Thursday, November 17, 2016

Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado, One of Spain's (and Europe's) Truly Great Rosé Wines

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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating 

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"You ask about rosé?  Blended from tempranillo and garnacha (red grapes), verdejo and alvillo (white), the Hermanos Merino Viña Catajarros rosado ($14.99), from the Cigales region, was seamless and displayed a certain seriousness under its flirtatiousness."  Howard G. Goldberg

Bodegas Hermanos Merino, Corcos del Valle (Valladolid), Castilla y León 
Viña Catajarros Elite Rosado 2014 D. O. Cigales 13.0% 12/750ML $14.99 SRP
(A blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha Tinta, 5% Verdejo, 5% Alvillo, the latter two white wine grapes.)

Appearance:  Pretty, bright, strawberry-raspberry rosé (please don't call my rosados pink).

Nose:  strawberry-cherry fruit with hints of spices such as cloves and cinnamon.

Palate:  A delicious, lively wine with excellent acidity, bright strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavors and spices, with a dry classic finish and nice light, but firm tannins from the red grape skins and a lingering minerality that makes it a great food wine.

This is a wine that begs for a second bottle.  I also would not hesitate to cellar this wine for seven to eight years.

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"Hermanos Merino Catajarros Cigales Rosado, a mix of two red grapes (tempranillo and garnacha) and two white grapes (verdejo and alvillo). The latter had a slight spritz, and lots of body without being weighty; it is an unmitigated bargain and will become our house pour for the summer. If I can lay my hands on some." - - Rozanne Gold, Waiting For Godello: The New Wines of Spain, The Huffington Post

Eugenio Merino of Bodegas 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, which is reminiscent of the vineyards of Chateaunuef-du-Pape.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Viña Catajarros Elite Rosado is the best rosado from Cigales I have ever tasted and one of the greatest rosados of Spain.  The wine is made from 80% Tinto del País, as it is known here (Tempranillo), Garnacha (10%) and two white wine grapes, Verdejo (5%)  y Alvillo (5%).  The wine is fermented in stainless steel and bottled in March or later.  In January 2012, The Spanish Artisan Wine Group chose to bring in the 2010 rather than wait for the 2011, because serious rosados like Viña Catajarros are even better with extra time in bottle.  I have had Catajarros Rosado when it was ten years old and the wine was still drinking beautifully.

Viña Catajarros is made by the Merino brothers, led by Eugenio Merino, a man who works his own vineyards and treats each goblet-pruned vine like it is one of his children. One of the primary premises of Bodega Hijos de Crescencia Merino is to take meticulous care of their vines with the objective of obtaining high quality wine and they consider that the success of their wines begins in the vineyard. The family has 17 hectares (42 acres) of vines around the tiny village of Corcos del Valle, north of the historic provincial capital of Valladolid.  

Eighty per cent of the vineyards are planted in Tinto del País (Tempranillo), the principal variety of the D.O. Cigales, the other 20% is a mix Garnacha and white wine grapes, Verdejo, Viura and Alvillo.  Seven and a half acres of the vines are more than 50 years old and some 1,200 of the vines are at least 100 years old.  More than 30 acres of the vines are goblet pruned and growing on rock-strewn ground reminiscent of vineyards in Chateaunuef-du-Pape.

The Merino brothers work their vines all year long and try to keep sulphur treatments of the vines to a mínimum.  This area is very dry, so mildew and oidum threats are rarely a problem. To reduce yields, in the section of the vineyards on wires (only 12 acres), grapes are green harvested, but the other 30 acres are pruned back in the winter months to leave three branches each with three shoots and a “thumb” with two shoots with the intention of keeping the yields at under five tons per hectare (less than 2.25 tons per acre), the yield that the Merinos consider optimum to obtain high quality wines.  As with the majority of my artisan producers, there is no irrigation in these vineyards. 

Catajarros was originally vinified in the family's classic hand-hewn wine cave bodega, where the grapes were pressed with a rustic stone-and-timber Roman style wine press. Thousands of these caves* dot the soft-stone hillsides of Castilla y León and where were many of the region's artisan wines and artisanal cheeses were historically made.  Just fifteen years ago, the Merino Brothers stopped making wine in their cave and built a small, functional bodega in Corcos de Valle.

When I discovered this wine, I went immediately to see Eugenio Merino and visited him at least four times before acquiring his wines for the U.S.  At the time, he was using a plastic stopper in his wines, but I convinced him to seal his wines with Amorim cork and he became my first supplier to switch to Amorim corks, which we guarantee 100% against cork taint. 

All the corks that seal our bottles come from Amorim and the corks in my artisan wines are double checked at the cork factory.  In all my tastings which includes several hundred bottles since I began acquiring wines for The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections, I have less than half a dozen bottles of white wine, none of which were sealed with an Amorim cork (that supplier switched to Amorim right away) and virtually no rosados with cork taint.

"Rosé makes people happy. Especially this one."  
Comment & photo posted by Dr. Vino on Twitter.
As part of a wine trip connected to the annual Zarcillo de Oro wine competition, I was invited to a tasting of Cigales wines at the Consejo Regulador offices in Cigales.   Many of the wines were the beefy, high alcohol reds now being made in this region that was once famous for its rosados.  I tasted Catajarros and, as soon as the tasting was over, I asked where I could find the producer.

That tasting led to a meeting with Eugenio Merino and a visit to Corcos, where on several occasions over a period of four years, I tasted the wines from vintages going back five years--and this was when this wines were bottled with plastic stoppers. 

Among all the wines in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections portfolio Viña Catajarros is one of several wines that consistently draw the most praise from the experience tasters who come to my tasting luncheons (see below).  
Even though the  Merinos make mostly rosado (and a small amount of red wine) right now, I consider them to be one of my most prized artisan suppliers. 

Hermanos Merino Viña Catajarros Slide Show


About Gerry Dawes

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.

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.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at;
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Adega Manuel Formigo Grand Cru Quality Treixadura-based White Wines from Ribeiro (Galicia)

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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating

Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / 
Adega Manuel Formigo, 32431 Beade (Ourense), Galicia /


Adega Manuel Formigo Grand Cru Quality 
Treixadura-based White Wines from Ribeiro (Galicia)

Agustín Formigo Raña, his wife María del Carmen de la Fuente de la Torre and their son, winemaker Manuel Formigo de la Fuente, the Formigo family of viticulturists and winemakers, has been closely connected with wines from the Ribeiro for many generations in the village of Beade.   Beade is in Ourense, one of the four provinces of emerald Galicia in northwestern Spain just north of the border with Portugal and  is just a few kilometers north of the ancient town of Ribadavia, which has one of the best preserved medieval Jewish quarters in Spain (see slide show below). 

(Double-click on the images and go to Picasa, then click on "slide show" and F11 for a full-screen view.)

Adega Manuel Formigo makes primarily white wines of character and quality,  reflecting the greatness of his family’s  vineyards and the arduous and meticulous work that the Formigo family performs the whole year in their small winery and in their five vineyards scattered around Beade.   Formigo means ant in Gallego and some of their wines display an the silhouette of an ant on the labels, symbolic of the family name and their propensity for hard work.  

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Wines of Adega Manuel Formigo:

Finca Teira Blanco 2014** (D.O. Ribeiro), 12.7%  alcohol, 12/750ML 
Production:  1100 cases, 100 available for the United States, just 50 cases on the first order.

"The 2014 Finca Teira Blanco from Manuel Formigo is a lovely bottle. This is a blend of seventy percent Treixadura, twenty percent Godello and ten percent Torrontés. The new vintage delivers a fine bouquet of apple, pear, salty soil tones, a touch of honeysuckle and a gentle top-note of spices. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and nascently complex, with a fine core, bright acids and lovely focus and grip on the poised and well-balanced finish. As my visit here in October of 2014 showed, this bottling ages very well (we tasted back to 2006 at that time) and this wine will continue to improve as it has some bottle age. Fine juice. 2016-2025+.   90." - - John Gilman, View From The Cellar
 "Bodegas Manuel Formigo Finca Teira Blanco 2011. This is a blend of grapes found mostly in northwestern Spain: treixadura (65 percent), godello (20 percent), and torrontés (15 percent; this is not, incidentally, the same grape that goes by this name in Argentina). It is wonderfully fragrant — think of honeysuckle and jasmine — but pleasantly sharp and well-defined 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

Grape Varieties:  Treixadura (65%), Godello (20%), Torrontés (15%).  Exclusively from free-run must from selected grapes from the Miñoteira y Portela vineyards. 92+ points.

Brilliant, profound green-gold.  Impressive, expressive nose of honeysuckle and peach.  After ten minutes, the wine opens up to show a beautiful, spicy sweet fruit reminiscent of honeysuckle and white peach, bracing acidity and a long mineral-laced finish.   

Teira X 2013* (D.O. Ribeiro), 13% alcohol 6/750ML


"I first tasted the 2013 Teira X Blanco from Manuel Formigo during my visit to the adega in the fall of 2014, and at that time the wine was very youthful and promising. The passing years have done justice and the wine today is drinking beautifully, offering up a complex nose of pear, orange peel, a nice touch of Ribeiro spiciness, salty soil tones and a top-note of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and rock solid at the core, with bright acids, fine focus and complexity and a long, balanced and energetic finish. This was one of the riper years for the Teira X, coming in at thirteen percent alcohol, but the wine is aging beautifully and has many, many years still ahead of it. 2016-2030. 93." - - John Gilman, View From The Cellar

Production:  335 6-bottle cases, of which 40 cases are available for the U.S. market.  We are getting 10 cases on the first shipment.

Grape Varieties:  Treixadura (60%),  Alvilla (15%),  Albariño (15%), Loureira (10%)

Made from  grapes from selected 30–year old Treixadura vines, along with alvilla, albariño and loureira grapes, all from the Formigo’s top vineyard, Finca Miño Teira.

Flashes of deep green-gold.   This simple had only been in bottle for two months and was still somewhat closed, but showed hints of stone fruits and minerality.   Tiera X has excellent structure and acidity with hints of tropical fruit, honeysuckle and coconut that expand in the glass with aeration and are underpinned with that haunting granite minerality.  95 points.

Postnote (3/29/2012): Since these wines have been in the U.S., I have had a number of opportunities not just to taste the wines of Manuel Formigo, but to drink them with meals.  The quality is exceptional and I am ordering as much of these wines as Manuel can give me. 

--Tasting notes by Gerry Dawes.

Manuel Formigo with his Teira X white wine.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 /