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"It was obvious to Schoonmaker that prohibition would someday be repealed; the question was when.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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Spanish Artisan Wine Reviews from John Gilman ,Publishe-Editor of View From The Cellar

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Recently-Tasted Spanish and Portuguese Wines
Part Two- December 2018

October’s gold and russet tones in one of Ribeira Sacra’s sub-regions, Quiroga-Bibei.

            Part Two of my annual coverage of the beautiful wines of Spain has been delayed a bit more than I anticipated when I first finished up Part One back in June of last year. I had imagined working on the second installment of my coverage of Spain in September and October of last year, but the sheer volume of samples piling up in my cellar over the last quarter of 2018 had me falling behind on my tasting and this article kept getting shuffled to the “next issue” as my pace of writing up samples could not keep up with the number of bottles coming in. On one hand, this was unfortunate, as some of the superb wines featured below have now been in the market for a few months and may have already sold through the pipeline, but the delay also allowed for new vintages of many old favorites from around the Iberian peninsula to arrive here in the US and this article is that much deeper and richer for its inadvertent delay in getting written. Tasting through the new releases from many of my favorite producers in Spain is always a happy time for me, as there is so much good wine being produced today in this country that it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Spanish wine is undergoing a renaissance that is every bit as exciting as that of Spanish haute cuisine a decade ago. There are so many young and energetic winegrowers scattered across Spain today with great vision for their wines and regions, coupled to deep respect for the traditions and unique terroirs that have made Spanish wines so beautiful for so long. These, of course, are not generally the well-funded modernists of Spanish wine, who swept across the high plains and mountains of the peninsula in the 1990s and early years of the new millennium preaching the stale creed of “international” wines to parrot the industrially-inspired and expensive plonk that was being churned out in other well-established wine regions at the same time. Rather, these are the talented (and often quite young) visionaries who wish to champion the unique grape varieties and terroirs of Spain’s incredibly complex quilt of wine-producing regions and produce wines of beautiful elegance and bold individuality which pay homage to the deep cultural roots of traditional Spanish wine.

            Many of these talented new breed of winegrowers in Spain have harkened back to regions that were on the verge of historical irrelevance a generation ago, when vineyards were going abandoned and many young people in their respective locales were looking to other career opportunities and leaving their regions of birth to seek better economic prospects far from their childhood homes. A perfect case in this regard is Galicia, which was on winemaking life support in the 1980s, but now is one of the most exciting and dynamic winegrowing regions to be found anywhere in the world. Happily, the new generation has found opportunity in places such as Galicia, reclaiming old vines that had been overgrown by the countryside during their period of abandonment, nursing them back to health and striking out to discover new heights of quality and complexity for the wines of their regions. It is indeed a very, very exciting time to be following the new course of Spanish wine. 

         One has to wonder if all of this dynamism in classically-inspired Spanish wine today would be possible at all, if there had not been a few holdouts back in the 1980s and 1990s who rejected the notion of internationally-inspired, “modern” Spanish wines and had clung tightly to the old school traditions of their wine-producing regions and steered clear of the modern tides sweeping through Spanish winemaking at that time. One of these old school holdouts was certain Albariño maestro, Francisco “Paco” Dovalo López, who helped found the artisanal growers’ association, the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, in Rías Biaxas back in 1989 and continued making his superb wines from his winery of Adega Cabaleiro do Val.

            As I was getting ready to put the finishing touches on this article, I heard the sad news that Paco Dovalo had passed away in his hometown of Meaño, located in the Val do Salnés. Paco Dovalo was a great man during his lifetime and I had the pleasure to spend some time with him and other talented members of his growers’ association during my last trip to Galicia a few years back. He was instrumental in rejecting the push to make Albariño a simple, industrial wine produced from huge yields, commercial yeasts and safe, boring winemaking recipes. 

           Though he only officially started to commercialize his own wines on a full-time basis in 1989, the year he founded the region’s artisanal growers’ association, Paco’s family had been grape growers and wine producers in the region for many centuries, though they long sold off most of their grape and wine production and only bottled wine for family and friends prior to Paco starting to sell everything from his small estate in 1989.  Paco Dovalo was clearly the inspiration for many of the younger vignerons in the region, and his role in the renaissance that has quietly swept through the vineayrds of Val do Salnés and other parts of the Albariño wine-producing horizon will deserve a prominent role when the history of the region is written a few decades down the road. 

             I am sure that other Spanish wine regions where this move back to traditionally-inspired wines is in full swing also have or have had their own early pioneers such as Paco Dovalo, and it is these older generation producers who eschewed the easier financial path and critical praise that was lavished on the modernists of Spanish wine in the 1990s (and which continues on in some circles even to this day) to which all of us who love classically styled Spanish wines owe a debt of appreciation. Their early sacrifices made it possible for today’s younger generation to follow in their footsteps and lead Spain on into the brightest wine future of any wine-producing country in the world. Thank you Paco!

Paco Dovalo (right) and his US importer, Gerry Dawes, standing next to one of Paco’s 150 year-old Albariño vines.

            This new issue is loaded with tasting notes from many of this newer generation of Spanish winegrowers “classicists” that have appeared in these pages previously, such as the very talented team of winemakers at Envínate and 4 Monos Viticultores, as well as the gifted Laura Lorenzo of Daterra Viticultores and Pedro Rodríguez of Guímaro, both in Ribeira Sacra. Also appearing here are many of Paco Dovalo’s Albariño brothers in arms from the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, in Rías Biaxas, including Eulogio Gondar of Lagar de Candes, Manolo Dovalo of Adega Rozas and Fernando Meis Otero, not to mention the extremely talented husband and wife team of Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto in Cambados. And, of course, we have notes on a few of the deceased maestro’s beautiful Albariños as well, which age as long and gracefully as any in the region. There are also notes on all of the superb current releases, both red and white, from Luis Rodríguez’s Viña de Martin winery in Ribeiro and a huge lineup of great new (primarily) Mencía-based bottlings from Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Bierzo. Included in Part Two of my coverage from Spain are also the new releases from Goyo García in Ribera del Duero, as fine and deep a range of both red and white stars from the Canary Islands and a wide array of new releases (often of nicely aged wines) from several of Portugal’s top wine-producing regions. These include a new producer in the Douro named Luis Seabra, who is making simply the finest and most classically-styled dry wines I have tasted from the Port region, as well as new releases from the great old Bairrada and Dão producer of Caves São João. So, there is a very good reason this feature is long and nicely delayed in its release, as I have been working through a small mountain of truly exceptional bottles of wine in the last few months!

            The article is organized as I have done in the past, starting in the northwestern corner of Spain in Galicia and working across the north of the peninsula towards the east in a swath of neighboring wine regions, and then descending south to the next band of D.O.s and again working from west to east, repeating this until we finally reach the south of the country and Jerez. Prior to the geographical strata of regions, I have listed all the recent Cava releases and all of the Rosado bottlings I have tasted for this report in their own distinct sections, rather than including each in its proper geographical subset. After working through all of the D.O.s in Spain that I have tasted for this report, you will find the sections on the Canary Islands and then the recently-tasted wines from Portugal. Though I did taste a few still wines from the Jerez region, there are not notes on the most famous wines from Jerez, Sherry. A few Spanish wine importers have asked me to start writing about Sherry as well, but I have so far resisted, as I simply do not know anywhere near enough about Sherry, or have sufficient experience, to be qualified to write about those wines with proper insight that they deserve, and I leave Sherry for those with the requisite knowledge to handicap those wines. 


2016 Rioja Rosado- Bodegas Lecea  (Rioja Alta)

            I really like all of the wines from Bodegas Lecea, and I find their Rosado quite ageworthy. The 2016 is still on the youngish side, but is drinking quite nicely, offering up scents of white cherries, orange peel, salty soil tones and a nice touch of upper register spice. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and nicely mineral in profile, with a good core, fine focus and grip and plenty of bouncy acidity adding vibrancy on the long and blossoming finish. Good juice. 2018-2030. 90.   

2016 Rosado “Lagrima de Garnacha”- Bodegas Aliaga (Navarra)

            Bodegas Aliaga makes two distinct bottlings of Rosado, with their Lagrima de Garnacha cuvée their deeper-colored and more vinous example. This is made by the saignée method, with the juice run off from the tanks of the oldest vine Garnacha they have in their vineyards. The color is a pretty deep Rosé and the nose is pure and complex, wafting from the glass in a blend of cherries, blood orange, salty soil tones and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and complex, with a fine core, quite the vinous personality and a long, balanced and zesty finish. This is clearly the gastronomic bottling of Rosado from Aliaga and the wine is very well made. 2018-2025+. 90.

2015 Rosado “Lagrima de Luna”- Bodegas Aliaga (Navarra)

            The Lagrima de Luna bottling of Rosado from Bodegas Aliaga is designed to be their more forward, lighter aperitif cuvée, with a shorter skin contact prior to the saignée made for the rosé. But, this does not mean that the wine does not age gracefully and the 2015 version is really at a lovely point right now, offering up a bright bouquet of strawberries, tangerine, salty soil tones and a floral topnote. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied and nicely round and generous now on the attack, with a good juicy core, sound acids and fine focus and grip on the long finish. Very pretty Rosado, albeit, not as complex as their Lagrima de Garnacha bottling. 2018-2023. 88.

2014 Rosado “Lagrima de Garnacha”- Bodegas Aliaga (Navarra)

            The 2014 vintage of Lagrima de Garnacha from Bodegas Aliaga shows just how beautifully these Navarra Rosados can age from a top estate. At age four, the wine is wide open and at its apogee of peak drinkability, offering up scents of blood orange, cherry, a touch of citrus peel, dried rose petals and a complex base of soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with bright acids, excellent focus and balance and lovely grip on the long and zesty finish. This is superb Rosado. 2018-2025+. 92.

2014 Rosado “Viña Catajarros” Bodegas Hermanos Merino (Cigales)

            Bodegas Hermanos Merino is one of my favorite Rosado producers in Cigales, and in fact, ninety percent of what they produce is actually Rosado. The vineyards here look like one is walking in Châteauneuf du Pape, with all of the gnarled bush vines and the soil covered with large, round stones. The estate’s 2014 Rosado is also right in its peak window of drinkability and showing beautifully today, wafting from the glass in a fine aromatic constellation of orange peel, blood orange, stony minerality, a touch of garrigue and a potpourri of other spice tones in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, zesty and complex, with a fine core, good backend mineral drive, bright acids and a long, complex and classy finish. Fine juice. 2018-2025. 92.

The great old Garnacha vines and stony soils of Bodegas Catajarros in Cigales.

Albariño Rías Biaxas

2015 Albariño Lagar de Broullón (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            The granitic soils of the Lagar de Broullón Albariño always make for a racy and nicely structured example of this underrated varietal, and the 2015 is no exception. The nose here wafts from the glass in a fine mix of yellow fruit, powdered stone, ocean breeze, lemongrass, a touch of leesiness and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied, complex and quite long on the backend, with a good core, fine stony soil signature and lovely cut and grip on the classy finish. Good juice. 2018-2025. 92.

2015 Albariño Lagar de Candes (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            The 2015 Albariño from Eulogio Gondar’s Lagar de Candes is an excellent example of this vintage and is now drinking beautifully, offering up a bright and nicely citric nose of lime, lemon, ocean breeze, complex, salty minerality, dried flowers and a bit of candied citrus peel in the upper register. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied, focused and mineral-driven, with a good core, fine bounce and grip and a long, zesty and complex finish. This is still a pretty young wine at three years of age and will be even better with a bit more bottle age. Fine juice. 2018-2030+. 92+.

2015 Albariño “O’Forrollo” Bodega Meis Otero (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            The 2015 Albariño from Fernando Meis Otero is a gorgeous wine that is really just starting to hit its peak at three years of age. The bouquet offers up a gorgeous blend of apple, lemon, white flowers, ocean breeze, lime zest and a superb base of minerality. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and quite elegant, with a good core, superb backend mineral drive and a long, complex and beautifully balanced finish. This is outstanding Albariño! 2018-2035+. 94.

2013 Albariño Cabaleiro do Val (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            I first tasted a bottle of the 2013 Albariño from Cabaleiro do Val during my visit to the region back in the autumn of 2014, when this was the upcoming release from Paco Dovalo. I have followed the wine closely ever since and it continues to age gracefully and drink with vibrant complexity and lovely mineral undertow. Today, the wine is at its apogee, offering up a fresh as a daisy bouquet of lime, green apple, wet stone, lovely lees elements and a briny topnote of ocean breeze. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite racy, with a fine core, impressive backend mineral drive and excellent length and grip on the zesty and perfectly balanced finish. Truly stellar Albariño. 2018-2035+. 94+.

2013 Albariño Lagar de Broullón (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            The 2013 Albariño from Lagar de Broullón is another wine that I first tasted when in Galicia in October of 2014, and it has also been a lovely wine to drink ever since it was first released. Today, the wine is still at the top of its game and has plenty of life still ahead of it, as it wafts from the glass in a complex aromatic constellation of bread fruit, leesy tones, plenty of smokiness, a fine base of minerality, orange peel and a topnote of lemongrass. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and beautifully focused, with fine cut and grip, impeccable balance and a long, vibrant and classy finish. Fine juice. 2018-2030. 94.

2013 Albariño Adega Rozas (Meaño, Rías Biaxas)

            Manolo Dovalo has very old vines, with a great many well over one hundred years of age, and these add mid-palate depth to all of his Albariños. His 2013 Albariño is drinking beautifully at five years of age and is really coming into its apogee of peak maturity. The bouquet is pure, complex and quite refined, offering up scents of tart orange, bread fruit, lime peel, briny ocean breeze, very complex minerality, gentle smokiness and a blossoming note of leesy sweet nuttiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with good acids, fine focus and grip and a long, complex and now nicely tertiary finish. This is not going to realize quite the same longevity of the Cabaleiro do Val bottling from 2013, but it is aging nicely and is now at a lovely plateau of peak maturity and drinking very well indeed. 2018-2023. 92.     


2015 Godello- Adegas Triay

            Antonio Triay makes beautiful Godello, with his bottling including five percent each of Albariño and Treixadura in the cépages for added complexity. The 2015 version is drinking beautifully today, offering up a pure and complex nose of desiccated apples and pears, a touch of honeycomb, lovely, stony minerality and a topnote of lime peel. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with fine mid-palate depth, bright acids and focus, cut and grip on the long and vibrant finish. This is a very good bottle of Godello and an absolute bargain! 2018-2023+. 92.

Ribeiro (Blanco)

2014 Finca Teira Blanco Adegas Manuel Formigo (Ribeiro)

            The 2014 Finca Teira Blanco from Manuel Formigo is drinking beautifully at age four and is just now entering its plateau of peak drinkability. The wine is a blend of seventy percent Treixadura, twenty percent Godello and ten percent Torrentés, raised in stainless steel. The 2014 offers up a complex and beautifully expressive nose of pear, citrus peel, smoky overtones, a hint of new leather, stony minerality and a whisper of honeycomb just starting to peak out in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and absolutely à point, with a lovely core, still excellent acidity and superb length and grip on the poised and well-balanced finish. This is at its peak today, but still has at least another decade of life in it! 2018-2028. 92.

2014 Teira X Adegas Manuel Formigo (Ribeiro)

            The Teira X bottling from Manuel Formigo is his older vine cuvée, with some of the vineyards used for this an old-fashioned field blend, so the cépages here is sixty percent Treixadura (from thirty year-old vines), fifteen percent each of Alvilla and Albariño and ten percent Loureira. The 2014 is again right into its sweet spot in its evolution, offering up a fine bouquet of pear, apple, wet stone minerality, citrus zest and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full, complex and still rock solid at the core, with great cut and grip, lovely focus and a long, complex and vibrant finish. Fine juice. 2018-2025+. 92.

Ribeira Sacra (Blanco)

2014 Godello Cividade (Adegas Brais Verao, Amandi)

            The 2014 Godello from Cividade is drinking beautifully and has opened up to reveal an additional layer of complexity since I last tried a bottle early in 2017. The wine is still fairly youthful on both the nose and palate, as this is made for the long haul, but it is drinking with distinction today and is lovely on the nose, which offers up scents of pear, lime zest, smoky overtones, wet stone minerality, lemongrass and a touch of salinity in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with a fine girdle of acidity, superb focus and grip and a very long, complex and vibrant finish. This is stellar Godello and really showing well today. 2018-2035. 94+.

2014 Sabatelius Blanco (Chantada)

            Primitivo Lareu’s beautiful Sabatelius winery lies in the heart of the Miño River section of Ribeira Sacra, in the superb sub-region of Chantada. This is prime real estate, with steep, terraced slate vineyards overlooking the river and it is home to some of the region’s greatest terroir. Primitivo’s white wine is composed of a blend of sixty percent Godello and forty percent Treixadura, and unlike many of his neighbors, Señor Lareu barrel-ferments this wine. His 2014 is now into its apogee and drinking splendidly, offering up a bright and complex nose of lime, quince, dried pear, a touch of green olive, superb minerality and a lovely, smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and still very racy in personality, with a fine core, excellent focus and grip and a long, vibrant and perfectly balanced finish. This wine is drinking very well today, but still has plenty of life ahead of it. 2018-2028. 93.  

Valdeorras Blanco

2014 Godello Hacienda Ucediños

            The 2014 Godello from the Santalla brothers’ Hacienda Ucediños winery is a superb wine, which at four years of age has blossomed beautifully and is right in its prime. The superb nose jumps from the glass in a blend of pear, honey, salty soil tones, orange zest and a nice touch of green olive in the upper register. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied and focused, with a great core of fruit, fine soil signature and a long, zesty and complex finish of impeccable balance and grip. Fine, fine Godello that is ready to drink, but still has plenty of life ahead of it. 2018-2025+. 92+.