Recently many wine regions both old and new are striving to push themselves to the forefront of international attention. Spain has a long history that after some fading years has made great progress to reestablish its prominence for value and quality. Our jovial group decided to explore some of the more esoteric portions of the wine landscape and met at York St. Café to taste some recent vintages. Situated in a building from the 1870’s, York St. Café has an eclectic mix; converted apothecary on the first floor for dining, a bistro with live music on the second, and a stark white art gallery at the top that provided the backdrop for our evening.
As the sunset played across stained glass in nearby church windows, we welcomed the dusk with a Quinta do Dorado Alvarinho “Seleccao” 2002 and trio of appetizers. With a fine floral nose, ripe tropical flavors, and underpinnings of lees and acidity, this wine was a step up from more common Albarinos and matched beautifully with paté and capers as well as prosciutto wrapped melon slices. Soon we took seats to find Vice Echanson Gordon Hullar had assembled a special tour through some allocated wines from many areas using some unusual varietals.
We proceeded through seven red wines in three groups to give some time for comparisons. First in our tour were Bodegas Palacios Remondo Rioja Tinto Propiedad 2001, Dominio de Atuata Ribera del Duero 2002, and Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus Ribera del Duero 2001. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano And Mazuelo provided the materials from both Rioja and Ribera del Duero for these fine wines. These as a group had some lavender aromas and lighter body that matched well with food, although the Flor de Pingus hinted at the mythical status of its big brother. We took the next two, El Seque “El Seque” Alicante 2001 and Fra Fulco Priorat 2000 together as a pair. Although Alicante on the Mediterranean coast and Priorat are two disparate areas, these two blends both exhibited elegance. Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan, and Garnacha are known in France with these or other names and gave particular magic to the highly allocated Fra Fulco which would give many Bordeaux a run for the money.
Our last three wines truly went to the unusual and esoteric being special rare wines made with some varietals equally unknown to American palates. Decendientes de José Palacios Corullon Bierzo 1999 was made from the Mencia grape in Bierzo and was notable for a very dark color that gave way to a surprising light body and full fruit. Bodegas Mustiguilo Quincha Corral Valencia 2000 was the most controversial wine of the night that would probably be at the top or bottom of anyone’s list with no middle ground. Made primarily from the Bobal grape in Valencia, this wine had aromas of dark chocolate, iodine, and lavender with a mysterious changing complexity that left one pondering for a long time. Our final wine was Finca Villacreces Nebro Ribera del Duero 1999 with a more classic blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from 60 year old vines a “stone’s throw away” from Vega Sicilia, this wine had great floral and mushroom notes, even full fruit body backed by spice and oak, and a wonderful balance throughout. This may have been the best match with food for the event.
As the tasting wound down, Chef Annabel Stolley of York St. Café provided a magnificent compliment to the wines arrayed before us. Flank steak with grilled vegetables and authentic paella were among the delicious choices to try with the wines along with some chocolate for dessert, always a welcome treat! By the evening’s end our group had realized a vast enjoyable learning experience in the Iberian peninsula and los vinos de España.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse