Tasting #240 April 26, 2022 Castilla y La Mancha Wines

Tasting #240  April 26, 2022  12:30 pm
Castilla y La Mancha Wines

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA



Clara Estrada and Jorge García  

Mussels in white wine sauce
Risotto with sausage
Gnocchi in tomato sauce
Beef tenderloin in brown peppercorn sauce
Coffee and dessert


  1. Reto Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020

  2. F. Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020

  3. Ternario 10. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2017

  4. Ternario 1. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2019
    wines price upon request

-Club del Vino members assessment of wines will post as soon as available


Marcello Averbug; Ruth Connoly; Clara Estrada, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago. Guests: Erico Silva and Mick Marzella  – confirmed up to April 25, 2022.

I.       Objective

  • Get acquainted with the region’s wines and compare wines made from the Albillo, Bobal, and Alicante Bouschet also known as Garnacha Tintorera grape varieties. Two wines come from the same producer for two different years, and their prices are substantially different.
  • Compare the wines in a semi-blind tasting: the wines are known but not in which order they are poured.

II.     Castilla – La Mancha

A.      The Region’s place in Spain

  • Spain may be in a warmer latitude than France, but about 90% of its vineyards lie at altitudes higher than any major French wine region, most of Castilla and León and Castilla-La Mancha. The altitude helps to keep enough acidity to maintain wines relatively fresh.
  • The Castilla and La Mancha region is located in the Meseta Central, also known as the Central Plateau in Spain (see map 1).
  • The region produces about half of the wine produced in Spain and in the past it produced huge amounts of red and white wine (vino tinto y blanco) of low quality, many of them sold in plastic containers in general stores and supermarkets.
  • The region’s DO (Denominación de Origen) classified vineyards alone cover more ground than all of Australia’s vineyards put together. The town of Valdepeñas gave its name to a large part of this production, but this has been changing as there are many wine producing areas in the Region .

Source: Wine Scholar Guild

  • The wine landscape started changing since the late 1990s, switching production from white to red varieties.
  • An important change came in 1995 when the law officially allowed Spanish growers to irrigate, which has increased yields dramatically. The widespread use of irrigation has encouraged higher density of vine plantings. The rise in yields has allowed regions like La Mancha to machine harvesting; installing wires to train the vines has also helped. With machine harvesting, more harvests are done at night, when temperatures are lower.  (Vine training systems utilize the practice of trellising and pruning in order to dictate and control a grape vine’s canopy which influence the potential yield as well as the quality of the grapes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/ting )
  • By 2005 more than two thirds of production was red wine, much made from Cencibel, a local variety of Tempranillo.
  • The most innovative vineyard has been the Marqués de Griñón’s near Toledo, which with his Dominio de Valdepusa engineered the first DO Pago. He imported grape varities (including Syrah and Petit Verdot) and new ways of growing and watering vines. Some other bodegas produce good wines from old Garnacha and local Albillo vines.
  • Now the region has about 12 top wine bodegas (wineries).
  • The prices range from US$10 to more than US$100 for the best quality wines, which are sold under the Vino de Pago Designation, a relatively new category.

B.       Vino de Pago

  • The Vino de Pago (VP) designation is the highest category of wines, which are produced in a single vineyard area. However, people must be careful when searching for the word pago since some producers use it on their labels without belonging to the category. Ironically, many of these VP producers are located in regions not typically associated with top-quality wine, such as Castilla-La Mancha, Navarra and Utiel-Requena.

  • This designation cannot be confused with the promotional winery association Grandes Pagos de España, some of whose members, such as Dominio de Valdepusa in Toledo and Arinzano in Navarra, are also members of the VP designation.
  • As of 2022 there were 19 Vino de Pago estates in Spain, and they have about 70 denominación de origen
  • Total area planted is about 1,200 has of which Castilla-La Mancha plants 629 has in 11 bodegas. The area in VP is minuscule compared with the 1.2 million has planted in the country. The Rioja region does not participate in the Vinos de Pago scheme.

III.    Bodegas, wines selected, grapes

A.      Bodegas

  • Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, Villanueva de la Jara, Cuenca, Spain

Taken from http://www.wine.com website

Manchuela, a lesser-known Spanish wine region that is inland from Valencia, is where the Bobal varietal thrives. Known for its thick skins and rusticity, controlling the Bobal’s vigor is what makes for a well-balanced and interesting wine. While there are very few defenders of this region and even fewer winemakers that are dedicated to this varietal, Juan Antonio Ponce stands proud as a master and interpreter of the Bobal grape.Juan Antonio Ponce began his winery in 2005, at the age of 23. He works biodynamically in the vineyard, and in the winery, he takes a natural approach, using low levels of sulfur dioxide. His philosophy is to make natural wines with wild yeast fermentation, to respect the local varietal Bobal and to express its terroir.Juan Antonio Ponce worked as the right-hand man to Telmo Rodriguez at Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodrigues for 5 years. During this time, he was in charge of winemaking, vineyard management, and other tasks. His father, who owned some land in Manchuela, decided to start this project with him.

  • Bodegas Venta la Vega-MGWines Group, DO Almansa Wines, Spain

Taken from the company’s website

The Bodegas Venta la Vega is part of several bodegas owned by the MGWines Group. MG stands for Familia Miñano Gómez. MGWines owns five bodegas, one of which is Venta La Vega. The promoter of this idea was Luis Miñano San Valero, an entrepreneur from the province of Alicante. The group consists of wineries with a Mediterranean nature and the bodegas pertain to different Designations of Origin: Alicante, Bullas, Bierzo and Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla. The company promotes autochthonous varieties from the different regions. The main red varieties grown in the vineyards are Monastrell, Syrah, Merlot, Garnacha Tintorera, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo, and the white varieties are Moscatel and Macabeo.Bodegas Venta la Vega is located at the foothills of the legendary mountains of Almansa known as El Mugrón and are the largest single planting of the Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) variety in Europe. The estate where Bodegas Venta la Vega is located includes more than 850 hectares of ecological farmland in the mountainous limestone area of Almansa. Altitudes of 1200 meters encourage the creation of distinct, natural micro-climates that enable the land to be farmed using ecological techniques that do not involve any chemical treatments or additives on the 250 hectares of vineyards. The location has abundant water and excellent soil, with a natural micro-climate that guarantees suitable conditions for ecological production of the singular wines that became part of the MGWines Group as Bodegas Venta la Vega Territorio Ecológico in 2017. The addition of DOP Almansa to the Group’s unique collection of DOs (Regional Designation of Origin) is aligned with its commitment to outstanding wines, native varieties, sustainable projects and respect for the environment.The name of their wines comes from the ternario system, which is represented by only three numbers: 0, 1 and 2. The sequence of numbers in this system is 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 100, 101, 102, etcetera. Each of the bodega’s wines has been assigned an initial number in the system, resulting in Ternario 1, Ternario 2 and Ternario 10. Garnacha Tintorera is the main protagonist of Venta la Vega Territorio Ecológico, with “Ternario” being its greatest expression. These are all organic wines, based on the essence of that native variety. The project is a personal one from Raúl Pérez, the renowned oenologist from the Bierzo region. The oenologist of Bodegas Venta la Vega is José Ángel Martínez.

B.       The Wines

  • All wines have good reviews from wine critics; ratings range from 90 to 95 points. One wine is not rated for that year, but for the 2017 and 2019 vintages the ratings vary from 89 to 94.
  • Alcohol content: 13 % (2 wines), 13.5 % (2 wines) from labels in the bottles.
  • Aging in oak: Ternario 10, 10 months French oak barrels; Ternario 1, 8 months in concrete tanks and six months in French oak barrels; the others do not report.


  • Reto Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020, Manchuela region (White)

Winemaker notes. Reto has a lovely expression of lemon, pineapple, and lychee, with hints of passion fruit in the background. Lively, fruity, and elegant attack, with notes of tropical fruits, perfectly balanced by citrus and a lovely acidity in the finish.


  • P.F. Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020, Manchuela Region

Winemaker notes: Deep ruby color with violet hues and impressive aromas of cherry, sour cherry, raspberry, plum, vanilla, pepper, tea, lavender, licorice, and bitter chocolate. On the palate, it has a medium body, medium tannins, and refreshing acidity. Juicy red and black fruits are mixed with notes of sweet spices, violet, cocoa, and dried herbs.

Source: https://www.wine.com/product/bodegas-ponce-pf-bobal-2020/808190


  • Ternario 10. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2017 Almansa region, the Eastern most wine region in Castilla.

Winemaker notes. Intense and fruity on the nose, well integrated wood gives prominence to the variety. Over time, balsamic and mineral notes develop. Elegant mouthfeel with a long, persistent finish. This wine represents the maximum expression of the wines of Venta La Vega.100% organic, Garnacha Tintorera with vines of 40 + years of age.Robert Parker. The 2017 Ternario 10 is also Garnacha Tintorera from a specific plot within the same vineyard that produces the Ternario 2. It fermented with 100% full clusters in 5,000-liter oak vats for one month and matured in 400- and 500-liter oak barrels for 11 months. This is clearly a riper year than 2018 and 2019, and the wine shows it, but without excess. It has aromas of black olives, Mediterranean herbs and ripe black fruit, juicy and tasty. 10,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2019.


  • Ternario 1. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2019, Almansa region (Albacete)

Winemaker notes. Cherry red color with violet reflections. Intense aromas of fresh red fruit and flowers, graphite minerality and sweet baking spices.
100% organic, dry farmed Garnacha Tintorera from 25-year-old vines.Robert Parker. The 2019 Ternario 1 is pure Garnacha Tintorera from the only trellised vineyard they have, planted ungrafted 25 years ago at 800 meters in altitude. The wine has 12.8% alcohol and good freshness. It fermented with some full clusters and matured in 20,000-liter oak vats and concrete for seven months. This is a little more austere than the Calizo, spicy and less forward, nuanced and with complexity but without the immediate fruit of the Calizo. There is more concentration here and more structure; the tannins are chalky and the texture serious, and the finish is long and dry. It looks like 2019 is going to be a pleasant and approachable year. 20,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in late June 2020.


C.      Grapes

  • Albillo. Name of several different pale–skinned grape varieties grown in various parts of Spain: Albillo Mayor in Ribera del Duero and other parts of Castilla y León and Albillo Real in Castilla–La Mancha and around Madrid. Both types produce wines that are aromatic, full bodied and generally have low acidity(Robinson, 2006, p. 10). There are five grape varieties with ‘Albillo’ as part of their name; the other three are Albillo de Albacete, Albillo Krimiski and Albillo Real de Granada. The grape has mostly neutral flavors with a light perfume aroma. It has a high glycerol index which confers smoothness to the wines. It is sometimes added to the red wines of the Ribera del Duero for added aromatics. The first written mention of Albillo is from the 15th century in Agricultura General by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera. In 1751 the Albillo variety represented 36% of all vines planted in the Toro region.


  • Bobal. This important dark-skinned grape variety produces deep-colored red wines and even grape concentrate in different parts of Spain (e.g., Valencia, Utiel–Requena, Yecla, Bullas) mainly but not exclusively for bulk wine production. Its reputation has been improving over the years as some producers in high-altitude vineyards have managed to produce velvety wines from it. Vicente García, owner of Pago de Tharsys vineyards, says that “The answer to success with Bobal lies in the old vines”(sommjournal.com). Around 61,500 has were planted in 2015, making it the second most common red grape variety planted in Spain. It is native of the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia, and its presence was documented in the 15th century. The wine is low in alcohol, generous in tannins and full of antioxidants. derived from it retains its acidity better than Monastrell and is notably lower in alcohol. (Robinson 2006, p. 84).


  • Alicante Bouschet or Garnacha Tintorera. Often known simply as Alicante, it is the most widely planted of France’s red-fleshed teinturier grape varieties and it is one of the few teinturier varities that belong to the Vitis vinifera Henri Bouschet bred it between 1865 and 1885 from his father’s crossing of Petit Bouschet with the popular Grenache, then also known as Alicante. It was an immediate success. Its high yields and easy maintenance made it popular among French wine growers, especially in the years following the Phylloxera epidemic. Its thick skin makes it resistant to rot during the transportation process, a characteristic especially useful during Prohibition in California for export to the East Coast. Its deep reed flesh produces wines that are 15 times as red as that of the productive and rapidly spreading Aramon and twice the darkness of the Grand Noir de la Calmette. Its deep color makes it useful for blending with light red wine. It is also high yielding and on fertile soils it can easily produce more than 200hl/ha (12 ton/acre) of wine with 12 percent of alcohol if little character (Robinson 2006, p. 13).










Johnson Hugh and Jancis Robinson (2013). The World Atlas of Wine 7th edition Completely Revised and Updated (London, Mitchell Beazley, 2013)

Puckette Madeline and Justin Hammack (2018). Magnum Edition Wine Folly The Master Guide (New York, Avery-Penguin Random House, 2018)

Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine, Third Edition (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006)

Web  Sites










This presentation benefited from the format Ricardo Santiago used in his presentation of March 29, 2022.


Laughing matter:


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Tasting #239  March 29, 2022 Wines from  Castilla y Leon – Ribera del Duero vs Toro 

Tasting #239  March 29,  2022 Wines from  Castilla y Leon – Ribera del Duero vs Toro 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Wines presented by Ricardo Santiago

Presentation in pdf format with all details or scroll down


Participants present and wines evaluation by Club member will post after the tasting.



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How Long Does an Open Bottle of Wine Last?

Here’s how to know if that opened wine is past its prime.

Article suggested by Juan L. Colaiacovo

glass of wine with dinner is a wonderful thing, but if you only indulge in a glass or two, you’re bound to have a good part of the bottle leftover. While leftovers can be wonderful, wine does have an extremely limited shelf life. According to Mary Catherine Edmondson, Wine Director at Lutie’s and Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, Texas, there’s a good reason.

“Once opened and exposed to the air, wine begins to oxidize, just like fruit would,” she says. “Picture an apple that’s been cut open and left behind on the kitchen counter. It loses its vibrancy, its color, and its jazz.”

She explains that in technical terms this means acetaldehyde is converting to acetic acid, which essentially turns the wine into vinegar. The good news, however, is that this process takes a while and you’ll definitely notice when it’s happened. So does this mean you should get rid of your wine if you don’t finish the bottle the next day? Thankfully, the answer is no. This is what you need to know about how long an open bottle of wine will actually last.

How Long Does Wine Last After Opening?

According to Edmondson, there isn’t a hard and fast rule about how long an open bottle of wine will last.

“Several factors affect this, including how full the bottle is (remember more oxygen = faster aging), how old the wine was before you opened it (wines with considerable age are already more delicate), and how much sulfur is in the wine,” she shares. “Natural wines, ones with no sulfur, typically go bad much faster. Sulfur is a stabilizer and preserves freshness once the wine is open.”

When you take all of these factors into consideration, Edmondson says it’s best to consume open wine within 24 to 48 hours. She adds that the same rule applies to both red and white wine.

How Can You Make an Open Bottle Last as Long as Possible?

Since the quality of wine deteriorates when it interacts with the air, the best way to preserve your wine is simply to put the cork or a reusable stopper back in to keep as much oxygen out as possible.

How Do You Know When Your Wine Has Gone Bad?

Let your senses guide you if you’re not sure if your wine has been opened too long.

“Once the wine hits peak aroma and taste, it will slowly start to decline,” Edmondson explains. “The nose may become muted first and then the taste less intense. The delicate florals and fruit seem to fade first so the wine may start to taste more alcoholic, more tannic, or more bitter.”

Eventually, the wine will actually begin to turn bad. If your wine has gone sour or no longer tastes enjoyable, it’s technically still safe to drink. However, as Edmondson puts it, life is short, so don’t drink anything that tastes bad. We couldn’t agree more.


This is supposed to be funny…


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Tasting #238 February 22, 2022 Wines from ‘Triángulo del Jerez en Andalucía’

Tasting #238 February 22, 2022, 12:30 PM    Wines from ‘Triángulo del Jerez en Andalucía’

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA







Tasting Overview

This tasting aims to explore the sherry wines (Jerez) in its many varieties and styles produced in the Jerez Triangle, an area at the extreme south of Spain in the province of Cádiz, Andalucía, where the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María are at the vertices of the triangle. Under the official name of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, it is the first Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) to be officially recognized as such in 1933, sharing the same governing council as D.O. Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Sherry or jerez is a fortified wine made from white grapes, primarily from the Palomino grape, and produced in a variety of styles, ranging from light versions similar to white table wines, such as Manzanilla and Fino, to darker and heavier versions that have been allowed to oxidize as they age in barrel, such as Amontillado and Oloroso. Sweet dessert wines are made from Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes and are sometimes blended with Palomino-based sherries.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenters: Claudia and Agilson Perazza



  1. Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana
  2. NV Gonzalez Byass – Tio Pepe Fino Muy Seco Sherry
  3. NV Emilio Lustau – Jerez Escuadrilla Rare Amontillado Sherry
  4. NV Barbadillo – Jerez Cuco Oloroso Seco Sherry
  5. NV Emilio Lustau – Solera Reserva Pedro Ximénez San Emilio Sherry


1.      Calamari Salad

2.      Mussels in White Sauce

3.      Risotto with Wild Mushrooms

4.      Pork Stew

5.      Bitter Chocolate, Vanilla Ice Cream


Participants: M. Averbug; J. Brakarz; J. Claro; R. Connolly; A. Perazza; C. Perazza; J. Redwood; L. Redwood; J. Sanchez; R. Zavaleta; G. Smart; G. Zincke; G. Vega; P. Kornbluh; E. Silva.


Technical Note

Information from several Internet sources, as Wikipedia, Sherry Notes, Wine Folly, Wine Searcher, producers’ websites, and others.

The Sherry Region

Protection of Sherry. In Europe, “Sherry” has protected designation of origin status, and under Spanish law, all wine labelled as “Sherry” must legally come from the Sherry Triangle. This area is the wine ageing area of the “Marco del Jerez”.  All the grapes must come from a wider production area, which includes Trebujena, Chiclana, Puerto Real, Rota, Chipiona and Lebrija.

Spanish producers have registered the three names Jerez / Xérès /Sherry and so may prosecute producers of similar fortified wines from other places using any of the same names. The 1933, Spanish Estatuto del Vino (Wine Law) established the boundaries of sherry production as the one of the first Spanish wine denominación, and the Jerez Consejo Regulador was the first constituted according the same estatuto. Today, sherry’s official status is further recognized by wider EU legislation.

In addition, another agro-food product also exists within the Jerez region, one which in the year 1994 achieved the status of a Denomination of Origin: “Vinagre de Jerez” (Sherry Vinegar).

Sherry is regarded by some wine writers as “underappreciated” and a “neglected wine treasure”[1].

Viticulture: the area’s landscape consists primarily of white limestone hills, known as albariza, characterized by the extreme, dazzling whiteness it takes on during the dry months. This soft loam of chalk and clay comes to the surface on the tops of the hills, thus giving rise to the characteristic Sherry vineyard landscapes. It is rich in calcium carbonate (up to 40%), clay and silica from shells present in the sea that once covered the region in the Oligocene period. From a wine-growing point of view the most important characteristic is the high moisture-retaining power rendered by the soil’s structure, which stores each winter’s rainfall in order to nourish the vines during the dry warmer months. Then, the soil’s upper layers bake hard and turn white under the summer heat, helping prevent the evapotranspiration produced by the high levels of sunlight.

The finest albariza soil, with the highest proportion of limestone and elements of silica, produces the most select and sought-after sherry wines in the Marco de Jerez.

The prevailing climate of the Jerez region is warm due to its low-lying latitude, it being one of the most southerly winegrowing regions in Europe. Summers are dry and marked by high temperatures, prompting equally high levels of evapotranspiration, though the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean has an important role to play in maintaining levels of humidity and moderating temperatures, something that is more evident at night. Rainfall levels are high, on average 600 mm/year, usually falling in autumn and winter. With certain exceptions, this amount of water is sufficient for the correct evolution of the vines, supplemented by the all-important nocturnal humidity provided by the nearby Atlantic Ocean. During the vines growing season – spring and summer – the region is influenced by two prevailing winds known as the Poniente (from the west) and the Levante (from the south-east). The former is cool and humid (humidity can reach 95%), while the latter is hot and dry (with humidity around 30%).

The wine growers of the region have traditionally divided the production zone into smaller areas known as “pagos“, which refer to small areas of vineyards defined by topographical features and possessing homogeneous soils and mesoclimate. Famous pagos include Carrascal, Marcharnudo, Añina, Bilbaina. Up to 70 different pagos are identified within the Sherry region.


A bit of history

The word sherry is an anglicization of Xérès (Jerez). Sherry was previously known as sack, from the Spanish saca, meaning “extraction” from the solera.

Jerez has been a center of viniculture since winemaking was introduced to Spain by the Phoenicians in 1100 BCE. Xera was the name given by the Phoenicians to the Jerez region. This nation of traders produced wines that were exported throughout the Mediterranean Basin, so from the start, Sherry has been identified as a wine which “travels”. The practice was carried on by the Romans when they took control of Iberia around 200 BC. The Moors conquered the region in 711 AD and introduced distillation, which led to the development of brandy and fortified wine.

During the Moorish period, the town was called Sherish (a transliteration of the Arabic), from which both Sherry and Jerez are derived. Wines similar in style to Sherry have traditionally been made in the city of Shiraz in mid-southern Iran, but it is thought unlikely that the name derives from there. Wine production continued through five centuries of Muslim rule. In 966, Al-Hakam II, the second Caliph of Córdoba, ordered the destruction of the vineyards, but the inhabitants of Jerez appealed on the grounds that the vineyards also produced raisins to feed the empire’s soldiers, and the Caliph spared two-thirds of the vineyards.

In 1264, Alfonso X of Castile took the city. From this time on, the production of sherry and its export throughout Europe increased significantly, and, by the end of the 16th century, sherry had a reputation in Europe as the world’s finest wine.

Christopher Columbus brought sherry on his voyage to the New World and when Ferdinand Magellan prepared to sail around the world in 1519, he spent more on sherry than on weapons.

Sherry became very popular in Great Britain, especially after Francis Drake sacked Cádiz in 1587. At that time, Cádiz was one of the most important Spanish seaports, and Spain was preparing an armada there to invade England. Among the spoils Drake brought back after destroying the fleet were 2,900 barrels of sherry that had been waiting to be loaded aboard Spanish ships. This helped popularize Sherry in the British Islands.

Because sherry was a major wine export to the United Kingdom, many English companies and styles developed. Many of the Jerez bodegas were founded by British families.


Sherry Grape Varieties

Palomino Fino is an indigenous grape variety that is the principal variety, used for Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado and Palo Cortado wines. The must (mosto) tends to oxidate rapidly. Even in Sherry where oxidative aging occurs, the grapes are pressed very quickly after harvest.

A white wine from this grape variety is typically low in acidity and sugar. Usually, before fermentation of the base wine, sulfur is added to the must, and it is acidified. Traditionally, an addition of yeso (plaster) was combined with cream of Tartar to produce tartaric acid, and aid clarification. Nowadays the latter is more likely to be achieved via racking and tartaric acid is added directly.

 Pedro Ximénez (PX) grape is used in the principal sweet style of Sherry, dark, sticky, and syrupy. Pedro Ximénez varietal is predominantly grown in Montilla-Morilles, where the grape accounts for some 70% of total vineyard plantings. Plantings of PX within the Sherry zone have declined greatly, so the Consejo Regulador allows producers to import grapes from the nearby Montilla-Moriles DO. Almost all PX aged in the Sherry Triangle originates from Montilla-Morilles DOP, as the climate is better suited to the grape.

In 1894, the Jerez region was devastated by the phylloxera. The only possible solution was to plant American varieties of rootstock with phylloxera-resistant roots and then graft onto them the vines traditionally grown in the area. Therefore, the plant from that period onwards is always made up of a subterranean section (American rootstock) and an above-ground section, or vine stock, which produces the fruit. Whereas larger vineyards were replanted with resistant vines, most smaller producers were unable to fight the infestation and abandoned their vineyards entirely.


Vinification: how Sherry is made

  1. Types of aging

Ageing is without a doubt the decisive stage in the Sherry production process: the most prolonged, in terms of its duration. It is the stage that imparts the organoleptic properties which give rise to a surprisingly wide range of different types of Sherry wines, with a distinctive palette of colors, that can be produced with the same white grape varieties.

Amongst other things, this great diversity depends on the degree to which the wines are exposed to oxygen during the ageing process. The region uses two different types of ageing processes: Biological under veil of flor, and Oxidative.

After fermentation is complete, the base wines are fortified with grape spirit in order to increase their final alcohol content. Wines classified as suitable for aging as Manzanilla, Fino and Amontillado are fortified until they reach a total alcohol content of 15-15.5% abv and placed in oak barrels or butts which are not filled completely.

As they age the wines develop a film or veil of flor (velo de flor) — specific indigenous ambient yeast growth that helps protect it from excessive oxidation (biological aging process). This is a completely natural phenomenon that originates in the white albariza soils that dominate the vineyards in Jerez and develops successfully thanks to the special conditions of temperature and humidity inside the cellars.

Those wines that are classified to undergo aging as Oloroso are fortified to reach an alcohol content of at least 17% abv. They do not develop flor and so oxidize slightly as they age (oxidative or physicochemical aging process), giving them a darker color.

Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later (in case of Cream or medium Sherry). In contrast, Port wine is fortified halfway through its fermentation, which stops the process, and so not all the sugar is turned into alcohol.

  1. Criaderas y soleras

The wines produced in the Jerez region are created using an ancient maturing method which has been passed down over the generations, known as “criaderas y soleras“. This dynamic ageing system is the only viable method with which to successfully carry out the biological ageing of Sherry wines.

In this system, wines from different stages of the ageing process are blended together to perpetuate specific characteristics in the wine that is finally sold on the market.

The essential feature of this unique process is that the wine to be bottled is taken from the butts (barrels) situated at floor level – the solera – which contain the oldest wines.  The amount taken out is substituted by an equivalent amount of younger wine from the row above – the first criadera – and this, in turn, is substituted by the same amount from the row just above – the second criadera – which contains an even younger wine, and so on. This work must be performed with great skill and care so to homogenize the butts’ content without disturbing the vail of flor. Maintaining the veil of flor for years requires essential micronutrients which are provided by adding small quantities of “younger” wines, in a successive “refreshing” process. The result is exceptional wines which maintain the same quality, year after year.

This dynamic method allows the wines produced to undergo an exceptionally lengthy ageing process. In fact, they are amongst the oldest wines in the world, and can be matured for more than 20 or 30 years. The ageing process for any type of Sherry must be at least two years, although most varieties are aged for much longer. Because the wine is aged and blended this way before bottling, bottles of sherry will not usually carry a specific vintage year and can contain a small proportion of very old wine.


These complex processes of ageing and maturing sherry wines require very precise environmental conditions that are not always available, given the region’s climate. So, the bodegas in the region had to adapt their architectural design to mitigate the negative factors of the climate’s strong oscillations in temperature, and changes in humidity levels according to the dominant winds and take advantage of the more positive aspects.

The buildings’ NE-SE orientation is strategic, which allows the gentle southerly and westerly Ponente winds blowing in from the Atlantic to circulate easily, while blocking the harmful dry Levante winds, and minimizing the effects of the strongest sunshine on its walls. The Ponente breezes laden with the moisture are needed for the development of flor. The bodegas are unusually tall buildings, sometimes as tall as 15m at their central arch. The enormous volume of air inside, and the well-managed ventilation make it possible to maintain the temperature.


Types of Sherry wines

Sherries come in three main categories: dry (generoso), naturally sweet (dulces naturales) and blended sweet (generosos de licor).

Dry sherry wines or vinos generosos, are defined by the Regulations of the Consejo Regulador as dry wines (with a maximum residual sugar quantity of 5 grams/L) produced from the total fermentation of must (mosto), usually produced from Palomino grapes, at the end of which process a film of “flor” appears upon the surface of the base wine. The decision of the bodeguero to fortify the alcoholic strength of base wine, to either 15% or 17% volume, determines the type of ageing which the wine will later undergo (biological or oxidative).

The main types of generosos are:

Biological aging process

Fino (‘fine’ in Spanish) is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry. The wine is made of 100% palomino Fino grapes and aged in American oak butts under the veil of flor yeast and a using the traditional solera y criaderas system in the bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa María.

Tasting notes: Ranging from bright straw yellow to pale gold in color. A sharp, delicate bouquet slightly reminiscent of almonds with a hint of fresh dough and wild herbs. Light, dry, and delicate on the palate leaving a pleasant, fresh aftertaste of almonds. Should be served very chilled, between 6-8o C, use ice bucket with both ice and water.

Manzanilla is an especially light variety of Fino Sherry produced exclusively in the bodegas around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is made from Palomino grapes and aged under a velo de flor. The special climatic conditions of the town, situated at the mouth of the river Guadalquivar, favor the formation of a special kind of veil of flor, which gives the wine its uniquely distinctive characteristics.

Tasting notes: very bright, pale straw-colored wine. A sharp, delicate bouquet with predominant floral aromas reminiscent of chamomile, almonds, and dough. Dry, fresh, and delicate on the palate, light and smooth in spite of a dry finish. Light acidity produces a pleasant sensation of freshness and a lingering, slightly bitter aftertaste. Serve very chilled, between 6-8oC, use ice bucket with both ice and water.

There are special types of Manzanilla sherry, such as Manzanilla Pasada, Amontillada y Olorosa, depending on its aging period and fading of the flor.

Dual aging process

Amontillado It is named after the Montilla region of Spain, where the style originated in the 18th century. It is a unique variety of Sherry for its dual aging process: it is first aged under flor (biological phase) and then exposed to oxygen (oxidative phase) as the veil of flor disappears, producing a sherry that is naturally dry, darker than a Fino, but lighter than an Oloroso. This fusion of aging processes makes the Amontillado extraordinarily complex and interesting sherry.

Tasting notes: This is an elegant wine which ranges from pale topaz to amber in color. Its subtle, delicate bouquet has an ethereal base smoothed by aromas of hazelnut and plants, reminiscent of aromatic herbs and dark tobacco. Light and smooth in the mouth with well-balanced acidity; both complex and evocative, giving way to a dry finish and lingering aftertaste with a hint of nuts and wood.

There is a wide range of Amontillados resulting from the different stages that occur between the two ageing phases that the wine is made from. Therefore, some Amontillados have a paler color with very sharp notes and faint memories of yeast, from being aged longer with the flor, while in others, the notes of oxidative aging—spices and wood—predominate. Serve between 12o-14oC; can stored for months after opened.

Palo Cortado is a variety of sherry that is initially aged like an Amontillado, typically for 3 or 4 years, but which subsequently develops a character closer to an Oloroso. This either happens by accident when the flor dies, or more commonly, the yeast is killed by fortification or filtration.

Oxidative aging process

Oloroso (‘scented’ in Spanish) is made with palomino grapes and aged oxidatively by adding alcohol to 17% to prevent development of the veil of flor, producing a darker and richer wine that are both structured and complex. Olorosos are the most alcoholic sherries as a result of the long aging process, with alcohol levels between 18 and 20%. Like Amontillado, naturally dry, they are often also sold in sweetened versions called Cream sherry (first made in the 1860s by blending different sherries, usually including Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez).

Tasting notes. Ranging from rich amber to deep mahogany in color, the darker the wine the longer it has been aged. Warm, rounded aromas which are both complex and powerful. Predominantly nutty bouquet (walnuts), with toasted, vegetable, and balsamic notes reminiscent of noble wood, golden tobacco, and autumn leaves. There are noticeable spicy, animal tones suggestive of truffles and leather.

Full flavored and structured in the mouth. Powerful, well-rounded, and full bodied. Smooth on the palate due to its glycerin content. It lingers in the mouth, with complex retronasal aromas of noble wood creating an elegant dry finish. Serve between 12 -14oC. Its composition allows it to be stored for months after being opened.

Sweet Sherry wines

Naturally sweet sherry wines (dulces naturales) are produced from over-ripe or sunned grapes, generally of the Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel varieties. The must, rich in sugars as a consequence of the sunning process of “pasificación” (literally raisinification) is only partially fermented, with the aim of conserving most of its original sweetness. Wine alcohol is added once fermentation is under way, and the wines are then aged in direct contact with the oxygen in the surrounding atmosphere.  The resulting wines is intensely sweet with a deep mahogany or dark brown color, and distinctive thickness. Two types of naturally sweet wines are produced according to the variety of grape used: Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez.

Pedro Ximénez is obtained from the overly ripe grapes of the same name, which are dried in the sun to obtain a must with an exceptionally high concentration of sugar. Its ageing process, which is exclusively oxidative, gives the wine a progressive aromatic concentration and greater complexity, while fully preserving the characteristic freshness of the variety. Pedro Ximénez is probably the sweetest wine in the world. Yet, its complexity of aroma and flavor make it fresh and harmonious on the palate as a result of the natural process of “asoleo” or drying the grapes in the sun. This concentrates the sugars, but also the natural acidity of the grapes.

Generoso liqueur wines (generosos de licor) are wines obtained from the traditional practice of “cabeceo” or blending of Generoso Wines with Naturally Sweet Wines. These wines may have different degrees of sweetness, but always with a sugar content of over 5 g/L. According to the type of dry wines used as a base and the final levels of sweetness of the blend, the following types of Generoso Liqueur wines are obtained: Pale Cream, Medium and Cream.

In addition, there are special categories of Sherry wines, according to a range of ageing criteria:

Sherries with an Indication of Age (12 and 15 yrs), are those sherries which, though never attaining the age of the V.O.S. and V.O.R.S., are subjected to prolonged ageing periods and also achieve the highest levels of quality. These are sherries with an average age of between 12 and 15 years and therefore have been submitted, either totally or partially, to an oxidative ageing process.

Sherries of Certified Age are of exceptional quality subjected to a strict selection process supervised by the Consejo Regulador, that results in very limited number of bottles at any release, and that have been aged for a long time. Because of their age, they must belong to one of the following types: Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado or Pedro Ximénez, that undergoes oxidative process. These certified sherries are either 20 years of age (V.O.S. –Vinum Optimum Signatum) or 30 yrs. (V.O.R.S. – Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum).


The wines of our tasting

 1.        JEREZ FINO

NV Gonzalez Bypass Tío Pepe Fino Jerez Muy Seco, 15.% alchool, 2018

This is It is 100% Palomino Fino grapes, biologically aged for at least 4 years in American oak barrels, following the traditional criaderas and solera system.

It has a pale golden color, similar to topaz, clean and bright. With sharp and delicate aromas, very elegant, with a powerful bouquet with almond notes and notes of fresh bread dough, distinctive touches of “la flor”. Reminiscences of almonds return on the palate, leaving a pleasant sensation of freshness. It is completely dry, with a long and complex aftertaste.

Reviews and awards: 93 pts. Guía Peñin 2021; 2020[2].

 The winery

Bodegas Tio Pepe (González Bypass). In the first half of the 19th century Jerez became the wine capital of the world. In 1835 Manuel Maria Gonzalez Angel invested his savings and started a small winery. In just 20 years González Byass became the biggest exporter of the wine cellars of Jerez. He built his first large wineries – Constancia, Apostles and the Square, as well as La Concha, designed by Eiffel and Lepanto. When he died in 1887, he left not only a booming business, but unique monuments in Jerez located at the heart of Jerez de la Frontera historic center. In addition to the traditional dry and sweet sherries, the winery offers exclusive soleras, historic great wines, as well as Sherry brandies, vermouths, and vinegars


NV Hidalgo Manzanilla «La Gitana»

 It is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes that are carefully cultivated in highly prized white albariza soils, (+80% Calcium carbonate) to obtain very fine high-quality musts. The grapes come from the “El Cuadrado” estate located in the historic Balbaina Alta estate. It is considered one of the pagos with the greatest Atlantic influence of all of Jerez Superior.

The must has perfect characteristics for producing Manzanilla and is responsible in large part of its peculiar salinity. The wines enter their soleras of Bodega San Luis, located in the lower area of Sanlúcar where the exposure to the river is direct. After 3 years the wine is moved to the main Bodega San Fermin for another 2-3 years. Because the San Luis is the closest bodega to the river/Atlantic, the flor is thicker than in any other winery in the area which makes its Manzanilla the finest of its kind.

Tasting notes. With an average of six years under flor, it has a deep golden color and an intense nose followed by a sharp palate, chiseled by the effect of the yeasts. They do two bottlings per year, one in spring and another one in autumn. In spring the wines tend to be more aromatic, open, and showy. It has the chalky minerality from the albariza soils. Dry, fresh, crisp, and delicate, this classic Manzanilla is ideal as an aperitif or with a variety of light dishes such as seafood.

Alcohol: 15%   Age: 5-6 yrs.

Reviews and awards: Wine spectator 92 pts.

The winery

Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

Founded in 1792, Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana remains an independent family company, being today one of the few wine companies in the framework, managed by the family and directed by the eighth generation in direct line of the founder. With vineyards in Balbaina and Miraflores, their Bodegas are just 300 meters from the sea for maturing their wine. Their flagship product is Manzanilla La Gitana – The Gypsy. They also sell a wider range of sherries based on specific quality criteria and as a result have been rewarded with a variety of national and international awards and medals.

Don José Pantaleón Hidalgo founded Bodega Hidalgo in 1792, when he bought a small stocking bodega from Don Roque Vejarano, and, during the 19th century the company would grow to become one of the most important producers of Manzanilla in the world. The name alludes to its star product, “Manzanilla LA GITANA”. Endorsed by several relevant international awards, it is the most popular Manzanilla, both in the national and international markets. The Winery uses the grapes from its own vineyards, located in the pagos of Balbaina and Miraflores, considered to be the best in the area.



NV Emilio Lustau Escuadrilla Rare Amontillado

Aged following a biological ageing the first part of its life, then passing on to a longer period under oxidative ageing, inside the Bodega Emperatriz Eugenia in Jerez de la Frontera. This Amontillado is a tribute to friendship in the Air Force wing (“Escuadrilla” in Spanish) of which Emilio Lustau was a member.

Bright amber color with golden hints. This complex Amontillado shows intense smoky wood, and nutty aromas, resulting from years of ageing in the bodegas of Jerez. Dry and elegant on the palate, with a long spicy aftertaste.

100% Palomino Fino      18.5% apv.    Age. ~12 yrs.


  • Decanter WWA 96 pts. 2021
  • Guía Peñin 91 pts, 2021
  • Wine Enthusiast 90 pts. 2017
  • WS 92 pts. 2014



NV Emilio Lustau Solera Reserva Pedro Ximénez San Emilio

Pedro Ximénez grapes are laid out in the sun after picking until they are practically raisins. After that the fermentation starts slowly and it is halted to maintain all the natural sugars. The resulting wine ages in for 12 years in contact with the air in Jerez de la Frontera.

Ebony in color with iodine highlights. The aromas are reminiscent of figs, raisins, and dates. Extremely sweet, velvety, and soft on the palate, well balanced, with a very long finish.

100% Pedro Ximénez       Alcohol 17% apv      Age: ~12 yrs,


  • Guía Peñin 95 pts. 2020
  • WE 93 pts, 2009
  • Decanter WWA. 97 pts, 2021


  • International Challenge:
  • Gold Wine winner, 2017 and 2020.
  • Trophy winner Pedro Ximénez, 2021


The Winery

Bodegas Lustau (Emilio Lustau)

The complex of bodegas Los Arcos is where the majority of the Lustau wines are aged. With a cathedral style and situated in the center of Jerez de la Frontera, it dates back to the 19th century and is a good example of the winery architecture of the region. Lustau boasts aged wines produced each of the cities that form the Sherry Triangle (Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María y Sanlúcar de Barrameda). The four bodegas together enable wholesalers to offer more than 30 types of Sherry wines to the market, as well as vermouths, brandies, and vinegars. The principal brands include two of the wines for this tasting: Amontillado Escuadrilla; and Pedro Ximenez San Emilio.



NV Barbadillo Jerez Cuco Oloroso Seco

Mahogany in color, its aroma reminds of noble woods in which it was aged and boasts evident nutty notes. Unctuous and dry on the palate.

Color: iodine, amber edge. Aroma: powerful, nuts, creamy oak, varnish, raisined fruit. Mouth: fatty, long, spicy, tasty (Guía Peñín, 2021).

Old wines that have undergone an oxidative ageing process, such as our Oloroso Cuco, can remain in perfect organoleptic conditions for many years once bottled, even if the bottle has been opened.

100% Palomino Fino       19.5% apv        Age: ~12 yrs.

Reviews and awards:

  • 91 pts – Peñín Guide 2021
  • 91 pts – Proensa Guide 2019
  • 92 pts – Peñín Guide 2019


The Winery

Bodegas Barbadillo

Since 1821, the year in which the cousins Benigno Barbadillo and Manuel López moved to Sanlúcar and began to produce Manzanilla. Since then, the company has been passed down from generation to generation of the Barbadillo family, and continued to evolve their range, looking for wines that will surprise and leave an impression. Barbadillo comprises 16 ageing bodegas in Sanlúcar, a red and white winemaking plant, and 500 ha of vineyards, making it one of the largest wineries in the Marco de Jerez area.








[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/reviews/09wine.html?smid=url-share


[2] La Guia Peñín is Spain’s most famous and comprehensive wine guide. It is compiled by José Peñin, whose impressive knowledge of international and Spanish wines has been gathered over more than 25 years as a professional wine writer and journalist.

Table with Tasting Summary # 238 – Participants assessment

2022 02 22 Tasting Summary 238


Laughing matter

This one is going to be hard to find:


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Tasting No 237 – February 1st, 2022 – Wines from Galicia, Spain

Tasting No 237 – February 1st, 2022 – Wines from Galicia, Spain

                                                   Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview

The objective of this tasting is to explore the wines from Galicia, one of the wine regions in Spain. The Galician wine region is situated in the northwest corner of Spain, bordering with the north of Portugal.

There are 5 ‘Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas’ or DOP: Monterrei, Ribeira Sacra, Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, and Valdeorras, with the most well-known being DOP Rías Baixas, famous for its white wines produced from the Albariño grape varietal. We will taste two white and two red wines from the two main DOP in Galicia: Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenters: John Brooks, with Ginger Smart and Ruth Connolly


  1. 2020 Atalier by Raul Perez Albariño,
  2. 2018 Do Ferreiro Cephas Velhas Albariño
  3. 2020 Guimaro Vino Tinto
  4. 2017 Dominio do Bibei Lalama


  1. Sautéed Calamari with a light sauce
  2. Prawns sautéed in a garlic herb oil over a small amount of pasta
  3. Roasted lamb accented with black peppercorns with roasted potatoes
  4. Dessert


Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, Gabriela Vega (invited guest)

Wines Information

The Albariños from Rias Baixas

The two whites are 100% Albariño grapes from the Rias Baixas DOP. Rias Baixas is an ancient wine region on the coast—in fact the name itself translates to estuary.  Originally, a relatively wide variety of grapes were planted in the region (a dozen). But, over time, most have been pulled up and replaced by Albariño—which now makes up over 90% of production in the DOP. Albariño is native to Galicia and its wines are crisp but often well-textured with peach, citrus and mineral characters that pair perfectly with the local seafood.


2020 Raúl Pérez Atalier ‘a cruz das ánimas’, Rías Baixas Albariño

The Wine

The Atalier is a joint endeavor between Raul Perez – the famous rock star winemaker in northwestern Spain – and his longtime friend, Rodri Méndez of Rias Baixas DOP. The wine comes from the Val do Salnés sub-region within the DOP, where Albariño has always been the principal grape. The sub-region’s sandy soils mean that vines there were resistant to the Phylloxera that ravaged most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century. The result is that there are some very old vines in Val do Salnés. In any given vintage, Atelier comes from either two or three of such vineyards (one managed by Rodri and the others managed by his friends).

The 2020 vintage comes in at 13.0% abv and offers explosive aromatics with stone fruit flavors, hints of salinity and sea breeze, plus savory notes—all on a solid acidic frame.  The 2020 was rated 94 points by Decanter—England’s leading wine publication.  The wine was procured locally at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean.

The Winery

Rodri Méndez is the proprietor of the Forjas del Solnés estate.  The name Forjas, or “Forge,” was chosen to honor his grandfather, one of the pioneers of the Albariño varietal. His venture partner, Raul Perez, takes several slightly different approaches to his winemaking with Albariño than most.  First, he picks later than perhaps any other winemakers in the region.  Most pick as soon as the sugars rise, to maximize freshness.  But because the wines have strong malic acids, the wines are put through full or partial malolactic fermentation (known colloquially as ML).  Perez approach is instead to wait to harvest when malic acid levels begin to drop.  Then, the ML is blocked during fermentation.  Some might worry that such an approach could lead to overripe grapes and high alcohol wines (because of high sugars).  Nonetheless, his Albariño wines have run 12.8 to 13.0% abv and maintain freshness (abv = alcohol by volume).

Also, most winemakers age their Albariño wines in stainless steel tanks, again to preserve freshness.  However, Perez ages his Albariño in barrel, because he believes that the wines have sufficient freshness and that the micro-oxygenation from barrel aging helps produce a rounder, more complex wine.

2018 Bodegas Gerardo Méndez, Albariño Do Ferreiro ‘Cepas Vellas’

The wine

During many vintages—perhaps most—the grapes from this very old vineyard are processed with grapes from their other old vineyards in their primary wine released as Do Ferreiro Albariño.  But in exceptional vintages, those grapes are processed and bottled separately—a very limited production known as Albariño Do Ferreiro ‘Cepas Vellas’ (Old Vines).  The wines are exceptional.

The 2018 is considered one of the greatest ‘Cepas Vellas’ vintages of ever.  It rings in at a slightly higher abv than the Atelier (13.5 v. 13.0).  Again, the nose is explosive.  On the palate, one critic said the wine feels “electric”—with amazing depth and complexity and racy acidity.  Flavors include meyer lemon, nectarine and other orchard fruits plus waves of savory and mineral notes.  The 2017 was rated 96 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.  Our wine was sourced from New York.  The regular Do Ferreiro bottling is available at MacArthur Beverages in DC, but they do not currently have Cepas Vellas).

The winery

Rodri’s grandfather used the name Do Ferreiro for his own winery, now run by his uncle Gerardo Méndez. Do Ferreiro is generally considered the world’s best Albariño producer.  While Atalier does indeed source from pre-phylloxera vineyards, which may be approaching 200 years old, Do Ferreiro owns a ~3-acre vineyard believed to be planted in ~1785— which may well be the world’s oldest vines.  Old, well cared for vines can produce intense, complex wines—though in very limited quantities (production output is small because the energy of the vines is concentrated in a tiny number of grapes).

Do Ferreiro is very much a family operation, with most of the work done by Gerardo, his daughter Encarna, and son, Manuel. The winery is co-located with their home on a lovely slope overlooking the coast.  Unlike Perez, Méndez picks in the normal window, employs partial ML and ages in stainless steel, the more mainstream approach. That aging does include extended time on the lees (or dead yeast cells) for added complexity.  Méndez counts on great grapes and clean winemaking techniques to make his wines stand out.

 The reds of Ribeira Sacra

The two reds are either 100% or 90% Mencia varietal from Ribeira Sacra DOP, which is located about 100 km inland.  The area is better known for its red wines than whites, though both are produced. The most prominent are the dry red wines, mostly using the Mencia grape native to northwest Spain. It produces a medium-weight wine with solid fruit and acidity and medium tannins—perhaps closest to pinot noir among the more familiar grapes.


2020 Guímaro Mencia Vino Tinto, Ribeira Sacra

The Wine

The 2020 Guímaro Vino Tinto is 100% Mencia from Ribeira Sacra DOC. The grapes all come from family-owned vineyards terraced into 50-to-70-degree slopes.  It has intense aromas of red and dark fruit with notes of florals, herbs and balsamic and good acidity and silky tannins.  It was aged in stainless steel to emphasize the freshness and fruit.  Alcohol is moderate at 13.5%.  It was rated 91 points.  Sourced from Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean and also available at shops in DC.

The winery

The family of the Guímaro owner Pedro Rodriguez has been farming in the hills of Ribeira Sacra for many generations—crops and livestock as well as vines.  Most of the wine production was sold off in quantity, though a small amount was bottled and sold locally.  As the estate bottling grew more prominent and needed a name, it was called Guímaro, or “Rebel”, a nickname of Pedro’s grandfather.  In the early 2000s, Pedro was introduced to Raul Perez who helped him see the potential in his old vine vineyards—particularly the Mencia. Perez mentored him on techniques both in the vineyard and in the winery to improve quality, from reducing yields in over-cropped vineyards and eliminating chemical treatments to pigeage (traditional foot-treading), fermentation with native yeasts, minimizing sulfur treatments and the use of neutral barrels.  The result has been expressive, age-worthy wines. While his winery may be an emerging star, it is still very much a family operation with Pedro doing much of the work himself.

2017 Dominio do Bibei ‘Lalama’, Ribeira Sacra

The Wine

The 2017 Dominio do Bibei Lalama is 90% Mencia with 7% Brancellao and traces of Garnacha and Mouraton.  It was aged for 12 months in oak barrels of different sizes—primarily neutral, though it tastes like there’s a bit of new.  The 2017 rings in at 14.0% abv so it may seem a tad fuller than the Guímaro.  The 2017 was an excellent vintage for Lalama—in fact Decanter magazine selected it as one of their Wines of the Year for 2021.  Aromas jump from the glass, with red and black fruit, herbs and peppery elements.  The fruits show again on the palate, with savory notes that emerge on the long finish.  Decanter scored it 94 points.

The Winery

Dominio do Bibei is a project founded high in the hills of Ribeira Sacra in 2000 by a team headed by Javier Dominguez, incorporating vines that are up to 100 years old.  Dominguez also gets expert advice from Raul Perez. In the beginning, Dominguez was also aided by Sara Perez (no relation to Raul) and René Barbier—who lead legendary wineries in Priorat.  Unlike our other three Galician wineries, which are relatively small and largely family operations, Bibei is a little larger and relatively well-funded.  The estate consists of approximately 125 acres, of which about 45 are planted to vines.

The winery, which sits at the top of the steeply sloping vineyard, is stunning in its simplicity.  It’s a five-level gravity flow facility built into the side of the hill—to minimize disruption of the magnificent vistas.  That same respect for nature and history causes Dominguez to employ traditional methods of winemaking—for example, you won’t find any stainless-steel tanks here. Dominio do Bibei produces a white, made from Godello, and a variety of reds, made primarily from Mencia with dashs of other grapes.  They are also experimenting with Albariño, using cuttings from the vines at Do Ferreiro, with small amounts of it blended into their Godello.

Technical Notes

Galicia is in the far northwestern corner of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula.  It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and north (technically the Cantabrian Sea to the north, which opens to the Atlantic), Portugal to the south and Asturias, Castile and León to the east.

Galicia’s rich history includes periods in which it was part of the Roman Empire, the Visigoth reign, the Islamic Caliphate and the Kingdoms of Asturias, León and—for a considerable period—Castile.  It has at times, been independent and, at other times, autonomous.  At the end of the Franco dictatorship, it again became an autonomous self-governing community within Spain, with its own president and parliament.

Galicia is a dual-language community, with both Spanish and Galician recognized.  Galician is a romance-based language perhaps closer to Portuguese than Spanish…suggesting at least some historical cultural alignment with the Portuguese.

During the 14th century, Galicia exported vine cuttings to other European wineries eager to try out their indigenous grapes. When the 19th century arrived, the whole Galician region sank into an economic depression, further deteriorated by the emigration of many local people to South America and other richer areas within Spain and Europe.

The climate in Galicia is significantly maritime influenced, with wet weather in the fall, winter and spring and temperatures moderated by the ocean.  Summers are generally warm and dry.  But as you move toward eastern Galicia, the climate begins to shift from maritime to continental, with bigger temperature swings and somewhat drier weather (though definitely not dry).  The coastal region is relatively flat, dominated by estuaries and beaches.  The interior is rugged, with mountains and breath-taking river valleys.

Rias Baixas DOP: like in many wine regions all over Europe, it is believed that vineyards have been first planted there by the Cistercian monks—close to 1000 years ago.  For all intents and purposes, Rias Baixas has become synonymous with Albariño. As the grape began to achieve acclaim about 50 years ago, most Albariño vines in the broader Rias Baixas DOP are ~35-50 years old.

Ampelographers have not reached consensus on the origin of the Albariño grape.  Some suggest it is indigenous to the region.  Some believe it is French in origin.  Still others suggest it might be Germanic. Indeed, looking at the name, it could be broken down into “alba” = white and “rin” = Rhine.  But whatever the roots, it produces a juicy, fresh white wine with both strong fruit flavors and solid acidity.

Rias Baixas is a maritime-dominated climate with both significant off-season rain and sea fog.  Grape production is made possible by the relatively dry, warm summers which generally last through harvest (the same phenomenon that makes places like Oregon and Bordeaux viable for wine).  Because of the moisture, the vines have traditionally been trained overhead on pergolas as opposed to the more common two- and three-wire trellis training above the ground.  Some growers continue to use pergolas today.

There are five sub-zones in the Rias Baixas DOP, but they’re relatively obscure and not particularly relevant to us. The Val do Salnés sub-zone is the ancestral home of Albariño in the region and the source of both our white wines for this event.

In contrast, the Ribeira Sacra DOP is located in a very different topography, beginning perhaps ~100 km inland.  The area is heavily forested and mountainous, with steep slopes leading down to narrow river valleys—perhaps reminiscent of the Mosel Valley in Germany (but maybe even more lovely!).

Just as the topography is different, so is the climate, trending more toward continental, with long, hot summers and relatively cold winters.  Rainfall is a little higher than most continental climates—but again, the rainfall is largely confined to winter.

The origin of wine in the region is believed to date back ~1000 years to monks traveling to the region, likely on pilgrimage.  By the 12th century, they had established around 18 monasteries and hermitages in the area – thus the name Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Shore or Riverside).

Technically, 14 varieties are authorized to be produced in Ribeira Sacra.  The primary white grape in the region is Godello, which has not reached the level of prominence of Albariño from western Galicia.

Among the red wine grapes, Mencia takes the primary role, sometimes as varietal, sometimes blended with more obscure grapes. The variety thrives in this climate, benefiting from the long ripening season and the marked temperature variability. The Mencia grape, with its somewhat thick-skinned, violet-blue grapes, for a time was thought to be descended from Cabernet Franc, but that has been disproven through modern DNA testing.  It was probably indigenous to Bierzo (northwest Castilla y Leon) and exported to Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras and to northern Portugal (where it is known as Jaen). Those are the only places in the world where it is grown in quantity.  Mencia likely emigrated across the border with the monks from the Bierzo region.  It produces a medium-weight wine with solid fruit and acidity and medium tannins—perhaps closest to Pinot Noir among the more familiar grapes.

Because of Ribeira Sacra’s extraordinarily steep slopes, the vines are virtually all planted on terraces cut into the hillsides, with most trained on standard trellis systems.

Historically, farmers aimed to maximize vineyard production, resulting in wines that were fragrant but generally pale and light.  In recent years, the renaissance—led by Perez—has reduced over-production, resulting in wines with medium weight, solid dark fruit flavors, spicy, earthy notes and good acidity.  Guímaro’s owner Pedro Rodriguez is capitalizing on that movement—combining his old vines with good winemaking.


The Presenter

John Brooks is a retired Air Force major general.  During his 29-year Air Force career, he had the honor to command seven times—at levels ranging from a flying squadron to a joint task force.  Once retired from the Air Force, he spent 12 years with Northrop Grumman Aerospace, serving as vice president for international and president of the international subsidiary.

Following retirement from Northrop, he followed his passion into wine becoming a wine educator and consultant.  He studied with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, achieving Advanced Certification—awarded with Distinction.  He also gained hands-on experience, working one harvest cycle and part of another as an intern at a winery in Napa.  He teaches classes, leads several tasting groups and plans and leads trips to wine regions.  But he only does these things with friends and people he likes—and only on subjects and regions that interest him.  In return for the privilege of doing it his way, he provides his services gratis—declining compensation.  This is a passion, not a profession, for him.





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Tasting No 236 – December 13, 2021 – Wines from Douro Valley


Tasting No 236 – December 13, 2021 – 12 pm

Wines from Douro Valley


                                              Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


#236 Tasting  Overview

The objective of this tasting is to expand the knowledge about typical wines from several sub regions along the transnational Douro Valley, which have different eco-climatic characteristics and use different local grapes: We will taste one white blend and three reds (two varietals – Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo – and a blend made with the same two varietals and others). In addition we will taste a Port Wine.

Presenters: Lúcia and John Redwood

Participants: M. Averbug, R. Connolly, C. Estrada, M. Fryer, J. Garcia, I. Mirkov, A. Perazza, C. Perazza, J. Redwood, L. Redwood, J. Requena, R. Santiago, G. Smart.


  1. Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (White), 9.5% Alcohol
  2. 2017 Quinta das Carvalhas – Touriga Nactional, 14% alcohol
  3. 2017 Meandro,  Vale Meão, 14% Alcohol
  4. 2015 Quintana de Cue, Tempranillo,  14% Alcohol
  5. Quinta das Carvalhas 10 Year Tawny Port


  • Caldo Verde (Portuguese green soup)
  • Cod Salad (Portuguese style)
  • Cheese and spinach agnolotti with tomato sauce
  • Beef Medallions with mushrooms and rosemary sauce
  • Dessert

Our Wines

  1. Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (White) – 9.5% Alcohol

From the label: Casal Garcia (literally “Garcia Couple”) was first launched in 1939 by Roberto Guedes (1899-1966), father and grandfather of the generations who presently run the winery. The Japanese postal service created a special edition of the stamp with the Casal Garcia label. The first winemaker who produced Casal Garcia was Eugene Helisse, a French winemaker who introduced innovative winemaking techniques to the Vinho Verde Region.

The winery is located in Penafiel municipality. The town with the same name is 41 km to the east Porto and has its own station on the Douro Railway line.

Grapes (Local): Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, and Azal (proportions unknown)

  • Trajadura is a golden-green grape, commonly combined with Loureiro, Alvarinho, and Arinto. It adds body and alcohol to these wines as well as crisp citrus characters with some stonefruit and apple. It is a vigorous variety that produces compact bunches of grapes (see image below), which must be picked quite early to retain their delicate acidity.

The Atlantic coast is a challenging terroir for growers, particularly in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula. The climate is cool and wet which can often result in high levels of acidity and low levels of alcohol in the grapes that grow there. Trajadura’s main attraction for growers is its fairly low acidity and high levels of alcohol, which help to provide balance to some of the region’s blended wines. 

  • Loureiro is a light-skinned variety grown mainly in the north of Portugal used mainly to make Vinho Verde. The name “Loureiro” means “laurel” and refers to the distinctive odor of the berries. Genetic studies suggest that this is an old grape variety and documentary references can be found dating back to the late 18th Loureiro wines also have aromas of orange and acacia blossom, have excellent acidity and are low in alcohol.
  • Arinto is a white grape variety grown in the hot wine regions surrounding Lisbon and on the central coast of Portugal with high acid content which covers the citrus fruit spectrum, led primarily by lemon and grapefruit.
  • Azal (Branco) is a green-skinned wine grape variety found predominantly in the Minho region in northwest Portugal, where it is the second most planted grape after Loureiro. It is a high yielding variety that produces medium-sized compact bunches of big berries. It is high in acidity and the crispness of Vinho Verde is often attributed to it.

Soils: granitic and sandy.

Present in more than 70 countries, Casal Grande is today reportedly the world’s best-selling Vinho Verde. The brand has now diversified its portfolio according to market trends and today has a range of wines, sparklings, sangrias. Its motto is “Discover Happiness, Discover Casal Garcia!”

According to James Suckling (European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator), this wine is a “very typical vinho verde with the green-wine character of tangy and energetic acidity and lots of citrus.” It has a “light-bodied, elegant style with a citrus, lemon taste. Also described as “young and refreshing” and given 90 points by Suckling in December 2020.


  1. 2017  Quinta das Carvalhas – Touriga Nactional – 14% alcohol

100%  Touriga Nacional; 12 months in oak barrels. Described as medium bodied and as: “a classic Portuguese varietal makes this wine both rustic and pronounced. Offering aromas of blackberry, coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla, the palate quickly follows with similar flavors, and the addition of fresh blueberry.”

Touriga Nacional is indigenous to Portugal and grows predominantly in the Douro region where it is used as a primary blending grape in Port wines. While the wine is lovely as a dessert wine, it has repeatedly impressed critics as a dry red wine. It is a full-bodied red wine from Portugal with aging potential like Cabernet Sauvignon. According to one description: “For those who love bold red wines, Touriga Nacional offers profound depth of flavor at an obscenely good value.”

It has also been described as: “a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal‘s finest. Despite the low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão. Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit.” It is a dark-skinned grape variety (see image below) which has firm tannins and great aging potential.

When made into a dry wine, Touriga Nacional is resilient to oak aging and takes it very well, offering up aromas of toasted marshmallow, vanilla, and nutmeg. It’s not uncommon to find Touriga Nacional blended with other grapes (like Touriga Franca and Tempranillo) which can help balance the boldness of the wine with cinnamon spice and red-fruit flavors.

Quinta das Carvalhas is considered one of the most emblematic and spectacular properties in the Douro Valley. Written references to this vineyard can be traced back to 1759. It enjoys a prominent position along 3 kilometers of the left bank of the Douro, facing the village of Pinhão in the Cima-Corgo subregion (see the map of the Douro subpregions in the document bellow), the estate covers the entire hillside facing the river and occupies part of the right bank of the tributary Torto river.

Its old vines are a post-phylloxera plantation, which are more than a century old and represent one of the richest selections of ancient indigenous Douro varieties.

The Quinta dates to the beginning of the 18th century as property of the influential Castro and Sande family from São João da Pesqueira. In the following years, Carvalhas sees an exchange of proprietorship up until 1881 when it is bought by Miguel de Sousa Guedes. As one of the most important Port Bottlers of his time, Sousa Guedes began a rescue program to replant the vineyards and reinstate the Quinta’s reputation after the phylloxera ravages devastated the estate. In 1953, Manuel da Silva Reis acquired Miguel de Sousa Guedes & Irmão Ltda., becoming the owner of Quinta das Carvalhas, one of the largest estates of the Douro and Real Companhia Velha’s most important property.

Quinta das Carvalhas is characterized by very particular edaphoclimatic conditions. Its vines are located at various altitudes, extending from the riverbank to the top of the slope. The largest vine exposure faces a northern sun exposure, but another part of the vineyard on the other side of the hill faces a southern exposure. Most of the parcels are planted in areas of steep inclination at the top of the hill.

The company’s best Ports are made from the oldest and most noble vines at the Quinta. Its potential for great wine production was highly increased in the 1990s with the traceability of all parcels. Following this process, some areas of the vineyard were intended for production of top-quality Douro wines. The vineyard stands out in the landscape for its characteristics of mountain viticulture, as it is planted in terraces, or modern micro-terraces, at 40% to 70% slopes and varying from 80 to 500 meters in altitude over a total area of 134.5 hectares, of which Touriga Nacional occupies the largest single share, 25.2 ha, or 18.7% of the total.

Soils are characterized for their medium texture, a reasonable number of fine elements (limo), low/medium fertility levels, low levels of organic matter (inferior to 1%) and acidic reaction. Despite these shortages, the soil is ideal for the culture of the vine as it cohabits well under these conditions, producing high quality grapes with great oenological potential.

  1.  2017 Meandro  Vale Meão – 14% Alcohol

According to the label, “produced and bottled at Vale Meão, a famous estate contoured by a vast meander of the Douro River from a blend composed of Touriga Nacional (45%), Touriga Franca (33%), Tinta Roriz (15%), Tinta Barroca (5%), and Alicante Bouschet (2%).

Wine Advocate — 92 points – “big flavor and expressive fruit, this also has a fresh feel, reasonable concentration, and a beautiful, long finish. It adds admirable mid-palate finesse too…It looks like a super Meandro, one of the best and a fine bargain.”  Intense, Red Fruit, Black Fruit, Full-bodied.

Wine Enthusiast – 92 points – “the second wine of the great Vale Meão estate in the Douro Superior, this is impressive in itself. A Lifted violet note permeates the rich berry fruit. It is a rich, concentrated wine that should age further.”

Wine Spectator – 90 points – “this wine shows good finesse and density to the boysenberry and ripe currant notes, detailed with savory spice, licorice, and violet accents. Red plum and mocha hints chime in on the velvety finish.”

The Grapes:

  • Touriga Nacional – see above
  • Touriga Franca (or Touriga Francesa) is an important dark-skinned grape (see image below) variety used in the production of Portand dry red wines from Portugal’s Douro wine region. Even though it is much more widely planted than Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca is the less prestigious of the two grapes. Touriga Franca is more aromatic and lighter bodied than Touriga Nacional, though lacking sufficient intensity and concentration to make it a blockbuster variety as a varietal. Occasionally, Touriga Franca is produced as a fortified Its origins are unclear and its name misleading, for Touriga Franca is not a French grape. It seems most likely that Touriga Franca is either a mutation, or a crossing of Touriga Nacional and an unknown parent, possibly Mourisco Tinto (Marufo). Either way, Touriga Franca’s plentiful yields have made it a favored and integral component of Douro wines.
  • Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo (see below), together with Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, accounts for the majority of red wine grapes grown in the Douro vineyards, as they are among the four most valued ingredients in Port wines. But the modern face of Portuguese wine is looking away from the fortified winestyle with which the nation has been so strongly associated, so these grapes are being used increasingly in dry, red table wines.
  • Tinta Barroca is one of the most common red-wine varieties in the Douro Valleyof northern Portugal. It is used most often to make Port, an application to which it is particularly well suited, as the grapes’ naturally high sugar levels (and correspondingly high potential alcohol) make them extremely useful for fortified wine production. Thanks to its generous yields, Tinta Barroca is extremely popular with growers; it is the third most widely planted variety in the Douro. It holds markedly less sway with winemakers, who prefer the quality of Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), the valley’s most and second-most widely planted varieties.
  • Alicante Bouschet is a teinturiergrape variety (see image below) widely planted in Spain, Portugal, and France. It has a long history in the wine world but lost ground in the late 20th Century in favor of more fashionable international varieties. However, it is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with modern producers making some excellent examples at attractive prices. The variety is a crossing of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, and was first cultivated by viticulturalist Henri Bouschet in 1866. Originally designed as a blending grape to improve the depth of color of such popular 19th Century grapes as Aramon, Alicante Bouschet quickly became popular, not just for its intense coloring but for its generous yields. With its high-yielding, easy-to-grow vines, Alicante Bouschet was used to help rebuild devastated European wine industries following the phylloxera In a blend, Alicante Bouschet contributes soft texture and desirable color. However, its ability to ripen and produce large crops very early in the season can come at the expense of depth and alcoholic strength.

Quinta do Vale Meão was founded in 1877 by the legendary Dona Antònia Adelaide Ferreira and is owned today by her great-great-grandson Francisco “Xito” Olazabal. Vale Meão built its reputation supplying fruit to the famed 250-year-old Port house Ferreira. In 1952, its vineyards were chosen to create a revolutionary wine, which for decades would be the Douro’s only globally recognized table wine.

Vale Meão began a new life in 1998 when Xito realized his dream of making his own wine from his family’s estate. Success came quickly, and in 2011, Portugal’s leading wine publication Revista de Vinhos named Xito Winemaker of the Year. Today Xito is recognized as a leading figure in the Douro table wine revolution, which has captured the attention of the wine world.

Located at Vila Nova de Foz Côa, the estate consists of a sizeable 62 hectares of vines, with three different soil types: slate, granite, and alluvial gravel. These different terroirs are important for the final wine: for example, the Touriga from granite tastes almost like Dão, whereas from schist it is much richer and fuller. The different varieties are planted in blocks, with overall proportions being Touriga Nacional 35%, Tinta Roriz 30%, Touriga Francesa 15%, Tinta Amarela 10%, Tinta Barroca 5% and Tinto Cão 5%.


  1. 2015  Quintana de Cue – Ribera del Duero – aged in French oak barrels for 24 months – 14% Alcohol – 100 % Tempranillo

The backbone of some of the best Spanish wines, Tempranillo is a red grape variety grown throughout Spain and Portugal. Tempranillo produces red wines with red fruit and leather aromas, high tannins, moderate to low acidity, and moderate alcohol. In 2020, Tempranillo was the third most-planted grape variety in the world, with the majority of plantings being in the Iberian peninsula.

Tempranillo is a relatively thick-skinned red grape with a high anthocyanin count that makes for deep-colored red wines with moderate tannins. While the variety is often accused of lacking its own idiosyncratic flavor profile, Tempranillo wines can produce a wide range of aromas, ranging from strawberries, blackcurrants, and cherries to prunes, chocolate, leather and tobacco depending on vineyard age and mesoclimate. Moderate to full-bodied, Tempranillo generally shows moderate tannins with moderate to low acidity.

Temperate climates (or those with good diurnal temperature shift) such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero produce long-lived, structured, often elegant wines. In warmer climates, the variety can take on a darker fruit aspect with high alcohol, high tannins, and low acidity. Oak and Tempranillo marry well together. American oak is the traditional choice of winemakers in Rioja, and Tempranillo’s flavor profile integrates well with the vanilla and coconut notes imparted by new American oak barrels. Further west in Ribera del Duero, the fashion is to use higher proportions of French and used-oak barrels to allow Tempranillo’s fruit to shine with a focus on more spiced oak flavors. However, with time, the two styles have been gradually consolidating and the consumer can now find complex wines made with an oak regime combining all these options.

Our wine, according to Total Wine – “aromas of black, ripe fruit with hints of spice offer complexity. Black fruit and ripe tannins linger on the palate with a long finish.” Also described as “red, rich, intense.”

This wine was produced by the Bodega Valdrinal located in Aldehorno in Segovia province, where it has 25 ha of vineyards and, according to the winery “a continental Mediterranean climate characterized by soft and dry summers and cold winters with a huge thermal amplitude during the seasons” and where “rainfall normally takes place at the end of autumn and during winter and spring.” It also states that “our vineyards from Aldehorno…are located in an altitude between 910 and 1050 meters, which make them among the highest vineyards of the A.O. Ribera del Duero,” noting that “this altitude gives our wines a highest acidity produced by the thermal amplitude (difference between the highest and lowest temperature) that is used to be registered. Furthermore, the cluster ripening is slower and more progressive than in lower altitudes.”

It also observes that “we have different kinds of soils. Limestone with gravel surface: it provides a good alcoholic content, low acidity, and an excellent quality to our wines. Clay soil: it has a better nutrient and water retentive capacity. It gives more structure and elegance to our wines because the grapes’ growth cycles are longer and a higher content of polyphenols during the ripening is reached.” Lastly, it affirms that “the origin of the quality of our wines lies in the care given to our vineyards during the whole year. The best grapes are selected by crop thinning (or “premature harvest”) followed by a “fine harvest.” Once this finishes, the elaboration of the wines in made in temperature-controlled vats in which we do pre-fermentation macerations for 4/6 days. The wines are then aged in French oak barrels. The barrel room has 500 barrels that are renovated every three years.

  1. Quinta das Carvalhas 10 Yr Tawny Port

Over a hundred varieties of grapes are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta BarrocaTinto Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. All Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes.

Tawny ports are wines usually made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result of this oxidation, they mellow to a golden-brown color. The exposure to oxygen imparts “nutty” flavors to the wine, which is blended to match the house style.

Wine Spectator- Porto, Douro, Portugal – “”Sports a toasty edge, with hazelnut and singed almond notes, while the core of plum cake and cinnamon holds steady through the finish…”” The winery played an integral role in the growth and history of the Port industry, helping regulate and promote trade. Also described as Medium bodied, semi-sweet with a caramel-toffee taste. “Medium in acidity with grippy, medium-plus tannin.” According to the winery, its Ports are aged in oak barrels. It also produces Ruby Ports and 20, 30, and 40 year Tawny Ports at prices around US$ 50, US$ 100, and US$ 150/bottle, respectively.

A complete presentation on the Douro Valey wine productions characteristics is available here as prepared  by John and Lúcia Redwood    2021 12 06 Douro Valley

Tasting Summary Grades of the wines of this event:

Printer friendly version of the table above:



Does the punishment fit the crime? 

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Programa de Degustaciones de 2022

Programa de Degustaciones de 2022

Criterios generales

1. El Programa de Degustaciones de 2022 se enfoca en regiones específicas de un país para enfatizar los vinos, varietales o estilos más característicos de la región seleccionada. Este proceso permitirá un mejor conocimiento de los vinos de esa región y de sus varietales, estilos y mezclas asociados.
2. Los vinos deberían estar preferentemente disponibles en el área de Washington.
3. Las regiones o DOC consideradas serían distintas a las presentadas en los programas de 2019, 2020 y 2021.
4. La calificación de los vinos debería ser de 90 o más puntos según críticos reconocidos o de un promedio de varias calificaciones.
5. El costo total de un juego de cuatro vinos a degustar debe ser de un máximo de $240 dólares.
6. Los presentadores deberán indicar la fecha de la degustación y la región seleccionada antes de noviembre de 2021.
7. Otras actividades, como las visitas a bodegas o durante las presentaciones de cata, se introducirían en el programa a medida que los miembros las propongan.
8. El Programa de degustaciones de 2022 contempla explorar vinos provenientes de un grupo de países con volumen de producción intermedio y un país con alta diversidad de regiones, varietales, estilos, una larga tradición vitivinícola y cercanía cultural con las Américas.
9. El director técnico estará disponible para ayudar a los socios en el proceso de selección de países regiones y vinos.


Este Anexo contiene la información general para ayudar los socios a escoger los países, regiones y DOC que los socios podrían considerar para la selección de sus vinos.
A. España. Un país de alta producción vinícola (3.248,000 litros/año en 2021), se ha seleccionado para profundizar y ampliar el conocimiento de sus regiones en el programa de degustaciones de 2022. Se prevé que tendríamos seis degustaciones de este país durante 2022
1. Regiones de España (en orden de volumen de producción de vino):

Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
La Rioja
Pais Vasco
Valle del Duero

2. Principales DOC de España
Actualmente, en España existe un total de 96 Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas variadas. Estas se dividen entre diferentes tipos: 67 Denominaciones de Origen (DO); 2 Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas (DOCa); 19 Vinos de Pago (VP); y 8 Vinos de Calidad (VC).


Supra autónomas 3
Andalucía 8
Aragón 5
Asturias 1
Canarias 11
Cantabria 2
Castilla la Mancha 20
Castilla y León 13
Cataluña 11
Extremadura 1
Galicia 5
Baleares 2
Madrid 1
Murcia 2
Navarra 4
País Vasco 3
C. Valenciana 7
Total 99

B. Otros países. Adicionalmente se han incluido 8 países con un nivel intermedio de producción (250.000 a 750,000 Litros en 2021) para completar las 6 degustaciones restantes del programa de 2022. Estos países son, en orden de producción anual:

Nueva Zelanda

1. Principales regiones de Portugal: Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Douro Valley, Távora-Varosa, Beira Interior, Tejo, Alentejo, Algarve, Setúbal, Madeira, Lisboa, Bairrada, Dão.
2. Principales regiones de Hungría: Sopron, Pannonhalma, Etyek-Buda, Matra, Eger, Tokaj, Nagy-Somló, Badacsony, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Balatonboglár, Villány, Szekszárd.
3. Principales regiones de Grecia: Macedonia, (Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace), Central Greece (Attica Thessaly), Southern Greece (Crete Peloponesse, Kefalonia), Aegean Islands (Samos,Santorini, Limnos) .
4. Principales regiones de Austria: Niederosterreich, (lower Austria), Burgenland, Esteiermark, Wien (Viena.)
5. Principales regiones de Rusia: Krasnodar, Dagestan, Stavropol, Rostov, (Crimea?)
6. Principales Regiones de Rumania: Crisana and Muramures, Transyvania, Moldovan Hills, Banat, Dobrogea, Danube Terraces, Oltenia, Multenia.
7. Principales regiones de Brasil: High Sierra Gaucha, Campanha, Vale dos Vinhedos, São Joaquim Plateau, Campos de Cima da Terra, San Francisco Valley.
8. Principales Regiones de Nueva Zelanda: Malborough, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Canterbury Waipara, Central Otago, Wairarapa, Aukland, Nelson.

Wikipedia.com, Winesearcher.com, Winefolly.com, Wine.com, Totalwine.com, McArthur Beverages, Calvertwoodley.com
Wine Folly, The Master Guide, Madeline Puckette
Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson Fourth Edition
Wine Bible, Karen McNeil 2nd Edition


First Draft of the 2022 Tasting Program of the Club del Vino:

Club del Vino Tasting Program Calendar for 2022 (first draft) 


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Tasting No 235 – October 26, 2021 – Wines from Australia

Tasting No 235 – October 26, 2021 – Wines from Australia


                                              Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


 Tasting Overview

 The objective of this tasting is to expand the knowledge about the wines from Australia, selecting two very different regions in terms of climate and location, which are Southern and Western Australia. This tasting is a small sample of Australia’s excellent wines, the 5th most extensive wine-producing country and wine exporter globally.


South Australia is what California is to the USA: the wine state. From this state, three different reds were selected, two shiraz, and one cabernet, all produced by Davey Family from McLaren Vale. This producer has an excellent reputation for its outstanding wines, which also have the particularity of coming from grape parcels of the same Estate. This in-house production is relatively unusual, compared to the tradition in Australia, of shipping grapes or grape juice long distances from vineyards to corporate cellars.

From Western Australia, a Chardonnay from Margaret River was selected. This wine is a classic example of a variety that has remained, year after year, Australia’s best-selling dry white, produced by one of the most experienced winemakers in this region.

At the end of this post there is a link for a deeper view of the Australian wine production history. Check it out.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenters: Cristian Santelices and Jorge Claro

The wines: 

  1. 2019 Snake + Herring Tough Love Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
  2. 2018 Davey Family Estate Grown Shiraz, McLaren Vale
  3. 2018 Davey Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale
  4. 2016 D Block, Davey Family Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale.

 The menu:

  1. Avocado with chicken salad
  2. Mushroom soup
  3. Fried eggplant with tomato sauce
  4. Lamb chop

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jorge Requeña, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, and German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources)

2019 Snake + Herring Tough Love Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

The wine. Critics have scored this wine between 89 to 93 points. Users have rated this wine 4 out of 5 stars. A graceful nose of grapefruit and orange starts off this wine and melds with salt, smoke, toast, and crushed stone. The palate slithers along with a slick textured but crackling with crunchy acidity and a long, oyster shell finish (Christina Pickard Rating 93).


The mid-palate seems sunny and varietal; the finish tends towards tart. Tales of two wines. Pear and stone fruit flavors lead to citrus and steel. It works in a juicy/refreshing way (TOTAL WINE Rating 90). 

The winery.  Margaret River is situated in the farthest reaches of Western Australia. Relatively warm and dry, the region is cooled by breezes from the Indian Ocean. Age-worthy Chardonnays are regional specialties.

Snake (Tony Davis) and Herring (Redmond Sweeney) are a pair of old friends, united by their love of great Aussie wine, and their distaste for the conventional, the over-packaged and lazy in viticultural terms. Their focus is terroir-driven, and their experience has led them to deeply understand which slices of the west coast are most capable of delivering the goods when it comes to character, flavor and aroma. The results, too, speak for themselves: Snake & Herring wines show what can become of well-known grape varietals when left alone to do their thing in different landscapes, and their bottles are rarely anything less than fantastic and fascinating in equal measures.

Described by James Halliday as …”one of the most experienced winemakers in Western Australia”, Tony “Snake” Davis has over 25 years’ wine making experience across the renowned wine regions of Oregon, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Tasmania, South Australia and of course, Western Australia. Redmond “Herring” Sweeny is an accountant by trade and a sports mad wine addict by passion. Staunchly Western Australian and proud of it. Redmond is an experienced marketing professional with years of sales and distribution under his belt. In 2011 these two chaps met, collaborated and Snake and Herring, The Wine Odyssey was created.

Their wines are an expression of the individual sites and styles, and they employ innovative wine making techniques to get the best out of the fruit. Handpicking, whole bunches, small batches, wild fermentation, raw juices, and big barrels all work to build wines with texture and complexity. Nine years on, with a swag of trophies and gold medals to their name, Snake and Herring now have a Cellar Door on Caves Road in the heart of the Margaret River Wine Region.


Snake + Herring Chardonnay 2016 | Good Pair Days

Snake & Herring Tough Love Chardon | Total Wine & More

2014 Snake and Herring ‘Tough Love’ Chardonnay, Margaret River | prices, stores, tasting notes & market data (wine-searcher.com).

The Red wines. All the red wines are from the Davey Family of wines, produced in McLaren Vale in Southern Australia


2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Shiraz

A curtain of toasty vanilla, cedar & bourbon oak at this nascent stage. The florals and dark fruit accents, anise & spice beyond, however, are dense and pure. This rich red simply needs patience, a vigorous decant or robust food. James Halliday – 94 points

Nicely balanced, earthy notes and very smooth. Sans oak. All around very easy drinking with great mouth feel. Very dark in color but drinks much lighter. Thick, deep inky purple. Great aroma overtone with nice complexity of wet earth and spearmint. Any oak contributions dwell balanced in the background. Not much palate complexity, but balanced and well-made wine. Hard to go wrong with Davey estate shiraz


2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon

This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from select parcels of Cabernet grown on both red and black soils of limestone on the Davey Estate Vineyard, matured for 15 months in a combination of new and used French oak.

The winemaking at this address is exemplary, to be sure…currant, black plum, a plume of olive to sage notes dusting gentle tannins. Yet it is the acidity that drives the length. James Halliday 92 Points.


2016 D Block, Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz

The ‘D Bock’ is a small niche of the Davey Estate Vineyard that showcases the best Shiraz and Cabernet from the property, with the wines extensively matured in French and American oak hogsheads.

This Reserve Shiraz is from the most coveted ‘D Block’ plot of the Davey Estate’s vineyards. Cherry Bonbon aromas, bristling with intent. Fireworks across molten black fruit allusions, bitter chocolate, and black olive. Unashamedly bombastic, yet it pulls it off with style, the charred oak tucking in the seams while the show goes on, long and thick.  James Halliday – 94 Points.

Vibrant, deep, purple red. Dark cherry and blackberry primary aromas, with nuances of vanilla pod, milk chocolate and roasted nut. A fine tannin structure defines and shapes the bright compote of summer berry flavors into the long finish. This estate reserve wine is a classic, vibrant, and fruit-forward McLaren Vale Shiraz from the excellent 2016 vintage.

The Davey Estate Vineyard.

As a grape variety is matched to exceptional terroir, over time certain districts or regions are vehemently recognized as benchmarks for their chosen variety or style of wine. One of the ten ‘Great Wine Capitals of the World’ alongside such renowned regions as Bordeaux and Napa Valley, McLaren Vale is best known for its powerful Shiraz and is home to some of Australia’s most iconic estates, including Molly Dooker, Clarendon Hills and d’Arenberg. Yet, McLaren Vale has seen an evolution over the last few decades as producers are taking advantage of the unique Mediterranean-like climate and cultivating other noble varieties like Grenache, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Of these, Cabernet is now the second-most planted variety behind Shiraz and with this focus we’ve seen a surge in the production of ultra-premium styles—the best versions of Cabernet being lush yet refined, with supple tannins and “overtones of savory herbs and cedar against riper fruit at the core” (Wine Spectator).

Best of all, as scores and acclaim have increased, the wines remain moderately priced and unbelievable values compared to their Cabernet-based brethren in Bordeaux and Napa. One producer, the Davey Family, has demonstrated their ability to manage both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and is now consistently crafting outstanding, highly rated estate-grown examples of each.

During the 1990s, brothers Kym and John Davy brought their combined experience in winemaking, farming and business to continue and develop their McLaren Vale estate first farmed by their grandfather in 1957. With a goal of producing quality yet affordable wines that express the true character of the region, the estate produced the first wine under its Shingleback label in 1998.

James Halliday, Australia’s leading expert wine writer and critic, calls the estate a “success story since its establishment,” and describes their wines as “rich and full-flavored,” consistently scoring their wines 90+ points. Today the property is sustainably farmed and dominated by vineyards of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that takes advantage of their proximity to the Gulf St. Vincent, which moderates climatic conditions; warm summer days combined with sea breezes allow the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.

The 2018 red wines are full bodied and deeply colored, showing intense fruit flavor with big round chewy tannins. Simply an outstanding vintage with the promise to be rated as one of the great years for McLaren Vale. Their true reserve wines, ‘D Block’ Shiraz and Cabernet, are only made in exceptional vintages and released in the United States under the Davey Family label.

Davey Family Vineyard has won “Most Successful Winery” at the McLaren Vale Wine Show five years in a row. It’s John’s attention to the small things—details like individual vines—that produces handcrafted, food-friendly wines. At first sip, you’ll find complexity, balance, and the kind of quality you would expect from much larger premium producers.


Davey Family Shiraz Estate | Total Wine & More

Davey Family Wines McLaren Vale, Australia – Total Wine Concierge

Shingleback_The_Gate_Shiraz_2018.pdf (windows.net)

Davey Family Wines | Visit A Winery (visit-winery.com)

CV Members Rating

The wine tasting ranking order ranges from Acceptable to Excellent wines and was judged by 8 participants before disclosing wines price.

White and red wines were rated individually by 15 participants whose combined results established the preference order during the tasting as follows:


1st            2016 Block Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale: Excellent ($50)

2nd       2019 Snake+Herring, Tough Love, Chardonnay Margaret River, Western Australia Very good ($25)

3rd            2018 Davey Family State Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale: Very good ($23)

4th.           2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Shiraz, McLaren Vale: Acceptable ($20)


Best Wine: 2016 Block Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale

Best Buy: 2018 Davey Family State Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale


Technical Notes

Information compiled and edited by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices, from various sources such as vineyards.com, wine searcher, wineaustralia.com and winepaths.com.

 In Australia, wine is produced in every State, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares. The main vineyards of Australia are in six different wine regions: New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and a smaller area in Queensland. Australia is the 5th most extensive wine-producing country, with around 1,400 million liters of wine produced, although the country’s consumption represents less than 40% of the production, making Australia the 5th largest wine exporter, with 711 tons of wine. Australia produces over 160 grape varieties distributed on 146,244 hectares across all six states.

The first vines arrived in Australia at the end of the eighteenth Century on board the vessels of the First Fleet of Governor Phillip going to New South Wales. Today the main grape varieties cultivated in Australian wine regions are Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, and Pinot Grigio.


Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each State produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of their particular Terroir, such as climatic differences, topography, and soil types. Wines are often labeled with the name of their grape variety, which must constitute at least 85% of the wine.

One of the most notable aspects of Australian wines is consistency. Every bottle reaches a certain minimum, perfectly acceptable level of quality; it comes from the heavily irrigated vineyards in the country’s interior. Almost two-thirds of every year’s grape harvest is grown on one of the three extensive irrigated areas where canalized rivers turn bush into orchard and vineyard. These areas in decreasing importance are Murray Darling (or Valley), which straddles the Victoria-New South Wales border; Riverland and Swan Hills; and Riverina (Murrumbidgee).

The Australian wine industry is crucially dependent on the Murray River. The crescent pollution of the river and the high salt level in Australia’s underground water, that little good-quality irrigation water is the principal constraint to converting one of the driest countries on the earth into one big vineyard.

Australians believe in economies of scale. Despite the feverish planting of vines at the end of the 20th century, there is a shortage of wineries. This approach aligns with the tradition of shipping grapes or grape juice long distance from vineyards to corporate cellars. The produce of distant vineyards is often blended into a single wine. Nevertheless, the Australian wine map has been changing fast, devising its appellation system, Geographical Indications, called GIs.

The wine regions are primarily located on the southern coast of Australia, which offers lower temperatures and rainfall. Still, Queensland has been developing its wine industry, centered on the cooler western slopes. Much of Southeastern Australia has a Mediterranean climate, which wine grapes enjoy. Melbourne is on the same latitude as Cordoba, Spain. Strong wines full of sugar but lacking acidity are the ones typically from Australia. Australia’s most planted variety is Shiraz and is recognized as what Australia does best in terms of red wine.

Read the Note prepared for this tasting by Jorge and Cristian with plenty more information on Australia’s wine production stats and its wine regions.

Wines from Australia    by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices

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Alfonso Sanchez 1941 – 2021 past Club del Vino President

Alfonso Sanchez , 1941 – 2021

Uno de los grandes ingenieros colombianos falleció en Rockville, Maryland, el 27 de octubre, 2021.

From Claudia Perazza, President of the Club del Vino, Washington

Dear friends

It has taken a while for us to process the very sad news. The shock of Alfonso’s passing leaves us with so much sorrow in our hearts.  There is a void left in our club, as it has lost a wonderful member and president. Accepting to be the new president, I knew the big shoes I would have to fill in, and Alfonso’s generosity, dedication and energy made possible a smooth transition.

And now, more than ever, it will be my mission to keep our club alive and vibrant, for all of us. That would be the best way to honor the life of our president emeritus. For those of us who stay, the world will not be the same without people of such human quality as Alfonso and he will be forever in our hearts and our good memories.

Salut to all


Claudia and Agilson Perazza

Uno de los grandes ingenieros colombianos falleció en Rockville, Maryland, el 27 de octubre, 2021.

Jaime Millán


28 octubre, 2021 3:15 pm

Jairo Sanchez, Alfonso Sanchez and Laura Estrada, 2016

Toda la vida profesional de Alfonso Sánchez fue una entrega generosa al trabajo riguroso, en aras del bien público. Recién graduado como ingeniero civil en la Escuela Minas de Medellín en 1964, se vinculó a la firma Integral para colaborar en los estudios y diseños del proyecto hidroeléctrico de Guatapé, entre otros. En 1967 pasó a ocupar el cargo de director de la Unidad de Infraestructura del recién creado Departamento Nacional de Planeación, uniéndose así al grupo de brillantes profesionales jóvenes ilusionados en sacar al país del atraso económico y social agudizado por la falta de infraestructura y de buenas instituciones públicas.

April 2021 A few members of the Club del Vino testing the waters for a return to presential tastings at Capri

En 1970 continuó su educación en la Universidad de Michigan donde obtuvo el grado de Máster en Economía de Recursos Naturales. Durante los años setenta, fue gerente técnico de las Empresas Públicas de Medellín y jefe de la división de agua potable del Banco Mundial para regresar al país al final de la década como gerente administrativo del Consorcio ICA-Grandicon en la construcción del proyecto hidroeléctrico San Carlos. A partir de 1981 continuó con su larga y exitosa carrera en el Banco Mundial, donde ocupó los cargos de jefe de la División de Energía, Jefe de la Oficina de Contratación y Ombudsman. Durante su carrera en el Banco Mundial, Alfonso logró enorme reconocimiento, no solo por su capacidad técnica, sino también por su habilidad como administrador, gracias a su don de gentes, su permanente interés en buscar consensos y resolver conflictos. Fue gracias a esos atributos que llegó al difícil cargo de Ombudsman. Después de pensionarse el Banco Mundial, se graduó como árbitro en la Universidad de Reading Inglaterra y continuó asesorando a entidades internacionales y gobiernos en problemas de contratación y resolución de conflictos.

A Alfonso le dolían los problemas del país y nunca fue ajeno a sus tribulaciones. En Washington, donde compartimos muchos años, surgió en forma natural como líder de un grupo de profesionales colombianos vinculados a los organismos internacionales. A pesar de la distancia, fue durante décadas miembro destacado del grupo de egresados de la Facultad de Minas de 1964. Hasta pocos días antes de caer enfermo de neumonía, estuvo promoviendo debates sobre los temas más urgentes de los grandes proyectos de infraestructura nacional, y en particular sobre las decisiones de los entes de control de levantar cargos, contra colombianos insignes y comprometidos con el bien común, por los sobrecostos y atrasos en los proyectos de Reficar e Hidroituango. Sus numerosos artículos en la prensa nacional y en publicaciones especializadas contribuyeron a hacer claridad sobre los errores en la metodología empleada por dichos entes. En su opinión, ignorar que la incertidumbre inherente a los grandes proyectos de infraestructura puede ser fuente de costos imprevisibles llevó a los entes de control a inculpaciones infundadas, con consecuencias nefastas para el futuro de la inversión pública en Colombia.

Yo tuve el privilegio de conocerlo no solo como colega, sino como amigo. Alfonso fue un extraordinario ser humano, que gozó tanto de la vida familiar como de la buena mesa y el vino sabiamente escogido, de las veladas con bambuco y guitarra y de la ilusión permanente de hacer más feliz a los demás que a él mismo. Qué fortuna tuve de compartir tanto con él.

alponiente.com  28/10/2021

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Tasting No 234 – September 28, 2021 – Wines from Moldova

Tasting No 234 – September 28, 2021 – Wines from Moldova

                                                 Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

  Tasting Overview


The objective of this tasting is to explore wines from local grape varieties and traditional Vitis Vinifera from Moldova.

Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with its economy based on agriculture. Most Moldovan families make wine at home, and wineries chiefly produce wines for export.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenter: Marcello Averbug


  1. 2018 Gitana Winery ‘Autograf’ Feteasca Regala, IGT Valul lui Trainan
  2. 2020 Gitana Rara Neagra
  3. 2016 Gitana ‘Lupi’ Rezerva 2018
  4. 2018 Fautor ‘310 Altitude’ Cabernet Sauvignon-Feteasca Neagra IGT Valul lui Trainan


  1. Calamari fritti
  2. Lentil soup
  3. Eggplant a la parmigiana
  4. Médaillon de fillet

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Carlos Silvani, Ricardo Zavaleta, and German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

The information below has been compiled from various internet sources

2018 Gitana Winery, ‘Autograf’ Feteasca Regala, IGP Valul lui Trainan

100% Feteasca Regala. This is a relatively high yield grape variety high, and for this reason, it was once very disseminated and highly appreciated grape variety during the communist period. Autograf is primarily fresh and dry and entertains a good level of acidity and a specific flavor.

2020 Gitana Winery, Rara Neagra

100% Rara Neagra. Beautiful aromas of dark berries and hints of strawberry and citrus notes. An intense and complex taste, with notes of dried fruits, well highlighted. Open fermentation in wood casks followed by two years maturation in large oak barrels.

Plum nose, for the palate having a slightly chocolate note with an oak finish. A light red, well balanced, ideal to make the fall transition from white to red.

Ruby red, blackberry jam, oak, and smoke on the nose, balanced on the palate with medium sweet tannins, medium acidity, blackberry and caramel with a medium finish, a good value.

Color: intense ruby. Olfactory: intense, impressive through complex aromas of strawberries and citrus fruits. Gustative: complex with notes of wood and dried fruits. Goes well with hot dishes, such as grilled veal, pork, schnitzel, or grilled dishes.

2016 Gitana Winery, Lupi Rezerva

Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 30% and Saperavi 40%. A rare red blend aged for 24 months in big Russian oak barrels, followed by another 14 months in American oak barriques. Intense ruby red with purple reflections. Smell: rich with aromas of blackberries and fruits, which are added shades of chocolate and coffee beans. Taste balanced, structured, with strong tannins and a refined, long, plum and blackberry aftertaste.

Decanter world Wine Awards 91 Pts. The Lupi is considered the treasure of the winery and one of the most famous wines with the label ‘Made in Moldova‘. Among the vineyards used for producing this wine lives a small family of wolves (Lupi). It is to them that the owners dedicate this wine, which has a strong imprint of the wolves’ character.

Awards: 2016 Vintage: Gold, Sélection Mondiale des Vins, Canada; Silver, International Wine Challenge. 

The Gitana Winery

The history of Vinaria Tiganca began in 1953 when the first winemaking factory was established in the village of Tiganca in the Valul lui Traian (Southern wine region). The year 2011 marks the emergence of the first series of bottled wines under the new Gitana trademark. The year 1953 marks a turning point in the history of winery, when the Dulgher family becomes the owner and makes significant efforts to re-equip the plant, renovate the cellars, provide it with oak barrels and, of course, establish new vine plantations. Step by step, the traditional winemaking practices began to be combined with modern technology. There is limited human intervention on the vines because nature has already created excellent conditions. There is not too much rain in the summer, but the soil still holds enough water for the vines to thrive at an altitude of 360m.


2018 Fautor 310 Altitude, Cabernet Sauvignon, Feteasca Neagra, IGP Valul lui Traian

The wine: a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Feteasca Neagra 20%, is very pleasant red wine, in the nose, there are some notes of leather, dried plum, and black currant. Long almond finish. Before aeration: plum, black fruit, a bit of vanilla, or caramel. After aeration: the same + intense tobacco and leather, pleasurable tannins, not too heavy, nicely done. Good with meat dishes.

Strong alcohol on the first nose, medium-bodied, bold red color, pepper taste, almond, violets. The second nose is delicate, with notes of roasted wood, red and black pepper, a clear sign that this wine was aged in a medium roasted French barrel. Well-integrated level of alcohol and moderate acidity, which make the wine tasty, complex, extracted, insistent, and a little sharp.

Awards: Gold – Portugal Wine Trophy 2018, 2019.

The Winery: In 2017, 2018, and 2020, Fautor was the most awarded Moldovan winery. It is family-owned and operated, producing wines of unique terroir from both international and indigenous grape varieties. The “Fautor” name comes from the Latin “author-creator”, emphasizing the family’s approach and responsibility for quality. The Tigheci micro-zone where the winery and vineyards are located, is unique and one of the best areas to produce high-quality wines.

From 2003 – 2006 the winery has been equipped with advanced technology, and new vineyards have been planted to reach their present size of more than 350 hectares.

Technical Notes

Information compiled and edited by Marcello Averbug, from various sources, such as Wikipedia, Wine Folly, Wine Searcher.


Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with its economy relying heavily on agriculture. Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent, and the two countries share a common cultural heritage. In 1940, Russia annexed Bessarabia from Romania and combined it with most of the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

According to archaeological finds, the cultivation of vineyards began in Moldova from at least 3000 up to 6000 years ago. Due to this past, the wine culture has gradually expanded from generation to generation, and currently, viticulture plays an important role in the economy.

The Black Sea basin molds Moldova’s continental climate. Therefore, it’s perfect for wine production. With snowy winters, enough sunny days in the summer, and lengthy landscapes of low hills and vast plains, grape cultivation has prospered in this region since antiquity.

Under feudal Moldova, during the 14th and 15th centuries, local wine was exported to countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. In the 19th century, after the country became part of the Russian Empire, wines remained a significant asset for export.

Despite comprising a tiny fraction of the vast Soviet Union, Moldova produced about 70 percent of all former USSR wine. However, following the Union’s dissolution in the early 1990s, Moldovan wine for a while remained unrecognized by the international community. As a small country that branded its main product as “made in the USSR,” it took some time until Moldova’s high-quality social lubricant found its place in Western markets. At present, the country exports 80 percent of its wine stocks to EU countries.

Moldova boasts the highest per capita production of wine in the world. However, it ranks 18th for wine produced globally. There are 142 wineries in Moldova. Its production comprises 60% white wines, 34% reds, and 6% table wines.


Varieties: 70% of good value Whites are produced with more traditional European grapes, such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Sylvaner, and Müller-Thurgau. Among Reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Saperavi, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Montepulciano, Merlot and Semillon are among the most prominent, while grape varieties of more local origins take a back seat in Moldova.

Moldova’s native grapes are usually blended with foreign grapes. Feteasca, which  means “maiden” in Romanian, is a name shared by three distinct varieties: Feteasca Regala (royal maiden), Feteasca Neagra (black maiden) and Feteasca Alba, or white maiden, which refers to the color of the grapes. Another dark-skinned variety is Rara Neagra, which sometimes appears in export markets.

Feteasca Alba is a light-skinned grape variety found particularly in Romania, as well as in Moldova and other Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine.

Feteasca Regala is a white skinned grape variety widespread throughout the Eastern Europe, in particular in Romania. It is well suited to a continental climate, as it can withstand extremes of temperature in summer and winter. However, it requires ample rainfall and does not perform well in drought-prone areas.

Feteasca Regala tends to be richer in flavor than its alba counterpart, as tannins in the grapes’ skins provide some complexity to the wines. These are aromatic with green apple and tropical fruit characters and can be vinified in an off-dry style. In addition, Feteasca Regala responds well to barrel maturation, which can add complexity to the wines.

The variety is sometimes blended with Muscat Ottonel, particularly in sweeter wines. This grape variety is considered one of the most famous and sought-after of Romania. Furthermore, it is regarded as the most characterful indigenous grape variety of this region, used to produce various tasteful dry white wines worldwide.

Feteasca Neagra is an old native variety and most popular of Romanian and Moldovan grapes. It is usually produced as a varietal wine but is often blended with cabernet sauvignon and merlot to give it more body and weight. Its seeds [of Fetească Neagră] were discovered in ancient vestiges in Romania, more than 2000 years old. For the Romanians and Moldovans, this grape is like a sophisticated fairy – hard to tame, seductive, and mysterious – imposing through presence, complexity, and acidity, while very well balanced.

Depending on the wine-making techniques, Feteasca Neagra wines get various flavors and fine tannins, good acidity, medium to full body, and often more than 13,5% alcohol. It is typical to have aromas of dried plums, blackberries, and black blueberries along with nice black pepper, vanilla, and coffee flavors, and for the old wines, toast, and skin senses.

Rara Neagra is an eastern European dark-skinned wine grape planted extensively in Romania and, to a lesser extent, in Moldova and Ukraine. It has reputedly been grown in the region for 2000 years and is very popular with locals. It is also known as Babeasca Neagra, which in English means “black grandmother’s grape”.


Rara Neagra is a late-ripening variety and therefore is less-prone to damaging spring frosts. Unfortunately, its thin skins create a high susceptibility to mildew diseases. As such an old variety, Rara Neagra is the parent of multiple clonal varieties. It produces light and fruity red wine, typically high in acid and designed for early consumption. A handful of higher-quality versions of the grape are produced, however, a majority are destined for mediocre wine for local consumption.

Synonyms include Babeasca Neagra, Sereksia Noire, Sereksia Tcheurnia.

Saperavi is an acidic, Teinturier-type dark skin grape variety native to Georgia (6000 BC), where it is used to make many of the region’s most well-known wines. It is also grown in Russia, and in lesser quantities in Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Australia, and recently in the United States.

Saperavi is one of very few Teinturier winemaking grapes in the world. Teinturier grapes have red skin and red flesh, whereas other red grapes have red skin and clear flesh. This grape can bring intense color and marked acidity to wines. As a result, Saperavi is an ideal ingredient for cheaper blended wines.

In recent decades, it has also proved itself capable of producing varietal wines of high quality. Dry, off dry, or naturally semi-sweet, this grape is versatile for producing a host of different wines.

Saperavi is compatible with the cool-climate vineyards of the Northeast and the East Coast of the USA and was planted in the Finger Lakes, New York, for the first time in 1958.


The World’s Largest Wine Cellars

The world’s largest wine cellar is in Moldova. The Milestii Mici is a vast underground network of wine-filled “streets”, each picking a name after a different variety of wine. Milestii Mici is also the commune’s name where the cellar was founded, just 11 miles from Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city.

The Milestii Mici cellar is administered by the state. The place would be heaven for any wine enthusiast, as there are more than 125 miles of underground wine galleries and around two million bottles of wine stored within its premises. The site was initially carved out during lime mining operations.

The first bottle of wine was stored there in 1968, and new ones are being added continually. The cellar keeps stable temperatures of between 54°F–57°F year-round, and humidity levels stick to around 90 percent. Some of the most extravagant bottles at Milestii Mici can be purchased for up to $540.

And if you are now wondering where the world’s second-largest wine cellar is, the answer once again is Moldova. The wine cellar Cricova, also near Chisinau, houses about 1.25 million bottles of wine. Some of the vintages stored here were produced as early as 1902. As the Nazis attempted to invade the Soviet Union, the site also served to protect Jews who hid in the cellar tucked inside wine barrels.

 CV Members Rating

The tasting took place before knowing the wines’ prices and the participants evaluated them between Good and Excellent with the following results:


1st – 2020 Gitana, Lupi Rezerva ($29)

2nd-2020 Gitana, Rara Neagra ($16)

3rd -2018 Gitana, Autograph Fateasca Regala ($15)

4th -2018 Fautor 310, Cab. Sauvignon- Fateasca Neagra ($14)

The 2020 Lupi Rezerva was rated as Best Wine and the 2020 Rara Neagra as Best Buy





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