Yesterday I had the pleasure to visit the Guía Peñín Event in NYC. Over 44 wineries were present at City Winery, some familiar to me and some new (that were actually looking for importers or distribution).
I was really excited to be attending this event, at the beginning of my career I was exposed to many of the fantastic wine producers from Spain and I’m proud to say that either by visiting some of the top Spanish appellations or by attending different seminars, I had the opportunity to taste some of their best wines… but yesterday was something else, not only I was able to taste some of the classics, I was surprised to find at least for me, some new and fantastic things.
It’s hard for me not to be bias here, of course in favor of Spain. Over the years, Spanish winemakers have not ceased to surprise me, not only there’s great quality/ratio in most of their brands, there is also an ongoing desire to make better and better wine, capable of competing with the very best of the world.
Of course in a world that favors Cabernet and Chardonnay, sometimes it gets super hard to sell something else, especially if one needs to educate consumers about grapes that only grow in Spain, as my friends at Wines from Spain NY know. But my dear winos, now more than ever, expand your horizons and think outside the box! and most importantly do not shy away from Spanish brands or grapes, since there is much delight to be found here!
I plan to recommend many of the brands that I tasted yesterday in future posts, especially recent releases of Rioja and Ribera del Duero Reservas and Gran Reservas. I tasted 59 wines in 2 hours (yep I counted them), so I have plenty of material to write about.
As always, I began my journey by tasting whites, Albariño and Verdejo, D.O. Rías Baixas and D.O. Rueda respectively, are the two iconic whites from Spain. Many of you will remember that for whites and rosés I always recommend to buy the latest vintage available, both of these grapes have so much fruit aromatics that is always best to consume these as fast as possible..Boy was I in for a surprise!, all of a sudden I found an Albariño from 2010… I couldn’t believe my eyes… this was a special Albariño indeed! Fillaboa 1898 2010, That have been aged for 6 years in their lees. All of sudden I asked myself where am I? In Rías Baixas or in Champagne? the wine was truly unbelievable and completely different from the Albariños I have known from the past.
After tasting some of the whites, I continued with the reds, they were some producers from Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro, and of course I wanted to taste all of them… Tempranillo in all of its expressions.... Could I ask for anything else? Rioja, has been always a favorite of mine from the beginning, but Ribera del Duero is something else! my favorite Ribera from last night was Portia Prima “La Encina” 2016, 100% Tempranillo with 15 months in new French oak.
From Rioja I have to mention one wine: Viñedos de Paganos El Puntido 2015, a single vineyard 100 % Tempranillo aged for 28 months in new French oak.
There was a classic/ traditional Rioja winery at the tasting that I’m sure most of you have heard of, this brand has been in the market forever: Bodegas Faustino, was I ready for treat? Bodegas Faustino poured three different vintages of Faustino I Gran Reservas: 2009 which is the current vintage of this wine ($40 a bottle) and also 1996 and 1986 (if you can find these, they will cost you about $170 each, these are soon to be re-released in August 2019). To me, it was like a mini vertical tasting that allowed everybody to see how Tempranillo can age through time…. I’m out of words to describe the enticing aromas and flavors of the last two wines. I was very impressed with the 1996 sample, it smelled of super ripe black fruits and then in your palate all these incredible layers of reductive aging flavors: leather, ink, farmyard... a complexity that blew my mind, I just had to come back for a second sip. All Faustino I Gran Reservas are a typical Rioja blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo that are aged for 26 months in a blend of French and American oak and 3 years in a bottle, to that we need to add in the case of the 1996 vintage, 23 years of cellar aging. Wow wow wow!
After a while of tasting reds, I got palate fatigue and needed something fresh to cleanse my palate and went to the table of Pere Ventura Cava, to get some sparkling wine. Honestly I drink and buy cavas a lot, they are an inexpensive source of sparkling wines, especially for big events or for your Sunday mimosa, but if you make me choose between Cava and Champagne, my heart will always go to France…Until yesterday when I tasted the Cava Pere Ventura Vintage Gran Reserva 2014, a blend of 60 % Xarel-lo and 40% Chardonnay, aged for 43 months in its lees, with wonderful flavors of brioche and orange marmalade, creamy, full bodied and super elegant. I have read about these boutique cavas a few months ago in the Wine Spectator and indeed I agree with the Press, I guess Cava is no longer a $10-15 inexpensive sparkler anymore.
Towards the end of the night, I had to taste some sweet wines… first I dropped by Jorge Ordoñez’ table where I tasted one of his Málaga wines. I have read about them in the past and I knew they have received great scores. There were three shown but only 1 in stock… someone said to me ” lady, you are 3 hours too late” boy... how could I have known they were going to run out of the stickies earlier on… Anyhow, the one I tasted was the Jorge Ordoñez & Co #3 Viñas Viejas 2014, 100 % Muscat of Alexandria grapes that are dried in a cool room at the winery, followed by aging in French oak barrels for 35 months on its lees. The results is a dessert wine with enticing aromas of quince, dried apricots, honey… to die for!
Finally, I saved for last to taste an unique wine from 1972 and this was the Bodegas Francisco Gómez Quo Vadis Fondillón, made entirely of 30 years old Monastrell vines and aged in a solera system. It tasted and looked similar to a dry Oloroso Sherry, but no alcohol is added here, instead it is obtained from overripe grapes. The SRP of this wine if you can afford it, is $400 per bottle. What a way to end this wonderful night!