Amanda Barnes embraces the opportunity to electronically engage with exciting wines from España at the annual Wines of Spain tasting.
I know some people are over the virtual tastings, and others are not getting back into in-person tastings yet. I’m personally keen on both, and — most of all — keen to visit the vineyards while I can. But while I’m in the UK, chained to my desk prepping for MW exams, I’m very happy to have a halfway house of virtual and physical tastings.
There was an impressive 450+ trade attendees at the physical event in London, and 47 wineries presenting close to 900 wines. I wasn’t able to attend Spain’s annual tasting in person due to another work event, but I was delighted to be able to order some fascinating wines to try from the comfort of my office, according to my own schedule.
Ordering my sample pack of wines online, a couple of cardboard boxes arrived with the samples inside. There were no brochures or bulky tasting notes – there was simply an invitation to use the QR codes on each bottle. Hurrah! The QR code on each wine gave you everything you needed in terms of tech sheets, producer information and provided a handy image of the bottle. No need to overload the recycling bin this month.
I tasted some real gems from all over Spain. There was a great diversity of producers, regions and varieties to pick from. Here are some of the highlights for me:
Vinas del Cambrico, Villanueva Rufete
I’ve actually been on the hunt to try a Rufete from Sierra de Salamanca, and this turned out to be the perfect opportunity! Grippy, fresh and notes of chocolate mint and black cherries. I had my own virtual tour of the vineyard and the very old vines planted on terraces on the winery’s website. You can check it out here, with these quite interesting pruning instructions — http://www.cambrico.com/vi%C3%B1edo/
Txakoli Zudugarat, Antxiola Rosado
I’ve never had nor was I particular familiar with the idea of pink Txakoli, but this was a really nice surprise. Slightly effervescent, with notes of dried rose petals and a sea-salt freshness. I secretly wished that this was bigger than the sample. It’s definitely a wine I’ll hunt down as a low alcohol (11.5%) fresh coastal pour. Delicious!
Cellar del Roure, Safra
I’m always keen on tasting varieties I’ve never tried before, and this wine had a bunch – Mandó being the main variety, which is almost extinct. I’m so glad this wine from the impressive Cellar del Roure winery – a pioneer of top quality in Valencia – is on the books at Alliance, as it’s full of life and so enjoyable. Aged in earthenware jars, it isn’t only celebrating these old native vines but pretty artisanal techniques too.
Bodegas Viñátigo, Listán Blanco
This flinty, smoky and very volcanic Listán Blanco from the Canary Islands, with a bone dry finish and racy acidity was right up my street. Many winemakers in Jerez have told me before that Palomino, a synonym for Listán Blanco, is a true expresser of terroir (I’m sure they are on the defensive after every WSET student is taught to call it ‘neutral’ in exam scenarios). And this wine from Tenerife really showed the excitement Listán Blanco can bring.
Nivarius, Edición Limitada Palacios Vinos de Finca
This 2017 white Rioja was another great surprise. It showed the character of some of the cooler climates of Rioja, and the 30% of high-acid Maturana Blanca in the blend, with great tanginess and precision. Some bottle age really started to show off the potential to cellar this wine, and it was broad with complex layers of almonds, baked apple, pineapple cake and white blossom. A delicious textural white Rioja.
I think this tasting has put Spain on the top of my bucket list when my exams are done. Hasta pronto España!