Showing posts with label sherry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sherry. Show all posts

Monday, November 8, 2021

International Sherry Week - With Pie

When the holidays roll around, sherry comes to mind.  It is festive, often sweet and pairs well with things like pumpkin and pecan pies.  There's no reason to relegate sherry to only the the holiday season, but it seems to be a little more welcome at this time.

In fact, International Sherry Week begins today, November 8, 2021.  It's the perfect excuse to get to know Sherry better.  There are so many styles of sherry from which to choose and so many pairings, especially at Thanksgiving, that maybe you could use a little help.  The folks at Gonzalez Byass - Spain's most well-known sherry producer - suggest a few ways to enjoy sherry in its different forms, with pie.   

Apple Pie with Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso  
This sherry is produced from 100% Palomino grapes and is significantly drier than Apple Pie, but the toasty flavors pair nicely with the sugar to provide a contrasting taste that is not cloying. The nutty character of the Alfonso pairs perfectly with the cinnamon and clove spices of the Apple Pie.  18% abv, $17

Pecan Pie with Harveys The Bristol Cream
This sherry is produced from a blend of 80% Palomino and 20% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  Its semi-sweet, velvety character enhances the nuttiness in both the pie and the Sherry.  17.5% abv, $20

Texas Two Step (a pecan and chocolate brownie pie) with Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Cream
This sherry is produced from a blend of 75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  It adds a touch of sweetness and pairs nicely with the nuttiness and the not-too-sweet chocolate in this pie.  18% abv, $17

Cherry Pie with Gonzalez Byass Néctar Pedro Ximenez  
This sherry is produced from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes.  It brings with it aromas of candied fruit, figs and raisins and offers a good contrast to the tart cherry flavors of the pie.  15% abv, $17

Harveys the Bristol Cream has been billing itself that way since 1882, when wine merchant John Harvey was importing what was known as Bristol milk, named after the British port city through which it passed on its way from Jerez, Spain.  It's a sherry, not a liqueur, and it is the only Spanish product with a Royal Warrant from the Queen of England, which was issued in 1895.

This sherry is a blend of four different sherries from the solera, the racks of barrels where sherry is aged for up to two decades.  The four sherries used in Harveys Bristol Cream - Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez - are of different ages, all made from 80% Palomino grapes and 20% Pedro Ximénez, in the home of sherry, Jerez, Spain.

The company advises you to serve The Bristol Cream "chilled or over ice in a wine glass with a slice of orange."  The iconic blue glass bottle now has one of those labels with a logo that turns blue when the perfect serving temperature is reached.  It carries an alcohol content of 17.5% abv and retails for about $20.  As you can see by the picture, I had mine at room temperature - no blue letters.

This sherry has a gorgeous chestnut brown color and an aromatic nose for days.  Raisins, brown sugar, dried apricots.  It's all on the palate, too - complex in an easy-to-understand way.  The sip is smooth but the acidity is quite useful if you want to pair it with food. Try it with banana nut bread, ginger snaps or pumpkin pie.  By the way, the finish won't stop. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Pairing Sherry With Halloween Candy

It may, or may not, surprise you to learn that Halloween candy isn't just for Halloween - and it isn't just for kids, either.  Hershey reports that nearly half of Halloween candy sales are made by people buying treats for themselves.  

Since I write more about wine than candy, I'll explore some pairing ideas for various types of Halloween candy with sherry.  With trick-or-treating presumably at a minimum this year due to the pandemic, just break open the candy bags for you and the kids and pop the cork on a sherry for yourself.  Safer at home.

Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso  -- SRP $25

Nick Africano, Founder of En Rama LLC New York, says he finds one candy-and-sherry pairing to be a no-brainer.  "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are a classic American candy," he says.  "Now try them alongside a sip of another classic: Oloroso Sherry."  Africano believes that Oloroso is sherry's "gateway to the American palate."   "The Alfonso Oloroso from the iconic Gonzalez Byass family with its dark notes of toasted pecan, old wood, and burnt orange is not only a harmonious match for the nutty, chocolatey, Reese's cups, but simultaneously serves as a poignant introduction to one of the world's best beverages: Sherry!"

Peanuts also play a role in the pairing for Washington DC-based Chantal Tseng, Founder of Custom Cocktails for the End of Times and US Sherry Week Ambassador.  She recommends Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso and PayDay Bars, a salted peanut bar held together with nougat-caramel.

Gonzalez Byass Nectar PX -- SRP $25

A more adventurous pairing comes from Cheryl Wakerhauser, Owner, Executive Chef and Wine Director of Pix Patisserie and Bar Vivant, in Portland, Oregon.  "The full-bodied opulence of the Pedro Ximénez is calling for something to contrast it with, such as the crunchy outer shell of a Good & Plenty," she says.  "The licorice flavor of the candy brings forward the hint of savory, black olive notes in the wine."

Harveys Bristol Cream -- SRP $20

"So, you want to feel responsible with your candy cravings?" remarks Kat Thomas, Wine Goddess LV from Las Vegas. "I've got the perfect treat (no tricks here). Unwrap a Chunky Bar and let yourself find the flow in a nutty, sweet, and responsibly balanced bite. Dried fruit and sweet chocolate find their safe place nestled in this Sherry's 'legs'... and if you can't do peanuts, feed the flow with Raisinettes."  Pair the goodies with Harveys Bristol Cream.

Hopefully your Halloween will be a safe one, a happy one, and one full of candy - and sherry.


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Monday, November 18, 2019

If Sherry Is Milk, This Is The Cream

Billing itself as The Bristol Cream since 1882, when wine merchant John Harvey was importing what was known as Bristol milk, Harveys Bristol Cream was named after the British port city through which the product passed.  It's a sherry, not a liqueur, and it is the only Spanish product with a Royal Warrant from the Queen of England, which was issued in 1895.  As I understand it, that is much more desirable than having a warrant issued in your name by the district attorney's office.

Harveys Bristol Cream is a blend of four different sherries from the solera - the racks of barrels where sherry is aged for up to two decades.  The four sherries used in Harveys Bristol Cream - Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez - are of different ages, all made from 80% Palomino grapes and 20% Pedro Ximénez, in the home of sherry, Jerez, Spain.

The company advises you to serve The Bristol Cream "chilled or over ice in a wine glass with a slice of orange."  The iconic blue glass bottle now has one of those labels with a logo that turns blue when the perfect serving temperature is reached.  I find that no refrigeration is required, especially if the weather is cool.  It carries an alcohol content of 17.5% abv and sells for about $15.  It could be the best $15 you'll ever spend.

This sherry has a gorgeous chestnut brown color and an aromatic nose for days.  Raisins, brown sugar, dried apricots.  It's all on the palate, too - complex in an easy-to-understand way.  The sip is smooth but the acidity is quite useful if you want to pair it with food,  and the finish won't stop.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Italian Scores With Spanish Sherry Cocktail

Courtesy Tio Pepe
Spanish wine company Tio Pepe sponsors a yearly contest to see which bartender around the globe can come up with the best cocktail utilizing their Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry.  I'll admit, I was sort of pulling for the barkeep from Las Vegas, who made it to the finals.  In the end, Europe took the honor.

Italian mixologist Marco Masiero, left, was proclaimed the winner of the International Final of the Tío Pepe Challenge 2019.  Masiero's signature cocktail is called "El Beso de la Flaca."

The Bodega Gonzalez Byass has been in Jerez - southern Spain, the Andalusia region - for nearly 200 years.  Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry is named after the founder's uncle Pepe.  The vineyard soil in Jerez is chalky, all the better to hold moisture during the long, hot summer.

Tio Pepe is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes, and is fortified to 15% alcohol.  Any higher and the flor could not form, the yeasty layer that covers the wine while it's in American oak barrels and prevents oxidation for the four to five years of aging.  The Solera method is used, with wines blended from vintage to vintage.  The types of sherry and their production is much more complex than my limited knowledge.  If you're interested, please read up online.  You'll be glad you did.  The sherry sells for $20.

This sherry has a golden-yellow tint and a forceful nose.  That wonderful resinous sherry smell is there in spades, along with walnuts and anise.  The sip offers similar wonders, with a completely savory approach.  It's as dry as a bone, provided the bone was lying in the desert sun for a while.  There's not a lick of sweetness, so it's not Grandma’s sherry.  The chalky vineyard soil seems to speak through what these Palomino Fino grapes have wrought.  There are notes of hazelnut, lemon and the all-important yeast layer - flor - that sits atop the wine in the barrel for five years.  The acidity is decent, but not too forceful, and afterward, the finish lingers with anise lasting the longest.  Wow, is all.



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Not Your Grandma's Sherry

Bodega Gonzalez Byass has been in Jerez -- southern Spain, the Andalusia region - for nearly 200 years.  This sherry is named after the founder's uncle Pepe.  The vineyard soil is chalky, all the better to hold moisture during the long, hot summer.

Tio Pepe Jerez Xérès Sherry is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes, and is fortified to 15% alcohol.  Any higher and the flor could not form, the yeasty layer that covers the wine while it's in American oak barrels and prevents oxidation for the four to five years of aging.  The Solera method is used, with wines being blended from vintage to vintage.  The types of sherry and their production is much more complex than my limited knowledge.  If you're interested, please read up online.  You'll be glad you did.

This sherry has a golden-yellow tint and a forceful nose.  That wonderful resinous sherry smell is there in spades, along with walnuts and anise.  The sip offers similar wonders, with a completely savory approach.  It's as dry as a bone, provided the bone was lying in the desert sun for a while.  There's not a lick of sweetness, so it's not Grandma’s sherry.  The chalky vineyard soil seems to speak through what these Palomino Fino grapes have wrought.  There are notes of hazelnut, lemon and the all-important yeast layer - flor - that sits atop the wine in the barrel for five years.  The acidity is decent, but not too forceful, and afterward, the finish lingers with anise lasting the longest.  Wow, is all.


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Monday, February 15, 2016

...But A Good Cigarrera Is A Sherry

The Manzanilla La Cigarrera NV is, obviously, a Manzanilla - a type of sherry - made from 100% Palomino fino grapes from the Jerez-Sherry & Sanlucar de Barrameda regions in Spain. The grapes were softly pressed and allowed to ferment completely, then the juice was fortified.

 Aging took place over four years in American oak casks using the Soleras and Criaderas systems and under the velo de flor - the protective layer of yeast - which prevents wine oxidation.  The Bodega is located in Sanlúcar de Barramed, which has unique microclimates allowing the flor to blossom with its trademark ocean salinity. The town is the only place Manzanilla can be produced. I had mine at Vintage Enoteca, $10 by the glass. It was served from a 375 ml bottle.

The wine’s nose is vibrant and fresh with nutty aromas of yeast and salinity. A raisiny note adds counterpoint. On the palate it is rich and substantial. It’s very, very dry and has quite a long finish. Try it as an aperitif, with tapas, a Spanish ham sandwich, olives or some almonds and other dried nuts.


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Friday, February 13, 2015

Sweet Finger Lakes Wines For Your Sweetie

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a good time to pop open a dessert wine or two - sweets for your sweetie.

Fresh from receiving accolades as the top wine region of 2014 from Wine Enthusiast magazine, the wineries of New York’s Finger Lakes held a virtual tasting event featuring some of their notable dessert wines.  You can read about the bubbly by clicking here, and below is a listing of the dessert wines featured in the event, staged by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance with samples provided to me for the purpose of participating.


Goose Watch Winery Classic Cream Sherry

Goose Watch Winery is owned and operated by Dave Peterson’s family, stewards of the vineyard since 1997.  They also own Swedish Hill Winery, so they keep pretty busy in the winemaking biz.  Goose Watch overlooks Cayuga Lake, providing a scenic backdrop for vineyard manager Rick Waite and winemaker Derek Wilber while they work.

The Goose Watch menu includes Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Merlot with some unusual varieties like Aromella, Traminette, Melody, Diamond and Lemberger thrown into the cool-climate mix.

Classic Cream Sherry by Goose Watch is made using both red and white grapes, and plenty of them.  Native American, hybrid and vitis vinifera varieties are included - everything from Chardonnay to Cabernet Franc to Cayuga White and Catawba contribute to this wine.

It is produced using a solera process.  New barrel-aged vintages of the sherry components are introduced each year, so the blend grows by a year each vintage.  It's the aging that gives the wine its incredible flavor.  New additions are warmed, then oxygen-injected over six weeks or so, which "gooses" the aging process.  In the barrel, the wine is exposed to extreme temperatures - both hot and cold - to further stimulate the aging.  Most of the barrels used in this process are old and well worn, to avoid imparting too much oak influence to the wine.

Alcohol is hefty, at 18% abv, while the 12% residual sugar more than justifies the wine's categorization as a dessert type.  At $16 for the half bottle, it's one of the better dessert wine buys you are likely to find.

The Goose Watch Winery Classic Cream Sherry looks fabulous.  The deep amber-brown color is even darker than bourbon.  The high alcohol content is noticeable on the nose, but so is a strong whiff of raisins, caramel and burnt brown sugar.  The mouthfeel is full and lush, with a very soft essence that plays counterpoint to the heat of the alcohol.  Raisins, caramel, baked apples, mocha and a splash of lime decorate the palate, with the fruitier aspects lasting into the finish.  The moderate acidity feels a little lively on the tongue, but the softness isn't spoiled.



Boundary Breaks 2012 Late Harvest Riesling #90

The east side of Seneca Lake offers somewhat milder weather in New York's Finger Lakes region due to the depth of the lake and the prevailing winds.  The extremely deep, glacier-cut lake features a churning effect, in which the colder and warmer waters exchange levels and help moderate the temperatures in the vineyards.

Boundary Breaks Winery resides on that eastern shore.  Established by Bruce and David Murray in 2007 - on a farm that never had a vineyard on it - the winery specializes exclusively in Riesling, in five different styles.

Vineyard manager Kees Stapel assists several moonlighting winemakers at Boundary Breaks:  Peter Bell of Fox Run, Kelby Russell of Red Newt and Ian Barry of Barry Family Cellars.  All contribute to the various wines in Boundary Breaks' cellar, but Barry is the winemaker of record for this late harvest Riesling.

The Boundary Breaks 2012 Late Harvest Riesling #90 is named - er, numbered - for the Riesling clone from which it comes: Neustadt #90.  The wine underwent a slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks and reports an alcohol level of 14.2% abv and a whopping 12.7% residual sugar number.  The winery's website comments on the mid-December harvest for these grapes: "At this time of the year, the fruit has become a bronze color and many berries have de-hydrated and wrinkled into raisins. This produces a dense Riesling nectar that retains its acidity alongside its flowing richness."  An apt description.  It retails for $30 per half bottle.

A light golden color, the wine smells a bit like pears and a bit like apricots, with a lovely, light note of honeyed petrol coming through.  The taste is gorgeous, as befits a dessert wine.  The sweetness is not cloying, thanks to a nice acidity - not razor-sharp, but noticeable.  It is, to be sure, dessert.  It also fits well with salty almonds.


Standing Stone Vineyards 2013 Riesling Ice Wine

Standing Stone Vineyards has an old school look about it - farmhouse and all - but Marti and Tom  Macinski founded the business in 1991. Marti is the winemaker, assisted by Jess Johnson.

The vineyards were planted in the early 1970s, and a notable block features a planting of Saperavi, an old vinifera grape that makes a dark red wine.

The 2013 Riesling Ice Wine is one of four dessert wines they make - they also sweeten up Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Vidal grapes.  They are not true ice wines, in that the grapes are not harvested frozen but frozen after picking late in the season.

Production is limited, at just 198 cases.  The retail sticker shows $25 for the half bottle.  The wine has an incredible 20% residual sugar and shows 12.4% abv on the alcohol side.

This is one beautiful wine, the color of a very rich apple juice or bourbon.  The aromas are just as beautiful, with apricots, pears and tart apples bursting from the glass.  The palate follows suit, with the apple flavor showing a little stronger and some peaches thrown into the mix.  The acidity is delightfully zippy, but the mouthfeel is oily and viscous.  This wine is fresh and clean and makes a great, light dessert.


Wagner Vineyards 2013 Riesling Ice Wine

Winemaker Ann Raffetto has been with Wagner Vineyards for three decades, but that only qualifies her for newby status there.  As one of the oldest Finger Lakes wineries - and the first on Seneca Lake's eastern shore - There have been five generations of grape growers toiling in the 200-acres of vineyard-with-a-view, a quarter of which is planted to Riesling grapes.

The grapes for the Wagner 2013 Riesling Ice Wine were not taken while frozen, but picked after traditional harvest and frozen after picking.  They say this process helps the grapes retain their natural acidity.  At 24% residual sugar, this wine is super-sweet and with alcohol at 12.1% abv, it is very near the same content as a table wine from this area. 1400 cases were produced, and the half-bottle sells for $25.

The Wagner Ice Wine shows pale gold in the glass, with a nose of dried apricots and a beautiful floral aspect.  Alcohol also hits the nose a bit stronger than I would imagine, at just 12.1%.  The palate has a lovely layer of the earth filtering the sweetness of the peach and tropical fruit flavors.  The wine is rather viscous and sports a great acidity.  Pair it with an apple pie or drizzle it on vanilla ice cream. Or both.



Knapp Winery and Vineyard 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Knapp Winery is located close to Seneca Falls, on the shores of Cayuga Lake.  It opened for business in 1984, and winemaker Steve DiFrancesco, vineyard manager Chris King, and cellar master Richard Iddings combine to make wines that showcase the great terroir of the Finger Lakes.

The Vidal grapes for this sweetie were picked in late November, when the temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit.  They were pressed while frozen, which results in more concentrated aromas and flavors.  This is the sweetest of the wines featured here, with residual sugar at 24.7%.  Alcohol is slightly reduced, at 11.36% abv.  Only 54 cases were produced and the half-bottles retail for $25.

The Knapp wines I have experienced really show a great earthy quality, and the Vidal Ice is no exception.  The earthiness does sit a bit farther behind the fruit in this dessert wine, though.  There is plenty of fruit on the nose - pineapple, pear and peach are draped in honey - while a beautiful floral aspect leads the way.  Extremely viscous in the mouth, the Vidal does not disappoint in sweetness.  It's a beautiful and delicious wine, with flavors of pear, peach and tropical fruit.  The finish lets a bit of the earthiness linger with the sweet for an amazing counterpoint.

The winery says you can enjoy the Knapp Vidal Blanc Ice Wine on its own or with a ripe cheese.  Any kind of savory tidbit - salty pretzels, almonds - will be set off beautifully against the counterpoint of the sugar found in this wine.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sherry: Santiago Palo Cortado

Wine is easy.  Sherry is difficult.

I want to be very upfront about this article and make the disclaimer right now: There is a geek alert in effect.  Continuing with the article means you may be a developing wine geek.  Understanding my explanation of sherry may require you to be one.

Just the mention of sherry sends me online or into reference books to be sure I’m not making any mistakes.  And even with the help, I’m still not sure I’m right.  Wine - in general - is easy.  Sherry is difficult.

To muddy the water - uh, the sherry - even further, this bottle is not even a regular, garden-variety sherry.  As if there is such a thing.  Palo Cortado is a rather rare type of sherry, only occurring naturally one to two percent of the time in sherry production.  As the sherry is aging in the barrel and under the flor - a film of yeast -  it is on its way to becoming a fino, or maybe an amontillado sherry.  The flor layer protects the wine from oxygen while it turns all the little sugars into alcohols.

Sometimes, though - that aforementioned one to two percent of the time - the flor disappears and leaves the wine exposed to oxygen.  Now it starts aging oxidatively, like the type of sherry known as oloroso.  This wine will be rich - like oloroso - and crisp - like amontillado.  The wine is officially an accident, but Palo Cortado can be manipulated by blending amontillado and oloroso.  That, however, is cheating.

The grapes for Santiago Palo Cortado come from Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain, near the town of Jerez.  It’s a place called the Sherry Triangle, where the bulk of Spain’s great sherry production occurs.  They are Palomino Fino grapes, 100%.  The wine is aged a minimum of twelve years in what is known as the Solera system.  Rather than try and blunder through a description of that myself, I’ll let the website Sherry Notes do that, without so much blundering.

"Barrels in a solera are arranged in different groups or tiers, called criaderas, or nurseries.  Each scale contains wine of the same age.  The oldest scale, confusingly called solera as well, holds the wine ready to be bottled.  When a fraction of the wine is extracted from the solera (this process is called the saca), it will be replaced with the same amount of wine from the first criadera, i.e. the one that is slightly younger and typically less complex.  This, in turn, will be filled up with wine from the second criadera, and so on.  The last criadera, which holds the youngest wine, is topped up with a new wine named sobretabla.  Taking away part of the wine and replacing it with the contents of other scales, is called rociar or 'to wash down.'"  

It goes on from there, but my head is spinning simply from copying and pasting that paragraph.

The finished sherry hits an alcohol level of 20.5% abv and retails for about $23.  A sample was provided to me by The Artisan Collection.

The wine looks great - the amber color of bourbon or a Newcastle Brown.  That deep color makes for high expectations in other areas, and those expectations are met.  There is a fair amount of alcohol on the nose, but wafting in and out - like the sound of a distant marching band on a windy day - are luscious fragrances of brown sugar, burnt caramel and dried raisins.  Now, high expectations are set for the palate.

If this is your first experience with Palo Cortado, the aromas may lead you to expect a very sweet drink, which is not the case.   The sherry is far less viscous than might be expected and quite dry, with none of the flavors having anything to do with the sweet aromas coming from the glass.  It drinks more like a spirit than a wine, with a strong nutty flavor and just an idea of raisins and caramel behind it.

The big story, though, is the acidity.  It zips across the tongue in racy fashion and really makes itself know in the throat, on the way down.  I have always heard sherry referred to as a sipping wine, or a cooking wine.  This one is a pairing wine.  The notes of chestnut and hazelnut are great with pork or even some herb goat cheese on a wheat cracker.  The acidity helps it mate with just about anything you could throw at it.  I'd have it with a steak, no problem.  A big, old-Vegas kind of steak.


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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tasting Event: Great Match 2010 Los Angeles


I went expecting nothing more than a smorgasbord of Spanish wines.  I came away with a greater understanding of some grape varieties that had been a mystery to me, and a lesson on terroir, or in this case, terruño that surprised and informed me.

Great Match 2010 - Vivacious Varietals, Tantalizing Tastes - was held on May 12 in Los Angeles at The Bazaar/SLS by José Andrés.  It's a big room for a big event.  Just off to the left after entering the restaurant, the large space is elegant, with huge mirrors on both ends of the room.  Twenty-three tables were arranged throughout to accommodate all the wineries and importers who were pouring.  There were so many wines represented there, I didn't get a chance to sample at every table.  Nevertheless, I stayed busy.

While I am a fan of Spanish wines - it was a Spanish wine tasting that initially piqued my interest in learning more about wine - I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge base on the subject.  I was looking forward to a tasty learning experience, and that's what I got.  I was able to experience wines from the Priorat region, grape varieties like Maturana, Bobal and Monastrell, an unbelievably intense dessert wine along with a Viognier that could have - and did - pass for a Sauvignon Blanc.  It was a great afternoon.

Things I took away from this tasting:
1. The reds have lots of tannins.
2. The whites have a lot of grapefruit.
3. Albariño actually starts to get old after tasting about 20 of them.

Seriously, if you have never delved into the wines of Spain, you owe it to yourself to do so.  The indigenous grapes of Spain are a wonder to taste, and even grapes you thought you knew can deliver a terruño-driven surprise.  

I strolled up to one table where a gentleman was already tasting a white wine.  "Smell this," he said, holding the glass right under my nose.  I did, and unflinchingly said, "Sauvignon Blanc."  I know my face must have registered shock when he replied, "Viognier."  That Vallegarcía Viognier from Castilla was the wine of the day for me.  But picking one for second place would be nearly impossible.

I should point out that the printed program for the event was not laid out well for note-takers.  The font in the four-page foldout was tiny, the lines were single-spaced and there was not enough margin for proper note taking.  I had to cobble together my information as best I could on the program while grabbing a brochure here, a business card there and a shelf talker wherever they were offered so I'd remember details.  Mine was not the only complaint, either.  Other tasters had similar gripes and the wine representatives didn't like it too much because it resulted in tasters scrunching down in their limited table space to scribble tiny little notes in between samples.  I was told the show used to offer a more standard-sized book, and in my opinion they should go back to that format.

The following are my notes from Great Match 2010 Los Angeles.  The wines in bold type were particular favorites of mine.

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao
Volteo Tempranillo 2007, VT de Castilla - luscious berries, very dry $10
Volteo Viura 2009, VT de Castilla - blend of Viura, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc; subdued grapefruit with almond paste $10
Ramón Bilbao Tempranillo Crianza 2005, Rioja - juicy, fruity, young $13
Cruz de Alba Tempranillo 2006, Ribera del Duero - bright yet deep; intriguing minty characteristic $25

Classical Wines
Martinsancho Verdejo 2008, Rueda - huge grapefruit $20
Dehasa La Granja 2003, Castilla y León - cedar notes and an almost citrusy edge
*Casta Diva Cosecha Miel 2008, Alicante - powerful dessert wine; deep, rich, golden color; intense honey and apricots give way to 'flowers meet nuts' finish $19 half bottle

Collección Internacional del Vino
Antaño Tempranillo 2008, Rioja - very tannic $6
*Inspiracion Collección Varietales 2005, Rioja - vanilla on the nose, bright fruit on palate; muscular; 100% Maturana $50 (?)

Cuatro Rayas-El Verdejo de Rueda
Cuatro Rayas Viñedos Centenarios 2009, Rueda - 100+ year-old vines; concentrated grapefruit; very smooth and delicious $20
Cuatro Rayas Verdejo 2009, Rueda - refreshing and not too heavy on the grapefruit $18
Palacio de Vivero 2009, Ruea - Verdejo/Viura blend $12
*Vacceos Tempranillo Roble 2008, Rueda - nose really jumps out; bright and brambly taste with cedar notes $11
Dama del lago 2009, Rueda - deep, rich Tempranillo; brambly $10

Faustino/Campillo/Condesa de Leganza
Faustino V Blanco 2007, Rioja - a Verdejo with a delightfully funky nose and a nutty taste $12
*Campillo Gran Reserva 1994, Rioja - A very elegant Tempranillo; smooth yet forceful $50
Condesa de Leganza Crianza 2005, La Mancha - A rosado with wood spices $10
Condesa de Leganza Rosado 2008, La Mancha - a funky, dry Tempranillo rosado $9

Fine Estates From Spain
Botani 2009, Sierras de Málaga - a dry Muscatel with a very floral nose $19
Shaya 2009 Rueda - Verdejo with very slight grapefruit and other cutrus notes $15
La Cana 2009, Rias Baixas - floral/tropical Albariño $16
Volver 2008, La Mancha - Tempranillo with big blackberry flavor with a wonderfully smokey nose $16
*Tritón 2008, Castilla y León - a dark, powerful, brambly Tempranillo $20
Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2006, Rioja - Tempranillo with a slight nose and lush berries $19
Emilio Moro 2006, Ribera del Duero - amazing Tempranillo; loaded with spice notes; great grip $25

Folio Fine Wine Partners
Embruix 2006, Priorat - Garnacha/Cariñena with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; full-bodied, dark berries, coffee $25
Más de Leda 2007, Castilla y León - nice Tempranillo with a slightly minty aspect $20
*Sirsell 2006,  Priorat - Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mazuelo and Syrah; very robust, earthy $30

Freixenet USA
Freixenet Cordón Negro Brut, Cava - toasty, yeasty, nutty $12

Marqués de Riscal/Vallegarcía
Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja - Tempranillo with a spicy, sherry-like flavor $35
*Vallegarcía Viognier 2006, Castilla - quite a tangy nose, like Sauvignon Blanc, very nutty taste $40
Vallegarcía Syrah 2005,  Castilla - very unusual spiciness $40

Martin Códax
Martin Códax Albariño 2008, Rias Baixas - beautiful, tropical nose with a soft, nutty taste $17
Martin Códax Tempranillo 2008, Rioja - some Garnacha; cedar notes on the nose; medium-full mouthfeel with lush berries $12

Pacific Estates
Mont Ferrant Gran Cuvée 2005 Brut, Cava - refreshing with yeasty, nutty flavors  $16
Mont Ferrant Rosé Brut , Cava - 60/40 blend of Monastrell and Garnacha; nice strawberry flavors - $17
*Mont Ferrant Blanes Nature 2004 Brut Extra, Cava - huge nose; very yeasty and rich  $19
Montal Collection Red Garnacha 2007, Castilla - very soft and delicious $13
*Montal Collection Red Monastrell 2008, Castilla - funky nose; dark and husky on the palate $13 
Abadía de Acón Red Tempranillo Joven 2008, Ribera del Duero - stainless steel; bright nose, lean mouthfeel and taste $17

Pernod Ricard USA
Campo Viejo Crianza 2005, Rioja - very lovely nose; slight mintiness on the palate $10
Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2005, Rioja - beautiful nose and a mouthful of rich, dark berries $20

Rias Baixas Albariño
Mar de Frades Albariño 2009, Rias Baixas - extremely aromatic; huge floral nose, pears on palate $25
Laxas Albariño 2009, Rias Baixas - floral notes with a nutty finish $18
*Brandal Barrica Albariño 2006, Rias Braixas - 6 months in oak really makes a huge difference; very nutty; a substantial wine $17

Secret Sherry Society
Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla, Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda - very dry; salty flavor; I can taste the ocean $10
González Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, DO Jerez-Xéres-Sherry - slightly less dry; yeastier $17

UCI/Castelnoble
Castelnoble Shiraz 2009, Castilla - 100% steel; very bright and full of berries $8
Castelnoble Bobal Rosado 2009, Castilla - 100% Bobal; all steel 18 months; an offbeat strawberry taste $8
Castelnoble Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Castilla - all steel, tropical notes $8
Castelnoble Tinto Roble 2009, Castilla - fermented in steel, then 6 months French and America oak; tangy edge to a palate of currants and blackberries $10
Castelnoble Realce Crianza 2005, Manchuela - Tempranillo with spicy licorice tones $13
*Castelnoble Reserva 2003, Manchuela - 100% Bobal; bone dry and muscular; a fave; $15