Monday, April 16, 2012

Spanish Wines At Whole Foods Market


The wines of Spain loom large in my love of the grape.  It was a tasting event featuring Spanish wines which first made me want to pursue wine as something more than just a beverage.  To paraphrase the Hoyt Axton song made famous by Three Dog Night, “I’ve never been to Spain, but I kinda like the vino.”  I kinda like it a lot.

Whole Foods Market has their springtime spotlight on Spain’s wine heritage, and they are featuring a dozen Spanish wines that are each priced at less than $20.

When the grocery chain invited me to participate in a pair of Twitter tastings featuring some of these Spanish wines, I didn’t even think about saying no.  Due to scheduling difficulties, I was unable to participate in the first round of tasting and tweeting.  The second round - April 19th, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. CDT - will see me tasting and tweeting.  Since my local Whole Foods was kind enough to supply me with all six of the wines in the tastings, allow me to taste and type about the first three now.

Hermanos Lurton Rueda Verdejo 2010
In addition to Spain, Francois Lurton also makes wine in his French homeland, as well as in Portugal, Argentina and Chile.  This wine comes under a screwcap and carries an alcohol number of 12.5% abv.

This Verdejo comes from from low-yielding vines.  When a grapevine yields a small amount of fruit, that fruit tends to be much more concentrated in aroma and flavor.  The Lurton holds true to that rule, showing a medium golden tint and an extremely aromatic nose.  Tropical fruit aromas, cantaloupe and the peel of lemons and oranges fill my nostrils immediately.  It’s the kind of bouquet I want from a slightly chilled white wine on a warm afternoon outside.  Not to plagiarize Evan Dawson, but it has the olfactory sense of summer in it.

The wine is fairly full in the mouth, too, with a razor-sharp acidity.  The citrus zest comes across the palate first with pineapple next - not the sweet heart, but the part very close to the rind.  Melon lingers on the very long finish.  This is what I want a white wine to be - anytime.


Castillo de Monséran Cariñena Garnacha 2009

The grapes for this wine - called Grenache elsewhere - are grown in Spain’s northeastern Aragon region.  The cool-climate vineyards are located up in the Sierra de la Virgen mountains.  The DO status for Cariñena was created in 1932, and the area is where the French Carignane grape originated.  It’s known as Mazuelo in Cariñena and is still widely planted, although Garnacha Tinta is king.

The back label, after a brief and none-too-descriptive summary of the vinification, ends up with one of those great blanket recommendations: “To be drunk with all meat dishes or slightly chilled with any starter.”  That doesn’t narrow it down much, but it does leave my options wide open.  Again, a moderate alcohol level of 12.5% abv.

The medium dark hue tips off a nose of very intense black cherry and blackberry with a bit of earth peeking through.  The taste is a mix of cherry and raspberry, with a tartness and earthy quality about it.   A great level of acidity makes the mouth water.  Nice tannins would support that rather all-encompassing pairing suggestion..


Castaño Yecla Monastrell 2011

Yecla is a DO in the Murcia region of southeastern Spain.  The area is known for its Monastrell - elsewhere called mourvédre.  Under the Castaño screwcap is a wine made from organic grapes and bearing a robust 14% alcohol number.

It’s a very dark wine, not inky but getting close to it.  The nose displays dark blackberry and plums with a layer of clove.  On the palate there is dark fruit and spice as well.  Some oak steps forward but doesn’t try to steal the show.  That act is handled by the brilliant acidity and forceful tannins.  The Castaño Monastrell would pair quite well with a smoky grilled steak.

If these three Spanish beauties are an indication, the second round of the Whole Foods Twitter Tasting should be a gem.  Join in, if you can.  Follow my tweets, or those of @WFMWineGuys.  The hashtag #WFMWine should make it easy to channel all that Spanish wine chatter into a single column.  You can also go to http://www.twitter.com/#!/search/wfmwine to see all the tweets.



Spanish Wines Twitter Tasting 2 – Apr. 19 at 7 p.m. CST
Castell de Raimat Albariño
Faustino Rioja
Más de Leda Tempranillo


Whole Foods Market featured Spanish wines include:
Hermanos Lurton Verdejo from Rueda
Castell de Raimat Albariño from Costers del Segre in Catalan
Spartico Organic Tempranillo from Valencia 
Protos Tinto Fino from Ribera del Duero 
Faustino Rioja from Rioja
Maximo Tempranillo from La Mancha 
Más de Leda Tempranillo from Castilla y León 
La Vendimia Granacha Tempranillo from Rioja 
Cellars Can Blau Blau Cariñena Garnacha-Syrah from Priorat 
Monte Oton Garnacha from Campo de Borja
Castillo de Monséran Garnacha from Cariñena
Castaño Organic Monastrell from Yecla 



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