CHRISTMAS 2015 – THE WINES!
Firstly, relax – at this time of year, if you can’t find the following wines at your local wine shops, most Spanish wineries are geared up to dispatching orders to arrive within a couple of days. Christmas 2015 is saved!
Like the Top Ten wines of the year (article soon), it’s been very difficult to decide upon the wines I’d like to recommend for your Christmas dinner this year. Indeed, for each of the following wines there are two or three that could easily have taken their place .
As the aperitif, amuse bouche wine, I’ve chosen a sparkler. If we can’t have a celebratory drink at Christmas, then when can we?!
It’s a while since I wrote about the Sparkling Wines coming from Bodegas Raventós i Blanc. In fact the present incumbent, Pepe Raventós, is a direct descendant of the man who started the Brut Ball rolling, the founder of the sparkling wine multi-million Euro industry in Spain. (Later to be officially called ‘Cava’.)
Raventos i Blanc’s wax sealed, paper bag enclosed ‘De La Finca’ Spanish Sparkling Wine is excellent! It is not intending to be compared to a fine Champagne, but one cannot help the comparison. Nor does it want to compete with France’s illustrious sparkler, but nevertheless the taster will automatically consider which he/she thinks the better! It’s that good!
The three traditional varieties: Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada are all employed with the added crucial element of 36 months ‘en rima’ (remaining in bottle after the second fermentation with its lees) from which it draws extra depth of flavour, increased complexity, weight and elegance.
You’ll find some blanched almond notes to go along with the brioche (told you there were Champagne comparisons to be made!), a white flower fragrance, a slight, bone-dry stewed apple note which accompanies the freshly sliced apple acidity and perhaps a faint reference to white stoned fruit. The length is enduring and although the wine has that raison d’etre celebratory freshness it also has sufficient depth to accompany a range of foods, including white meats! (www.raventos.com)
For white wine I’m recommending Pazo de Señorans Selección de Añada 2007 (Guía Proensa 96 points out of 100!) this Christmas. Yes, that’s the 2007 vintage, which readers may think gives a lie to my claim that most Spanish white wine should be drunk young! However, note the ‘most’ – there are exceptions.
White wines that have dallied with oak at some time, will last longer, for example. However, Selección de Añada has not had any time on barrel! No, the method used for this wine is another, though expensive (because of the amount of time involved where the wine has to be kept, costing, but not yet bringing in any revenue) way of ensuring extra longevity.
The wine is fermented in stainless steel, but then kept for 30 months in a temperature controlled tank with its lees (the dead yeast particles) in situ. At regular intervals the wine has been stirred so that, rather than having the sediment drop nicely to the bottom of the tank, thus clarifying the wine above, here it is repeatedly made cloudy!
We wouldn’t want such wine in our glass, but of course by the time that this wine is bottled it has been allowed to clarify naturally. Then when finally poured into our glasses (in this case 8 years later!) it is of course perfectly clear and bright. This regular stirring is deliberate of course – it enables the wine to be kept for a long time whilst it develops, plus it also brings with it a certain flavour and textual nuance.
Whilst enjoying the white peach and flower (magnolia for me, perhaps jasmine too?) aromas you may also note a creamy feel and flavour, a characteristic brought about by the above method. Plus, the wine retains the fresh, clean essence of fine dry white wine, making it seem to be a far younger wine than it is – it has to be considered a modern day classic! Please, try this wine! (www.pazodesenorans.com)
I’d never heard of the variety Romé before I tasted the excellent Bodegas Bentomiz’ Rosado. However, Jancis Robinson MW considers it the second best rosé wine in Spain – so that’s good enough for me!
In the glass, it is Tizer-esque in colour and on the nose there are delightful soft red fruit nuances. There’s a lick of minerality and some red wine notes of mature tannin. It’s a fragrant delight, one to be enjoyed with a fish course of salmon or trout, as well as with seafood, and even lighter meats.
Rosado rarely gets a look in when we consider wines for Christmas – I think this one will make us change our minds. (www.bodegasbentomiz.com)
This year I’ve really found the Christmas red to be a very difficult choice! Alma de Luzón, the Soul of Luzón, is the flagship wine of DO Jumilla’s Bodegas Luzón and understandably so, as it speaks of the soil in which its elderly Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell and Syrah vines have been growing, as well as the bodega’s fine wine-making philosophy.
New French and American oak are used, but it was only the best barrels which were chosen to make this limited edition wine. In total the wine has benefited from some 22 months in barrica, but whilst this has added some flavour of course, it’s the richness, you might even say, opulence, of the fruit that you taste, and indeed, feel, on the palate.
On the nose there’s some sweet cedar and vanilla with a little coconut and coffee, though it’s the dark blackberry, blackcurrant and picota cherries that you’ll first encounter, a fruit compote that will remain with you from first hit, through the mid-palate and onto the long finish. It’s rich, yes, and at 15% abv, you may think, before tasting, that it’s a bit of a bruiser – but no, this wine is so elegant too! (www.bodegasluzon.com)
Finally – a real rarity, the distinctive Pago de Tharsys Dulce Bronx Dessert white wine! It is so unique, with some citric orange peel on the nose as well as toffee apple notes with a passing candy floss aroma and taste. Hold it in your mouth and you’ll discern too some canned mixed fruit cocktail with exotic mango, papaya and lychee and a tinned peach finish. Remarkable wine made from an almost extinct grape variety, originally Greek/Phoenician and now renamed Bronx! (www.pagodetharsys.com)