Tasting #243 July 26 2022 Spanish Mediterranean between Barcelona and Alicante

Tasting #243 July 26 2022, 12:30 pm – Spanish Mediterranean between Barcelona and Alicante

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Please send your reservations to M. Claudia or Clara Estrada

Tasting Overview

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

The wines: 

  • 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


  1. Seared scallops salad
  2. Gazpacho soup
  3. Breaded eggplants
  4. Lamb and potatoes
  5. Dessert


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.

Callet grape

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.

Prensal grape

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


Quíbia 2020

Wine Name Quíbia 2020
Varietal Other White Blends
Winery Ànima Negra
Grapes 60% Callet, 30% Premsal, 10% other local grapes
Origin Mallorca, Spain
Aging 4 months in Stainless steel tanks
Year harvest 2020
Alcohol % 11.5 %
Color Lemon with greenish highlights
Soil type Limestone
Altitude 100 m
Climate Mediterranean
Harvest time September-October
Awards 89 pts., Wilfred Wong


Vineyard Notes

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.

Winemaker Notes

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
Origin Valencia, Spain
Year harvest 2018
Alcohol % 13.5 %
Color Deep ruby color
Soil type Limestone
Altitude 700-1090 m
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.

Winemaker Notes:

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
Varietal Monstrell (Mourvedre)
Winery Bodegas Volver


Grapes 100% Monstrell
Origin Alicante, Spain
Aging 14 months in French barrels
Year harvest 2019
Alcohol % 15 %
Color Red cherry
Soil type Limestone
Altitude 650 -750 m
Climate Continental – Mediterranean
Harvest time October
Awards 93 pts. Jeb Dunnuck

Vineyard Notes:

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.

Winemaker Notes:

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
Varietal Monstrell (Mourvedre)
Winery Bodegas y Viñedos Artadi de Laguardia


Grapes 100% Monstrell
Origin Alicante, Spain
Aging 12 months in French barrels
Year harvest 2019
Alcohol % 14.5 %
Color Red cherry
Soil type Sandy quaternary soils
Altitude 600 m
Climate Mediterranean
Harvest time October
Awards 94 pts Peñin – 93pts Parker


Vineyard Notes:

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.

Winemaker Notes:

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


  1. https://winefolly.com/wine-regions/spain/
  2. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/mourvedre-wine/
  3. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/map-of-spain-wine-regions/
  4. https://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/whats-new/features/feature-detail/mallorca-native-wine-grapes.html
  5. https://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/wine/features/feature-detail/alicante-wines-monastrell.html
  6. https://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/wine/features/feature-detail/monastrell-grape-spain.html
  7. https://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/whats-new/features/feature-detail/mallorca-native-wine-grapes.html
  8. https://winetourismspain.com/wine-regions/
  9. https://daily.sevenfifty.com/an-in-depth-guide-to-the-wines-of-valencia/
  10. https://www.palatepress.com/2015/06/mallorca-the-galapagos-of-grapes/
  11. https://glossary.wein.plus/prensal
  12. https://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-spain


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.


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Tasting #242 June 28, 2022 Spanish Tempranillo

Degustation #242  June 28, 2022, 12:30pm    Spanish Tempranillo Wines

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA.


To learn about the Tempranillo grape variety grown in Spain and to taste four (4) Tempranillo wines produced with different maturation methods: Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Grand Reserva.

Jaime Estupinan


– Plate of salad, Serrano ham and salami.
–  Ravioli in tomato sauce.
–  Broiled stake and broiled vegetables.
–  Plate of cheeses.


1.   Vecordia Ribera Del Duero Roble, 2020 Joven, (Vecordia).

2.   Asua Rioja, 2016, Crianza, (Asua).

 3.  Marques De Cáceres,  2016, Rioja, Reserva, (Marqués de Cáceres).

4.   Latitud 42,  2010, Rioja Gran Reserva (Latitude 42).


Tarcello Averbug; Jorge Claro; Ruth Connolly; Clara Estrada; Jaime Estupiñán; Michelle Fryer; Agilson Perazza; Claudia Perazza; John Redwood; Lucía Redwood; Jorge Requena; Jairo Sánchez; and German Zincke.

 About Tempranillo: Grapes, Wine, Region, and Pairings

Learn about Tempranillo: Grapes, Wine, Region, and Pairings, written by the Master Class staff.
Last updated: Aug 4, 2021. By James Suckling:



What Is Tempranillo?

Tempranillo is a red grape variety that is the third most-planted wine grape in the world. It is especially popular in Spain, where it is the primary grape of the red wines of Rioja. Because it is often blended with other grapes, tempranillo does not have the name recognition of other famous red grapes like merlot or pinot noir, but it has a long history in Spain of making complex, long-lived wines.

Tempranillo is the main grape of the famous, lush, American-oak aged reds of Rioja, Spain. Spanish wines have long been among the best values in the world, and tempranillo-based wines, with years of age, can be found for a fraction of the price of similarly pedigreed wines from Bordeaux or Napa.


What Is the History of the Tempranillo Grape?

Tempranillo is an old grape, dating back to at least the ninth century. Tempranillo originated in the Iberian Peninsula and the vast majority of plantings are still in Spain, although it is also an essential component of the Port wines of Portugal. Tempranillo has spread to Spanish-influenced new world wine regions like Mexico and California. Tempranillo’s name likely comes from the Spanish temprano, meaning “early,” as the grape ripens a few weeks before other grapes in Spain.




What Are the Characteristics of Tempranillo?

Tempranillo grapes have moderately thin skins which result in a ruby-colored wine. Tempranillo is medium-bodied on its own as a single varietal, but it is often blended with garnacha, mazuelo, and graciano grapes to make a more full-bodied wine. Tempranillo has low-to-medium acidity and smooth tannins. Tempranillo wines are usually moderate in alcohol. The best examples of tempranillo can age for decades.

Where Is Tempranillo Grown?

Tempranillo is a hardy, productive, and adaptable vine that likes sandy, chalky, clay or limestone soils. Although it does well in hot weather, tempranillo can also withstand climates cooler than many other Spanish red grapes.

  • Northern Spain. Tempranillo is well-suited to the slightly cooler, high altitude areas of La Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa in central northern Spain. Northern Spain is also home to warmer areas that have a large diurnal temperature difference (difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures), which allows tempranillo grapes to ripen while hanging on to their acidity, which is naturally on the low side. Northern regions where Tempranillo thrives include Navarra (adjacent to Rioja); Toro, where it is called tinta de toro; and Ribera del Duero, where it is called tinto fino. Tempranillo is also found in Catalonia on Spain’s border with France, where it is called ull de llebre.
  • Central Spain. South of Rioja, in the central Spanish wine regions near Madrid, tempranillo is called cencibel. Unlike many Spanish red grapes, tempranillo does not accumulate too much alcohol in warm climates, so it can be grown in hot areas like Valdepeñas in La Mancha, where it is often blended with late-ripening cabernet sauvignon.
  • Portugal. Tempranillo is the most planted grape in Portugal, where it is known as tinta roriz(in the Dão and Douro regions) or aragonês (further south in Alentejo). The tempranillo grape is, along with touriga nacional and touriga franca, one of the main grapes used in the production of Port, Portugal’s historically significant fortified wine.

Because of its adaptability to various temperatures and soils, growers are experimenting and having success with tempranillo grown in newly popular regions such as Texas, Monterey in California, and in northern Mexico.

What Kinds of Wines Are Made With the Tempranillo Grape?

Although rare varietal wines made from tempranillo do exist, the grape is most often made into a blended red wine. In Rioja, tempranillo is the primary grape used in a blend that also includes mazuelo (also known as carignan), garnacha, and graciano. Those grapes all work to add body and structure to the tempranillo.

Some producers in Rioja are making rosé from the tempranillo grape, but this is a relatively new phenomenon.

In Portugal, tempranillo is used to make Port, where it is blended with the red grapes touriga nacional and touriga franca and then fortified. These range in color from deep ruby to tawny depending on age, but all are sweet and high in alcohol.

What Are the Classifications of Tempranillo Wine?

The most expensive and ageworthy tempranillo wines are made in Rioja. The Rioja DO (denominación de origen) wines are classified by the length of time they have spent aging, rather than a classification based on vineyard sites like in Burgundy. The best producers will age their wines longer than the minimums required by the Consejo Regulador, the group that governs the DO classification system. Wines from Rioja labeled “Joven,” or young, have not spent time in barrel and are not part of the classification system.

These aging requirement are:

  • Crianzawines are aged for a minimum of one year in barrel followed by one year in bottle.
  • Reservawines are aged for at least one year in barrel, followed by bottle aging that brings the total aging to at least three years before the wine is released.
  • Gran Reservawines are aged for a minimum of two years in barrel and three years in bottle before leaving the winery. These wines are ready to drink upon release but can age for decades longer.

What Does Tempranillo Taste Like?

Unfortified wines made from tempranillo are almost always dry. Tempranillo is known for its plush texture and complex aromas and flavors that range from savory to fruity to woody.

Some of tempranillo’s savory notes include:

  • Tobacco leaves
  • Earth
  • Barnyard
  • Leather

Tempranillo’s fruit profile tends toward ripe red fruits, like:

  • Plum
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry

Tempranillo is often aged in American rather than French oak barrels, which give it strong aromas of:

  • Coconut
  • Vanilla
  • Caramel
  • Dill pickles

Fortified wines made with tempranillo, such as Port, are strong and sweet, with flavors of nuts and caramel or chocolate and berries, depending on the style.

How Do You Pair and Serve Tempranillo Wine?

It’s hard to go wrong with food pairings and tempranillo. The wine’s savory smoothness and fruity finish complement a wide variety of dishes, from grilled meat to tomato sauce-based dishes to paella. Tempranillo’s moderate tannin and acidity can harmonize with spice-laden foods too. At a dinner with multiple pairings, serve tempranillo before more structured reds like cabernet sauvignon. Aged Rioja can be a surprising match with nutty cheeses like aged gouda, which bring out its caramel and truffle notes.


Wines of This Degustation


  1.   Vecordia Ribera Del Duero Roble, 2020, (Vecordia).

One hundred per cent Tempranillo red from Ribera del Duero, Spain- Violet-red. Spicy redcurrant and cherry aromas are complicated by cracked pepper, violet and dried rose; very complex for its price point. Supple red fruit flavors are quite sweet, with no obvious tannins. Rated 90+ by Beverage Dynamics. Elegant.   ABV: 14.1%, Taste: Spice, Cherry, Medium-bodied.



2.   Asua Rioja Crianza, 2016 (Asua).

Wine Advocate 92 -Rioja, Spain – “”…The oak is very subtle and in the background with some spices. It’s aromatic and has a lot of finesse. The palate is juicy and balanced, with the same freshness found in the nose and a dry, serious and chalky finish. Delicious. I love it…””. ABV: 13.5%; Taste: Black Fruit, Wood, Spice, Medium-bodied.

Winery: Asua

Asua was born as a tribute to the founders of Compania Vinicola del Norte de España CVNE, the Real de Asúa brothers. It’s a classic Rioja from a 5th generation family of winemakers that continues to receive critical acclaim and high ratings.

Every wine made at CVNE symbolizes what’s most important to them—tradition, quality and innovation. Their packaging represents the authenticity and origin of CVNE by using an image of the old winery.

Maria Larrea has been the Technical Director at CVNE since 2006. That’s not her only role though as she is also responsible for overseeing the production of Asua, from the vineyards to the development of each wine. Maria grew up surrounded by wine and became a licensed Winemaker.

Asua pairs well with a range of dishes, from red meats to leafy green salads. It’s ideal for sharing at dinner parties and is a great gift for any wine lover in your life.


3.   Marqués De Cáceres Rioja, Reserva,2016  (Marqués de Cáceres).

Rioja, Spain- This complex Tempranillo blend offers spicy, earthy aromas with blackberry and red fruits following on the palate. It is well-balanced with a terrific mouthfeel.  Style: Elegant; Taste: Blackberry, Medium-bodied, ABV: 14 %.

RESERVA 2016 D.O.Ca. RIOJA Made exclusively from the best vintages GRAPE VARIETIES 90% Tempranillo, 10% other varieties OENOLOGISTS, THE TRADITIONAL WINES RANGE Fernando Costa, Emilio González and Manuel Iribarnegaray VINEYARDS AND YIELDS A selection of old vineyards originating from Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Low yields, smaller than 5,000 kg/ha. TERRAIN Fundamentally clay-limestone. Plots of Rioja Alta with ferrous subsoil. 2016 VINTAGE Abundant rainfall, specially before sprouting, led to a favorable start of the phenological cycle with a plentiful water reserve. A dry and harsh summer. During September a rise in temperature and hours of sunshine in the midst of ripening, enabled a complete and balanced harvest, producing musts rich in sugars and polyphenolic structure. Vineyards with generous yields reaching optimum ripening without problem. Complete maturing throughout the year, with high alcohol levels, excellent notes of fruit. These wines from selected plots boast a great capacity for ageing. GRAPE HARVEST Harvested by hand, meticulously deciding the optimal harvesting moment for each plot and each variety. VINIFICATION Bunches are de-stemmed of their stalks with the greatest care. Temperature controlled alcoholic fermentation. Prolonged maceration with the skins with the aim of extracting more color, elegant aromas and smooth enveloping tannic structure. Malolactic fermentation in oak barrels and a stainless-steel tanks. Once the malolactic fermentation is finalized, all of the wines move to fine grain French oak barrels. Subsequent racking every 6 months. TOTAL TIME IN BARREL 15 months in French oak barrels, equally divided between new barrels and one and two-year old barrels with 5 monthly racking. REFINEMENT IN BOTTLE Minimum 2 years before its market launch. TASTING NOTES Dark and dense ruby color. Refined and complex aroma with a touch of cherry, vanilla and soft toasted notes. Balanced in the mouth, where the silky and well-defined tannins are combined with exquisite flavors to reveal a pleasant fullness. This Reserve firmly reflects the profile of the Bodegas previous vintages, awarded with several prestigious prizes. Serve at 17ºC.


Winery: Marques de Caceres

In 1970, Enrique Forner founded Marqués de Cáceres, Unión Vitivinícola, S.A., a historic Alliance between a region (Cenicero, La Rioja Alta), an enterprising family that has been devoted to the wine trade for five generations, the best vine growers and vineyards in La Rioja and a Bordeaux concept which revolutionized the production and business model with a single objective: the quality to obtain the best wines, an obsession that today continues to be the leitmotiv of Cristina Forner, the third generation of this distinguished wine family.

Enrique FornerCristina’s father, worked in the wine trade as a boy. In 1920, his grandfather and his father founded ‘Vinícola Forner’, a family business devoted to the production, sale and exportation of wines in Sagunto (Valencia).

Exiled in France due to the Civil War, Enrique founded a similar business in 1952, in the Rhône and Loire valleys (France), and in 1963 he bought two chateaux grands crus classés in the Haut Medoc region (Bordeaux), Château Camensac and Château Larose Trintaudon, convinced that he would be able to make some of the world’s finest wines.

He returned to Spain in 1968 and, given that a century before wine-producers and merchants from Bordeaux had chosen La Rioja when fleeing the phylloxera plague, he opted for La Rioja and Cenicero, in the heart of the La Rioja Alta sub-region, to continue his great dream.

Enrique Forner turned to his friend, Professor Emile Peynaud, a true revolutionary of winegrowing and winemaking in Bordeaux in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to steep La Rioja in the same reformist spirit.

At least five generations linked to wine forged the family spirit of Marqués de CáceresEnrique Forner, who founded the winery in 1970, learnt the wine trade from his father, who in turn had learnt from his father and grandfather (‘Wine producer Forner’), interrupted in Spain by a period of exile during the Civil War. Cristina Forner, his daughter, key to the internationalisation of Marqués de Cáceres, manages the winery with the pride and experience of one of the great Spanish families for which high-quality wine has never known boundaries, Marqués de Cáceres wines being present in over 120 countries.

A deep conviction in the ideas assimilated by Enrique Forner in France and transferred to La Rioja from 1970 onwards, means that they continue to be the pillars on which Cristina Forner rests Marqués de Cáceres. A spirit based on the production of high-quality wines, that is continually evolving with an established policy of investing in technology and innovation, but indifferent to the passing fashions which distort winemaking from time to time and lose sight of the fundamental objective of this business: offering the consumer a wine that they can enjoy and share with their friends and loved ones, as seamlessly and consistently as the history of Marqués de Cáceres.

The name of the winery was given by an old friend of the family D. Forner Vicente Noguera Espinosa de los MonterosMarqués de Cáceres and Grande de España.

The marquesado has its origins in the XVIII century and was granted by the King of Spain to the Captain of the Royal Spanish Navy Don Juan Ambrosio García de Cáceres and Montemayor in gratitude for his outstanding services to the Crown in the war of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The current Marqués de Cáceres, D .Juan Noguera is still attached to the Bodega.


4.  Latitud 42, Rioja Gran Reserva, 2010 (Latitude 42).

Wine Enthusiast 91 -Rioja, Spain- “Ripe berry aromas are oaky and include a note of woody vanilla. On the palate, this is tight and has a resiny texture from extended barrel aging. Oak-heavy flavors of vanilla and berries finish with chocolate and a medicinal hint.”

Latitud 42’s wines represent the long, multi-generational legacy of its winemaking family and the traditions of Rioja, Spain. The altitude and unique terrain of the vineyards give Tempranillo grapes a natural vibrancy and finesse that only improves with aging.

Latitud 42’s collection of Riojas is rich in dark fruit flavors with hints of chocolate, tobacco and spice. Whether you need a wine to pair with dinner or just crave a taste of Spain, these highly expressive red wines offer the perfect sips.


Winery: El Bodega Latitud 42 de Rioja

La Bodega Latitud 42 is one of the Rioja area. They offer 8 de vines for sale, all of them from Rioja. In situ and on-line sales are available.


Assessment of the Wines






Laughing matter?  

Which one would you abstain from?  Wine or women?

I need to know the year.


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Tasting #241  May 31, 2022, 12:30pm    Priorat and Penedès, Catalonia Wine Region

Tasting #241  May 31, 2022, 12:30pm    Priorat and Penedès, Catalonia Wine Region

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA.


Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez y Alberto Gomez


1st. Seafood salad
2nd. Prociutto and Melone
3rd. Three mature cheeses from Spain and Italy:
   Manchego, sheep, Spain
   Idiazabal, Cow, Spain, and
   Pecorino Romano, sheep Italy
4th Grilled tenderloin with wine sauce, and grilled vegetables, mainly sparagus.


  • 2018 Clos Mogador Vinya Classificada Gratallops. DOQ Priorat
  • 2017 Ferrer Bobet, Vinyes Velles  DOQ Priorat
  • 2018 Mas Martinet – Bru DOQ Priorat
  • Villa Conchi Cava, Brut Selección





To get acquainted with Catalonian Wine Region, main grapes, wines and styles in the Priorat and Penedès “Denominaciones de Origen Protegido” (DOP).

The Region was selected for having international recognition for Spain wine quality, diversity and tradition in grape production and wine-making. Wines were selected with criteria for local availability in Washington DC area and representing Catalonia’s Priorat and Penedès DOPs. Tasting will be blind to wine costs and serving order, to enhance identification of wine quality and attributes.

Catalonia Region

Location. The Catalan wine region is located along the Mediterranean coast in northeastern Spain and is strongly influenced by its Mediterranean climate. Along the coast temperatures are warm with moderate rainfall but conditions become progressively more arid further inland. The majority DOPs lie to the south of the distinctive peaks of the Montserrat Massif, while smaller plantations lie to the north of Barcelona and south of the French border at the Pyrenees.

Climate. The region is marked by warm climates along the coast and cooler temperatures through the foothills up to plateaus of more than 610 m. above sea level. The area has a diversity of soil types, mostly calcareous sediments mixed with alluvium and clay. Some of the most acclaimed vineyards in the region are found on scattered limestone deposits in the area.

Catalonia grapes and Wines. The wines of the Catalan wine region include sparkling Cava, dry white wines and powerful reds. The grapes of the region include the Cava and white wine grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo and the red wine grapes of Garnacha, Cariñena, Monastrell and Tempranillo. The production of sparkling white wine is the largest contributor to the Catalan wine industry, followed by production of still red and white wines. While the majority of the region’s wines are the Cava blends, many varietal wines are also produced.

DOs in Catalonia. The Catalan wine region includes 10 DOPs (Denominación de Origen Protegida), of which one, the Priorat, is a Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (DOCa or DOQ): (Alella, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Montsant, Penedès, Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona,and Terra Alta.  The Catalunya DOP is an umbrella appellation that covers the entire region for wines that do not fall under any other DOP designation.


Priorat wine DOP

The Priorat wine DOP is located in the Catalonia region, just inland from the Mediterranean port city of Tarragona. The Montsant mountain chain dominates the region, with vineyards situated between 330 feet above sea level in the valleys of Bellmunt del Priorat and el Molar up to 2,500 feet above sea level on the slopes of La Morera de Montsant and Porrera. This small, geographically inhospitable wine region produces some of the country’s most powerful red wines.

Many vineyards are located on costers (Catalan for “steep slope”) with a typical gradient of 15 and up to 60 percent, so terracing is common, and vineyards are often too steep and narrow for machine-harvesting. The slate soil on the slopes is known as llicorella due to its dark color and is the main feature of the soil’s terroir and the success of its native grapes.

History. The Priorat wine region has a long history, and it first began producing wine over 900 years ago. Priorat’s winemaking history begins in the twelfth century, when Carthusian monks from Provence established their priory, Cartoixa d’Escaladei in the region’s center. In 1980, the Clos, small walled-in vineyard spots meant for producing high-quality wines were introduced. These typically wines are labeled with the names of the individual mini-vineyards, such as Clos Erasmus, Clos Mogador, Clos de l’Obac, Clos Dofi (now Finca Dofi) and Clos Martinet. In the years 2000s Priorat became the second region in Spain, after Rioja, to receive the designation DOCa.

Climate. The climate here is remarkably continental, given its relative proximity to the Mediterranean. The official Priorat viticultural area covers 11 parishes located just inland from the city of Tarragona. Summers are long, hot and dry, and annual rainfall averages 500mm. The particular combination of geographical factors makes this one of Spain’s warmest, driest areas.

Topography and soil. A tiny mountainous region, rugged and dry, pretty much unsuitable for any other crop, except for wine grapes and olives.  Soil is of paramount importance to winemakers in Priorat as this is reputed to impart much of the minerality associated with the region’s wines. Priorat’s flagship soil type is “llicorella” – a free-draining, nutrient-poor soil made up of partially-decomposed slate and quartz.

Priorat grapes. Red grape varieties are by far the most popular in Priorat, accounting for 93 percent of plantings: Garnacha (41%) is rich and juicy, it adds body and density to red blends and holds its own as a varietal wine; Cariñena (23%) adds depth, intensity, and fruit flavors to red blends; Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) is permitted in Priorat blends, it can add structure; Syrah (10%) is permitted for blending, it makes for a full-bodied wine and adds earthiness; Merlot (6%) is also permitted in Priorat red blends, it adds a certain roundness; Garnacha Blanca (5%) while white wines aren’t common in Priorat, they do exist, and most come from this light-skinned version of Garnacha; Macabeo (1%) is the second most planted white wine grape in northern Spain, its mild flavor makes it a useful blending grape for cavas and rosés; Pedro Ximénez (0.5%) used in sweet, fortified wines.

Tasting of Priorat wines. Sun-dried red and black plum, black cherry, and cassis (red and black currant) dominate the aroma profile of high-quality Priorat red wine. Beyond the fruit, you’ll notice a distinct, “black stone” or “hard rock” minerality that some experts relate to the iconic llicorella slate soils of the region. The typical structure of Priorat offers soft, moderate acidity matched with big, brawny tannins, and relatively high alcohol (usually in the 14% and up ABV). Additional flavors might include some smoked salt, and spiced notes (cinnamon, cardamom, molasses), often with a somewhat herbal-minty or licorice-anisette finish. The finer the Priorat, the more harmoniously intense and polychromatic the taste profile will be, often traveling through several different stages of flavor (i.e., fruit, to savory, to spiced).

Wine regulations. Current Priorat production laws only recognize a so-called “Vino de guarda” in which a red wine must spend a minimum of 12 months in oak prior to bottling. Most red Priorat wines conform to this standard. Fermentado en Barrica or Barrica indicate the wine has been fermented or aged in barrels of 600 liters or less. The term Roble is often accompanied by the length of time (in months or years) the wine has spent in barrels of 600 liters or less.

DOQ Priorat is pushing a new qualification of wines produced in their wineries.

Introduced in 2019, “Los Nombres de la Tierra” is Priorat’s unique classification system. It has five tiers: 1.-DOQ. 2.-Vins de Vila.3.-Paratge. 4.-Vinnia Classificada. 5.-Gran Vinia Classificada

DOQ Priorat has just over 2.000 hectares of vineyards, grown by 535 producers and 109 wineries. Vine cultivation and wine making are the main economic activities of the appellation’s villages.

Best years: Outstanding (2010, 2004), Good (2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2005)

Penedès wine DOP

The most important viticultural area in Catalonia, northeastern Spain, in terms of both volumes produced and the diversity of wine styles. Its Penedès DO title covers dry, sweet and sparkling styles (red, white and rosé). Its vineyards also generate vast quantities of Spain’s flagship sparkling wine, Cava.

Penedès is a former administrative district in the coastal hills between Barcelona and Tarragona. It lies just a few miles down the Mediterranean coastline from Barcelona. Such proximity to Spain’s second-largest city provides the wine industry with a significant local market. It also offers a gateway to export destinations via its busy port.

History. The region’s long viticultural history began when the Romans arrived in the area. The region’s wines attracted little attention, and were rarely exported. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that they began attracting attention on export markets.  In 1960 the Penedès DO was introduced, followed almost immediately by sweeping changes in the region’s approach to quality wine production. The introduction of stainless-steel tanks and temperature-controlled fermentations ushered in a new era of cleaner winemaking, complemented by experimentation with non-traditional grape varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Climate. The climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers, mild winters and moderate rainfall concentrated mostly in spring and autumn. Due to the complex topography of the coastal hills, however, there is notable climatic variation from site to site, allowing winemakers to generate a relatively wide range of wine types.

Broadly speaking, Penedès can be divided into three climatic sub-zones: Baix Penedès, lower-lying, warmer areas, and specializes in the production of full-bodied red wines. Medio Penedès is the transitional area between the two. Alt Penedès lies higher up in the hills, between 500 and 800 meters. In the cooler conditions here, the freshest white wine styles are produced

Topography and soil.  The region has a highly varied geology characterized by very poor-quality, well-drained soils. The sandy, clay-like soil is poor in organic matter and rocky in the main, the pre-litoral upland. Coastal mountains are mostly limestone.

Penedès grapes.  Red Penedès wines have traditionally been made from such classic Spanish grape varieties as Garnacha, Cariñena, Monastrell and Tempranillo but the local winemakers are increasingly turning to the “international” Bordeaux varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The white wines are made from the varieties otherwise used for Cava: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, and more recently Chardonnay.

Cava grape varieties. Macabeo makes up around half of a typical Cava blend – not because of its flavor (quite bland), but because it represents a viticultural insurance policy. Macabeo vines bud relatively late in the spring, ensuring that their flowers and grapes are safe from early frosts.

The interesting, slightly earthy flavors that distinguish Cava from most Champagnes are generally attributed to Xarel-lo grapes. Pinot Noir and Monastrell are used to bring red pigment and depth of flavor to Cava Rosado, which may also be labeled as Cava Rosé. Grenache, Malvasia (sometimes called Subirat) and Trepat are also authorized for use in Cava by the Consejo Regulador wine authority, although the latter is allowed only in rosado wines.

Cava sweetness level begins with Brut Nature (0-3 grams/lt of residual sugar, no sugar added), and continue with Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Seco, Seco, Semiseco, and Dulce (more than 50 grams/lt)


Wine selection. We selected a cava from Penedès and three red wines from Priorat. Cava is core to the success of the Penedès area and red Priorat wine is exceptional for several reasons. First, it is one of very few world-class wine styles to be based on Grenache – a category in which it is joined only by red Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the top-end wines from California’s Sine Qua Non. Second, it is one of only two styles to hold Spain’s top-tier DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) classification. And third, it has risen from being almost unheard-of on the international wine market to being one of the world’s most expensive wines.


♣  2018 Clos Mogador Vinya Classificada Gratallops. DOQ Priorat

14.5% Vol. Garnacha (45%), Cariñena (29%), Syrah (16%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)


Clos Mogador is a vast amphitheatre of crumbling slate. The vines are surrounded by mountains up to 1.200 metres.  For the first time in Spain, Clos Mogador, was awarded the prestigious qualification of «Vi de Finca», an additional qualification to the D.O.Ca. Priorat certification. It certifies that all grapes used to make this wine over at least the last five years have been sourced from the Clos Mogador single vineyard.

Wine Advocate (98). Fermented with natural yeasts, slow fermentations with long maceration and long aging. It matured for 18 months in 2,000-liter oak vats and 30% in 300-liter oak barrels. There was a lot of rain in 2018, and it was an atypical year:

Vinous (96). Inky ruby. An exotically perfumed bouquet presents an array of mineral-driven dark fruit liqueur, spice and floral qualities, along with hints of vanilla and pipe tobacco that build as the wine opens up. Sweet and densely packed on the palate, offering intense blueberry, cassis, cherry compote and violet pastille flavors and a touch of cola. Rich yet energetic in character, displaying superb definition, building tannins and outstanding, smoky persistence.


♣  2017 Ferrer Bobet, Vinyes Velles  DOQ Priorat

14.5% Vol. Cariñena (74%) and Garnacha (26%)

Grapes from steep slate hillsides and terraces picked by hand. Selected berry by berry and then transferred to tanks by gravity. Fermentation in 15 and 30 Hl wooden and stainless-steel tanks. Malolactic conversion and aging in fine-grained, medium and lightly-toasted French oak barrels for 15 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Bottle aged for a minimum of 11 months.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (95).  In a warmer year, the high percentage of Cariñena has worked wonders; it has herbal and floral aromas and a rustic side but is mostly elegant. It’s beautifully textured, and the tannins are very fine; there is no sense of heat at all, and it has amazing balance and a very tasty finish. The oak is perfectly integrated.

Wine Spectator (94).  The medley of black cherry, currant and plum is focused and lively and flanked with tar, smoke and spice undertones. This has depth, freshness and harmony of flavors. 

♣  2018 Mas Martinet – Bru DOQ Priorat

14.5% Vol. Garnacha (28%), Syrah (26%), Cariñena (23%), Merlot (16%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%)

Martinet Bru is mainly sourced from a single vineyard, known as Mas Seró. The soil is stony but the vineyard is cool in terms of climate. It faces the cooling sea breeze and the quality of the soil means this wine is more drinkable and easier to understand than most Priorat wines, affording it hint of licorice, blackberries, rosemary and tannins.

It’s a blend of grapes from three organically farmed. The grapes are picked early but at different times, fermented with some full clusters and, when possible, with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. It matured in a combination of 4,500-liter oak vats, used 300-liter barrels, amphorae and glass demijohns.

Forward and elegant wine, lovely fresh nose of integrated black fruits and oak, overlaid with minerals and hints of spices in a warm deliciously smooth, fresh, friendly wine, marked tannins and licorice notes on its long lingering finish.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (93). Elegant and fresh, nuanced and clean. It’s very harmonious and feels very balanced, with fresh flavors and very fine tannins. It’s one of the finest vintages for this bottling.

Jeb Dunnuck (91).  A juicy, upfront style carrying lots of ripe black cherry and mulberry fruits as well as notes of brambly herbs, licorice, and earth. It’s nicely textured and balanced, has silky tannins.

♣   Villa Conchi Cava, Brut Selección

11.5% Vol. Macabeo (30%), Parellada (30%), Xarel.Lo (30%), Chardonnay (10%)

Bodega Villa Conchi is located in Penedès, Catalonia. The grapes are harvested manually and pressed directly on arrival at the winery. Each variety is fermented separately, then the must is blended and bottled together with the base wine, to which yeast and sugar are added to create the second fermentation. The bottles are kept in underground cellars at constant temperature, in contact with their lees. The Cava is then aged for minimum 12 months in bottle. After this period, the sediments are removed and the liqueur d’expédition is added in order to obtain a Brut style

This cava is balanced and elegant with a refreshing quality. It has pronounced flavors of ripe fruit and citrus notes. Lingering behind on the palate are hints of apple, pear and citrus.

James Suckling (91). Sliced apples and pears with some dried biscuits and minerals. Full-bodied. Layered. Dry finish.

Guía Penin (89). Colour: bright yellow. Nose: ripe fruit, fine lees, balanced, dried herbs. Palate: good acidity, tasty, ripe fruit, long.



-MacNeil, Karen, 2015, The Wine Bible, Second Revised Edition, New York, Workman Publishing

-Robinson, Jancis and Julia Harding, 2015, Oxford Companion to Wine, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press









Club del Vino members assessment of the tasted wines and theirs prices:


Laughing matter:

Best Fitness Tracker and Watch


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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.

Tasted Vines Assessment by  Club del Vino members:


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:



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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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