Monday, February 22, 2016

Boston Wine Expo: Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana

"There are only two kinds of sherry, the good and the better."
--Jerez saying

While perusing the list of exhibitors who would be at the Boston Wine Expo, I noted that Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana would be there and I knew I had to stop by their table. Back in 2010, I visited this Sherry winery in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and it was one of the highlights of my visit to the Sherry region. They produce some amazing Sherries from Manzanilla to VORS Palo Cortado, and I highly recommend you enjoy any of their Sherries. Please read my previous article, Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana: Manzanilla Mecca, for background information about this winery.

At the Expo, I was intrigued that La Gitana was also producing some non-Sherry wines, including a white wine which ended up being one of my favorite wines at the entire Expo. I had the pleasure to meet Antonio Hidalgo, of the 6th generation of Sherry winemakers and the President of Hidalgo Imports, who talked to me about their wines. A few of the wines at their table were from some of the other wineries that Hidalgo Imports represents, and included some delicious wines too.

The NV Clot d'Ivern Brut Sparkling wine is from the Valencia region, from a winery that has been making sparkling wine since 1918. It is a blend of 50% Merseguera and 50% Malvasia with an 11.5% ABV. This is certainly a very different blend, especially as you see few wines with Merseguera outside of Spain. However, I would certainly like to see more wines like this as I found this to be a very pleasant value wine. Crisp acidity, refreshing bubbles and nice flavors of green apple with floral hints.

One of my favorite wines of the entire Expo was the 2014 La Gitana Blanco ($14.99) from the D.O. Vinos de la tierra de Cadiz. With only a production of 2000 bottles, this wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and old vines Palomino. The wine spends about 7-8 months on the lees in Manzanilla Sherry barrels and has a 12.5% ABV.  As Antonio noted, the Sauvignon Blanc from southern Spain is different than is found elsewhere around the world. When I tasted this wine, I would't have known it contained any Sauvignon Blanc as it didn't fit the taste profile of the Sauvignon Blancs I've tasted from places like New Zealand, France and the U.S.

In short, this wine was absolutely delicious with lots of complexity and character. It was rich and elegant, with excellent acidity and a delightful melange of fruit flavors, including apple, pear and some tropical fruit notes. There was also a briny streak throughout the wine, likely due to spending time in Manzanilla casks. This is definitely an impressive value wine, which would be enjoyable on its own or paired with food. Several of my friends tasted the wine too and they all enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend this wine, though Antonio is currently seeking a local distributor. Hopefully, it will become available in the near future. If it becomes available, I'll let my readers know.

The 2009 La Gitana Rioja is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 5% Graciano, with a 13.5% ABV. It is an easy drinking red wine, with pleasant flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, and spice accents. A nice value wine. A pricier option is the 2009 La Gitana Ribera del Duero, which is made from the best Tempranillo grapes from 70 year old vines and aged in French and U.S. oak for about 10 months. It is a deeper wine, with intense black fruit flavors and heavier spice notes with a touch of smoke.

Of the reds, my favorite was a non-La Gitana wine, the 2005 Vina Olabarri Gran Reserva ($29), from a winery founded in 1958 in Haro, Rioja Alta. It is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Manzuelo and Graciano. It was smooth and complex, with an intriguing melange of flavors, including black cherry, ripe plum, spice accents and a hint of herbal notes. The tannins were well integrated, it had a lengthy finish and was well balanced. An excellent example of Rioja at a reasonable price for this aged wine.

Antonio also poured two Sherries, including the La Gitana Manzanilla, which I've previously enjoyed and reviewed. The second Sherry was the La Gitana Alameda Cream, a blend of 85% Palomino and 15% Pedro Ximenez, with an 18% ABV. The Palomino is actually old Oloroso and helps to give the Sherry is dark amber color. It is smooth, savory and mildly sweet, with complex flavors of dried fruits, a bit of citrus, caramel and nutty notes. This is something to slowly savor after dinner, to to even pair with dessert.

At the Expo, I enjoyed a McCrea's Candies Black Lava Sea Salt Caramel with the Alameda Cream Sherry. The sweet and salty caramel went well with the complex flavors of the Sherry, including its nutty, briny and caramel notes. A magical combination.

If you attended the Boston Wine Expo, did you taste the 2014 La Gitana Blanco?

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