Selections for January 2017

Impress your friends . . .

2014 ALAYA TIERRA – Almansa, Spain

Yes, this comes from Europe.  Yes, it’s got the “intrigue factor” of being made entirely of Garnacha Tintorera, otherwise known as Alicante Bouschet, one of the world’s only red grapes with red flesh and juice.  But is it classical?  Far from it, when “classical” is weighed by notions of lower alcohol, higher acidity, and a lower fruit-forwardness.  Nope:  This, my friends, is a WHOPPER.    

But is it “World Class” and thereby worthy of your club?  By all means, based on other just-as-valid criteria.  Alaya Tierra is the flagship wine of Atalaya from Spain’s “Moorish” southeast region of Almansa.  One of the world’s only strongholds for the Grenache / Petit Bouschet cross Alicante Bouschet (Garnacha Tintorera), this particular rendering hails from the region’s higher elevations where limestone soils add energy to wines which – in this very hot place – would otherwise be awkwardly fat.

Because not only the skins but also the juice of the grape at play are red in color, the resulting wine is incredibly colored.  The flavors are intense with damson plum, mulberry, and morello cherry fruit along with a sweet earthiness of fresh tobacco.  The textures are undeniably voluptuous.

I know most of you, and understand why you’re in this particular club.  To you preferers of the Classical:  Save the Burgundy and Bordeaux and Vino Nobile we’ve supplied for your thoughtful, smaller circle of geeky wine friends.  When your California wine-loving guests invade for dinner, open THIS.

We Snagged Some!

2012 ABADIA RETUERTA ‘Selección Especial’ – Sardon del Duero, Spain

A wine we’ve long admired and have provided before has landed once again on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list, as noted above (only the trip to the west coast makes our price a tiny bit higher than advertised).  We are in total agreement with their assessment:  This is a delicious, relatively affordable world class wine The Wine Steward should always try to keep in stock!

Sardon del Duero is directly adjacent to Spain’s famous Ribera del Duero region.  Abadia Retuerta, being one of those wineries thinking outside the box of current wine legislation, appreciates the satellite situation which allows more winemaking freedom.  This blend of 75% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon accommodates the sexy, palate-polishing addition of 10% Syrah only because they choose to NOT be included in the more famous area.  Just before New Year’s we showed over a dozen World Class wines to a select group of clients and included a bottle of Abadia Retuerta’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was amazing, yet would not have existed as Ribera del Duero.  This winery sacrifices regional notoriety for a more heroically defiant “We’ll do what we believe in” winemaking way.

 A red-black color invites the nose to exult in a heady fragrance of framboise, tobacco, sweet plums, coffee beans, and freshly-unwrapped dark chocolate.  The plush and well-framed mouthfeel carries dark cherries and blood orange tanginess and graphite tannins.

I was not raised as a lamb eater, coming to love it only later.  Having turned that corner of preference I’ve happily discovered how easy it is to quickly render those triangle-shaped shoulder chops on the grill with little more than olive oil, black pepper, and coarse salt as a treatment.  Tasting this beautiful red at 11 a.m. for note-writing purposes, I have that accompaniment in mind for tonight and the rest of this bottle!