Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Across Northern Spain. On A Red Wine Trail

Across Northern Spain
On A Red Wine Trail
Checking out the Garnacha in Rioja

Let’s take a trip across the north of the Spain and sip a few red wines. We start in Penedes, near Barcelona on the east coast, in the country of the Catalans, and head west to the Basque country (País Vasco).

Maybe you've been to Barcelona. Sitges perhaps? Then you won't have been very far from the vineyards of Albet i Noya. You’ll no doubt have heard of the bulls running and other crazy goings on in Pamplona. Those of you seeking a something a little quieter may well have headed to Santacara, the location where our Marco Real wine comes from.

And if you’ve made it to that vineyard in Navarra, then head west for about an hour and you’ll arrive at Hacienda Grimon which is pretty close to Logrono, the capital of the political area known as La Rioja. The wine area is simply Rioja. Let’s go. Vamonos (Spanish) or Goazen (Basque). Warning: translations by Google!

Albet i Noya Tempranillo, Penedes (DO) 2014, 13%, €14.50, Mary Pawle Wines

Violet is the colour of this Catalan wine and there are subtle aromas of dark and red berries. It is young and juicy and gorgeous, strawberry and raspberry flavours now, good acidity with fine tannins and a dry finish to enjoy.

In Catalonia, at least on the Spanish side of the mountains, Tempranillo is known as Ull de Llebre. This too is on the bottle along with quite a few other Catalan words! You’ll have no doubts about the place where the Albet i Noya wines are made.

Neither will you have any doubts but that they are passionate about their organic wines; they been a pioneer since 1978. “We never measure the effort according to the difficulty. All that matters is the end result and that will only ever be optimal if the whole process is meticulous from the roots up.”

“We believe in what we do and how we do it.” And, so do I! This is one of their basic wines and is Highly Recommended.

Marco Real Finca Corraliza de los Roncaleses, Navarra (DO), tinto 2014, 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines

Colour of this tinto (red wine) is purple; you’ll note the legs are slow to clear from the glass, a sign that there’s high alcohol here! For the second time, firstly some time back with the 2012 and now with the 2014, I find it hard to agree with the “floral” aromas noted on the label. Seems to me to be more like dark fruit. There you go!

There is quite a body here, fruit and spice plus matching acidity, well-balanced (considering the high ABV), fine tannins and a good long finish. Smooth, elegant and refreshing and Very Highly Recommended. Note the suggested serving temperature below.

Winery info: Wine made with grapes that are hand-picked from the best Garnacha vines, owned by the Belasco Family, at “Corraliza de los Roncaleses” in Santacara. Upon arrival at the winery the grapes are manually selected and then alcoholic fermentation takes place at 23ºC followed by a long maceration of 20 days to endow the wine with optimal finesse and elegance. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 5 months. Recommended serving temperature: between 12 and 14ºC.

Hacienda Grimon Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2013, 13.5%, €17.45 Le Caveau

This wine, produced using organic principles (no herbicide, no pesticide, fertiliser is sheep manure and the fruit is hand-harvested), comes from a little known corner of Rioja Alta. It is a 100% Tempranillo, according to the label (other sources suggest a small proportion of Graciano); it has been aged in French and American oak for 14 months (much longer than the regulation six) and there is a pay-off.

It has quite a dark colour, between violet and purple, with aromas of dark fruit, hints of spice. On the palate, there is an immediate appreciation of the soft attack; the wine is smooth and rich, some pepper, fine tannins; balance is perfect thanks to the fresh acidity and this close to full bodied wine is Highly Recommended.

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