PAGO LOS BALANCINES WINES COME TO JAVEA!
I first tasted the portfolio of Pago Los Balancines wines when attending Fenavin, Spain’s largest and best wine fair (in my view, and that of other commentators, it has surpassed Alimentaria, where I used to be a regular). I’m glad I went and I went away thinking, ‘must look out for these wines again’.
So, when I stopped for a cooling glass of white wine at La Trastienda, Javea Pueblo’s excellent wine bar recently, I jumped at the chance to showcase the Balancines wines, paired with my friend Juan’s super-tasty dishes at a public tasting.
Set at altitude in the not so famous DO Ribera del Guadiana in the Extremadura region of western Spain, which borders Portugal, Pago Los Balancines produces wine which, from entry level to flagship offer very good quality and good value too.
We started our tasting with their Blanco Sobre Lías 2016. What might have been considered something of an unholy alliance in the France of yesteryear, is here, today in Spain, nothing of the sort. Chardonnay (of Burgundy, of course) and Sauvignon Blanc (of Bordeaux – sacre bleu!) blend together very nicely. The acidity of the Sauvignon gives refreshing juiciness to the body and slightly exotic fruit of the Chardonnay. Served with a Moroccan influenced couscous salad, it worked nicely!
The next wine, Huno Blanco, is made from the former of the above, Chardonnay. The 2015 vintage has had a few months in oak and partnered a carpaccio of cod. There’s a slight nutty edge to the fruit, hazelnut to me, complimenting the pine nuts served with the fish. The fresh young pineapple, and the zest coming from its peel, as in the wine above, has morphed into a very ripe let’s-eat-it-now pineapple, and it has that vanilla and coconut flakes aroma from the French oak.
ALUNADO 2014, another white, might be a bit of Marmite wine – you’ll love it, or hey, well, not like it so much! There aren’t many of the natural Sauvignon characteristics coming out of this wine. No sharp gooseberry, no cats pee aromas, no asparagus and no slightly under-ripe kiwi. Why? Well this wine has been fermented and aged with its lees for 13 mnths in French oak, and the oak does predominate. I wouldn’t drink it exclusively, but I’d certainly drink it with full flavoured fish, shell fish, like the sweet langostinos here, chicken for sure, some Asian SE Asian dishes, and well, I think it would be great with Turkey, too!
The fourth wine, Huno Blend, a red wine, is made with five varieties, the principal one of which is Garnacha Tintorera, and the also Spanish Graciano and Tempranillo, with very useful back up from Cab Sauv and Syrah. Enjoyed with pork, it is, like all blended wines should be (though some aren’t) the sum of its parts, harmonious, with no one variety standing out, and of course some extra character and complexity joining the party from the French oak in which it has rested for 12 months.
Haragán, is made with 50% Garnacha Tintorera and 50% Tinta Roriz. Now, if you look at the list of permitted varieties for this DO, Ribera del Guadiana, you won’t find Tinta Roriz! However, you will find Tempranillo – yes, Tinta Roriz (commonly seen labels in nearby Portugal) is another of the aliases of Spain’s most famous grape variety.
Wild dark berry fruits from old vines harvested at night by hand. Juicy, but not immature and vivacious; elegant, but powerful too – 15%, with15 months in French oak. There’s some black pepper mixed in with the brambly fruit and some undergrowth, some mushroom compost, but always the fruit to the fore. Long finish – great with grilled meats, also big enough for casseroles and game.