IWC Spain Reviews 2013

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De Maison Selections Reviews from Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar Issue 170, September/October 2013 All reviews were written by Josh Raynolds and were published in issue 170 (September/October 2013) of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Original reviews can be found online at http:// (subscription required). Tasting notes, wine and winery names, and technical information appe
  De Maison Selections Reviews fromSteven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar Issue 170, September/October 2013 All reviews were written by Josh Raynolds and were published in issue 170 (September/October 2013) of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Original reviews can be found online at http:// (subscription required). Tasting notes, wine and winery names, and technical information appear as published on and may contain errors in spelling and content. The wines were tasted in the summer of 2013 and reflect vintages that were current at the time. New Releases from Spain Josh RaynoldsVeteran IWC readers don't really need to be reminded that Spain is, in our opinion, theworld's richest source of outstanding red wine values.   That continues to be the casetoday.   As I worked my way through over 1,500 Spanish wines over the last few months,that point was driven home on pretty much a daily basis.   Perhaps even more strikingfor me this year was tasting a larger number of world-class white wines than I expectedto find.   We are long-time fans of the best wines from Rias Baixas, and the current batch ofreleases maintains the region's high standard.   But still more intriguing was the numberof terrific whites from other areas of Spain, even from zones that until recently seemedto be completely dedicated to red wines.   At this point it's tempting to say that Spain'swhite wines are offering the same bang for the buck as her reds.   That's not true insheer numbers--at least not yet--but the consistent quality of the white wines I tastedfrom Rioja, Terra Alta, Valdeorras and Rueda, among other regions, was truly excitingthis year.   Better yet, with rare exception these are wines that retail for less than $25 abottle and are in wide distribution, making it relatively painless for wine lovers to checkthem out for themselves. Current vintages in the marketplace.   Following 2010 and 2009, both generallyoutstanding vintages across Spain's wine-growing regions, 2011 and 2012 presentedgrowers and producers with avariety of challenges, beginning with cool summersduring which the grapes often struggled to ripen.   The upside is thatthe regions ofSpain that most collectors follow produced plenty of red wines that are lively, focusedand true to their heritage--unlike in 2009, for example, whose wines are stronglyinfluenced by the warm weather.   And that goes double for the whites.In Rioja, 2011 was marked by a mostly cool summer followed by rising temperaturesand dry weather at the end of the season.   The positive spin among the producersemphasizes the clement weather leading up to the harvest, but from the first look I've  had of the 2011s I'm not yet convinced that it was enough to compensate for what wasessentially stalled maturity during July and the first half of August.   These are still earlydays so it's a little premature to rush to judgment.   That said, it's unlikely that any but thevery best wines will match their 2010 and 2009 siblings.   Those two vintages are livingup to their promise, with the '09s mostly showing the best side of this ripe year and the2010s focused, pure and balanced for a long life.In the northwestern Galicia/Leon area, which includes Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, 2012gave a very short crop, off by as much as 50% in Rias Baixas, a shortfall all the morepainful because the resulting wines are generally fantastic (with a caveat), showinggreater concentration than usual.   Most of the white Rias Baixas, Bierzo, Monterrei andValdeorras wines I tasted display powerful pit fruit and ripe melon character, as opposedto the more typical citrus and orchard fruit qualities one usually finds here.   While thatheft and power can be undeniably appealing, it can also potentially obscure the mouth-watering minerality that defines the region's wines, especially with a little bottle age.   That's good or bad, depending on how you like your albarinos.   I visited the region inMay and while most producers were thrilled with the quality of their '12s, they all made apoint of describing these wines' unique character, advising that they be consumed onthe younger side, just to be safe.The Ribera del Duero/Toro/Castilla y Leon area of central Spain enjoyed a warmsummer in 2011, which pushed sugar levels up, and many of the wines show the resultin fleshiness and early accessibility.   Alcohol numbers are not generally as high as thoseof torrid years like 2003 but are in the neighborhood of those reached in 2009, 2006 and2005.   I suspect that the wines will drink well over the short to medium term and I foundlots of soft tannins and forward fruit in the wines I tasted.   Two thousand twelve looks to be a fantastic vintage for red wines in Ribera del Dueroand Toro, based on barrel samples I tasted from these areas in May and freshly bottled,unoaked wines that I tasted in late summer.   But as with the wines of Rioja, it's still alittle early to make hard judgments.   The 2012 growing season produced wines withverve and focus, although without quite the intensity and depth of the 2010s and 2009s;most of the young '12s are already delicious and I imagine they'll be at their best withinthe decade, so don't hesitate to dive in soon.Down in the Priorat/Montsant/Penedes area 2010 looks to be flat-out brilliant, havingproduced wines that are fresh, structured and focused, with plenty of fruit (though not tothe extent of the opulent 2009s) to see them into old age.   I continue to hear grumblingsabout the aging potential of wines from Priorat and, frankly, that puzzles me.   Over thelast few years I've had the chance to taste--and, more important, drink--some superbPriorat wines between 15 and 20 years old, and they have consistently shown thecharacter I'd expect from wines of similar age and pedigree from anywhere else in theworld.   At this point I'm confident that the best 2010s from this region will reward patientwine lovers who can hold off on cracking their bottles until, say, 2020 and beyond.  96 Points2010 Vina Sastre Pesus Ribera del DueroInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($750) Inky purple.   An exotic, highly perfumed bouquet combines ripe blackberry,cassis, smoky minerals, espresso and incense.   Dense, sweet and deep, with velvetytexture and suave floral lift to its intense black and blue fruit flavors.   Palate-staining butcomes off shockingly lithe.   Rich but impeccably balanced and seamless, with superbfinishing power, focus and floral-driven persistence.   This wine is something else.   The2009, a spectacular if still extremely young wine, is worth a special search of the marketas well. 94 Points2010 Vina Sastre Regina Vides Ribera del DueroInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($100) Bright purple.   Powerful, deeply pitched aromas of black and blue fruits,woodsmoke and licorice, with a strong mineral topnote.   Shows superb clarity andintensity, offering smoky cassis and boysenberry flavors and notes of candied flowersand mocha.   Closes broad and extremely long, with lingering smokiness and slow-mounting tannins.   Can't get this off the palate and don't really want to. 94 Points2009 Vina Sastre Regina Vides Ribera del DueroInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($100) (aged in 100% new French oak):   Dark purple.   Exotic, heady aromas of darkfruit preserves, incense, vanilla and floral oils, with a smoky overtone.   Lush, sappy andincisive, offering sweet black and blue fruit flavors and notes of bitter chocolate, mochaand lavender pastille.   Smooth and sweet on the youthfully tannic finish, with intenseelements of blueberry and spicecake.   94 Points2005 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja Gran ReservaInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($80) Deep ruby.   An exotically perfumed bouquet displays scents of red fruit compote,candied rose, vanilla, incense and smoky minerals.   Sweet, penetrating raspberry andcherry-vanilla flavors show superb depth and energy, picking up smoke and spicenuances with air.   Supple, expansive and alluringly spicy on the finish, which featuresvelvety tannins and an echo of rose pastille. 93 Points2009 Conde de Hervias Torre del Conde de HerviasRiojaInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds  ($45) (90% tempranillo and 10% graciano; fermented in stainless steel and then aged in80% French and 20% American oak for 14 months):   Bright ruby.   Potent dark berry andfloral scents are complicated by candied licorice, vanilla and incense.   Sappy,penetrating black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show impressive depth and pick upa peppery nuance with air.   Closes with outstanding clarity and length, with smoothtannins adding shape.   These vines reportedly range from 80 to more than 140 (!) yearsof age. 93 Points2012 Adegas A Coroa Godello 200 Cestos ValdeorrasInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds Pale gold.   Explosive aromas of mineral-accented pear and tangerine, with suave notesof smoky minerals and white flowers adding complexity.   Juicy, penetrating citrus andorchard fruit flavors show impressive depth as well as vivacity and pick up a hint ofhoney with air.   Really stains the palate, finishing with superb clarity and lingeringflorality. 93 Points2011 Do Ferreiro Albarino Cepas Vellas Rias BaixasInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($39) Bright yellow.   Powerful, mineral-accented aromas of citrus zest, white flowers andpear skin.   Stains the palate with concentrated lemon, pear and honeysuckle flavorsbraced by chalky mineral and ginger notes.   Refuses to let go on the finish, where themineral and floral notes echo emphatically.   A superb combination of power and vivacityhere.   I was able to taste the components of the estate's classic Rias Baixas justbefore bottling and it should be an outstanding, fruit- and floral-driven wine, with theregion's typical minerality on full display. 93 Points2010 Dominio Do Bibei Lapena Ribeira Sacra BlancoInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($69) (100% godello):   Bright yellow.   Spicier and higher in pitch than the Lapola,offering zesty grapefruit, quince and mineral scents anda touch of pungent herbs.   Dry,racy and precise, with intense orchard and citrus fruit qualities underscored by bracingminerality.   Finishes with outstanding clarity and persistence, leaving chalky mineral andfloral notes behind. 93 Points2009 Dominio Do Bibei Lacima Ribeira SacraInternational Wine Cellar, #170, September/October 2013 - Josh Raynolds ($69) (a blend of 85% mencia and 15% brancellao):   Vivid red.   More deeply pitchedthan the Lalama, offering fresh cherry and black raspberry scents with hints of smokyminerals, violet and licorice.   Zesty mineral and peppery spice notes add bite to sweet
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