Selections for February 2017

The Old and the New

2011 PROTOS RESERVA – Ribera del Duero, Spain

The photo above conveniently suggests two attitudes of Spain, the modern and the classical.  This is the town of Peñafiel in the Ribera del Duero wine region.  The iconic boat-shaped castle on the hilltop dates back to the days of the Reconquista and is fully restored; within it is a museum for wine.  Below the castle:  The latest, very modern home of Protos.  It’s a deceiving look; if you’d seen their original digs you’d understand why this winery called by the Greek name for “first” makes very traditionally-styled Ribera del Duero:  Protos is a pioneer; old-school.

Here is 100% Tempranillo aged in 80% French and 20% American oak barrels for 18 months.  As I’ve noted many times before, Ribera del Duero and Rioja are Spain’s greatest, most famous Tempranillo places.  Rioja, classically rendered and aged, brings you a suave and mellow red wine experience some folks equate to French Burgundy.  Conversely, Ribera del Duero is the “Bordeaux of Spain” supplying a darker and bigger wine. 

On our WineBar today we’re showing a lineup of five Spanish Tempranillos.  The final taste comes from Ribera del Duero in the form of Tamaral Reserva, a wine we brought your club some months ago.  I’m trying it right next to the Protos.  Tamaral’s label is simple and shiny; modern and abrupt.  The wine itself is big and endearingly fruit-forward.  The packaging for Protos is alternatively classical and the wine follows the idea with a little more earthiness in the nose and drying structure on the palate.  Two years ago I attended a party happening no more than a half mile down the road from Protos.  Ribera del Duero wine was free-flowing, and working perfectly with Spain’s favorite Tempranillo mate, grilled lamb.  We hope you’ll try this classical wine within that classical pairing!

World Class Northwest!

2013 BETZ ‘Besoleil’ – Columbia Valley, Washington State

For World Class Club members wondering why a domestic wine has landed in their bag we offer no apology; only an explanation.  For The Wine Steward, “World Class” happens wherever thoughtfulness, distinctiveness, and a certain, higher quality level coincide – locally or internationally (with an EMPHASIS on international!).  Our Red Collector Club captures the Cabernet-oriented, Napa-style wines, so where do we put a very deserving, fragrant and deftly-crafted Rhone-style Washington State beauty?  We put it before the thoughtful and open-minded members of YOUR club with – again – no apologies, and expecting very little outcry!

Here is a silky and sensuous blend of 49% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 16% Cinsault, 9% Mourvèdre, and 6% Counoise.  The nose brings you smoke, dried herbs, and framboise (raspberry liqueur).  The palate is lush and broad, conveying mocha and cherry pastry.  The styling is classy, resisting the more definitive Washington State wine tendency of over-the-top-ness.      

We don’t depend on ratings for our selections, but it’s fun when one of the major critics in the industry aligns with our own opinion:

Robert Parkers Wine Advocate: “92 POINTS.   It's an elegant, medium to full-bodied, Provencal-styled effort that has lots of sweet red and black fruits, garrigue and hints of cured meats. It's a total charmer that will have 10-12 years of overall longevity.”