Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spanish Treasures

I returned to the Lower Falls Wine Co. this evening to attend their special Spanish wine tasting.

Prior to the tasting, I searched their wine racks, seeking new and interesting wines. First, I was able to find more of the Sutton Cellars Carignane, one of my new favorite wines. I also picked up a bottle of the Sutton Cellars Zinfandel Port, which I have not tasted yet. In addition, I found the 1995 Robert Pecota Cabernet Sauvignon Kara's Vineyard. I ended up with a case of wine.

As for the tasting, it was excellent! The tasting was hosted by European Cellars, an importer of wines primarily from Spain, Portugal and France. Two members of European Cellars were present, Baron Ziegler and Lucas Paya. Lucas previously worked as the wine director at the renowned El Bulli restaurant for the past five years. They were personable and interesting hosts, explaining much about their wines. The wines included seven Spanish wines and one from South Africa.

The first wine was the 1997 Gramona Cellar Battle Brut Cava ($87). This is from the Penedes region and is a rare and special Cava. Gramona is one of the last family-owned Cava wineries in Penedes. This Cava is made of 70% Xarello and 30% Macabeo. It is aged on the cork for 6-8 years and is even hand riddled. It is considered one of the top Cavas in Spain. This Cava is far more similar to a French Champagne. It has more of a yeasty flavor though it is not overpowering. It is a creamy wine, with much complexity. This could well compete with some of the top French Champagnes, and you would probably never guess it was from Spain.

The next wine was the 2006 Pazo Senorans Albarino ($25). This wine is from the Rias Baixas D.O. and made from 100% Albarino. This is a superb wine, with a fruity nose though you can detect some minerality as well. There are citrus notes on the palate with a nice crispness. It is a well balanced wine which would go well with seafood, especially shellfish. One of the finest Albarinos I have ever had.

The third wine was the 2005 Conreria d'Scala Dei, Les Brugueres Blanco ($28). This Priorat wine is made of white Garnacha, and is one of the few white wines made in this region. Priorate is far more famous for their fine red wines. The grapes for this wine come from old vines, over 100 years old. The wine sees no oak. This is a very interesting wine, with strong citrus fruits on the front palate and a more minerally finish. It has nice concentrated flavors and definitely should please.

For our fourth wine, we took a little respite from Spain and moved on to South Africa. The 2004 Sadie Family Palladius ($53) is from the Swartland region. This is the only South African wine in the European Cellars portfolio. The Sadie Family though does produce a fine Priorat wine as well. The Palladius is made primarily of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. This is a biodynamic wine and is aged for over two years in oak. Only 300 cases of this wine were produced. Another intriguing wine. Despite the oak, the wine lacks an oaky taste. It is far more subtle and you might not even realize any oak was used. Minerality, complexity, balance. So much to love about this wine. It is a unique white wine that will seem familiar in some respects but will also feel like nothing else you have tasted before. Expensive but worth it for a special occasion.

Then we go back to Spain for the 2004 Capcanes Mas Donis ($12) from the Montsant region. This is one of Spain's value wines from the less known but excellent D.O. of Montsant. The Mas Donis is 80% old vine Garnacha and 20% Syrah. It is mostly aged in American oak. I thought this was a little powerhouse of a wine, packing a lot in flavor and spice. There was vanilla tones and a decent finish. A great value for this price.

The sixth wine was the 2005 Celler Tomas Cusine Geol ($28) from the Costers del Segre D.O. This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and is aged in French oak. The wine has strong berry flavors with a bit of prune notes. I was not overjoyed with this wine. It was interesting but just not my type of wine.

But we moved onto a wine that is far more what I like, the 2004 El Seque ($36) from Alicante. This wine is 100% Monastrell, from very old vines, and is aged in French oak. This wine is everything I love about Monastrell wines. It nice dark berry flavors, a bit of earthiness, spicy notes and a long finish. It is a well balanced wine with some tannins though they do not overwhelm. This wine would be great with wild game. An excellent wine!

Lastly, we tasted the 2003 Bodegas Aalto, Aalto ($56) from the Ribera del Deuro. This wine is 100% Tinto Fino from 60 year old vines and aged in French oak. I have actually tasted this wine before. And the first time I tasted it, it wowed me. This time was no different. This is a superb wine, just a phenomenal example of the best of Spain. The perfect balance of fruit and spice. Such a smooth wine with a very long and satisfying finish. Pure bliss. If you are looking for something special, find this wine!

Overall, this was an exceptional tasting with many interesting and unique wines. European Cellars has an excellent portfolio of wines. Check out their website to see what other wines they import. Special tastings like these are also one reason to sign up for the Lower Falls Wine Co. mailing list.

Lower Falls Wine Co.
2366 Washington Street (Rt. 16)
Newton Lower Falls, MA
Phone: (617) 332-3000


Anonymous said...

European Cellars has probably one of the best portfolios, or at least one of the top three in the US for Spanish wines. Make sure when your here in SEPT/OCT to try some more of the Garamona Cavas...always a treat and some great values!

Deborah Dowd said...

In general, I love Spanish wines and I am heading out to look for the lovely $12 wine- your description sounds great and that was one in my price range!

Richard Auffrey said...

Ryan: It certainly was a treat to taste that Garamona. I rarely see high end Cavas around my area and will be sure to check out more when I am in Spain.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Deborah:
If you like Spanish wines, I have reviewed a number of them here. You can check out and find my list of Spanish wines. Ryan also has a site dedicated to Spanish and Portugeuse wines you might want to check out as well (