Spain’s Great Match, now in its 21st year, is a tasting event organized by the Trade Commission of Spain, in which American importers and distributors of Spanish wines present their top products, new wines and their latest vintages to the American wine industry professionals and consumers…and offers a great education for wine 101ers!
Lecture: Verdejo meets Tempranillo
Rueda and Ribera del Duero with Steve Olson, Wine & Spirits Educator
Before the walk around tasting mentioned above began, some attendees such as myself signed up for an educational lecture on two regions with nothing in common other than that they are both in Spain: Rueda and Ribera del Duero.
Steve Olson, our very entertaining and informative teacher, got started by explaining that the Rueda wine area produces white wines while Ribera del Duero is known for its reds. In this class the two would meet.
The Spanish, in Olson’s opinion, make wines to make people happy. Wine critic Robert Parker says that Spain is producing the cutting edge wines of today. The Spanish are very thirsty people, according to Olson, and with 80% of their land under vine, in the past they had kept most of the good stuff for themselves. But now Spain has realized that the U.S. is an important consumer, and there are much more imports available.
As we viewed slides of the two areas, Olson explained that Spain enjoys “an incredible food and bounty…plenty of produce in Spain.” As the “fourth most mountainous country in Europe” most vines have been planted 20,000 feet above sea level. The terrain allows for acidity, ripeness, minerality and freshness in the wines. And while the soil is calcareous in Ribera, it is more clay based in Rueda.
A wine from Rueda only has to have 50% Verdejo to be called a Verdejo; and it must be 85% if making Superior Verdejo – the remaining percentage is usually filled with Sauvignon Blanc. The wines we were about to taste in the class are all l00% Verdejo. Now Sauvignon Blanc is only used in the less expensive Spanish wines according to Olson. And the top Verdejos are more aromatic, with notes of fennel, licorice, and some have a nutty quality.
While there are about 60 wineries in Rueda there are 270 wineries in Ribera.
All of the wines we were to taste in the class were hand picked and hand sorted. Though to keep grapes fresh, and to harvest at night, they are slowly going for more machinery.
In Ribera the days are warm, and at night it cools off. The cool ocean breezes are from the Atlantic as Ribera is not on the eastern side of Spain. The wineries produce low yields, have a longer hang time and are usually under 14% alcohol. Ribera is one-fourth the size of Rioja.
As we readied ourselves to begin the tasting Olson said, “If you’re in Ribera and you want a white wine most likely you will be given a Rueda.” So to Olson, the seminar was a perfect paring:
WHITES (Aroma and taste are separated by ; and prices for all are suggested retail)
Martinsancho Verdejo 2013, Bodega Angel Rodriguez Vidal, DO Rueda
100% superior, dry farmed. $20
Lemon, pear, grapefruit, slight creamy hints; same notes with a nice acidity to round it off. Very well done. My favorite of the whites.
Robert Vedel Cepas Viejas Verdejo 2012, Herrero Bodega, DO Rueda
Orange, sweet honey dew melon, pink lemonade, honey, caramel apple; Not as crisp as the first wine we tasted, the fruit is not as strong on the palate, dry, want food, maybe Manchego cheese, interesting. $24
Cuvee Especial 2012, Bodegas Jose Pariente, DO Rueda
Single vineyard, up in the hillside. $35
Sweet and tart, mown grass, lime, mineral notes; lemon, drying, green, want with shellfish.
Naiades Verdejo 2011, Bodegas Naia, DO Rueda
Some oak aging time, 2800 feet above sea level, head pruned. $34
Sweet and creamy, oak, moss, milky; slightly bitter, oak, lemon, acid.
2013 Protos Verdejo
Pink lemonade, creamed corn, buttered popcorn, lemon wedge, pears in light syrup; lemonade, grapefruit juice, light, acidic, short finish, pleasant, would enjoy with a crisp wedge salad with a rich creamy dressing.
2013 Finca Montepedroso
Carmel apple, lime, kiwi, white peach, stony; mango, crisp Granny Smith apple, tingly, not too acidic, nice length. Would be nice with a grilled tuna steak in mango salsa.
Pesquera Reserva 2009, Alejando Fernando Tinto Pesquera, DO
No drainage, gravel, Tinto Fino 100%, estate grown, aged in American oak for 24 months and then one year in bottle before release. $50
Smoky and juicy blackberry, blueberry, wet bark, milk chocolate, incredibly lush; cigar, chewy, jammy, good dark fruit, nice smoky lingering finish. Very good.
PSI 2012, Bodega Dominio de Pingus, DO Ribera del Duero
A bit of a tough vintage. Concrete aging, 100% Tinto Fino, all organically farmed, above 2400 feet sea level. $40
Pungent, tinny, raspberry, figs; palate similar with the addition of drying tannins. Would like to have roasted meat or a nice charcuterie plate with olives and hard cheeses.
Astrales 2011, DO Ribera del Duero
Clay soil, old vines, 29 hectares, 20 months in mostly new French oak, then American oak, natural ferment native yeasts. $70
Sliced Italian plums, blackberry, black pepper, dark chocolate; dry, dirt, dried dark berries, nice, want pizza topped with black olives and artichoke hearts.
Aalto 2011, DO Ribera del Duero $50
Lovely balance of dark fruit and spice, ending with a hint of mint; happy to have the same expert balance on the palate, dry finish cries out for just one more sip. This might be my favorite of the reds though the Reserva is excellent, just totally different.
Following the class was the walk around tasting of Spanish wine and fare – beyond Rueda and Ribera. Unfortunately, I had been slightly injured in an accident with an employee (he was pointing to someone without looking and jabbed me in the throat) that is, at press time, still sore. Anyway, I did make it to some of the tables (Sabor olives, Cheese from Spain, Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry, Finca Hispana, El Seque Alicante, Vina Albina, Tapas from The Bazaar, Trus Crianza, Las Rocas…) but not nearly as many that deserved coverage, which I’m confident my fellow press allowed. However, I did take a few photos of the tasting if you care to check them out via this Facebook album link: https://www.facebook.com/eve.bushman/media_set?set=a.10204245974576960.1073741887.1455706632&type=1&pnref=story
- W01 – Agustí Torelló Mata
- W02 – Bodegas Franco Españolas Rioja Bordón
- W03 – Bodegas Muriel/García Figuero/Vallformosa
- W04 – Bodegas Ontañón
- W05 – Bodegas Riojanas
- W06 – Bodegas Solar de Urbezo
- W07 – Campo Viejo / Ysios
- W08 – Castillo de Monséran
- W09 – CIV (USA)
- W10 – Clos Pons
- W11 – Codorníu Raventos Bodegas y Viñedos
- W12 – Finca Hispana
- W13 – Folio Fine Wine
- W14 – Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd./El Coto de Rioja
- W15 – Freixenet USA
- W16 – Jorge Ordóñez Selections
- W17 – Marqués de Riscal
- W18 – Martín Codax / Las Rocas
- W19 – Matarromera
- W20 – Osborne/Montecillo
- W21 – The Artisan Collection
- W22 – The Haciendas Company
- W23 – Torgar Group
- W24 – Torres
- W25 – Wines From Spain, Inc
- C01 – Campo Viejo
- C02 – Codorníu Raventos Bodegas y Viñedos
- C03 – Freixenet USA
- C04 – J. García Carrión
- C05 – Marques de Gelida
Tapas Courtesy The Bazaar® by José Andrés,
SLS Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Beverly Hills
LUNCH MENU Chef’s Selection of Spanish Cheeses & Embutidos / Jamón / Pa’amb Tomaquet / Beef Flank Steak / Papas Canarias / Croquetas de Pollo.
DINNER MENU Gazpacho Chilled Tomatoe / Spanish Tuna and Local Radish / Jicama Wrapped Guacamole / Croquetas de Pollo / Modern Olive Station / Chef’s Selection of Spanish Cheeses & Embutidos / Jamón / Pa’amb Tomaquet
CARVING STATION Beef Flank Steak / Papas Canarias, PAELLA STATION Chicken & Mushroom Paella / Vegetable Paella and SWEET LITTLE SURPRISES THE PATISSERIE
Wines from Spain
Wines from Spain is a promotional division of the Trade Commission of Spain based in New York. For 30 years, Wines from Spain has been committed to increasing the awareness of Spanish wines throughout the United States through education, informational materials, special events and promotions. For further information on specific wine regions and producers, please contact: Wines from Spain, Trade Commission of Spain, 405 Lexington Avenue, 44th Floor, New York, NY 10174-0331 or visit www.WinesfromSpainUSA.com.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com