Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Guía Peñín: Your ultimate source to learn about Spanish Wines

With 9,400 Spanish wine reviews from over 2,000 wineries, Guía Peñín is the most comprehensive guide about Spanish wines. 

I still remember when I first had a copy of this guide in my hands, it was about 20 years ago, I was working for Wines from Spain then, and José’s guide was only published in Spanish and on hard copy. In order to get it, we depended on our Spanish colleagues to bring one from Madrid. Back then, we used this coveted book daily, mostly whenever we wanted to learn about the different Spanish appellations and terroir, to find information about all the wineries, and to check the name of wines and reviews.

The man behind it, José (Pepe) Peñín has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to taste and review Spanish wines, distilled spirits and vermouth, promoting Spanish wines and wine tourism like nobody did before.

Fast forward to 2022 and now this wonderful guide is published and available in 4 different languages, Spanish, German, English and Chinese and his work (over 80,000 wine reviews) is available online on his digital platform @ guiapenin.wine.

For the 2022 edition, José and his team of 4 tasted and reviewed about 10,000 wines. 55% of those were red, 29%  white, 7% sparkling, 6%  rosé and 3% fortified wines. 

José's scoring system divides them in three groups: 

Podium wines for those that received 95-100pts 

Excellent wines from those that received 90-94 pts 

and Very Good wines for those that received 85-89 points.

Last week, during the official launch of Guía Peñín in NY, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar presented by José himself featuring 7 Podium wines that have received between 95-96 pts.

The fine selection included the following:

  • Pere Ventura Gran Vintage Paraje Calificado, Can Bas 2015,  D.O. Cava, 95 pts.

This delicious Cava features 50% Macabeo and 50% Xarel.lo grapes. Paraje Calificado is the equivalent to a Burgundy Grand Cru within the Cava appellation. Completely vinified, using the method Champenoise, with second fermentation inside the bottle, this Cava was also aged on its lees for 42 months. The result is an outstanding, complex and elegant bubbly.

A flight of 4 delicious Tempranillo wines, from the 3 top appellations in Spain: Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro:

  • Lalomba Finca Valhonta 2018, D.O.C Rioja, 96 pts

An expressive Rioja made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown in chalky clay terraces at 650 m. This single vineyard wine was aged for 14 months in oak and 8 months in vat, which delivers a wine full of ripe fruit: black cherry and plum, with delicious spicy notes.

  • Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada 2016, V.T. Castilla y León,95 pts

A single vineyard 100% Tempranillo, grown at 800 m on gravel soils. This wine was aged for 16 months in new French oak and was one of my favorites of the whole tasting. A fine example of Tempranillo featuring blackberry, cassis and leather notes. Refined and seductive with beautiful soft tannins.

  • Pradorey Elite 2018, D.O. Ribera del Duero, 95 pts

The flagship of this winery and another distinguished single vineyard red, was made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, grown on calcareous soils at 850 m of height. It was also aged for 14 months in new French oak. This  luscious and impressive Ribera del Duero red showcases blackberry, tobacco and licorice notes.

  • Vatan 2018, D.O. Toro, 95 pts

A super Tempranillo wine, made from 100% Tinta de Toro grapes, also from a single vineyard “Finca Los Quemados” featuring sandy soils. This was the biggest of all 4 reds served, and a super powerbomb! Massive in body and texture, it features black currant, licorice and figs with a touch of minerality. Toro usually produces the biggest and beefest Tempranillos from all of Spain.

The last two wines were sweet styles that blew my mind!

  • Vino Dulce de Invierno 2019, Javier Sanz Viticultor, Vino de Mesa, 95 pts

A delicious dessert wine  that is made in tiny quantities. It is made from 80% Verdejo  and 20% Gorda de Moldavia grapes. The sweetness comes from late harvest grapes, grapes that were air dried using the appassimento technique and frozen grapes (in the winery) to emulate the technique used to make ice wines. It has only 10% alcohol, showing a very fragrant nose full of quince, orange marmalade and marzipan aromas and a very unctuous body. Reminiscent of Sauternes or Hungarian Tokay. Unfortunately, this exquisite elixir is not yet sold in the US.

  • Jorge Ordoñez & Co, #2  Victoria Moscatel,D.O. Málaga, 95 pts

A fantastic Muscat of Alexandria wine that is elegant and refined. It was aged on its lees for 8 months. It features a perfumed grapey nose that features candied orange, lychee and honeysuckle notes. Superb!

So, if this summer you plan to learn more about Spanish wines or a wine tour through Spain, buy this wonderful guide! It will surely help you learn more about Spanish grapes, wine styles and its varied terroir.  Salud! or Cheers! Silvina.

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