Tasting No. 193 – October 30, 2017 – Selection of the Top 100 of Wine Spectator

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

TOP 100

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Clarita Estrada, Jorge García-Grarcía

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Cristian Santelices, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess a sample of wines taken from the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of various years. These are the wines:

  1. 2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia Florina
  2. 2014 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole RossoToscana
  3. 2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia
  4. 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial, Sardón de Duero

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood salad
  2. Sausage, olives and cheese
  3. Vegetables Risotto
  4. Grilled medallion with roasted potatoes
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia, Florina

The Wine: Brilliantly, light yellow in color with greenish tints. Strong and lively nose, typical Malagouzia, suggesting rose petal with floral aromas and sweet spices, melon, litchi with a note of honeysuckle. Round and mellow on the palate, fat but balanced, high in alcohol with plenty of finesse. Well structured, reminding the nose aromas with a hint of rosemary. A richly textured wine with superb length and balance. A classy wine with long finish and persistent aromas. Excellently married with green salads, baked vegetables, pasta, low fat fishes and a wide variety of Greek sea food “Meze”.

Malagouzia is an aromatic white variety grown primarily in Central Greece and Greek Macedonia. The variety was rescued from near extinction in 1983 by the winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou, after he planted out his vineyard at Epanomi, on the Halkidiki peninsula, with the variety. Malagousia is best known for its citrus and peach characteristics, often showing various melon flavors on the palate. It is often used as a blending agent, most notably with Assyrtiko, to which it adds middle body weight.

The Winery: ALPHA ESTATE is located at the northwest part of Greece, in the Amyndeon, Florina region. Alpha Estate was founded in 1997 by the experienced viticulturist Makis Mavridis and chemist-oenologist Angelos Iatridis, who, after years of experience in various locations of Greece, chose the Amyndeon region to create his own wine.

(Wine Searcher) The climate in the region is one of the most continental in Greece, with temperate summers and cold, rainy winters. During the growing season, warm sunshine during the day is followed by colder nights that shut down the production of sugar in the grapes, lengthening the ripening period. As a result, acidity is preserved as the berries reach phenolic ripeness, and the Xinomavro from Amyndaio is often brighter and fresher than that from other parts of Greek Macedonia. This retention of acidity is important for the production of sparkling wine, and Amyntaio is one of only two sparkling-wine appellations in Greece (the other being Zitsa in Epirus).

Several lakes surround Amyntaio, offering some cooling influences, and the region is characterized by its sandy, alluvial soils deposited by the movement of water over time. Heavy rainfall during winter provides enough water in the ground to keep the vines hydrated throughout the dry summers, although the rapid drainage of these soils ensures this is not excessive. This lessens the vigor of the vines, leading to smaller, more-concentrated grapes.

Alpha Estate was named Winery of the Year 2013 by the Wine & Spirits magazine on September 17th 2013. Τhis prestigious award comes in a year where Wine & Spirits magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary of naming the world’s best wineries. As noted by Joshua Greene, publisher and editor, ‘’Alpha Estate’s range of exceptional wines makes it a great ambassador for Greece’’. Each year in April, Wine & Spirits publishes its Annual Restaurant Poll, where a large number of restaurant wine specialists, from sommeliers to wine buyers evaluate wines with the best performance per label, variety and country of origin.

Read more at: http://alpha-estate.com/homepage

 2014 Tenuta di Le Cupole Rosso, Toscana

The Wine: The second label of Tenuta di Trinoro, Le Cupole was first produced in 1995. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, with percentages varying with each vintage (2014: Blend 42% Cabernet Franc; 48% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.) Fermented in stainless steel and aged in one to three year old barriques and cement, Le Cupole is velvety and approachable. This wine hits the palate with exuberance, full of fleshy, bright fruit, extracted tannins, and rich color.

WS: Alluring scents of ripe cherry, mulberry and fresh herbs complement concentrated flavors of cherry and sweet spice in this red. Offers a backbone of mouthcoating tannins and remains integrated as the finish lingers. Best from 2018 through 2027.

RP: The gorgeous 2014 Le Cupole defies the difficulties of the vintage thanks to extreme fruit selection (executed over numerous individual harvests). Andrea Franchetti is a perfectionist when it comes to fruit selection. This Bordeaux-inspired Tuscan blend opens to dark concentration and a full bouquet that is redolent of dark fruit, spice and tobacco. The aromas are delivered in seamless fashion and with noteworthy intensity. Those are the qualities that ultimately distinguish this wine among the many choices you have from Tuscany today. One thing Tenuta di Trinoro always delivers is distinct personality.

The Winery:  Tenuta di Trinoro is considered one of the most iconic wines produced in Italy today. The estate, planted on virgin soil following the vision of owner and winemaker Andrea Franchetti, is planted solely with Bordelais grapes, with a strong preponderance of Cabernet Franc. The isolated estate occupies an area of about 200 hectares, of which 22 are planted with vines. It is located in the Val d’Orcia, between 450 and 600 meters above sea level, where the eroded rock of the mountain gives way to the limestone and clay of an ancient sea floor. These Super Tuscan wines are unique in their area, expressing the particular conditions of this elevated, inland valley.

Tenuta di Trinoro is the flagship wine of its namesake winery, and only several hundred cases are produced each vintage, making it highly sought-after by collectors. The flagship blend varies based on the vintage, but it is predominantly Cabernet Franc and Merlot, along with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Trinoro also produces other distinctive red wines focused on single varieties including Palazzi, a selection of 100% Merlot; the Campi, three single vineyard wines of 100% Cabernet Franc; and Le Cupole, the second wine to Tenuta di Trinoro.

Read more at: http://www.vinifranchetti.com/tenuta-di-trinoro/

2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia

The Wine:  Winemaker Notes: Deep ruby red. Aromas of wild berries and hints of spice. Medium-bodied, intense flavors of blackberry and dark cherry, accented by notes of violet, pepper and exotic spices.

WS: A lovely, medium-bodied red, with a pure beam of ripe cherry and fresh acidity layered with supple tannins and accents of star anise, dried thyme, loamy earth and mocha. Drink now through 2023.  Ten thousand cases made.

Wine -Searcher: Nero d’Avola (also known as Calabrese) is the most important and widely planted red wine grape variety in Sicily. Vast volumes of Nero d’Avola are produced on the island every year, and have been for centuries. The dark-skinned grape is of great historical importance to Sicily and takes its present-day name from the town of Avola on the island’s southeast coast. The area was a hotbed of trade and population movement during the Middle Ages and Nero d’Avola was frequently used to add color and body to lesser wines in mainland Italy.

The Winery: Zisola is an Italian estate situated close to the city of Noto in southeast Sicily. It is one of three estates owned by the wine producer Mazzei and specializes in the production of some of Sicily’s most notable regional wines – Noto Rosso, Terre Siciliane IGT and Sicilia DOC. Of particular note is Zisola’s Doppiozeta, which is a Noto Rosso blend of native Nero d’Avola and Syrah. The estate was founded in 2003 and encompasses 21 hectares (52 acres) of vineyard planted mainly to Nero d’Avola, with smaller quantities of Syrah, Petit Verdot, Grillo and Catarratto. The soils are largely composed of limestone and provide the perfect grape-growing conditions in combination with the region’s Mediterranean climate.

Read more at: http://www.mazzei.it/en/The-estates/Zisola/The-estate/ were there is an interesting history of the Mazzei family as wine makres since the 14th century and the relation between Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazei that led to wine making in Virginia.

2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial, Sardón de Duero

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: (No. 12 Wine Spectator Top 100 2016)‘.  Mature nose with mineral aromas that give way to black fruit, such as blackberry and blackcurrant. Hints of licorice, red currant and cherries in liqueur on a backdrop of dark chocolate and subtle hints of a well-structured wood. Elegant in the mouth, well-balanced, voluptuous and silky, polished tannins with a well balanced acidity, long and lasting.

This is produced as a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah from the 54 separate plots that they have identified in their 180 hectares of vineyards. This 2012 matured in French (60%) and American (40%) oak barrels for 14 months, a slightly shorter time than in previous vintages. The casks were one third new, one third second use and one third third use.

The Winery: Wine -Searcher:  Sardon de Duero is a wine-growing area in northern Spain, to the west of Ribera del Duero. It is part of the prestigious ‘Golden Mile’ (La Milla de Oro) of wineries located along the Duero river in the autonomous community of Castilla y Leon. La Milla de Oro is said to have a special microclimate and is home to some of Spain’s most renowned wineries, including Vega Sicilia, Dominio de Pingus and Bodegas Mauro. The area has an ancient winemaking tradition, established by the Romans, but Sardon de Duero’s name has really only recently gained a reputation, despite not being an official appellation.

Sardon de Duero is home to the award-winning Abadia Retuerta winery, one of Spain’s most high-tech producers. The company has been critical in raising the profile of the area and have encouraged other growers to establish themselves here. Abadia Retuerta is located in the grounds of a 12th-century monastery, Santa Maria de Atuerta, 20 miles (32km) southeast of the historic city of Valladolid. Its highly regarded red wines are classified as Vino de la Tierra.

The estate has over 200 hectares (500 acres) under vine with the majority planted to Tempranillo. A total of 54 different plots are each planted with individual varieties. Vineyards are spread across the property from the banks of the Duero River to hillside slopes at elevations of 2700ft (825m) above sea level. The climate is strongly continental with high diurnal and seasonal temperature ranges. The soil composition also varies from plot to plot from gravel, alluvium, limestone, sand and clay.

Although red wines make up the bulk of the portfolio, a white blend is made from a mistaken planting of Sauvignon Blanc. Experimenting with the fruit was a success and 2011 became the first commercial vintage. Verdejo has been added along with small amounts of Gewürztraminer, Godello and Riesling.

The Duero Valley is house for some of Spain top wines. In this region, winters are cold and summers baking hot, there are sharp temperature differences between day and night; sunshine is plentiful and rain is scarce, creating the ideal conditions for grape growing.

The river basin where the Retuerta vines grow is the product of thousands of years of erosion, alluvium, sedimentations and changes in soil composition. This has created a very diverse terroir in this unique wine region, where the texture, the proportion of minerals and water absorbed or retained by each plot in the estate varies.

The philosophy is based on winemaking by plot. The composition of the soil of each of our 54 plots is different: clay by the riverbank, pebbles and sand on the slopes, gravel in the lower parts of the estate, and limestone on the higher ground. Therefore, each terroir contains only one grape variety, which is carefully selected to extract the best the land has to offer to make Spain top wines.

Read more at: https://www.abadia-retuerta.com/en/abadia-retuerta/

 4.  CV Members Rating

  • 2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia Florina – CV Rating: Excellent –  Experts Rating: 90 Pts. – Price: $22
  • 2014 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole Rosso, Toscana – CV Rating:  Very Good –  Experts Rating: 93 Pts. – Price: $35
  • 2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia  – CV Rating: Very Good–  Experts Rating: 90 Pts. – Price: $35
  • 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero  – CV Rating:  Excellent–  Experts Rating: 93 Pts. – Price: $35

View full evaluation here: WE.TASTING SUMMARY 193

Best Rated Wine: 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero

Best Buy: 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero


5. Technical Notes 

How the Top 100 are selected, Video: http://top100.winespectator.com/video/how-wine-spectator-picks-the-top-100/

To read about the WS approach to wine testing and their methodology see: http://www.winespectator.com/display/show/id/tasting-format 



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