Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toalde Mencía Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra, From Artisan Producer Roberto Regal

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Toalde, Roberto Regal, Ribeiras do Miño (Lugo)

Roberto Regal, artisan producer of Toalde Mencía, in Ribeira Sacra vineyards 
overlooking a bridge over the Miño River in Belesar near Chantada.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com 


Toalde Mencía Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra 13.0% 6/750ML $24.99

The 2010 Toalde from Roberto Regal is excellent, wafting from the glass in a smoky mélange of dark berries, black cherries, espresso, tree bark, stony soil tones, fresh herbs and woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and intensely flavored, with lovely transparency, very good mid-palate depth and superb length and grip on the focused and complex finish. This wine is very light on its feet and yet packs plenty of intensity. I suspect it will prove to be a touch longer-lived than the equally fine 2011 Toalde bottling. Classic Ribeira Sacra. 2012-2020+.  92.  - - John B. Gilman, View From The Cellar


From Ribeiras do Miño, one of the five sub-regions of La Ribeira Sacra, the mineral-driven, but soft and voluptous Toalde Mencía is made by the talented young enologist, Roberto Regal from stunningly beautiful, bucolic vineyards overlooking the Minho River. A silky, pomegranate & mineral-driven jewel. One of the best wine in our portfolio.

Mencía grapes, with traces of other old vines indigenous varieties, grow here on steep rock (the majority granitic, some slate) terraces with a 66% incline.  The soil is poor and shallow, which drives the vines deep in search of nutrients.  The orientation of the vineyards is from northeast to southeast.  The altitude of the vineyards is 820 to 1150 feet above sea level, which allows a progressive harvesting the grapes, beginning with the grapes from the warmer lower vineyards, which ripen first, and finishing with the higher vineyards, which ripen last.

The Atlantic climate helps provides aroma and freshness to the wines and the Iberian sun provides the necessary heat in the summer and moderate temperatures in autumn and the Minho river, over which the vineyards perch, provides a moderating influence.  Average rainfall is 750mm in Winter; 250 mm in summer.

Décima Amandi Mencia Tinto 2011 Ribeira Sacra, "one of the finest examples of Mencía I have ever had the pleasure to taste." John B. Gilman, View From The Cellar

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Décima, José Manuel Rodríguez, Vilacha (Lugo)

José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the D.O. Ribeira Sacra and producer of  Décima, showing
California chef Michael Chiarello around his precipitously steep Ribeira Sacra vineyards on the Sil River.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Décima Amandi Mencia Tinto 2011 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% 12/750ML $21.99   

José Manuel Rodríguez is the head of the growers’ association and regulatory agency of Ribeira Sacra, and makes one of the finest examples of Mencía I have ever had the pleasure to taste. Like the Don Bernardino Mencía, these two lovely vintages of Décima hail from very steep vineyards overlooking the Sil River in the village of Amandi. The 2011 Décima weighs in at a very classic octane of 12.5 percent and roars from the glass in a sophisticated and utterly classic nose of pomegranate, lead pencil, slate, a nice touch of gamebird, coffee bean and a gentle medicinal topnote that is vaguely reminiscent of Hermitage. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and very intensely flavored, with laser-like focus, fine mid-palate depth, tangy acids and great length and grip on the very softly tannic finish. Utterly classic Mencía! 2012-2020+.  94. - - John Gilman, View From the Cellar

“My favorite tinto (red wine) was the sophisticated 2010 Décima made from the mencía grape in the Ribeira Sacra region.  Beautifully structured,  quietly scintillating, almost poetic, it requires a patient, careful reading.” - - Howard G. Goldberg

Thomas Carter, Wine Director of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, pours Décima Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2011,
Manuel Formigo Finca Teira Ribeiro 2011 and Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado 2011 by the glass. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

The unique, rich, pomegranate-like fruit-driven Décima Mencia (with 10% garnacha tintorera) from Amandi is underpinned by a graphite-like slate minerality that comes from the preciptiously steep pizarra terraces on which Décima’s vineyards grow. The vineyards are owned and farmed by José Manuel Rodríguez, who in addition to farming his own vines, is also the President of the Consello Regulador de La Ribeira Sacra.  This wine is a masterpiece, reminiscent in style and quality, if not in Pinot Noir flavors, of a wine from Burgundy’s northern Cótes de Nuits. 

I have been visiting vineyards and bodegas with José Manuel for nearly a decade and count him among my best friends.  He has not only introduced me to the bodegueros and wineries we are bringing in, he has lead me to nearly three dozen other bodegas and tasting of hundreds of wines, which helped me immeasurably in the research for my articles on the region, but also in finding this particular set of unique wines.  - - Gerry Dawes

Sabatelivs, Primitivo Lareu, Chantada (Lugo), Ribeira Sacra

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Sabatelivs, Primitivo Lareu, Chantada (Lugo)

Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelivs (pronounced Sah-bah-teyl-ee-oos) from Primitivo Lareu, both a Godello-and-Treixadura white and a Mencía-based red, are both truly special wines from the westernmost Chantada subregion. Primitivo, who is a painter-sculptor, is one of the most dedicated viticulturists we know and his attention to his vineyards shows in his superb terroir-driven wines.

Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura 2010 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% $21.996/750ML $21.99

Exotic, white peach and stone fruit flavors, with a mineral-laced finish.  A superb white wine that is 60% Godello, 40% Treixadura.

Chantada, Ribeira Sacra, Primitivo Lareu makes Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura, 
 Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven & Sabatelivs Mencía Carballo, which is aged in oak.
  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven 2011 12.5% 6/750ML $21.99

Medium deep pomegranate color.  Pomegranate and graphite nose.  An intriguing, compelling wine reminiscent of a great Cabernet Franc-based wine from the Loire Valley, but distintive because of the difference in soils (the Loire is calcareous, here it is granite and slate.  Excellent, clean, sharp fruit flavors reminiscent of pomegranate, laced with cranberry and lead pencil, with an intriguing, complex finish from the stony vineyards on which these grapes grow.  This young Mencía-based tinto will benefit from decanting to allow the aromas and flavors to fully develop.  

Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

"Primitivo Lareu is a superb winemaker on the far western end of Ribeira Sacra, located in the sub-region of Chantada, which happens to be the coolest vineyard area in all of Ribeira Sacra. In addition to his winegrowing responsibilities, Señor Lareu is also a sculptor and painter, but first and foremost these days, he is a serious viticulturist bent on extracting as much terroir from his vineyards and producing as transparent a glass of wine as possible. His 2010 Mencía is outstanding, offering up a stunning and sappy nose of pomegranate, black cherries, woodsmoke, beautifully complex herbal tones, espresso and a superb base of stony, slate soil. 

On the palate the wine is deep, medium-full and dancing on the palate, with superb lightness of step coupled to excellent intensity. The wine is impressively complex and focused, with bright acids, little tannin and outstanding length and grip on the bouncy finish. Superb juice. 2012-2020+.   93+." - - John B. Gilman, View From The Cellar

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Articles and Comments About The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections

It has been just eight months since The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections entered the market and this is what food and wine writers are saying and writing about us.

Waiting for Godello: The New Wines of Spain by Rozanne Gold, Huffington Post, March 15, 2012

"There's a "new kid" on the wine trail. After hawking other importers' wines for 30 years, Gerry Dawes is now selling his own discoveries. And discoveries they are!"

Gerry Dawes conducting a tasting of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selection Wines at a tapas luncheon at Despaña Soho, March 13, 2012. Attendees (clockwise: Director of Wines From Spain Katrin Nalaepaa, author Robert Spitz (biographies of Bob Dylan and The Beatles and a major book on Julia Child coming this fall), blog author Rick Fisher from San Diego, CA (Bodega: Adventures in Spanish Wine and Food), cookbook author Rozanne Gold (Huffington Post), wine and food writer Philip Kampe (The Wine Blog), Michael Whiteman of Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. International Restaurants Consultants and Conrad Adillon, owner of Ole Ole Imports (NJ). Photo: Dana B. Staley©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com / http://thespanishartisanwinegroup.com / http://gerrydawesspain.com.

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"The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections wines are, like the man, unassuming, sophisticated, and constant source of joy. . . Those wines you left were delicious, Dawes.  you're an amazing man" - - Dan Barber, Chef-partner, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

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"Thank you so much for your visit and kind words about what we are doing here! It really means so much coming from you.  It was our pleasure and a true honor to have you come by, and I very much look forward to having your The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections wines at Estadio in the near future, as well as spending more time with them myself!" - - Max Kuller, Wine Director, Estadio, Washington, D.C.

Slide show, Estadio, Washington, DC

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The Vinos of Gerry Dawes: To Some Americans, Mr. Spain 

by Howard G. Goldberg

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 on Facebook

"The word “aficionado” was invented to describe my old friend Gerry Dawes. In his veins the blood of Spain flows at perpetual flood tide.

Gerry’s knowledge of Spanish culture is so encyclopedic that Don Quixote paid him a travel consultant’s per diem.  Zurbarán painted his portrait (as a saint, which mystified his  friends). Ferdinand and Isabella allowed him to run sherry, stored in the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, to the New World; all that sherry so impressed Dawes’s first customer, a Jewish merchant named Lehmann, whom the Inquisition had expelled, that he took the whole line and named his store Jerez-Lehmann.

No one is likely to call Gerry a shrinking violet. He is a man of opinion, strong opinion, strongly expressed; he does not tend to invest in understatement. If he had been a matador, Spain would have run out of bulls.

For Dawes, Iberia’s food universe is nearly as important as its multiple wine regions. He has crisscrossed Spain seeking out, relishing, photographing and publicizing small but stellar restaurants and their chefs --- un trabajo de amor (a labor of love).

All this explains why I welcomed spending a few hours in early April tasting Gerry Dawes Selections, imported by his new company, the Spanish Artisan Wine Group, at Despaña, a SoHo cafe and grocery steeped in Iberian specialties aromas, flavors and atmosphere. The 22 wines sampled, all of  character and interest, were well worth the detour." (Click here for the whole article.) 

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Arthur Lubow on The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections

"The wines that Gerry Dawes is importing from Spain are appealing because they are affordable and yet have individual character. They haven't been smoothed out to be merely drinkable or, even worse, just to make a big first impression.

They go brilliantly with food, which is the right place for wine. And they speak of of the land and the winemakers that gave birth to them.

I was delighted by the multi-layered Hermano Merino Catajarros Rosado 2010 Cigales, which is a rosé that conjures up a perfect summer afternoon.
Among the reds, I particularly enjoyed the peppery Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 Amandi, the lighter, nicely balanced Décima Mencía Tinto 2010 Amandi, and the complex Toalde Tinto 2010 Ribeiras do Miño.

The whites that stood out for me were the crisp, stony Manuel Formigo Finca Teira 2010 and the peach-and-almond redolent Adegas D. Berna Godello 2010 Valdeorras."

Author Arthur Lubow (The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Inc.com) 
and Chef Ferran Adria.  
All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2010. 
Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com / www.gerrydawesspain.com.

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From George Faison, CEO Debragga, New York's Butcher":  The extraordinary wines from Ribera Sacra and the beautiful tapas for Mani Dawes's Tia Pol made for a brilliant afternoon.  

Your Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections wines  are unique and vibrant, whether alone or in combination with the food.  They truly stood out as expressions of exquisite fruit, distinctive "terroir" and talented winemaking, a combination all too frequently missing these days. Thank you so much for having me."
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Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg, authors of The Food Lover's Guide to Wine, about the No Paraskevidekatriaphopbia - No Fear of Friday April 13th The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Tasting & Tapas Luncheon at Tía Pol Restaurant & Tapas Bar in New York City: "With heartfelt thanks for the personal pleasure and professional insights you've shared with us - - including today at Tía Pol." 

"Gerry, Andrew & I loved having the opportunity to taste such a consistently impressive array of well-selected Spanish wines with you -- and we have to congratulate you on what you're doing with The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections. We're already looking forward to next time!" - - Karen Page on her Facebook page.

Karen Page with Spanish wine importer Gerry Dawes

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Karen Page & Gerry Dawes schmoozing at the JBF Awards 2012.
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"Thank you for the great The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections wine recommendations - they are so delicious and my guests were awed and impressed. Several asked where they could purchase them. You made me look good!!" - - Jenifer Lang, wife of the late, great George Lang and former co-owner of Cafe des Artistes, NYC  May 2012.  

Wines for a Jenifer Lang dinner party for 14 people on May 11 in Manhattan.  Festis Silver Label Brut Nature Cava 2009, Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado 2011, Toalde Mencia Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra.

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Carol Berman, wine radio personality (Martha Stewart and Arthur Schwartz radio shows) Class in a Glass, The Traveling Sommelier:"  "It was more than a pleasure meeting you and tasting through your splendid The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections portfolio. Really, really special wines and I think that I was still tasting a hint of them last night. Perhaps it was wishful thinking . . . or wishful drinking!
I get many invites to these luncheons and honestly in the past few years, I have declined the invites because I simply was not interested in tasting the 'commercial' crap that was mostly being poured.  Not interested.  Your stuff is right up my sipping alley. . . and I do have one! The wines and your philosophy are one and the same as mine, so I felt energized and refreshed at table, and still.
There is not a bad wine in the entire collection. All were wonderfully balanced and as I said yesterday after tasting the Ribero whites: "I feel like I just walked through a beautiful springtime garden and took a bite!"  We the purely passionate want "REAL wine, not REALITY wine!" It's that simple, and these truly fit the bill."
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Janet Cam Consulting (a top restaurant consultant in Washington, D.C.): "You have been the lone voice of Spanish food and wine for many, many years.  Finally, the people in the United States heard you about wine!  I’ve known you since your early beginnings in the wine trade and always appreciated your fine palate.  Now you can truly share your wine discoveries in your portfolio The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections.  I am thrilled for you.

You had introduced me to a rosado which is my favorite rosé and I have purchased yearly since I tasted it with you.  Now I will need to look at your rosados!   Congratulations to the most deserving person of heroic efforts of a lifetime."

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 "Enter Gerry Dawes. Gerry is the antithesis of Parkerization. He is a highly opinionated and an extremely passionate Hispanophile who has been living and touting the good life in Spain for decades. He is also just the person I would expect (and want) to champion the cause of the “little guy” (smaller, undiscovered wineries) in the ever-changing and competitive world of Spanish wine. 

Fortunately, that is exactly what he is doing with his new venture: The Spanish Artisan Wine Group – Gerry Dawes Selections. The project’s aim is to introduce “Artisanal wines from talented wine makers who respect the delicate balance between tradition and innovation, while remaining true to their unique terruño (sense of place).” 

It is also an opportunity for him to rail against “sledgehammer” (as he refers to them) wines – heavily (over) oaked, high alcohol wines which many Spanish wineries have now gravitated towards.” - - Tasting the Future (and Past) of Spanish Wine - Rick Fisher
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Report from Docsconz and some opinions from John Gilman, Andy Pforzheimer and Chef Jeremiah Tower.

"Robert Parker’s opinion has held sway in the wine world for a long time, first coming to prominence with his pronouncements on Bordeaux’s famed 1982 vintage. His palate is attuned to “big” wines. Full throttled okay monsters and high octane “fruit bombs” have tended to rule his influential roost since that time. . .

Fortunately, alternatives to Parker styled wines managed to survive his onslaught and wines with nuance, character and little oak still exist. The world, thirsty for variety and individual personality is starting to take notice again. These wines are easier to pair with unique and nuanced dishes and the lesser amounts of alcohol add pleasure rather than fatigue. . .One person who has been at the vanguard of those battling Parker’s extensive homogenizing influence has been the noted American food and wine writer, my friend, Gerry Dawes. . ." - - Read the rest of John Sconzo's extensive report on Docsconz: Musings on Food and Life. 
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And John B. Gilman, Author-Publisher of View From The Cellar, on Twitter after The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selectionstasting lunch (described above by Docsconz) at Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant in Greenwich, CT on
on Twitter:  " 2010 Albariño - Rozas - Maybe the greatest Albariño I have ever tasted - kaleidoscopic minerality, blazing purity."
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Andy Pforzheimer, Chef-Founder-Partnerof the Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant Group:  "Great wines, Gerry. You really came through. I came down just to see you, but I stayed for what was in the glass. Can't wait to pour some."
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Legendary Chef Jeremiah Tower on The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections on Twitter after a dinner featuring a dozen of the wines on Tuesday night, March 6 at cookbook author and cooking class star, Gail Monaghan's stunning apartment on E. 30th St. in Manhattan.

"Spanish Artisan Wine Group, the new wines of Gerry Dawes. These are an affordable, delicious, 'must' for your table. Recommend highly. . . Fabulous dinner last night with Gerry in NYC, the new wines spectacular, real, affordable, and a 'must' on any table. Thanks. . .@PPXNewOrleans VintageOrleans @GerryDawes  Yes, those Aliaga wines were stars. Hope that Tia Pol gets the rose!  @TiaPolWonderful lunch, told Gerry Dawes he should call on you again for the rosados . . ."

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Gael Greene on Twitter "Gerry Dawes, guru of all things Spanish. launched Spanish Artisan Wine Group Feb1 Now at BlueHill/StoneBarns. Boqueria,wine shops. #fb"
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Chef-partner Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York tasting the wines of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections wines. "What an incredible experience!" Michael said after he sat down to taste a wine or two and was so intrigued that he continued, tasting more than a dozen wines. Porterhouse Michael Lomonaco 2-24-2012

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