Tasting #243 July 26 2022, 12:30 pm – Spanish Mediterranean between Barcelona and Alicante
Please send your reservations to M. Claudia or Clara Estrada
The objective of this tasting is to explore and compare lesser-known wines produced on the Mediterranean Coast of Spain, with grapes such as Monastrell (Mourvedre) grown in the Alicante and Valencia regions, and a white wine made with local native grapes (Callet and Premsal) from the Island of Mallorca.
Type of Tasting: Blind
Presenters: Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices
- Quibia 2020, Ànima Negra
- La Peña de España Tinto 2018, Bodegas El Angosto
- Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017, Bodegas Volver
- El Sequé Alicante Tinto 2019, Bodegas y Viñedos Artadi de Laguardia
- Seared scallops salad
- Gazpacho soup
- Breaded eggplants
- Lamb and potatoes
J. Brakarz, J. Claro; R. Connolly; M. Fryer; A. & C. Perazza; J. & L. Redwood; J. Requena; J. Sanchez; C. Santelices; R. Santiago, G. Smart; and G. Zincke.
Wines from Mediterranean Spain
Spain is a country with more than 500,000 square kilometers (some 20% bigger than the State of California). The country enjoys a fascinating and diverse landscape including the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, dry plateaus, and the Pyrenees mountains. All Spain’s 17 administrative regions produce wine, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
The Valencia Region
One of the regions in the Mediterranean coast is the Comunidad Valenciana, or simply Valencia. Located a few hours south of Barcelona, Valencia is responsible for 5% of Spain’s enological output and is the fourth most widely planted of the country’s 17 autonomous regions.
The Valencia Region is sometimes referred to as the Levant, meaning the “getting up place,” as it stands at the eastern edge of the Iberian Peninsula, where the sun rises first. However, the Mediterranean Sea is a primary influence on the region. The Mediterranean Spain’s enchanting Valencian Community region has long been known for its beaches, seafood, and oranges. Nevertheless, its unique wines haven’t always won the easy notoriety of regions like Rioja or Priorat—but once and for all, moving past its former reputation as a producer of bulk wines, it’s fast becoming a region to watch, for its spicy, uniquely Spanish reds.
Valencia is a complex Comunidad autónoma to summarize, because it is topographically and geologically diverse, and cultivates several varieties, creating various subregions. Climatically, the area is rather hot with low rainfall. However, the heat weather is mitigated by regular sea breezes along the coast and higher elevations in the west. Though the entire region is classified as Mediterranean in climate, the western reaches of the Comunidad skew continental, with less humidity and broader diurnal swings. The soils are generally characterized by varying sand, limestone, and clay combinations.
Valencia’s boundaries encompass three distinct Denominations of Origen (DO): Alicante, Utiel-Requena, and Valencia, with Alicante the furthest south and Utiel-Requena the most inland.
Alicante is a port city in southeastern Costa Blanca and a municipality in the Valencian Community. Alicante is historically a land of vineyards and wines with traces of the Phoenicians and Romans since at least 1,100 BC when Phoenicians established themselves in the area of Cadiz. Also, it is the most historically celebrated of Valencia’s Dos, due to the ancient fame of its Fondillón. In addition, the dessert wine Fondillón, based on Monastrell (Mourvèdre), has been exported for centuries and is enjoying its renaissance.
Along the eastern coast of Alicante, one can find La Marina, a subzone known for its perfumed, sweet white wines made from Moscatel de Alejandría; other white grape varieties include Merseguera and Malvasía. The drier, more extreme climate to the west is home to Monastrell, which accounts for 75% of total DO vineyard plantings. Other major red grape varieties include Garnacha Tintorera and Bobal, a thick-skinned black variety native to the Levante (the eastern edge of the Iberian Peninsula).
Alicante has the fewest vines in the ground, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1877, after phylloxera tore through France, a preferential trade arrangement with Spain was signed that ushered in an era of rapid growth for the Spanish wine industry. This was effectively canceled in 1892 when Alicante had 93,000 hectares of vines in the ground. Taking this deal off the table decimated the area viticulturally and financially, and the region retreated to its Fondillón and bulk wine. The first signs of rebirth wouldn’t be seen until 100 years later, in the 1990s, triggered by the rise of the boutique winery model and the sudden popularity of rich, dry Monastrell from the neighboring regions of Yecla and Jumilla. As a result, Alicante DO has gained popularity and respect for its new light, fresh wines, and interesting varietal reds produced by pioneering bodegas.
The Monastrell grape
Monastrell or Murviedro, known in France and the United States as Mourvèdre—and in Australia as Mataró—this full-bodied, spicy, tannic grape shows intense black and red fruit supported by secondary earthy flavors of dried herbs and meat. A popular blending partner of Grenache and Syrah in France’s Rhône valley, Mourvèdre/Monastrell sees one of its most sui generis varietal expressions in Alicante’s Mediterranean terroir, where hot days allow for optimal ripening, dry conditions challenge the vines and concentrate the fruit, and limestone-dominant soils ensure acid structure and ageability, which also balance the grape’s tendency towards muscle and high alcohol.
Mourvedre is a meaty and full-bodied red wine. Mourvedre’s smell is an explosion of dark fruit, flowers like violet, and an herbaceous aroma of black pepper, thyme, and red meat. Mourvedre wine can have a gamey taste in regions such as Bandol, France, and Jumilla, Spain. Some believe the unctuous aroma in many Mourvedre wines is partially due to a wine fault called reduction. Because of this, Mourvedre benefits from decanting and is best enjoyed at around 67-71 °F.
Thought to have been brought to Spain in Ancient times by the seafaring Phoenicians, Monastrell remains one of the country’s most planted grapes, claiming 150,000 of the world’s 190,000 acres of the grape. In Alicante, it can be found in two subregions: La Marina in the north, where the cooling influence of the sea tempers the area’s intense heat, and in Clásico, inland to the southwest, which includes the region’s namesake city. Further away from the Mediterranean, this latter sub-region is marked by minimal rainfall and borderline-arid summers—a situation where Monastrell thrives, especially in its bush vine incarnation.
The name Monastrell suggests that monks may have cultivated and spread the variety. Archaeological evidence put a semi-cultivated vine in Murcia some 5,000 years ago, actual cultivation in the Iberian period (5th-6th centuries BC), and larger-scale development by the Romans. Thankfully it has survived over time and today has been restored, as we will see, to its full splendor.
In general, the Monastrell producing vineyards are not watered, and vines are grown in the traditional vase shape, except for a few areas (at lower altitudes in Yecla and Bullas) with espaliered, irrigated vines. The well-aired stocks are fairly disease-resistant, and their late budding shoots prevent spring frost damage. The medium-size, compact bunches bear small berries, which ripen late and at harvest show a high sugar content, allowing for a volume of 13 to 14.5º. The vines have also adapted very well to different yet consistently poor soils. The sandy soils of Jumilla kept the ubiquitous phylloxera from spreading widely, and as a result, some ungrafted Monastrell vines have survived. However, to carry the specific DO Monastrell label, wines must contain 85% of this variety.
Mallorca Island and its Native Wine Grapes
Mallorca immediately evokes the blue waters and white sands that frame Spain’s largest Balearic Island. Located just 170 km off the eastern Spanish coast, Mallorca is home to roughly 900,000 residents. This number swells each summer when over 10 million vacationers descend on the island.
With such a large market to satisfy and fewer than 2,000 hectares of vineyards, it’s no wonder that little wine leaves the island, and over 80% is consumed locally. This partly explains why you may have never heard of Manto Negro, Callet, or Prensal Blanc (aka Moll).
Mallorca’s wine was once significant. As phylloxera ravaged France in the 1870s, the Mediterranean Sea kept the island’s vines safe for about 20 years. Mallorca had 75,000 acres of vines in 1891 – nearly 2/3 more than Napa County has today. Mallorca’s wine was shipped to France and relabeled as French. Mallorca’s vineyard area today pales in comparison to its past. Devastated vineyards were often replaced with crops such as almonds or apricots, while the rise of tourism in the 1960s delivered another blow to wine production. A new generation was incentivized to turn their back on grape growing and invest in construction or the hotel trade.
Mallorca wines hit all the enophile’s sweet spots. You’ve never heard of Indigenous grapes that aren’t grown anywhere else (Mallorca is like the Galápagos of grapes.) Minerality from the salty air. White wines are made from red grapes. Moderate alcohol. Cooler climate than you realize. In short, good Mallorca wines are delicious and guaranteed to stump your sommelier friends.
This red grape variety comes from the island of Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain); according to a dialect, the name means “black.” Callet clusters are large and relatively compact. The grapes are of a medium/large size, globe shape, bluish-black outer color and inside, with a very weak pigmentation, virtually non-existent. The color is not dark but shooting bright ruby, clean, medium layer. On tasting it, it will look medium-bodied, refined, and elegant.
The late-ripening vine is generally resistant to drought and diseases but susceptible to sour rot. It produces light red, rustic red wines with moderate acidity and alcohol content and an earthy aroma. On the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, the variety is often grown in mixed sets with the Fogoneu variety and blended with the latter and Manto Negro.
DNA analyses carried out in 2011 resulted from a probable natural cross between the Callet Cas Concos x Fogoneu varieties, which also come from Mallorca. Curiously, the Fogoneu, was the most planted grape on the island in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. It was when vineyards in France were attacked by phylloxera, and Mallorca benefited from it, as it produced and exported a lot of wine to the neighboring country. Much of this wine came from the Felanitx area and was shipped from its port, Porto Colom. The name of Porto Colom comes from the Latin Portu Columbi (“dove harbor”), a name the Romans gave for the great abundance of these birds that were raised there.
The ideal is to plant Callet in poor soils of negligible thickness and stony. However, if the soil is very fertile, a lot of vegetative growth will be generated, and the grape’s ripening will be complicated. On average, this variety is more productive in kilograms than the other autochthonous grape. The aromatic potential and color intensity are medium, and the wines obtained will also have a medium layer. On the other hand, although Mallorca is a warm area, the alcohol content is relatively low, around 11.5 / 12 % of alcohol.
In the case of elaboration based on old Callet vines, the wines will be very aromatic and expressive. The predominant aromas will be red fruits, raspberries, cherries, and blackberries, sometimes with floral or anise touches. As we have already mentioned, they do not develop a high degree of alcohol, which is one of the characteristics that does not make this variety very easy to work with. Some compare it to Pinot Noir.
This white grape variety originates in Spain. Synonyms are Moll, Moll Binisalem, Moll Encin, Pansal Blanco, Pensal, Pensal Blanco, Penzal Blanco, Premsal (second main name), Premsal Blanco, Premsal Blanca, Prensal, Prensal Blanc and Prensal Blanco. The medium-maturing, the high-yielding vine is susceptible to powdery mildew. As a result, it produces fine-acidic, fruity white wines mainly used as blends. The variety is registered on the Balearic Islands in the DO Binissalem (Mallorca).
As the workhorse white grape of the Mallorca Island, the productive Prensal Blanc (aka Moll) dominates the wines from DO Binissalem, making up at least 50% of the blend. It’s also the second most planted grape and is often used to produce easy-drinking wines with lower acidity levels for early consumption. The grape ripens quite early and quickly drops its acidity if harvested too late.
The Wines’ Technical Sheets
|Wine Name||Quíbia 2020|
|Varietal||Other White Blends|
|Grapes||60% Callet, 30% Premsal, 10% other local grapes|
|Aging||4 months in Stainless steel tanks|
|Alcohol %||11.5 %|
|Color||Lemon with greenish highlights|
|Awards||89 pts., Wilfred Wong|
Ànima Negra was founded in 1994 when two self-taught friends — Pere Ignasi Obrador and Miquelàngel Cerdà — decided that the wines of their native Mallorca weren’t reaching full potential. Taking advantage of some unused milk tanks at the dairy farm owned by Pere’s family, they made two barrels of wine from Callet grapes (a native Mallorcan varietal) they’d purchased from local farmers. The initial results were so encouraging that the friends decided to form a partnership and continue pursuing their newfound passion for wine. Situated in the southeast of Mallorca, Ànima Negra winery produces its wines on the old country estate of Son Burguera, close to the town of Felanitx. Ànima Negra sources its grapes from more than 135 carefully selected parcels of land that the partners own or control. Virtually all these parcels are within a six-mile radius of the winery, and most of the vines are 50 to 85 years old. Natural farming is prioritized at Ànima Negra. The vines are dry-farmed and are not fertilized, helping to ensure they produce small, concentrated fruit. Chemical insecticides and herbicides are avoided in favor of biodynamic practices, and indigenous yeasts are used for almost all fermentation. The resulting unique, elegant wines have garnered worldwide praise and earned a loyal following among fine wine enthusiasts worldwide. In 2010, the Slow Food Movement honored Ànima Negra with induction into the Ark of Taste.
Quibia gets its name from an aspirational worry-free state of mind. The wine is the brainchild of Miquelangel Cerda and his partner, Pere Obrador, celebrating the versatility of the indigenous red grape, Callet, the common thread of all their wines. The Callet lends texture and tartness. The Premsal adds roundness while Giro Ros gives the backbone of acidity.
The color is an enticing straw lemon with greenish highlights. Quíbia has white peach, pear, sea brine, and jasmine aromas. The wine is weighty with a silky olive oil texture and concentrated flavors of ripe peach, Anjou pear, and capers on the palate. Crisp, lively, and well-balanced. This wine pairs beautifully with bay scallops, langoustines, mussels in a butter broth, and seafood paella.
La Peña de España Tinto 2018
|Wine Name||La Peña de España Tinto 2018|
|Varietal||Rhone Red Blends|
|Winery||Bodegas El Angosto|
|Grapes||33% Grenache 33% Syrah, 33% Monastrell|
|Alcohol %||13.5 %|
|Color||Deep ruby color|
|Awards||93 pts. James Suckling|
Bodegas El Angosto is owned by the Cambra family, located in Santa Rosa. The vineyard is worked in a reasoned way (by limiting any use of chemicals) and harvested by hand. The estate’s vines are spread over two separate properties: Santa Rosa and El Angosto. These are sloping terroirs with sandy soils, poor organic matter, and many limestones. This environment is ideal for developing the vine in depth from the root. As a result, the wines produced are of rare elegance and concentration for such prices. The press around the world embraces the great value of these superb wines. Angosto Cellar is the story of the Cambra family, and now it is the 4th generation, well known for their effort, perseverance, and know-how. Since 1905 Viveros Cambra has been the leading supplier of grafted grapevines for the region of Valencia in southwest Spain. Their practices of carefully selecting bud wood and rootstock material available and clonal selection, without forgetting the native varieties, closing the cycle of cultivation of the vine. Rhone Blends with bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise often come into play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance in California.
Deep ruby color with violet reflections. The aromas of fresh red fruit, blue flowers, and spices stand out on the nose. In the mouth, it’s vast, round, and tasty. Hyacinth, violets, and lavender are among the many floral notes of this redolent wine. The palate has a sense of purity, with the tangy acidity highlighting the bright, dark-fruit tones. Medium-long on the finish. This delicious and food-friendly red wine offers versatility while over-delivering on the price. Pair this with sausage on the grill, stewed red meats, and roasted vegetables.
Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017
|Wine Name||Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017|
|Aging||14 months in French barrels|
|Alcohol %||15 %|
|Altitude||650 -750 m|
|Climate||Continental – Mediterranean|
|Awards||93 pts. Jeb Dunnuck|
The project of Bodegas Volver was founded in 2004, by Rafael Cañizares, an enologist by training and viticulturist through his family tradition of four generations bound to the vine and wine. The pillars of the bodega are based on the repositioning of quality Spanish wines and recovering old indigenous vineyards, which had been lost, either through low production or lack of generational succession. The vineyards were created using grapes from multiple vineyards in towns throughout the Vinalopo region: Pinoso, Salinas, El Maña, and Monover. Planted between 1935 and 1970 when traditional unirrigated viticulture produced 1.5 kg per plant.
Cherry color with a hint of intense ruby. The mature nose fruit contains raspberries, blueberries, spices, balsamic hints, and flowers’ notes. Tasty in the mouth, balanced and full-bodied. Long finish. Vintage: Characterized by extreme drought, with an average rainfall of fewer than 153.6 liters per meter squared and the region’s microclimate with an altitude of 650 to 750 meters and shallow dry soil which is poor in organic material and full of limestone rocks. Humidity from the Mediterranean breezes. Pairing: Recommended with red meat, game, roast meat, rice, cured cheeses, blue cheeses
El Sequé Alicante Tinto 2019
|Wine Name||El Sequé Alicante Tinto 2019|
|Winery||Bodegas y Viñedos Artadi de Laguardia|
|Aging||12 months in French barrels|
|Alcohol %||14.5 %|
|Soil type||Sandy quaternary soils|
|Awards||94 pts Peñin – 93pts Parker|
Committed to the quest of producing unique wines with identity, winemaker and owner Juan Carlos López de la Calle believes old vines are the key to accomplishing this difficult pursuit. After achieving success in Rioja and Navarra, Juan Carlos went to Alicante for the extreme climatic conditions, disparate soil types, and the old-vine Monastrell indigenous to the region.
El Sequé has been part of the Artadi Group since 1999, when the Mediterranean and, above all, the undergrowth of the area, with poor land and abundant hours of sunshine, seemed to invite them to create great moments with the Monastrell.
Powerful balsamic notes, mature fruit, unctuous: a fleshy wine that satisfies the identity of the Monastrell variety from the old vineyards of El Sequé. Fresh and forceful wine from Alicante, typical of the Mediterranean style, results from experienced Rioja winemakers with a great spirit of creating new wines, as awarded as those of the parent company. The fruity sweetness of this Sequé and the balsamic nuances show the best properties of a Monastrell, giving it power and warmth. Tasty, robust, meaty, ripe tannins.
Produced from 100 % estate-grown fruit, this wine has an evident Mediterranean influence, with warm and calm nuances of black fruit, soft aromas, and tastes of balsamic and aromatic plants. This is a wine with an authentic Mediterranean character.
Fresh and forceful wine from Alicante, typical of the Mediterranean style, results from experienced Rioja winemakers with a great spirit of creating new wines, as awarded as those of the parent company. The fruity sweetness of this Sequé and the balsamic nuances show the best properties of a Monastrell, giving it power and warmth.
Club del Vino Members’ Ratings
The wines evaluations will be published after the meeting
Best Rated Wine & Best Buy
Juan Luis Colaiacovo enviou-me este curtissimo video. Acho que vale a pena ver. O que você acha? É uma pena que não saibamos quem é o autor.