The Cork Dorks Say ‘Ole!’ with Spanish Wines

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 | Food Pairings, Priorat, Rioja, Spain, Wine Tasting Notes, wine events | 1 Comment

A new month; a new destination: SPAIN

I don’t know if this is a theme, but for the second time we got together, it was yet another cold, rainy night at the good ol’ Bin 100 in Milford, CT.

All the more reason to drink some delicious reds from a bold and robust region that is Espana.

No bad surprises hit us this night - no corked bottles. And if anything, we had nothing but a wonderful turnout of fantastic cheeses and LAMB CHOPS! (Thank you chef for making the evening that more special!).

Wine #1: 2004 Loxelo, Gran Reserva, Cava - Penedes

We like to enliven our palates, so why not do that with some zesty CAVA from the Penedes region. This one did just that! The acidity was zingy and woke me up for sure. The texture was light, but the finish was dry and long. Being that this was a vintage Cava made it pretty special, as they tend to be few and far between. I was delighted by the nice green almond finish that reminded me of some Fino sherries I’ve tried in the past. There was a certainly a raw doughy nose, lots of yeast coming through with some lemon zest, but still rich and paired the best with some Robusto cheese we passed around the table. The cheese rounded out the finish with some smoky notes and showed more of a fruity finish than when I drank it sans food. I also drank this with some smoked oysters (of which Alek gagged…) that paired nicely.

Varietal: Chardonnay / Xarello / Macabeo

Imported by: Classic Wines, INC

Discovered at: New England Beverage Co., Orange, CT


Wine #2: 2001 CUNE Imperial Reserva, Rioja Alta

After 9 years, this wine was sheer beauty and showed the classic lines of Tempranillo and what is ‘old-world’ Spain in style.  The color was very clear and uniform showing a bright ruby / garnet hue. Not overbearing, just silky smooth, bright chocolate-covered maraschino cherry fruit, round tannins and tasty vanilla oak tones. Acidity was still very fresh and the Lamb Loin chops were deliciously paired with this wine. Additionally, some Midnight Moon Goat Gouda showed fantastically with this wine. The finish was coating, like a sugary candy and you could see that in the glass as well. In a nutshell: We all swooned.

Varietal: Tempranillo (maybe a little Mazuelo / Graciano blended in)

12 Months in French / American Oak (minimal)

Imported by: Pasternak

Discovered at: Amity Wine & Spirits, New Haven, CT



Wine #3: 2004 “CULMEN” by Bodegas Lan, Reserva, Rioja

This is serious wine, kids. And by serious, I mean complex, captivating, BIG, deep, intricate and the bottle was really really heavy. (I had to use 2 hands.)

We let this bottle breathe for about an hour, but didn’t decant, although that might have been ideal in our situation. Talk about opening slowly…. but when it did, things got interesting. I was mildly warned by the kind gentleman about this wine and the crazy flavors / aromas I might experience. He was even so bold as to tout the idea that I might smell PICKLES! (WHAT??) And he was right, except that I think what he was smelling was more of a soy sauce aroma and couldn’t put a finger on it.

Initial aromas showed dark fruit, like blackberries, some black peppercorn and balsamic.

About an hour after I poured my glass, I noticed bouquets indicative of dark forest flowers - lavender, violets, some Eucalyptus arising and lots of delicious, fresh-packed mint! Very pretty and beautifully layered. The color was super dark with a rich purplish color and very juicy.

Tannins are pretty strong on this wine, but structure made up for the snap in the cheeks. The acidity is definitely strong enough for a long lay-down period, but drinking well now with the appropriate cuisine. I’m imagining the amazing Balsamic glazed Hanger steak from Cafe Manolo with some dried fig / blackberry fruit to pair. :)

Varietal: 85% Tempranillo / 15% Graciano

Imported by: Monsieur Touton Selection LTD

Discovered at: Harry’s Wine & Liquor, Fairfield, CT


Wine #4: 2004 “A’ALTO” by Bodegas Aalto Sa Quintanilla, Ribera del Duero

So in an effort to drift away from Rioja for a moment, we delved into this bottle of wine from Ribera. The color was super dark and red, like deep crimson. First swirls indicated it was a little ‘hot’ on the nose….and then I looked at the bottle: 15% alcohol! whoa.

The first sips created a very lush and velvety sensation with loads of DARK chocolate with currant notes. An overwhelmingly rich mouthfeel ended with a sweet bing cherry aftertaste. Loads of oak and cedar notes came out on this wine as well.

As much as I want to say I liked this wine, we had it paired up against the other reds and it was just too strong on the nose with the alcohol and cedar tones. This wine needs to settle itself down for a couple years. I think if we come back to it in 2-3 more years, or even 5, it will be spectacular.

Varietal: 100% Tempranillo

Imported by: European Cellars, LLC

Discovered at: Amity Wine & Spirits, New Haven, CT


Wine #5: 2004 ‘Les Eres’, Vi de Guarda, Priorat

Want to know a personal weakness of the Kronick Wino? Priorat wines.

Here are 2 reasons: Carinena / Garnacha (Carignan / Grenache french varietals)

These grapes always over-deliver for the price, age beautifully and have some of the BEST quality available on the market. If you’re not into Priorat wines from Spain, then you haven’t lived.

When chef busted out the dessert pairings of the night, I immediately took to the dark, flourless chocolate torte because this wine IS the dark, flourless chocolate torte in a bottle! This wine was superb! Rich, big, dark, a beautiful rose petal perfume on the nose, some lavendar, deep raisin and cinnamon spice was all around. I could have smelled this wine for hours before sipping it. Around 45 minutes later, some minerality started to show graphite and slate nuances on the palate. Never-ending finish and smooth mouth-feel made this wine remarkably rich and velvety and delightful. The wine was also aged for about 18 months in New French oak barrels. Only 7200 bottles were produced (~700 cases), so get your hands on a bottle and drink now or keep in the cellar for some time. This has some wonderful aging potential over the next decade and beyond.

Varietal: 55% Carinena from 99 year-old vines! / 30% Garnacha from 89 year old vines / 15% Cabernet Sauv from 26 year old vines.

Imported by: Slocum & Sons

Discovered at: One of the wine bins at Bin 100. Luckily, Elena decided not to throw this one out. ;)



None of us could decide the winner between the two, but we could decide that we all needed to be rolled out the door after in-satiating ourselves with the rich tannins and juice of Spain.

Until next time….


Kronick Wino

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