… for this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, that is!
The 2011 theme region is Spain, which, if you’re like me and you enjoy high quality wines made in time-honoured, land-respecting methods at attractive prices, you’ll be over the moon for! (There, that was my elevator pitch for wines from Spain. Olé!)
One thing I really enjoy about winemaking in the land of the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa Maria (from the little that I know about Spanish winemaking) is its progressive stance.
Just as much as its great wines, such as Rioja and Sherry, are steeped in tradition, the new and emerging quality winemaking regions of note within this colourful country are embracing of forward-thinking industrial practices (i.e., irrigation, which many EU wine appellations do not allow) and the use of grapes not native to the region.
Here is a tasty pair of Spanish wines I tried recently – I hope they whet your palate for the bevy of bottles that will be showcased on the International Festival Tasting floor, March 30 – April 1!
Tickets for VPIWF are available online or via the phone box office (number is at the link above).
For the first time ever, I’ll be on the exhibitor’s side of the table this year… See you there!
Bodegas Ochoa Rosado de Lágrima Finca El Bosque Navarra DO 2009
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Garnacha. The region of Navarra is well known for producing rosé wines as well as wines labelled in the modern varietal manner. This wine from Bodegas Ochoa is a single vineyard creation from the winery’s Finca El Bosque plot. It’s named “Rose of Tears” after the saignée method of production, in which the crushed juice is left in contact with the skins for about 12 hours, during which time the colour bleeds out from the grape skins into the liquid that is to be fermented.
Dark salmon in colour verging on pale red, this coral stunner woos the nose with fresh rhubarb, spicy cherry, red currant and pomegranate aromas along with a hint of white pepper and dust. The palate is deliciously dry with some obvious tannins from the Cabernet, ample body and alcohol from the Garnacha – and oodles more red fruit and spice. It’s deceivingly lightweight in the mouth when well chilled – be careful how quick you imbibe! It didn’t take me long to finish my bottle. Get some now while you can; this is an $18 wine that’s currently $12. A fabulous recommendation from a fellow wine geek galpal! I paired this wine with vegan fajitas which worked quite well.
Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva DOC 2004
I haven’t had the fortune to try a lot of Riojas yet, so I was more than happy to take home the 2 – 3 glasses or so that remained of this bottle that was used in an ISG (International Sommelier Guild) training session in my work building!
On Rioja bottles, “Reserva” indicates that the wine has been aged for at least one year in oak and two in bottle prior to release, which by most commercial wine standards is quite a long time. Many say that because of these long aging standards that in Rioja, the producers have taken care of the wine’s maturation / cellaring for you. Personally, I find some Riojas overwhelmingly oaky upon or soon after release; most bottles could stand to benefit from further aging or certainly some time in the decanter.
85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha Tinta & Graciano. This deep, almost opaque crimson wine has a bloody (and bloody good) viscosity and mouthfeel. The aromas remind you of sweet forest and hearth smells – pinecones, vanilla, coconut, cinnamon and mulled wine come to mind, along with some ripe red fruits like currants, cherries and dried prunes. A rich mouthfeel envelops the palate with lingering spiciness, oak, Persian pomegranate molasses and fine grained tannins that form a fairly long finish. Solid deal at $30. As for a good food pairing, spicy lamb tagine comes to mind, as well as five spice beef. It would also do well with a Chinese braised pork belly recipe called Muy Choy Faa Laam [Ed.: Sorry, I don't know what this is called in English!] or Shanghainese braised pork hock – both dishes evoke a sweet, nutty piquant spice that would taste great with this wine, the tannins in which would also be a fantastic compliment to these fatty cuts of pork.