Showing posts with label La Mancha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Mancha. Show all posts

Friday, June 9, 2017

Spanish Wine Comes To L.A.

The Familia Martínez Bujanda winery was established in 1889. Today, it's run by Carlos Martínez Bujanda and his sister Pilar. The family has estate vineyards in Rioja, La Mancha and Rueda. I recently had the great fortune to meet Marta Bujanda, Pilar's eldest daughter and the first of the fifth generation to join the family business.

Marta is the export manager, an important position for a wine producer which sells 70% of its wine abroad. Marta came to Los Angeles to pour her wines for a few wine scribes like me, Anthony Dias Blue and Brett Anderson. A swingin' night out with that crew may sound like a full-on vacation, (pause for chuckles) but Marta was in work mode. She enjoyed herself, it was clear, but I believe that had less to do with table mates and more to do with the chance to expound on her family's wines.

The Bujanda wines poured at dinner - at Michael's in Santa Monica - were all single-vineyard wines, driven by their respective terroir. From Rioja, there are the Viña Bujanda and the Finca Valpiedra wines, from Rueda comes the Finca Montepedroso line and out of La Mancha are the wines of Finca Antigua.

I got to the restaurant a little early and had the chance to enjoy a drink from Michael's bar. I opened with a barrel-aged Martinez, 47 day.  It's gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino, angostura and orange bitters with a lemon twist. It has a lovely cherry red color, and flavors of black cherry, herbs, citrus and vanilla spice. For this cocktail, it should be Christmas.

Here are my impressions of the wines poured during the dinner.

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2009 - A Tempranillo from Rioja, made by winemaker Lauren Rosillo. It's a Graciano and Maturana blend. Great tannic grip, beautiful fruit, savory notes. This is the steak wine. $40

Cantos de Valpiedra 2013 - 100% Tempranillo from Rioja.  Perfumed and delicious. Smooth, with 22 months on oak.

Viña Bujanda Gran Reserva 2010 - 100% Tempranillo from Rioja, fermented in steel and aged 24 months in French and American oak, 39 months in the bottle. Smooth, helluva 30 dollar wine.

Vina Bujanda Crianza 2014 - All Tempranillo from Rioja. It spent a year in American and French oak. Grapes from 20-60 year-old vines. Red fruit and vanilla spice, beautiful with the Bronzini.

Finca Antigua 2013 - Cabernet Sauvignon from La Mancha. $10. Here's where you do a double-take. Response at the table was "Ten buncks? Get out!" Fresh and fruity. Fermented in steel, aged 10 months in new French oak. Great structure.

Finca Antigua 2016 - 100% Viura from old La Mancha vines. Grapefruit nose, flavors of distinct earth and citrus. Very savory white wine. Spent five months on lees.

Finca Montepedroso 2016 - 100% Verdejo from the Rueda vineyard named for its "mountain of stones." Grapefruit and lime, less savory than the Viura, but just a little. 2500-foot elevation vineyard planted in 1980. Five month on lees.

Both whites age well, according to Marta, over 12 years at least. Virua is the better ager, she says, and it even picks up some petrol notes with age.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wines From Spain: Castilla-La Mancha

The land of Don Quixote has a lot more than windmills to tilt.  Wine glasses, for instance.  The Castilla-La Mancha region is located just below the central portion of Spain.  It's a big wine region - the biggest in Europe.  The specialties of the casa are wines made from Tempranillo and Airen grapes.  However, there are 23 white grapes and 23 red grapes permitted, so choosing a favorite may be difficult.

In early June, the La Mancha region brought its wine to Los Angeles for a tasting event - appropriately - at The Bazaar by José Andrés, in the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills.  I didn't get to taste from every table, and each stop I made offered more delights than the one before.  Here are some highlights:

Vinos & Bodegas - The company was founded in 1997, but the Cantareto family's wine roots go back five generations.  Their Imperium Vini Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is produced without the use of oak, so it has a fresh flavor that is all fruit and herbs with a dash of citrus zip.  The Barón de Larrainz Red Semisweet 2011 is just slightly earthy Tempranillo with a nice touch of sweetness.

Arrayan - This winery in the northwestern part of the region has an unoaked Syrah/Merlot blend - La Verdosa First Wine 2011 - that is dark and fresh tasting.  The Arrayan Rosado 2012 uses the same grapes to their pink advantage.  Very fruity with a nice acidity.  The Arrayan Syrah 2009 is very savory and earthy, while their Petit Verdot 2007, with a year in oak, is savory and dark.

Bodegas Santa Cruz poured a pair of Verdejo wines - produced in different styles - that provided a great side-by-side comparison.  Santa Cruz de Alpera White 2012 shows great minerality and salinity, while its sibling - Santa Cruz de Alpera Partially Fermented Must White - is on the sweet side, with a bigger acidity.  I'm told that must wines need not carry a vintage, but this one is 2012.

Encomienda de Cervera not only makes wine, but olive oil and Manchego cheese, too.  Their 19th-century winery has been restored to modern standards.  The Soto de Zemtinar White 2011 is a surprisingly earthy Chardonnay loaded with minerality.  Vulcanus Syrah Rosé 2010 is deeply pink with a huge nose, great acidity and a mouthful of plums.  They saved their best for last, the 1758 Selección Cencibel 2010.  This vibrant red is Tempranillo under its La Mancha name, Cencibel.  The 50-year old vines contribute an amazing spice character which is even more interesting when you note that it is unoaked.  It's an incredible wine.

Domino de Punctum Organic and Biodynamic Wines' Viento Aliseo Graciano/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 has an enormous nose and a palate of red fruit, graphite and oak spice.  It has a great backbone, too.

Bodegas Romero de Ávila Salcedo wins awards all over the world, which may explain why their export department speaks several languages.  Their Portento Tempranillo 2011 is a no-oak wonder, with bright and fresh red berry flavors.

Altolandon's altitude - 3,600 feet - makes for a cool-climate area.  Altolandon White 2010 mixes Chardonnay with Petit Manseng for minerals, herbs and fruit on the nose and palate.  The L'Ame Malbec 2010 is a perfumed, bold, spicy red.  Rayeulo 2009 is made from the locally popular Bobal grape.  It should be popular in more places.  This rather brawny wine sports a juicy, red nose with a slightly sour touch and plum flavors galore.  Great tannic structure, too.

Finca Los Alijares is a relative newcomer in a land with as much history as La Mancha - founded in 2005.  The Finca Los Alijares Viognier 2012 is pure fruit - a floral nose and lemon zest in the mouth make for a great sip.  Finca Los Alijares Graciano 2010 is earthy, plummy, clean and pure in the mouth.  There is a touch of roses on the cherry flavors.

Bodegas Cristo de la Vega produces the Marques de Castilla line.  Their White Airen 2012 puts a savory angle on the white peach flavor and offers stirring acidity.  Their Rosé of Tempranillo and Garnacha 2012 made me wish the tasting had been held out in the warm sun.  The Reserva Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 shows caramel notes on the nose and is fruity and elegant on the palate, with a touch of smoke.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Friday, July 13, 2012

Whole Foods Wine: Summer Twitter Tasting #2

Part two of the Whole Foods Summer Wine Twitter tasting event came on July 12, 2012, right when we needed a little something to keep us cool.  In my part of the world, it was not only warm outside, but unusually humid, too.  An opportunity to taste a few nice chillers was welcome.  For an overview of the event, and the wines, check out the earlier article on Whole Foods’ Top Ten Wines for Summer here.  The notes on Twitter Tasting #1 are here.

This time around, we once again have two white wines and a red.  There is once again a good international feel to them as well.  These summer wines hail from Greece, Australia and Spain.

People tweeted their thoughts on these wines from New England, Columbus, Southern California,  New Jersey, Vancouver, BC and Maui, to name just a few locales.  The participants tweeted about each wine in turn, and many lodged a vote for their favorite near the end of the hour.  As is customary, many Whole Foods Markets from across the U.S. were hosting in-store tastings at the time.  All the tweeting occurred in the hashtag #WFMwine.

One of my favorite tweets came from the global wine team at Whole Foods, @WFMWineGuys: “Peloponnese locals bash their octopi on the rocks to tenderize it, then grill & pair it with this snappy sipper.”  They were referring to the first wine in the lineup, which is said to pair spectacularly with calamari, bashed or otherwise.

Kyklos Moschofilero 2011

This white wine is made by Voyatzis, a winery located in the north-central part of Greece, fairly close to Albania and Macedonia and not all that far from Bulgaria. It is fashioned from 100% Moschofilero grapes, aromatic and spicy with generally good acidity.  On the label, this wine is called a “New Generation Moschofilero,” but since this is my first experience with the grape, it’s possible I don’t know what I’m missing.  The alcohol content is very reasonable - 11% abv - so it shouldn’t weigh us down too much. 

The wine gives a pale color in the glass, with a nose that’s made for a summer day.  Tropical fruit and spicy aromas float over a floral base.  In the mouth, the acidity is immediately noticeable.  Flavors of orange peel, cantaloupe and honeydew come forward, and the acidity lasts right through the finish.  There’s a great sense of minerality here, too.  Whole Foods suggests pairing with seafood - Calamari Pasta specifically - or a Mahón cheese.

Yalumba Christobel’s Eden Valley Riesling 2011

Yalumba Winery was founded in Angaston, South Australia in by Samuel Smith in 1849.  Yes, beer lovers, THAT Samuel Smith.  He apparently tired of brewing and went to Australia to make wine.  Its name is taken from Christobel Hill Smith, who was the hostess at the winery for 50 years.  In her memory, the bird-and-flower label is placed with love.  The wine is a low, low 10.5% abv, so it’s even lighter that the Greek entry. 

The acidity is also a little less thrilling than in the Moschofilero, but it’s still nice.  Pale in the glass, this Riesling gives the greek wine a run for its money in the aromatics department.  The nose is bursting with stone fruit, lemon peel and pineapple notes.  I don’t find an awful lot of minerality, but there is a trace of rocks underneath all that fruit.  The wine is off dry, with a nice touch of sweetness on the palate.  I love it when Rieslings employ a “sweetness meter” on the back label, and this one points to “medium sweet.”

Whole Foods recommends a pairing with apple pie and cheddar cheese, which doesn’t sound bad at all.  They also say Sesame-Peanut Noodles  would be good with it, or Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog cheese.

Pallas Tempranillo  2011

From the sandy, rocky soil of La Mancha comes this Jorge Ordoñez selection.  If you're not well-versed in Spanish wine, find one imported by Ordoñez and you'll find a good one.  La Mancha occupies a large portion of Spain’s central plateau.  Any place with windmills, Manchego cheese and Tempranillo gets a star next to it my travel planner. 

This deep red wine smells of plums and cherries and a bit of rosemary.  The palate is fleshy and ripe with dark fruit, and a dusty, rustic characteristic was the buzz of the Twitter tasting.  Whole Foods says pair this with barbecue, shish kabobs, and Spanish chorizo.  They cite  Spanish chickpeas and chorizo as a good choice. The cheese pairing they recommend is Solé Gran Queso.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Follow Whole Foods Markets on Twitter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Borsao Rosado

Part of the celebration for our 13th wedding anniversary included a nice lunch break at Morel's Steakhouse at the Los Angeles shopping mecca known as The Grove.  The 13th anniversary is the cheese plate anniversary, right?  Fourteen is the guacamole anniversary, and I'm already looking forward to that!

Morel's is restaurant I have mixed emotions about.  We love their cheese selections, but the wine list often seems like an afterthought.  I liked the look of a rosé from Spain's La Mancha region and I ordered it.  Glancing at Denise's menu, I saw there was a different rosé offering, so I asked the waiter which one I was served.  As it turned out, neither.  I was shown a bottle Borsao rosado.  I have nothing against a cheap wine - in fact, Borsao makes some really good wine that sells for $10 or less.  I would have liked to have known that was what I was ordering, however.  I decided not to send it back.

The Borsao Campo de Borja rosado is made from 100% Garnacha grapes, and it sells at Morel's for $7 by the glass.  It's a pretty pink wine with an earthy strawberry nose showing funky herbal notes.  On the palate, earthy berries and a bit of greenness shows here, too.  The acidity is nice, if not great.  It might be a nice choice on which to stock up for pairing with those post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Thursday, October 27, 2011


La Mancha Wine Tasting

The wines of La Mancha, Spain came to Los Angeles on October 18, 2011, for a tasting event at The Mark For Events, a hall-for-hire on Pico Boulevard.  One thing I liked right away about the Spanish reps who were pouring their wares: they pour like they want to get rid of the stuff.  No skimpy one-ounce pours were to be found in the hall; they splashed it into the glass as if they wanted me to stay a while.

I did want to stay, but the organizers said when it was over, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  Well, it was a nice little afternoon vacation from the work day in L.A.

La Mancha is the largest wine region in Spain - in fact, it's the largest wine region in Europe.  Their calling card is crafted from the two main indigenous grapes of La Mancha, Airen and Tempranillo.  Growing conditions have proven favorable, too, for such varieties as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

La Mancha's weather is described as "nine months of winter and three months of hell."  Frosty cold winters turn into triple-digit summers and there's not a lot of rain anytime.  In order to allow all the grapes to share the meager amount of water that there is, vines are separated by about eight feet in all directions.

I was surprised by some of the wines at this event, namely the whites.  I'm a big fan of Spanish white wines, so it was a letdown to taste so many at this event which were decidedly lacking in acidity.  The reds were the big winners here, full of the dark and earthy fruit flavors I expected to find.  There were some nice whites, they just weren't an across-the-board sensation.

Relatively few of the wines I tasted were aged in oak barrels, and those that were often spent their time in American oak.  It's always a treat to taste, for instance, a Cabernet Sauvignon which has a minimal mark of oak upon it.  The fruit is really given a chance to shine on its own.

What follows is a brief list of the highlights from each table I visited.

bottles of La Mancha wineBodegas La Remediadora
The La Villa Real 2010 Tempranillo/Syrah blend has a nose as bright as sunshine and great cherry flavor in a really light and easy-drinking framework.  The La Villa Real Roble 2010 is the same blend with three months of oak added.  It's a little darker and more complex.

Bodegas Casa Antonete
Their Negora Verdejo 2010 is one of the whites I really enjoyed, with a tart grapefruit palate and good acidity.  The Casa Antonete Rosado 2010 boasts a funky nose, ripe strawberry flavors and great acidity.  The Casa Antonete Reserva 2004 - aged 13 months in American oak and 24 months in the bottle - is loaded with coffee notes and is silky smooth.  The Casa Antonete Tinto Tempranillo 2010 is a young wine with no oak, showing an earthy nose and a vibrant acidity.

Bodeagas López Mercier
The Abadia Mercier Tempranillo has cherries in abundance with a note of black tea.  There's a great streak of minerality and wonderful acidity.

Allozo Centro Españolas
The Allozo Tempranillo 2010 has a funky cherry nose and vibrant red fruit carried along by great acidity.

Virgen de las Viñas

Their Tomillar Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is old-world, not at all grassy.  It does have a great lemon-lime palate and very nice acidity.  Even better is the Tomillar Chardonnay, unoaked and showing a great citrus angle.  It's one of the more refreshing Chardonnays I've had.

Santa Catalina
This winery produces the Los Galanes Verdejo 2010, with a nutty nose, lemon and grapefruit on the palate and very nice acidity.  The Los Galanes Tempranillo Joven 2010 is dark and earthy.  There's a brilliant level of acid in this young wine.

Casa Gualda
Their 2010 Tempranillo shows black cherry, great minerals and a healthy streak of acidity.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This Now And Zin entry wraps up the wine story of my trip to Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley.  Actually, this fond farewell concerns the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and the Continental Airlines flight back to Los Angeles.

YuenglingI had a couple of opportunities to enjoy Yuengling beer during my visit to NEPA and was delighted to find it available at the airport as we awaited our flight.  It's hoppy and bright - just the way I like 'em - with a strong hint of lemon that is quite refreshing.  It goes great with pizza, too.
After the puddle-jumper to Newark, Continental flight 302 boarded and we were on our way home.  I was once again delighted, this time to find an interesting wine offered on the plane.  Maybe a bit homesick, I asked for a Zinfandel.  There was none of that, but the Sol Casal Tempranillo proved to be a nice substitute.  It's a Spanish wine from La Mancha, but it's bottled by Paul Sapin in France, and I believe it's part of his 187 line of small, one serving bottles like those served by airlines.
Sol Casal TempranilloThe wine is dark at the core and ruby red at the edges with a big nose - and I mean a huge nose - of red fruit and leather.  It tastes of smoke and dried cherries, plums and blackberries.  The tannins are quite mellow and the alcohol level is 13% abv.  It has a big, rich taste which was much appreciated on the cross-country flight.  It even tasted great in the plastic cup.