I have spent considerable time tasting Spanish wines over the course of the past 18 months. Why you might ask? Many reasons including the immense variety of wines that are now available on the US market. I have also been studying Spanish for the past 18 months and that too has helped me to understand more about the regions, the country and the wines. In October 2008, I did the Spanish Wine Academy certificate class and then this past summer, thanks to the same organization, I did a fabulous tasting of a variety of Spanish wines at the Society of Wine Educators conference in Sacramento and that peaked my interest even further.
Lastly, a number of D.O.s have begun to promote their wines on the American market. Thanks to Melanie Young’s recent events, I have had a wonderful opportunity to try wines from many different areas, the most recent of which was the D.O. of Manchuela. I have never written about the earlier tastings of Vinos de Madrid in October 2009 and the Kingdom of Navarra tasting earlier this year.
I have decided to write about the three of them in order so I will start with the Vinos de Madrid tasting held at the Astor Center. Michael Apstein, a wine educator and writer for the Wine Review Online. did a fabulous job of illustrating the wines from this D.O. which lies near the city of Madrid, one of the world’s most exciting capitals and one of my favorite cities.
The D.O. Madrid is home to more than 45 producers and 8000 hectares of vines. Despite the fact that the area has been producing wines since the 13th century, it didn’t receive its D.O. designation (Denominacion de Origen until the 1990s. In the middle, many events occurred including the arrival of the Phylloxera louse, grubbing up of vines, and the Spanish Civil War, to name a few…
There are some 2500 growers in the area which can be divided into sub zones. The three sub zones are Arganda, the largest one which represents 50% of the vines registered in the D.O. and encompasses 30 municipalities where Tempranillo and Malvar, a white grape variety reign. Navalcarnero sub zone which can count on 19 municipalities and where the Garnacha grape dominates and the San Martin sub zone which includes nine municipalities. The main varieties in the latter sub zone are Albillo for whites and Garnacha for reds.
Vinos de Madrid exports a small percentage of their production but most is consumed locally. A variety of grapes are allowed in the D.O. including a few international ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah but the wines that interested me most were made with indigenous grapes.
Five producers showcased their wines, among them Bodegas Orusco from Valdilecha. We tried two of their wines and I particularly liked the Vina Main 2008 made from 100% Malvar. It was crisp and refreshing with citrus and floral notes as well as a creamy, nutty note thanks to lees stirring. It was also pretty long on the palate. The second wine we tried was a Main Crianza 2006 made with 100% Tempranillo, aged in American oak. It also was well balanced with some fruit and oak notes as well as a hint of liquorice from the American oak.
To qualify as a crianza, a wine must age for a minimum of at least six months in oak containers.
A second bodega showing its wines was Vinos Jeromin from Villarejo do Salvanes. We tried the Grego Garnacha Centenaria 2008 made from Garnacha. It was fruity and chewy at the same time with lots of alcohol. The second wine we tried was the Grego Crianza 2005 made from a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Garnacha/ This was a bif wine that needed food to go with it to be fair. It had a barnyard note that I like but some people do not. It was also earthy and had aromas and flavors of char and liquorice.
The third winery was Bodegas Nueva Valverde S.A., the Tejoneras 2006 was made from a blend of Tempranillo and many other red grapes. It spends 12 months in oak. This wine was quite old world in style and was very well balanced. Their second wine was the Nueva Valverde S.A. 2005 which had a lot of acidity. This one was a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn’t ready to drink at the time and it will be interesting to see how it settles down.
The last two wineries were Bodegas Senorio de Val Azul and Bodegas Licinia. The wines from Senorio de Val Azul were Fabio 2007 and Senorio de Val Azul 2007. The former was a blend that was a little short in my view and had a lot of Brett on the nose and palate. I think it was also too young to drink and probably needed more time to settle down as did the former which was a blend of international grapes and Tempranillo.
The Licinia 2007 was made with Garnacha and was quite reminiscent of the Gamay grape but was bigger with a lot of alcohol but earthy and spicy notes which I really liked. All in all, I think the Malvar at the start may have been my favorite but I think that’s also because it was quite new for me. As always, when I branch out into a new region, I find wines that are thrilling, some less so and some that make me want to hop on a plane tomorrow. Vamos???