crianza - Bodegas Lecea

This was the only vintage of Rioja Blanco that I had a chance to try from Luis Alberto Lecea, but it certainly seems, based on this excellent 2011, that this is one of the specialties of the bodegas. The wine seems quite classic in aromatic and flavor profile, which came as a bit of a surprise, given that it is a fifty percent chardonnay these days! The superb nose jumps from the glass in a blend of pear, coconut, a lovely base of white soil tones, spring flowers and vanilla bean. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and complex, with a lovely core, (p. 137) excellent focus and balance and a long, zesty and very elegant finish. Classy juice. 2015-2025+. 92.

2013 Rioja “Corazón de Lago” - Bodegas Lecea

The 2013 Corazón de Lago is a bit heady in style for my palate, as the wine came in at 14.3 percent alcohol. Señor Lecea commented that fermenting in lagar always produces a wine with more alcohol in it, so this bottling is always a bit higher in octane than the other reds in the cellar. The bouquet offers up a deep and ripe constellation of black cherries, pepper, woodsmoke, chocolate and black raspberries. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and quite plush on the attack, with a good core and fine focus, but with some uncovered alcohol poking out on the long and moderately tannic finish. Perhaps this will be more interesting with a bit of bottle age, but out of the blocks, it is just a bit too hot for its own good. 2015-2020+? 85+?

2011 Rioja Crianza - Bodegas Lecea

The 2011 Crianza from Bodegas Lecea is much more up my alley, as the wine came injust over thirteen percent alcohol and is an absolutely classic example of old school Rioja. The stellar nose jumps from the glass in a mélange of black cherries, plums, lovely soil tones, cigar smoke, fresh nutmeg and toasted coconut aromas from older American oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with a fine core, tangy acids, modest tannins and a long, ripe and focused finish. This is a lovely bottle of Rioja that is approachable today, but is built to age and will be even better with some bottle age. 2015-2040. 91+.

2009 Rioja Reserva - Bodegas Lecea

2009 is one of the riper vintages of late in the Rioja region, and this wine came in at a full 13.5 percent alcohol as a result and at this early stage, reminds me a bit of the 1982s when they were first released back in the day. The bouquet is ripe, but also deep and complex, wafting from the glass in a blend of black cherries, nutmeg, toasted coconut, Rioja spice tones, cigar ash and a bit of pepper. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a generous core of fruit, moderate tannins and excellent length and grip on the very well-balanced and classy finish. This is a very high class example in the making, and given how well this bottling has turned out in a hot vintage, I would love to see one from a cooler and utterly classic growing season! 2015-2050. 93+.

2006 Rioja Crianza - Bodegas Lecea

Señor Lecea opened this bottle of 2006 Crianza just to show how his wines evolve with a bit of bottle age and it was handy in the busy cellars with the harvest in high gear. The wine is absolutely beautiful, soaring from the glass in a complex blaze of black cherries, raw cocoa, Rioja spice tones, cigar wrapper, fresh nutmeg, toasted coconut and just a bit of cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and shows off gorgeous fruit purity in the midpalate, with melting tannins, excellent focus and balance and a long, refined and utterly classic finish. A beautiful Crianza! 2015-2030+. 93.

1977 Rioja “Corazón de Lago”- Bodegas Lecea

The vintage on this bottling of Corazón de Lago was a bit speculative, as the wine was never labeled when it departed the winery the first time, “at least thirty-seven years ago” according to Luis Alberto Lecea. A private client had bought several cases for his restaurant, but had returned them a year later, finding them “too acidic” and the wine just laid about the winery for many years. However, out of curiosity, Señor Lecea popped a bottle almost twenty years ago and found it delicious and has been drinking it on occasion ever since! As he observed, “my father did not like the wine when it came back, as he found it too green when it was young, and (p. 138) that is why it is still here to drink today!” The wine is absolutely stellar, offering up a deep and mature nose of fruitcake, spice meats, a stunningly complex base of soil, Rioja spice tones, cigar smoke and a bit of pepper in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, spicy and very soil-driven in personality, with a superb core, tangy acids and great length and grip on the focused and tertiary finish. A beautiful bottle of Rioja at its apogee, and from a bottling that was made by carbonic maceration. Given its impeccable balance, this wine probably still has at least another twenty years of life in it, if not more! Great juice. 2015-2035. 94.

_______________________________________________________  
About Gerry Dawes  

Gerry Dawes is the Founder, President & Chairman of the Board of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group -  Gerry Dawes Selections.  

He was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain, including for such chefs and culinary luminaries  as Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Norman Van Aken, Ryan McIlwraith, Terrance Brennan, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Whiteman and the Club Chefs of New York & Connecticut. 

He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
Related Posts with Thumbnails