Tag Archives: Spain

Alvarez de Toledo Godello

I’ve started going to Terry B’s in Dexter, Michigan (just a few miles west of Ann Arbor) 20140318_181813-1because they do house-cured charcuterie and have an excellent wine list.  This is a white from Spain that went well with the sausages and pork terrine that Megan recommended. Godello is one of the white grapes found in Galicia in northwestern Spain – it’s not as famous as Albariño, one of my personal favorites.

Alvarez de Toledo Godello (2012) Bierzo, Spain

20140318_181800Color: rosy-gold

Aroma: crisp with mineral notes

Taste: good fresh fruit, including melon, and lots of minerality. Heavier and less acidic than an Albariño, and more suited to the saltiness of the cured meats. Quite nice.

A good glass – $9 restaurant price, or $36 for the bottle. I was quite pleased with it.

Albero Monastrell

Monastrell (aka Mourvedre aka Mataro) is a fun grape that you normally see in a blend, but the Spaniards bottle it varietally. I’m opening this with sweet-and-sour chicken over fried onions and potatoes.

Albero Monastrell (2012) Jumilla, Spain – $6

Wine-006Color: purple-red, but not as dark or opaque as a Petite Sirah.

Aroma: dark cherry fruit with some spicy notes; quite inviting.

Taste: round and smooth, with cherry and other berry fruit and a nice spicy, tannic finish. Good acidity throughout, too, so it’s an excellent food wine. A nice bottle to have on hand with something a little spicy, or with a pork roast. Recommended.

Drinking Tonight: Tempranillo-Merlot

Just a light dinner of salad and cheese this evening, and I’ve popped open a recent Spanish acquisition. This is a ‘new-wave’ blend, as it combines Spain’s most noble grape, Tempranillo, with the international Merlot variety. The proportion are 70% Tempranillo and 30% Merlot, and it’s been aged in oak barrels for 12 months.

Abancay Crianza (2009) Cariñena, Spain – $9

Photo0269Color: purple verging on reddish-purple, and quite dense. About the darkest Tempranillo I’ve seen.

Aroma: intriguing – I think I get more of the Tempranillo fruit and dusty/oaky notes, but there are some hints of blueberry underneath from the Merlot.

Taste: considerably softer and easier-drinking than I was expecting – interesting! Predominate tastes are cherry, dried cherry, blueberry, and a moderate amount of oak towards the finish.

I like the blend, as the Merlot softens and rounds off the Tempranillo, which can be quite stiff and imposing. This is versatile, and I think it would make a great wine for tailgating or a holiday party. Recommended!


Drinking Tonight: La Mano Mencia

Mencia is one of those obscure grapes that is an absolutely joy to discover.  It’s one of the few red grapes that grows in the cool, rainy northwestern parts of Spain. This bottle is a new purchase from Trader Joe’s that I’m drinking with pizza. The term ‘Roble’ is a recent development in the Spanish wine trade – it literally means ‘oak’, indicating that the wine has seen some oak aging, but not enough to qualify for the ‘Crianza’ tier – in this case, 3 months.

La Mano Mencia Roble (2010) Bierzo, Spain – $8

Photo0250Color: dark, plummy red, shading to purple in the center.

Aroma: bing cherry, cedar, and some licorice-earth notes.

Taste: easy up front with just some cherry and plum fruit, then building in the mid-palate with tannin and earth notes. Finishes with some tannin and heat – a crescendo all the way through. Definitely a food wine.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this. Mencia is still rare in the US, and to find a bottle for just $8 is worth it for the novelty value alone. This is a nice bottle for hearty fare and is worth a slot in your wine rack.

Drinking Today: Portico da Rio Albariño

I completed almost all of my fall gardening today, so I’m celebrating with a glass of white and a late lunch. I have crab-stuffed flounder in the oven, and I’m opening a bottle of Albariño to go with. I picked this baby up at Trader Joe’s earlier in the week.

If you’re not familiar with this grape, you should be! It’s still somewhat obscure, because it doesn’t get a lot of shelf space and is grown almost exclusively in the Rias Baixas region of far northwestern Spain. I like Albariño because it has a fuller body – up into white Rhone, Viognier, and Chardonnay territory – while still displaying the brightness and elegance of a good Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

Portico da Ria Albariño (2011) Rias Baixas, Spain – $9.00

Photo0234Color: light golden in color – darker than lemons, lighter than goldenrod or honey.

Aroma: citrus and melon fruit, with a good acidic edge, followed by some honeyed floral notes.

Taste: nice – a combination of citrus and light melon, with a good, mouth-filling texture and a touch of smoky dried fruit. Somewhere between marmalade and candied citrus rind on the finish, and it’s plenty long.

A great bottle of white to have on hand, especially as an alternative to Chardonnay when pairing with medium-rich seafood. This would work well with scallops in cream sauce, shrimp salad, or grouper – and especially well with sushi!  Recommended!



Drinking Tonight: 2 Tempranillos with Pork Stir-Fry

I have 2 inexpensive Tempranillos from Trader Joe’s, to go with my home-made stir-fry and brown rice.  I’ll give you the recipe first, then we can talk wine.

Pork Stir-Fry

You’ll want to saute this in batches over medium heat in canola oil, using a large, deep saute pan – and then combine at the end.

  • Batch 1: 5 carrots, washed and sliced + 2-3 Tbsp ginger, finely diced + 1/2 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • Batch 2: 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks + 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Batch 3: 1/2 head bok choi or similar greens, washed and chopped. Cook this batch only lightly – you want the stems to get soft, but don’t let the leaves wilt.
  • Batch 4: 1 pound pork loin (trimmings are fine) + 2-3 onions, chopped.

After the pork is just browned and the onions are starting to get translucent, add all the other ingredients back in. Then add 1 cup of a marinade or sauce: ginger-soy or teriyaki work well, plus 1/2 cup of water or stock.  Simmer another 10-15 minutes on low, covered, until the flavors have started to blend, and serve over white or brown rice.

I’ve already expressed how much I love Spanish wine – especially Tempranillo – with pork. Today we’ll be trying out Terrenal and Zumaya. Zumaya has the better pedigree, coming from the renowned Ribera del Duero region; hence the price difference.

Terrenal Tempranillo (2010) Yecla, Spain – $6.00

Color: straight garnet red.

Aroma: just a touch musty at first, but that blows off and leaves behind dried fruit notes and a touch of dried floral aromas too – rose petal?

Taste: this is just a touch raisiny; I’ll have to do some research, but I suspect that it was a particularly hot year in Yecla, and they difficulty keeping everything in synch. The mid-palate and finish are pleasantly dusty, and the acidity and tannins are fine. This might be better with smoked or barbequed meat. $6 isn’t a bad price point, but I’ve written about competitors at that range that I think are better-made.


Zumaya Tempranillo (20011) Ribera del Duero, Spain – $11.50

Color: quite dark purple-red; this is very promising.

Aroma: right up front a touch of vanilla from the oak, then dark plummy fruit; some jammy/smoky hints underneath the straight fruit.

Taste: lots of character, with an excellent, rich mouthfeel and a taste profile that goes from tight dried fruit, through jammy fruit, and on to a spicy finish. They really got their money’s worth from the brief barrel aging. A good choice for the garlic-ginger-soy notes in the stir-fry.

This has just 2 months of American oak aging after stainless steel fermentation, so it would be classed as a Joven (young) – they also make a Crianza but I haven’t seen it on the shelves. A nice introduction to this important growing region for under $12 – recommended.


Drinking Tonight: Panilonco Chardonnay-Viognier, La Granja Tempanillo, La Granja Grenache-Syrah

Two-course dinner this evening – starting with a Grilled Caesar Salad, then having herb-rubbed grilled pork chops and potato salad.  I’m having the 80% Chardonnay – 20% Viognier blend from Chile with the salad, and comparing the two Spanish reds with the pork. The wines are all Trader Joe’s exclusives.

Photo0153Panilonco Chardonnay-Viognier (2012) Colchagua Valley, Chile

Color: medium yellow, straw verging on gold.

Aroma: tropical and apple/pear fruit, plus floral/honeysuckle together; you can tell from the nose that this is a blend.

Taste: almost no oak – the astringency comes from the tropical and citrus notes. A big full body without being heavy or numbing on the tongue. The richness of the Viognier really shines through – nice job on the blending proportions.

This is a great wine for $6.  Recommended.

La Granja Tempranillo (2012) Cariñena, Spain

Color: vibrant purple-red.

Aroma: fresh and dried cherries, rose petal, a hint of spice. Classic Tempranillo.

Taste: Mmm, this is why I love a good Spanish red. A nice complex of berry fruit, pepper, and cherry, with a little hint of old leather and some tannin on the finish. Silky. Not especially long, but what do you expect for $5?

I can’t believe this is only $5.  Recommended – I’m ordering a case.  I wouldn’t put much age on this, but this will keep me and my pork chops, my stuffed pork loins, my pork medallions, and my pork sausages happy for the next year or so.  It’s got a pig on the label, in case you need the hint!

La Granja Grenache-Syrah (2012) Cariñena, Spain.

Color: dark garnet red

Aroma: plum and pepper

Taste: fuller, more like a Rhone red. This is definitely an international style. The tannins are much fuller on the back of the tongue, with a dollop of vanilla (American oak, I’m guessing) as well.

A 50-50 blend for $7. Not my favorite of the night, but it had stiff competition.  I think this would do better with a spicy pizza, chili, or a big, messy cheeseburger.