Spanish Wines to Excite Your Palette

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For those of you who has a better than average knowledge of wines and are eager to learn more, or if you simply love learning about great new wines, we’re about to introduce you to some Spanish wines which are new on our radar.

I’ve had plenty of tastings in vineyards across the world, including France, South Africa, Napa, Sonoma, Washington, Arizona, New York, Idaho and Oregon states, Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand and Australia and numerous others, although I still haven’t been to vineyards in Argentina or Spain.  But, when I lived in London, we drank plenty of Spanish wines.

Introducing Senda Verde wines from Spain.

As you may know, a lot of the best wine doesn’t end up in the states simply because some of smaller vineyards don’t have the volume or distribution is just too hard, expensive or competitive. The best South African, Italian and Hungarian wines I’ve tasted have all been in country and I can never seem to find them in my favorite wine shops even in major cities like NYC, Boston and San Francisco.

So, when the opportunity came up to review some Spanish wines, we said heck yeah, let’s see what they’ve got. We were in for a surprise.

The Senda Verde wines shown above is a collection of artisanal wines from a region in northern Spain that stretches the coastline Galicia eastward. In contrast to the rest of Spain, this area is lush and green, from oceanic and geologic influences. It’s often referred to in fact, as “Espana Verde” or Green Spain.

These wines are are on the light side, at least the ones we tried but with plenty of fruit — think strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate and cherries. There’s also some hints of black licorice and cassis flavors, so deep fruit with a great mineral structure. We paired their reds with meatballs in tomato sauce with plenty of garlic and we paired their Godello 2015 with grilled Mahi Mahi and a fresh organic leafy salad with almonds, avocados and apples.  Their lighter Albarino 2015 is a great choice with fish, shellfish, and tart foods like vinaigrettes, capers and leeks. They were divine!

The very affordable Carlos Serres wines from an estate southeast of Haro are also scrumptious picks. Imagine nearly 150 acres of delicious Rioja with vines that are 30 years old on average. Well known in Spain but perhaps not as much among your every day wine drinker in the states, these wines come from the heart of Spain’s Rioja wine region – oh so yum!

Medium bodied, we paired the Carlos Serres Rioja with a medium rare steak dinner, couscous and roasted root veggies. Their Rioja Reserva (2010) is especially worth trying and works really well with a sausage and chicken paella with saffron rice or frankly, any grilled meat and poultry. They suggest it as a great match for aged and blue cheeses, although we didn’t try it with any cheese. Exquisite choice all around and is sure to make your palette pop. Also on your must try list should be their 2008 Rioja Gran Reserve which pairs well with any steak of course, but is also a fabulous match with game-y meats, which I am a huge fan of having lived in South Africa more than once. Stronger cheeses also do well with their ’08 Rioja.

They also make a Rioja Blanco (2015), which is great with fish, shellfish, smoked meats and lightly aged cheeses. We paired ours with an Arugula and roasted apple salad with walnuts, dates and bacon and a cheeseboard with Pecorino, Gouda and Meunster.

Now, get ready to meet Navardia Rioja, which is made with organic grapes, comes from a vineyard that was planted over 60 years ago in a remote location in the Baztan Valley, a beautiful region of Navarre.

It is originally a Basque name from “Bagoa,” which means the “beach grove”, referring to the abundance of the majestic trees which are grown in the area. Their Rioja is classic, bold and tasty, with Tempranillo roots; there’s tons of fruit, black licorice and boasts well-rounded tannins for those taking notes. This wine is ideal with grilled meats, stews and wild fowl, which I haven’t had in years.

The Navardia Organic Rioja White is 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Garnacha Blanca, which if you’ve only been sipping California wines, it’ll be a new taste for you. It is known for its fresh citrus and mineral flavors and exudes tropical fruits with an elegant finish.

Onto the RESSO red and white, both 2015. This 100% Garnacha variety is a delicious big bold and lush red that is great with all red meets, firm and aged cheeses and stirfry rice dishes. Think deep cherries, with red fruits, such as strawberries and black raspberries with a hint of licorice and peppery notes.

For historical buffs, RESSO in Catalan means “echo” or “notoriety”. Because the area has very cold winters and very hot summers, the result is a very special fruit. All of these wines are complex, mineral and full-bodied due to the region. We preferred the reds over the whites from RESSO, although that’s largely because I am always drawn to bigger bolder wines across all varietals. It could be why I rarely meet a Rose that has me at hello.

The RESSO white however (we sampled the 2015 and 2016), is a great pick however with any kind of fish, shellfish, light pastas and chicken, and if you like crisper lighter white wines, then you’ll definitely want to give this one a try. It is fermented in stainless steal not oak.

Onto the Clos de Nit, which btw, is a Catalan phrase that translates to “Vineyard of the Night.” The region is based in southern Catalonia, which comprises the Montsant D.O. It is known as the “diamond in the rough,” and is a very isolated area. Varietals for their Clos De Nit Tinto is 40% Garnacha, 25% Carinena (new to me), 20% Merlot, 10% Tempranillo and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and for their Clos de Nit Crianza is 40% Garnacha, 40% Carinena and 20% Syrah.

The color is a vivid garnet and maroon, and its aromas are all dark fruits. Unlike some of the wines on this list, both of the Clos De Nit reds we tried had nuances of oak and plenty of fruit — think deep rich cherries (YUM!). The Crianza is a little earthier than the Tinto but both are full bodied and those who love their big bold reds will want a case of these gems, which pairs well with all kinds of tapas, red meats, barbecue (and BBQ season has already started in California), rice, pastas and creamy cheeses.

New for us was this Vermouth Crianza from Bodegas Oliveros, a winery that has been around since 1940. They produce from 30 different botanicals which are then blended unfiltered with a Crianza sweet wine and aged a minimum of two years in oak casks. The result? This beautiful fine Vermouth – oh so delicious! This sweeter wine is great on its own or you can chill it on the rocks. (see below on the far right)

In an estate in Vilafranca del Penedes, you’ll find MAS fi Brut Rose Cava, which is 100% Trepat and Mas Fi Brut Cava, which is 40% Xarel.lo, 35% Macabeo and 25% Parallada.

The Rose Cava is a lovely sparkling wine for summer, especially with dishes like a chicken salad while dining outside on a sunny afternoon. Its nose is full of violets and wild berries and on the tongue, strawberries and black currants. The Brut Cava has white flowers and citrus on the nose with stone fruits and all things creaminess in the mouth.

 Ready to try some Spanish wines, Vermouth and Brut? We had plenty of scrumptious moments and look forward to exploring more. Two thumbs up!!

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