Yes, Darling, THE highlight of the Christmas, New Year and Three Kings Holidays was, of course, being with you and the family – goes without saying!
I’m speaking here, purely from a wine point of view!
Just covering myself here – you never know! Well, now the coast is clear, we tasted some excellent wines over the holidays, starting on Christmas Eve and continuing there on in! Some where tasted therefore in December, technically, of course, in 2019 – so they could have been included in the Tope Ten!
However, this is often the case so, because of deadlines I usually tag the late entries onto the next year. Thus, there will be at least one, maybe two, I should think, that will be in the honours list for 2020. I’m sure avid followers of the Top Ten will understand!
I think that Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blanc Conca del Riu Anoia has to be one of the best value for money Spanish Sparkling Wines it’s possible to find! Priced at around 11€, this Premium fizz, which has so clearly benefited from extra time ageing on its lees, gives everything we require from sparkling wine. It pairs with so many dishes; it’s fresh, dry and celebratory; it has presence on the palate; it enjoys some complexity; and it has a long finish!
I’ve written about Uvas Cabrera Moscatel before (June last year, actually). I really enjoyed this superb dry Moscatel when I tasted it in Jesús Pobre at the annual wine fair (you must go by the way – it’s outstanding!). With an extra 6 months under its belt, it is even better now. Dry and minerally, there’s a pleasing musky edge to it, with little of the characteristic raison/grape aroma, therefore making it seem like a different grape variety all together. Floral, with some slight citrus notes in the palate – limited production, but when you see it, buy it!
I’ve visited Bodegas Los Frailes near Fontanars a few times – this winery, which employs organic and biodynamic vineyard management (when I was last there, the aisles between vines were being ploughed by horse, and there were goats grazing in one of their other vineyards!), produces some great wines, which, if they were from areas more famous would, command twice the price they currently fetch. 1771 is their flagship wine, named after the year that the family bought the finca and its land at auction from the then King of Spain! Thrilling Monastrell!
Gran Crisalys, from the entirely dependable Bodegas Torelló, elegant white wine is made with Xarel.lo and Chardonnay, both of which were fermented separately in oak barrels where the wine rested for four months, with thrice weekly stirring. After regular tasting, only those barrels marked with an X were selected for blending. For me, both varieties handle a little oak perfectly, the result is a white wine that has such a wonderful aroma and flavour that it can be paired with fish, seafood, of course, but also magnificently with turkey! Hint, Hint, for 2020 Christmas!
I was very pleased to present a rosado at my final 2019 Private Tasting (article soon). A real fan of Spanish rosado I was able to convince some doubters that there are some truly excellent rosé wines here. This, in fact, is one of the most expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot to find real quality.
Dominio del Pidio Rosado is made with Tinto del País (DO Ribera del Duero’s preferred name for Tempranillo) and the white variety, Albillo, which, incidentally, has become a favourite of mine over the last two years! It’s a pale, Provençal shade of pink, but if that makes you think it’s a delicate wine for girls – forget it! The must is able to macerate with the black skinned grapes for longer than some similarly coloured rosados, because of the white must to be blended in later. This means that the finished wine benefits from a lot more than just the colour of the red wine variety.
Fermentation is in cement tanks, with four months of ageing on its lees in 225 litre and 500 litre barricas. Full, dry, floral, with some red peach notes to accompany the raspberry and slightly under ripe red cherry, with a little stony minerality too!
And finally, for this article anyway, I’ll finish with an old friend – the Reserva Especial Cava from Bodegas Dominio de la Vega. It’s a long time since I last tasted this iconic Cava Valenciano. Made with Macabeo and Chardonnay, with some of the juice fermented in oak, it’s a Premium Cava that never fails to wine awards and medals, speaking so eloquently for cavas made outside of Cataluña, and indeed for Spanish Sparkling Wines in general!
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