Monday, July 13, 2020

The Genesis of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections




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 by Gerry Dawes, Founder & President
 The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group

Our Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group of artisan producers are a result of a long-time painstaking effort to find authentic and original wines that truly represent the unique places from which they come. Our producers are not making wines that "the market is asking for," nor wines that are made to please the palate of any critic in particular and certainly not the Parkerista-style overoaked, high alcohol palate. 

The wines of The Spanish Artisan Wine and Spirits Group – Gerry Dawes Selections are made by people trying to reflect the own terruño (the French call it terroir), a sense of place: the unique combination of native grape varieties, soil (minerals) and climate transmitted through the grapes and the prism of each winemaker's palate. Before wines began to be fabricated or fashioned to fit that supposed "what the market is asking for" profile, the wines of France and Italy, but also in some parts of Spain, were made primarily by artisan winemakers working with their own vines.  Obviously, in every region more commercial, negociant-style wines were made to hit a price point and fulfill a market need for cheaper Burgundy, Chianti, Rioja, Mosel, etc., but the reputation of the wines was made originally from the wines of quality artisan producers.

In the early days of the modern post-Prohibition wine importing era, Frank Schoonmaker set standards for selecting wines that would become the model for the next several decades.  
  
 Frank Schoomaker.

"It was obvious to Schoonmaker that prohibition would someday be repealed; the question was when.  First, he needed a network of suppliers. In France, by the late 1920s he had made a valuable ally in Raymond Baudoin, editor of La Revue du Vin de France in Paris.  Baudoin had shaped this scholarly publication into an influential review, which eventually played a major role in creating the appellation contrôlée laws of 1935-36. 

Schoonmaker traveled around France with Baudoin several times, and visited many winegrowers, particularly in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. Baudoin introduced him to some of the best, and Schoonmaker soon followed Baudoin’s lead in selecting only certain lots, or casks, of a particular cru in a given vintage – writing everything down methodically in a little black notebook. 


In addition, Baudoin was emphatic in getting the growers to bottle their wine themselves and sell it under their own label, as opposed to the traditional method of selling it in cask to the shippers in Beaune for blending, under their label." -- Frank Schoonmaker, A Visionary Wine Man by Frank E. Johnson, Frank Johnson Selections.

Schoonmaker's style would prove to be the model followed by other French wine specialists such as Alexis Lichine (who began selling wine for Schoonmaker), Colonel Frederick Wildman, Robert Haas, Gerald Asher (an Englishman who began importing his wines into the U. S. and like Schoonmaker and Lichine became well-known as a wine writer) and Henry Cavalier (another transplanted Englishman, who was one of Asher's star disciples).  Asher's well-crafted and beautifully written Gourmet magazine articles were a benchmark for more than a decade for serious wine writers and for wine aficionados. 


Gerald Asher

"Inevitably I came to associate any wine I met with a specific place and a particular slant of history. I learned to perceive more than could be deduced from an analysis of the physical elements in the glass. For me, an important part of the pleasure of wine is its reflection of the total environment that produced it. If I find in a wine no hint of where it was grown, no mark of the summer when the fruit ripened, and no indication of the usages common among those who made it, I am frustrated and disappointed. Because that is what a good, honest wine should offer." - - Gerald Asher


The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections was founded on the principles of the aforementioned pioneer wine importers.  I never knew Frank Schoonmaker, but I always admired the fact that he greatly appreciated the wines of Spain (he spent several years in Spain during WWII as an undercover O. S. S. officer; ironically decades later I would be assigned to Rota, Spain as a Russian linguist with a Top Secret security clearance [tracking the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean]).  

Schoonmaker died in January 1976 at his home at 14 E. 69th St. in New York City, shortly after I arrived in New York City after having lived in Spain for the previous eight years.  Another irony, a few months after Schoonmaker died, I went to work for another of the giants of wine importing in America, Frederick Wildman & Sons at 21 E. 69th St., just down the street from Schoonmaker’s home.  And at Wildman, I worked with Henry Cavalier, the exceptionally knowledgeable Gerald Asher disciple who soon became a friend and taught me a lot about fine wine. 


Colonel Frederick Wildman
Frederick Wildman & Sons

My employment at Frederick Wildman & Sons ended when I left to join the former President of that firm, Anthony J. Sargeant, and Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards in launching Havelock Gordon.  That company was short-lived, so I moved on to Mosswood, whose president was Gerald Asher, then I did a decade long stint as a restaurant wine specialist at the then fledgling company, Winebow, one of whose partners was Vineyard Brands owner Robert Haas, who was originally a Frank Schoonmaker disciple himself.   While I was at Winebow, Haas made me a Vineyard Brands Vice President, his representative inside that company.
Robert Haas and his son Jason, GM at Tablas Creek Winery, Paso Robles, CA

For more than 10 years, I also worked with Leonardo LoCascio, who founded Winebow with Peter Matt and became one of the best-known names for quality Italian wines.  I helped establish Winebow as a force in top New York restaurants.  I was Winebow's top restaurant sales consultant, selling $1,500,000 per year to sixty top restaurant accounts, at a time when wines sold for about 25% of their current prices. After Winebow, I spent a brief period with another New York distributor, then left that position to pursue my career as a writer on Spanish gastronomy, wine and travel.
Leonardo LoCascio, Co-Founder, Winebow, Inc.

During my time at Winebow, in 1989, I founded The Chefs From Hell Acrobatic Unicyclists & Winetasters Club, whose members included Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio, Michael Lomonaco, Rick Moonen, David Burke, Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart, Andy Pforzheimer, Mario Batali, Tom Valenti and a number of other talented and now well-known chefs.


Chefs Quint Smith, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay at a Chefs From Hell Luncheon at Martha Stewart's home in Westport, CT.

Like Schoonmaker, Asher (and my friend Frank Johnson), I am a wine writer. Using my intimate knowledge of Spain, I specialized in writing about Spanish wines.  During the course of traveling for material for articles, also discovered more that a score of small wine producers who were not only not being imported into the U. S., they were not even known in MadridIn 2012, quite by chance, I found an interested party with an import license and I decided to bring some of these jewels to the United States.  I brought in two containers of selected wine to unprecedented critical acclaim.  Unfortunately, the partner proved unsuited to growing a fine wine company, so we parted ways after a year.
The style as defined by Frank Schoonmaker, Frederick Wildman, Robert Haas, Gerald Asher and Henry Cavalier (and subsequently by importers such as Kermit Lynch and Neal Rosenthal) over decades was to go to a wine producing region, seek out the best producers available from that region, many of which were small production jewels, bring them to market in the United States and tell their customers why each wine producer and wine was special.  

Except for a few wines that they imported for volume sales (very dignified wines such as Robert Haas Vineyard Brands La Vielle Ferme Rhône Valley wines from the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel fame and even then the interventionism was minimal), they did not encourage their producers to make the the hyper-commercial types of wines "that the market is asking for." 
Instead, they represented unique producers making the best wines that their grapes, their land, their wine cellars and their palates could produce and those discerning importers brought the producers' wines and their stories to market.  Those ideals are what The Spanish Artisan Wine and Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections hopes to carry forward with these exceptional artisan producer wines from Spain. 

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Spirits & Licores

And, given the interest in all things Spanish in the culinary world these days, we are using the same sourcing principles for our unique artisan spirits collection, we are planning to introduce in September 2016.  I have been steadily developing a stellar lineup of suppliers of unique Spanish spirits for more than two years now.  

This spirits and licores include a Vermouth from Burgos made from a 1912 recipe, a stellar gin made in Galicia and distilled from albariño grapes; from the same albariño grape distillations, some stellar aguardientes (grappa), a crema de café licor, chocolate with cherry licor and a superb cilantro-flavored liqueur; a cream licor from Catalunya that  could be the Spanish equivalent of Bailey’s Irish Cream; exceptional licor de naranja and a licor de limón, plus an orange cream licor from a producer in Valenciaa selection of high quality eau-de-vie type spirits from the top producer of cherries and other top quality fruit such as plums, raspberries, etc. in Extremadura; Patxarán (sloe-berry infused anís) de Navarra is one of the most famous and sought after spirits in Spain; aguardiente de manzana (apple grappa) and the Calvados-like Aguardiente Viejo de Sidra from Asturias; a Sherry Brandy de Jerez from Sanlúcar de Barrameda; and a line of artisan licores from one of the top chocolatiers and desserts chefs in Spain.

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



Gerry Dawes at The James Beard Foundation Awards 2014, New York City

Gerry Dawes with owner-producer Eugenio Merino on a cold January morning in the old vines Cigales vineyards that produce one of Spain's finest rosados, Viña Catajarros Elite Rosado.  Photo by John Sconzo.

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.

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés. ". . .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.
 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bodegas Aliaga Superb Tempranillo and Garnacha-Based Wines From Navarra, Including Aliaga Rosado de Lágrima de Garnacha (Garnacha Rosado made with free-run juice), one of Spain's Greatest Rosados


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Bodegas Aliaga, Corella (Navarra)

 The wines of Carlos Aliaga and his family.

 
Carlos Aliaga showing his Viña Aliaga vineyards to a visitor.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

The Wines of Aliaga and Restaurante El Crucero
(Click on the El Crucero titles below to see photos of the restaurant and its dishes.)
 

Aliaga Lágrima de Garnacha Rosado 13.5%

Made from free-run juice from 100% old vines Garnacha from the Viña Aliaga vineyard located at Ombatillo near Corella in the heart of the Ribera Baja of Navarra.  The soil is calcareous and poor; vine density is 1,200 vines per acre.
 

This superb, lovely rosado is made by the free-run sangrado de lágrima method.  After brief contact with the red grape skins, the grape juice is separated by gravity without using any mechanical pressing, after which the must is fermented in temperature- controlled stainless steel tanks for 20 days at 14º C. (57º F.)

Fresh, clear and brilliant strawberry-cherry colour. The fragrant bouquet is reminiscent of fresh fruit.  On the palate the wines is clean, smooth and will balanced with a hints of flowers and cherries and a long, persistent mineral-laced finish.  This wine steadily evolves with time in bottle and is often superb 2-3 years from the vintage.
 

Food Pairings: Ideal for tapas, first courses, aperitifs, fish and seafood, chicken, port, Asian food, pasta, pizza and salads.  Not just a summer wine.  If you drink cold white wine in the cooler months, you will love this great rosado all year long.

"An almost dusty-dry Navarra sangrado ("bleeding," i.e. free-run juice) rosé — meaning that it's made from free-run juice — with a light, luminous pink color and an intense strawberry fruit both on the nose and on the palate." - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more:  Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes


In Tudela (Navarra) at the home of Carlos Aliaga and his wife Mari Curz with a tomatada (tomatoes, ham and snail stew from southern Navarra) made by Nabor Jimenez of Restaurante El Crucero, which was closed for vacation,  and a bottle of Aliaga Rosado de Lágrima de Garnacha (Garnacha Rosado made with free-run juice), October 8, 2014. A wine represented by The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

Aliaga Tempranillo 13.5% 

 

Dark cherry colour, with violet tones. The bouquet is clean, harmonic and intense. The taste is pleasant and reminiscent of ripe red fruits, the tannins are well-integrated and overall effect fresh, persistent and lasting.  This wine is ideal for red meat, game, roasts and well-cured cheeses.

Straight forward, good, un-blended, un-oaked Tempranillo, a relative rarity in Navarra, where there is a multitude of tempranillo wines, often blended with mediocre cabernet sauvignon.  Made from 100 % Tempranillo grapes grown in the calcareous soil of Viña Aliaga. The wine is fermented for 6 days in stainless steel tanks at 28 º C. (82 º F.). 


Aliaga Garnacha Vieja Tinto 2010 13.9%


100% old vines Garnacha grown in the calcareous 1,200 vine per acre Viña Aliaga vineyard.  

The wine is fermented for 6 days in stainless steel tanks at 28 º C. (82 º F.) followed by maceration on the grape skins for 20 days with two stirrings every day.  Aged 6 months in American and French Allier oak cask, but the wines does not have heavy oak flavors.  Only 2,800 cases are produced. 

Deep dark cherry color. Ripe black cherry and spice nose. Round, rich black cherry fruit with hints of garrigue herbs with long, persistent finish. 

Food Pairing:  Ideal with red meat, game, roasts, cheeses.

Aliaga Colección Privada Tinto 2007 13.5%  

Made from 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the calcareous soil of Viña Aliaga.  The wine is fermented for 6 days in stainless steel tanks at 27 º C. (80 º F.), followed by maceration on the grape skins with two stirrings every day. Aged 12 months in new American and French Allier oak.  Just over 1650 cases made.

Deep black cherry colour rimmed with brick-red.  The nose is intense, with “toasty” aroma from its ageing in cask, reminiscent of ripe black and red fruits. Smooth, full-bodied and round, with a long finish. A very special wine.

Good with red meat, game, roasts, grilled and fried fish, Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean dishes, cheese.



Carlos Aliaga at the edge of Aliaga's property. The vineyards are on a higher plateau. Here the vineyards end and the land drops off into an area that is covered with wild thyme and rosemary, traces of which turn up in some of the wines as what the French call garrigues.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2013 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest.   Canon EOS 6D / Tokina Macro 100mm f/2

Aliaga Reserva de la Familia Tinto 2005 13.5% 

Brick-edged ruby.  Black and red fruits, complemented by toasty oak in the nose. Round, smooth and ripe with red and black berry compote, spices, garrigues-like herbal components and persistent finish. Good with red meat, game, roasts, grilled and fried fish, Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean dishes, cheese.

Made from 75% Tempranillo and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the calcareous soil of Viña Aliaga.  The wine is fermented for 6 days in stainless steel tanks at 27 º C. (80 º F.), followed by maceration on the grape skins with two stirrings every day. Aged 14 months in new American and French Allier oak.  Just under 2000 cases made.

Aliaga Moscatel Vendimia Tardia Dulce 2010 12.0% 500ML
 

100% late harvested Moscatel de Alejandria, from the calcareous soil of a single vineyard, Viña Lorena at Fugenique near Corella in Navarra’s La Ribera Baja.    Fermented for 35 days in stainless steel tanks at  12 º C. (53.6 º F.), after which by using only cooling techniques the fermentation is stopped without the addition of alcohol. Only 750 cases are produced.

Clean, clear, bright, gold-tinged color. Lovely honesuckle nose with hints of pear and peach.  Very fruity with luscious honeysuckle and peach flavors and a lingering, fresh, but not unctuous finish.    

Excellent with foie gras, ripe, soft cheeses and fruit-based desserts.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

"Among the oldest of many wine cliché’s is that Rosés don’t age well . . . " Josh Raynolds, Vinous Media, June 2017.


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I have some incredible rosados, though, except for the wonderful Viña Catajarros Elite Cigales Rosado 2014 and Viña Aliaga Lágrima de Luna Rosado 2015, most of our rosados with bottle age have been sold to hip places such as Jockey Hollow Kitchen & Bar (Morristown, NJ), Barcelona Wine Bars in Connecticut and Ortzi (NYC). 

Please inquire at gerrydawes@spanishartisanwine.com.

Wine Legend Brooklyn
September 18 at 4:20pm ·

Article sent from Jeffrey Davis, Wine Legend Brooklyn GM, who is doing very well selling
Viña Catajarros Elite Cigales Rosado 2014.

 Photo by Raizel T. on Yelp.

Though these comments by Josh Raynolds of Vinous Media are from this past June; he comments are spot on!  The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections has some incredible Roses, including Viña Catajarros Elite Cigales Rosado 2014, which we are selling in the store and at the bar!

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BY JOSH RAYNOLDS Vinous Media | JUNE 27, 2017

"Among the oldest of many wine cliché’s is that Rosés don’t age well and, like seersucker suits, are out of style after the Labor Day following the vintage. While wearing summer suits out of season might not be in good taste, drinking the best pink wines year-round is highly recommended.

The types of food that call for a bottle, or more, of Rosé are hardly limited to hot weather dining. Grilling has become a year-round practice for an increasing number of people and strongly seasoned, spicy dishes are now the everyday rule rather than the exception on many wine and food lovers’ tables and such food practically begs for pink wine. Why should consumers limit their pink wine enjoyment to a three month window when the types of food that match perfectly with them are enjoyed regardless of season.

The northern hemisphere has just officially entered summer but Rosé sales and consumption began to take off a good three months ago and appear to just be hitting their stride. By all reports the pace is, once again, rapid and not slowing down. It’s good to bear in mind that the vast majority of Rosés in the market right now are from the 2016 vintage, so barely half a year old, and with rare exception the wines have only just had time to open up since bottling and shipping. Most overseas markets have seen hardly a trickle of 2016 European or American white wines so far but, interestingly, we’ve already had the chance to taste through and reviewed hundreds of currently available pink wines (see part one of the Rosé roundup as well as Ian d’Agata’s extensive coverage of Italy’s often intriguing rosatos), with even more to follow.

As I’ve mentioned before, top-notch pink wines not only reward some patience, many of them quite frankly demand it. For most of the Rosés reviewed here, a year (or usually more) of bottle age brings more aromatic complexity, texture and depth but rarely compromises the wines’ freshness and energy. While there’s absolutely no harm in drinking even the most serious recently released Rosés over the coming months, I strongly encourage those with open minds and available storage space to stash away some of the best wines covered here for at least a year, or even more."



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Adegas Triay Monterrei - Producers of Exceptional Godello Whites and Lovely Mencía Reds from Galicia


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Text Box: Triay Godello, one of Gerry Dawes's relatively recent discoveries, is one of his favorite wines in the entire portfolio.  Its delicious white peach, stone fruit and mineral nuances put it on a par with many white Burgundies, at a far more accessible price. Triay is made by Antonio Triay, who with his wife Puri García, farms the excellent vineyards of his father-in-law Isaac García.  Their Godello is one of the best white wines in Spain and the Mencía is reminiscent of great Burgundy.

**Adegas Triay is located in the small village of Oimbra, right on the Portuguese border in southern- most Galicia, with the nearest small city being Verín, just to the east of Oimbra. This small family winery is now run by Antonio Triay and his wife Puri, whose family owned the parcels of vines that now form the backbone of the estate’s vineyard holdings. Antonio’s father-in-law, Isaac García is still quite active helping out in the vines and cellars, and as he likes to say, “I always took good care of the vineyards and was careful making the wines in the past, when no one really cared about the wines of Monterrei, but now, it has served my daughter and son-in-law quite well to have good vineyards to work with.” Antonio blends a small amount of Albariño and Treixadura into his Godello bottling (five percent each), and includes ten percent Tempranillo in his Mencía bottling. Production here is very small, but the wines are riveting, with great purity and complexity, and Adegas Triay is destined to be one of the stars of Galicia in the years to come. – John Gilman, View From The Cellar

The 2013 Godello from Adegas Triay is outstanding, as it delivers a superb bouquet of white peach, a touch of menthol, stony minerality, tart banana, a touch of green olive and a top-note of wild fennel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and absolutely rock solid at the core, with great acids and mineral drive on the backend, fine focus and a very long and vibrant finish. Great juice. 2014-2020+. <span style=
Monterrei

Bodegas Triay (Oimbra, Ourense, Galicia) 



Triay Godello, one of Gerry Dawes's relatively recent discoveries, is one of his favorite wines in the entire portfolio.  Its delicious white peach, stone fruit and mineral nuances put it on a par with many white Burgundies, at a far more accessible price. Triay is made by Antonio Triay, who with his wife Puri García, farms the excellent vineyards of his father-in-law Isaac García.  Their Godello is one of the best white wines in Spain and the Mencía is reminiscent of great Burgundy.

**Adegas Triay is located in the small village of Oimbra, right on the Portuguese border in southern- most Galicia, with the nearest small city being Verín, just to the east of Oimbra. This small family winery is now run by Antonio Triay and his wife Puri, whose family owned the parcels of vines that now form the backbone of the estate’s vineyard holdings. Antonio’s father-in-law, Isaac García is still quite active helping out in the vines and cellars, and as he likes to say, “I always took good care of the vineyards and was careful making the wines in the past, when no one really cared about the wines of Monterrei, but now, it has served my daughter and son-in-law quite well to have good vineyards to work with.” Antonio blends a small amount of Albariño and Treixadura into his Godello bottling (five percent each), and includes ten percent Tempranillo in his Mencía bottling. Production here is very small, but the wines are riveting, with great purity and complexity, and Adegas Triay is destined to be one of the stars of Galicia in the years to come. – John Gilman, View From The Cellar


Adegas Triay Godello 2015* Monterrei 13%       $24.00
Note:  The 2014s from Triay were just as good, if not better, than the 2013s and the 2015 is a great vintage.  The Triay Godello 2014 was being poured by the glass at Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns for six months and at Bobby Flay’s Gato in Manhattan. On June 2, 2016, Triay Godello 2014 was rated one of the top ten Godellos by The New York Times.

The 2013 Godello from Adegas Triay is outstanding, as it delivers a superb bouquet of white peach, a touch of menthol, stony minerality, tart banana, a touch of green olive and a top-note of wild fennel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and absolutely rock solid at the core, with great acids and mineral drive on the backend, fine focus and a very long and vibrant finish. Great juice. 2014-2020+. 93. J. Gilman

Adegas Triay Mencía 2015*** Monterrei 12.5%  $23.00
The 2013 vintage was a bit riper than the norm in Monterrei, with Antonio Triay’s Mencía coming in at 13.5 percent alcohol in this year. The wine is young, but going to be absolutely lovely, as it offers up a nascently complex nose of pomegranate, dark berries, graphite, a touch of wood smoke and a top-note of espresso. On the palate the wine is fullish, long and beautifully balanced, with a fine core of fruit, a bit of tannin to resolve and a long, focused and classy finish. This is high class Mencía! 2014-2025. 90.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Adegas Eladio Santalla Hacienda Ucediños, A Rising Family Winery Star Producing World-Class Artisan Godello and Mencía in Valdeorras


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Text & All Photos by Gerry Dawes©2017 
 

Gerry Dawes at Chef Paco Roncero's Estado Puro in Madrid with a glass of Godello. 
Photo by Harold Heckle©2009, Associated Press, Madrid.

The Santalla family bodega, run by brothers Eladio and Marco, produce top-notch Godello whites and Mencía from several family-owned or controlled vineyards, some of which are 50 years old or more. Their mother, Ana, cooks excellent Galician food at the family bar, El Dorado, in the city of the region's main town, O Barco de Valdeorras.  AT El Dorado, Ana’s prized pulpo a la gallega (braised octopus with goes especially well with the Hacienda Ucediños Godello and Mencía. The consulting enologist here is also the “guru of Godello,” the great José Luís Murcía. -- Gerry Dawes
 


Adegas Eladio Santalla Hacienda Ucediños (Valdeorras)
 

Godello grapes, Valdeorras.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Hacienda Ucediños Godello 2014** 13.0% alcohol SRP $22.99  

Valdeorras is Godello country and Hacienda Ucediños makes a terrific example.  Their 2014 is a classic bottle, jumping from the glass in a blend of pear, apple, a touch of acacia blossom, white soil tones and a gently spicy top-note redolent of coriander seed. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and rock solid at the core, with fine focus and cut, zesty acids and a long, poised and vibrant finish. A superb example of this underrated grape. 2016-2020. 91+ -- John Gilman, View From The Cellar.


Consulting enologist at Hacienda Ucediños, D. Berna and a number of other wineries in Valdeorras is José Luís Murcía, who, somehow manages to capture the essence of their grapes and vineyard siteand transmit that in the bottle like few others. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Hacienda Ucediños Mencía 2016***  13.0%  $20.99   

José Luís Murcía is equally adept at properly vinifying Mencía and extracting its true character as a reflector of a vineyard’s terruño (terroir).

The 2014 Mencía from Hacienda Ucediños is another very fine example of this great varietal, offering up a bright and youthfully complex nose of dark berries, cassis, graphite, sandy soil tones, tree bark and a smoky top-note. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, pure and impressively light on its feet, with a fine core, very fine focus and grip and a suave, modestly tannic and impeccably balanced finish. Fine, fine juice and another bargain! 2016-2025. 90. -- John Gilman, View From The Cellar.
 
Mencía grapes, Valdeorras, Galicia.

Monday, June 4, 2018

AT Roca - (Clàssic Penedès) Exceptional Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wines


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Catalunya

AT Roca - (Clàssic Penedès

Agustí Torelló Sibill in his Conca de Foix Plana de l'Urpi vineyard (Foix basin, l'Urpi plain), near Sant Sadurni D'Anoia in Catalunya, southwest of Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

AT Roca, an artisan, family owned, viticulturally oriented winery, produces superb quality Clàssic Penedès Brut and Brut Reserve Rosat sparkling wines.  Agustí Torelló Sibill and his sister Lali were shut out of their father’s winery Agustí Torelló because of a family dispute.  Agustí, who was the face of the family’s wines, decided to begin anew.  Agustí, Lali and his son and winemaker Agustí Torelló Roca, set up shop on the outskirts of the Cava capital of Sant Sadurni D’Anoia, and named their wines AT Roca. 

The Torellós also found three prime ecologically farmed vineyards, owned by eight dedicated viticulturists with mature vines in three different areas of Penedès at three different altitude levels, from which they source their grapes:  Their Macabeu (Viura) grapes come from L'Ordal (coastal Massís del Garraf), Finca Canta Llops (Howling Wolf) vineyard, 420 meters (nearly 1400 feet above sea level); Xarel.lo from the slate-laced vineyards of Conca del Foix, Plana de l'Urpí, 220 meters (more than 700 feet); Parellada from La Llacuna, La Ginestera, 725 meters (2400 feet). 

 Agustí Torelló Roca shows the locations of three prime ecologically farmed vineyards, owned by eight dedicated viticulturists with mature vines in three different areas of Penedès at three different altitude levels, from which they source the grapes for their wines. 

AT Roca Vi de Terrer (Wine of Terroir) Brut Reserva 2014  $28.99    12%                      

“AT Roca is a new winery that was started by the brother and sister team of Agustí and Lali Torelló Sibill, as well as Agustí’s son, Agustí Torelló Roca, who handles all the viticulture and winemaking for the new sparkling wine house. These are the same family members who ran the famed Agustí Torelló Mata Cava house, who were one of the driving forces in the formation of the category in past generations and continue to make one of Spain’s greatest sparklers, which they call Kripta. An internecine family argument led to the ouster of Agustí and Lali Torelló and they promptly set up on their own, contracting with eight small farmers to purchase grapes from 97 cooler, high altitude vineyards farmed in the proper, Six Percent Club manner.

The 2013s are the first releases from AT Roca and not surprisingly, they are exceptional in quality. The 2013 Brut Reserva is a blend of the Big Three grapes of Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada and offers up a superb bouquet of tart apple, bread dough, wild fennel, lovely minerality and a top-note of ocean breeze. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with frothy mousse, lovely focus and complexity and a long, perfectly balanced finish. 2016-2025+. 92+.” – John Gilman, View From The Cellar
 



*AT Roca Vi de Terrer (Wine of Terroir) Brut Reserva Rosat 2014   $29.99    12%

The 2013 AT Roca Brut Rosat Reserva is comprised of a unique blend of sixty percent Macabeu and forty percent Monastrell. The wine is aged for fifteen months sur latte prior to disgorgement and is a lovely, pale salmon color. The bouquet is bright and classy, wafting from the glass in a mélange of blood orange, white cherries, salty soil tones, dried rose petals and a smoky top-note. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and complex, with outstanding mid-palate amplitude, elegant mousse and excellent cut and grip on the long and racy finish. This is terrific Rosat! 2016-2025. 92+. John Gilman, VFTC
          
*Comes in 6 bt. Packs.


AT Roca Brut Rosat.  Photo by Docsconz, John Sconzo.


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 Gerry Dawes at AT Roca, Sant Sadurni D’Anoia. 

Visit to AT Roca Sant Sadurni d'Anoia 
 
We arrived at the Hotel Domo in the wine capital of Vilafranca del Penedès Barcelona province), an hour southeast of Barcelona sometime after one a.m., but Hotel Domo was relatively quiet--no jackhammer machine like we experienced in Barcelona--and I could open my windows for fresh air, so I got a reasonably good night's sleep.

Agustì Torellò Roca, winemaker at AT Roca and son of Agustí Torellò Sibill, shows us one of AT Roca´s free-standing old vines vineyards from which their exceptional Clàssic Penedès methode champenoise sparkling wines are made.

Agustí Torelló Roca came by to pick us up at 9:00 the next morning to show us some of the AT Roca vineyards, their fine vinification facility at Can Bonastre, which is also a wine resort hotel and restaurant, and then on to their production and facility where the Torellós age and bottle their exquisite Champagne-quality methode champenoise sparking wines, including their native varieties Brut Rosat in a complex at the edge of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia. Sant Sadurni is the sparkling wine capital of Catalunya, Spain and, in volume, the World. The largest producers, Freixenet and Codorníu make enormous amounts of bubbly, more than any other single producer of methode champenoise wines in the world. 

Agustí Torelló Sibill at AT Roca's fine vinification facility at Can Bonastre, which is also a wine resort hotel and restaurant, 10 kilometers from Sant Sadurni D'Anoia in Catalunya, southwest of Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.
 
Xarel.lo grapes, AT Roca, July 2015. Conca de Foix Plana de l'Urpi vineyard (Foix basin, l'Urpi plain), near Sant Sadurni D'Anoia in Catalunya, southwest of Barcelona. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes.

 Agustí Torelló Sibill explaining the topography of his vineyards in Penedès at his finishing winery in San Sadurni d'Anoia, July 2015.


Old vines from which AT Roca sparkling wines are made with Monserrart, the Holy Mountain of Catalunya, in the background.  (Photo courtesy of AT Roca.)