Ole Imports, a partnership between Patrick Mata and Alberto Orte, imports an excellent portfolio of primarily Spanish wines and I have previously enjoyed a number of their selections. At the Vintner's Reserve Lounge, they presented two wines which thoroughly impressed me.
The 1995 Caves Sao Joao Poco do Lobo Branco ($34.99) is a Portuguese wine made from 100% Arinto. This is the first time I've ever had an Arinto wine this old, and for a 21 year old wine, it is priced reasonably, especially considering its quality. The wine is made in an oxidative style and reminded me very much of an aged Sherry. It had crisp acidity, with citrus flavors, briny notes, herbal accents, and a strong umami component. It is complex and intriguing, with a lengthy finish, and should continue to age well for at least several more years. An impressive wine that I highly recommend.
Another impressive wine was the 2012 Ultreia St. Jacques Mencia ($29.99) produced by Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez. The name of this wine, Ultreia, means "onward" and is in honor of the numerous pilgrims who traveled by this site over the centuries. The Mencia grapes for this wine come from a single eight-acre, organic vineyard in Bierzo, which was planted in 1889, so the grapes are pre-phylloxera. It is fermented with wild yeasts, partially in stainless steel, barrique and oak vats, and then is aged in 1,500 liter oak vats for about eight months.
This Mencia is elegant and subtle, not a wine of power, and is something to slowly savor to revel in its complex and intriguing melange of flavors. With fresh fruit flavors of raspberry and black cherry, there are spicy elements, a touch of earthiness, and herbal accents. There is so much going on in each sip and I was quite taken with its taste. And at this price, it is a steal for a wine of such complexity and quality. I paired this Mencia with Duck Tostadas and it was an excellent pairing. Highly recommended.
Bodegas Taron is a cooperative of four Spanish towns in the Rioja Alta region. The 2014 Bodegas Taron Rosado is a blend of 50% Viura and 50% Garnacha and presents as a crisp, light, and dry rosé with delicious bright flavors of strawberry and cherry. Simply delicious and easy drinking, perfect on its own or paired with food. And at about $10, this is a killer value too.
Martinez Lacuesta, founded in 1895, is another winery in the Rioja region, and they also make one of my favorite Vermouths too. The 2014 Martinez Lacuesta Rosado is made from 100% Garnacha and is also crisp, dry and light though it has juicier red fruit flavors than the Taron. And at about $11, it is also an excellent value.
Laureate Imports brings in Slovenian wines from the Goriska Brda, a cooperative that was established in 1957. The cooperative has about 1200 hectares of vineyards planted with Ribolla Gialla (27%), Merlot (20%), Chardonnay (16%) and Sauvignonasse, formerly known as Tocai Friulano (12%). You'll also find in the vineyards an assortment of other grapes, including Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and the indigenous Pikolit and Verduc. Two of their wines stood out to me, both of which only 1200 cases were produced.
The 2011 Colliano Ribolla Gialla ($14-$17) is made from 100% Ribolla Galla and has a 13% ABV. With a slightly funky nose, it will please your palate with its fruity flavors, including some peach and citrus flavors, as well as herbal notes and a touch of earthiness. A very intriguing flavor profile and at this price point, it is a good value. The NV Colliano Peneca Rebula ($14-$17) is a Sparkling wine, made in the Charmat method, from 100% Ribolla Gialla and at only 12.5% ABV. It is crisp and dry with tasty green apple and melon flavors and a hint of toastiness. A pleasant sparkling wine at a good price point.