wineanorak wine tasting number two


Full notes on the 11 high-end Spanish wines that were shown at the second wineanorak tasting in May. Overall, it was an impressive line-up of wines in a variety of styles, and we had an enjoyable evening. As long as Spanish city dwellers (and the important export markets) have enough disposable income to create demand for expensive wines, the future looks very bright for Spanish wine. Thanks to Nerval and Nick Alabaster for helping to source some of these bottles: they’re not all that easy to get hold of.

Torres Fransola 1999, Penedes
This is a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, half of which is barrel fermented. Quite a deep colour. On the nose the herby, grassy fruit combines well with the oak, although the overall effect is a tiny bit clumsy. The palate is concentrated, rich and full flavoured with a slightly caramelly edge. Interesting, but might have been better a year ago, and I much prefer the 2000. Very good+

Xavier Clua Coma ‘Vindemia’ 1998 DO Terra Alta
This is an ambitious blend of 20% Chardonnay, 80% Garnacha Blanca, fermented in new French oak. Deep golden colour, this has a remarkable savoury nose: tight, spicy and caramelly with lifted acidity and a part-oxidised sherry-like edge. The tight palate is very savoury with good acidity keeping things fresh. An interesting food wine that works well in an unusual, old-fashioned style. Very good/excellent

Alvaro Palacio ‘Les Terrasses’ 1998, Priorat
Lifted, liquoricey nose with ripe herby redcurrant fruit. The palate ripe, rich herby fruit with an almost lush edge to it. Dry spicy tannins on the finish. A very attractive modern wine that still reflects its origins, at least in part. Very good/excellent

Rotllan Torra ‘Amadis’ 1997, Priorat
This winery was founded in 1984 by Jordi Rotllan Torra, and ‘Amadis’ is made from 100 year old vines producing a measly 10 hl/ha. It’s extreme stuff. The nose shows very forward smoky, rubbery ripe berry fruit with a complex roasted edge. The palate shows good acidity and a savoury, roasted, toasty character. Savoury, spicy and minerally. Very rich; odd but nice. Very good/excellent

Alíon 1997, Ribera del Duero
Wonderful complex nose with meaty, rich spicy berry fruit and a smoky lift. The palate is rich, tannic and spicy with a delicious leathery/herby character. This is a wonderfully expressive wine drinking very well now. Excellent

Hacienda Monasterio 1998, Ribera del Duero
A blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Savignon, made by Peter Sisseck. On the nose an appealing herbal, animal character underpins the ripe fruit: quite rich. The palate is broad and spicy, with more animal character and some sweet fruit. Quite Rhôney. Very good/excellent

Pesquera Reserva 1996, Ribera del Duero
The smoky, roasted mineralic nose displays brooding berry fruit: we are drinking this before its time. Dense, ripe, almost meaty palate with a savoury edge and drying tannins. Dry and spicy, this is a lovely savoury wine. Very good/excellent

Abadia Retuerta 1996, Sardon de Duero
Very open sweet herbal nose with a leathery, liquoricey edge. Good density of herb-tinged fruit on the palate with an attractive spiciness and a rather modern sheen. It’s drinking very well now. Very good/excellent

Finca Valpiedra 1996 Rioja
This single-vineyard Rioja from Martinez Bujanda is very appealing in a rather Southern Rhône style. The lovely complex nose is slightly meaty, with a spicy, leathery character. Midweight palate is herby and earthy with black fruits and a savoury caramel-tinged edge. Good acidity. Very good/excellent

Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Reserva 1996, Rioja
Sweet caramelly edge to the nose. Palate is medium-bodied with a cinnamon spice tinge. Quite rounded and spicy but with good acidity and balance. Very traditional style, and may age into an archetypal traditional Rioja. Very good+

Concavins Clos Montblanc Masia Las Comes Premium 1999 Conca de Barbera
An ambitious Cabernet/Merlot blend. Quite an elegant nose of spicy, mineralic blackcurrant fruit. Savoury, chalky, mineralic palate. Brilliant balance here: a very Bordeaux style, with a leafy edge. Very good/excellent

wines tasted May 2002

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