Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – Spanish Wine Reviews

On the MyWinePal blog I posted my Spanish wine picks, sans reviews, but promised the reviews would come out here on the main MyWinePal website. As promised, I’ve had a chance to sit down in front of the computer going through my wine notes and entering them for you. I hope you find a wine or two of interest to you.

In case you are new to Spanish wine, here is a little bit of background information.  Spain has over 1.17 million hectares planted with grape vines making it the most widely planted wine producing nation and  is the third largest producer of wine in the world (the largest two being France and Italy). The main grape varieties grown in Spain are Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Palomino, Airen, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Cariñena and Monastrell.  Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo are used to produce Spain’s sparkling wine, known as Cava.  Palamino is the main grape for producing Sherry.  Spain helped to spread the growth of wine production around the world, with the exploration of the “New World” by Christopher Columbus and others. Spanish missionaries brought vines to Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

There is much more to talk about Spain, covering regions, and styles of wines produced.  I encourage you to read online articles about Spanish wine, or pick up a book from the library or the bookstore.  I will over time continue to write about Spanish wine, so keep reading here too.  With that, here are my wine tasting notes from my recommended Spanish wines during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.

Sparkling and Fortified Wines

  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut. This sparkling wine was bright lemon in colour with a crab apple nose. High acid with crab apple flavour.  Medium sized bubbles that dissipate quickly.  Medium minus body.  This sparkling wine would be even better if the length was a bit longer.
  • Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir (sparkling) This wine had a big mousse when poured into my glass.  A beautiful salmon colour.  Cherry and raspberries on the nose.  High acidity with ripe apples, cherries and other summer fruits.

White and Rose Wines

  • Cavas Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2010. This is a very interesting wine and is organic.  It is made with the three main Cava grapes, Macabeo, Xarello, and Parellada,but in a still style. Water lemon in colour.  Lemon, celery and cinnamon on the nose. Light body, but nice and round in the mouth.  Lemon, apple and vanilla flavours with light spice. Highly recommended.
  • Bodegas Olivares Rose 2010 ($12) Pale garnet in colour with a light raspberry nose.  Refreshing acidity with cherry and red apple flavours.  Very smooth.  A patio pleaser.
  • Grandes Vinos y Vinedos Anayon Chardonnay 2009. Medium straw in colour.  A very interesting nose with tropical fruit, vanilla and lees.  Medium body.  Tropical fruit, apple, lees, and vanilla flavours.

Red Wines

  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Vendimia 2009. Alvaro Palacios is one of the most import “new” faces in Spanish wine. He is one of nine children born to the owners of Rioja’s respected Palacios Remondo.  Alvaro studied enology in Bordeaux, and worked with Jean-Pierre Moueix at Chateau Pétrus.  He is known for finding unique regions in Spain and producing expressive wines of these regions, such as Priorat.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Tempranillo. Light garnet in colour.  Ripe cassis and red currant nose.  Medium body with red currant flavour and low tannins.
  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Montesa 2007. This is a blend of 60% Garnacha, 35% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo (aka Carignan). Light garnet in colour. Caramel and cassis on the nose.   Cherry and red currant flavours.  Light body and dry on the palate. Medium length.
  • Bodegas Chivite Gran Feudo Edicion Vinas Viejas Reserva 2005. A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Merlot, aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. Light garnet in colour.  Leather and ripe fruits on the nose.  Cherry, raspberries and leather on the palate.  Medium body with soft tannins.
  • Grupo Faustino Fortius Reserva 2004 This wine is a blend of Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon. A very full bodied wine.  Cassis and a bit of capsicum on the nose.  Black fruit, cassis and leather fills your mouth.
  • Gonzalez Byass Finca Constancia Cosecha 2008. I couldn’t find the blend for 2008, but the 2007 vintage was a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Graciano and Cabernet Franc. While you may think about Spanish wines as being Tempranillo or Garnacha, but as you can see from this blend and the other red wines I’ve reviewed, there is quite a range of grapes being grown across Spain. Very opaque garnet in the glass.  Dark fruit and oak aromas.  Full bodied with firm tannins.  Blueberry (probably from the Syrah), apple, plum and a bit of spice.  An excellent wine.
  • Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva 2003. This wine was my favorite of the night I spent tasting Spanish wines. It is primarily Tempranillo with a bit of Graciano in the mix. Although this wine is 2003, the wine is full of fresh fruit. Dark garnet in colour with some bricking. Nice oak and dark fruit nose.  Fresh ripe black fruits and silky tannins on the palate. 
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010. Light garnet in colour.  Ripe fruit and coffee aromas. Chocolate, ripe fruit and coffee flavours.
  • Bodegas Abanico Manium Crianza 2007. This wine is made from the Mencia grape, which I’ve only recently become aware of, and am becoming a big fan of the wines from this grape. Leather, apple and blackberry aromas.  Cassis and violets on the palate.  Medium body with soft tannins and a slight bit of spice on the finish.
  • Bodgeas Abanico Eternum Viti 2008. Made from the Tinta de Toro grape. Deep garnet in colour.  Ripe raspberry on the nose.  Very flavourful in your mouth with cherries and vanilla.  Medium body.  Very nice!
  • Bodegas Abanico Los Colmillos 2008. This wine is also made from the Tinta de Toro grape. This wine is opaque purple in colour. Plum, black fruit and licorice aromas.  Red and dark fruit flavours. Round mouthfeel and full bodied.  Firm tannins.
  • Orowines, Atteca, Calatayud, Spain 2008. This is an area to the south of Rioja.  It is a very arid climate.  This wine was very deep purple in colour.  Saddle and slight smokiness on the nose.  Quite juicy and fruity cherry flavours.  Medium body, tannins and length.  I really enjoyed this wine.

Think about Spanish wines the next time you visit your local wine shop and bring along this list. Enjoy!