I remember reading somewhere about a car which was described as ‘a car driver’s car’. An intriguing quote and one easy to add to with some sarcastic remark. Well, I’ve borrowed this quote to highlight Jancis Robinson’s remarks about Sunday’s wine – from Ribeiro, north Spain – Teira X 2015. It is made from a blend of four Iberian grapes, all vinified separately then blended, Treixadura, Alvilla, Loureira and Albarino.
Our notes mentioned the unctuous appearance (Richard – “gloopy”) and bright lemon, slightly green colours. It was difficult to get much varietal character from the nose (the usual issue with blends) apart from ripe melons, fresh greenness but low acidity. The intense palate was long, dry and complex with a good blend of the rich and the balancing acidity. It was, in Richard’s words, “made with care”. But, for me, there was a distinct lack of any hallmark flavour, nothing on which to hang my hat and say “Aaah, you can’t beat the distinctive flavour of…’
Jancis Robinson said of this wine: ”I am left wondering what more one could ask for in a wine, after tasting this.” Can I suggest a bit of character, Jancis?
From our friends Vin Cognito, again, or rather their Sutton branch at Richard’s house.
[Richard: I think we would probably have enjoyed this more on a warm August evening, perhaps with food, rather than a chilly, snowy January. As I think back to last night I’m struggling to remember the wine – no notes taken – so it didn’t make much impression. However, I’ve vacuum sealed the rest of the bottle to retaste on Thursday.]
Táganan 2014 (Canary Islands), £20.
We both did a blind tasting on Friday. Mine was a white with a deep yellow colour and a fabulous Burgundian like nose with hints of matchstick. Obviously it wasn’t Burgundy – too easy – so like Geoff I was baffled as the taste wasn’t anything I recalled. Nice viscous mouth feel, ripe, long, high acidity, slightly salty/bitter finish. Later it became rather sour and was always lacking fruit. I preferred it more than Geoff, just as well since I’ve actually got a bottle – we bought one each from the same supplier (Vin Cognito) recently. Another irritating wax top completed the conceptual similarities between the two wines taste.
[Geoff: it’s definitely ‘grapes’, Richard (see title). It is what’s called an ‘indicative blend’ i.e. indigenous grapes in varying quantities, possibly a field blend. The only grape I recognised out of a long list was Malvasia. As regards the taste, I wasn’t so convinced as my drinking chum. Later on, the wine’s sulphur started to dominate (overused perhaps, to keep stability?) and the lack of real finesse started to detract from my enjoyment. In more prosaic terms – it became a bit ordinary. At £20, rather expensive for ordinary.]
Even a cursory glance at the Lopez de Heredia website (lopezdeheredia.com) will indicate the importance of the traditional values of this operation. From solely using grapes from their own vineyards, coopering their own barrels out of Appalachian oak to the ageing of both red and white wines, the sense of continuity dominates. As red and white Riojas rush to fruitier, fuller and less oaky styles – thereby losing their distinguishing characteristics – LH haven’t changed. And the world has caught up with them.
A white Vina Gravonia 2003 has been sitting in my ‘cellar’ for about three years (I’ve also an ’02) and Sunday we tried it. Very deep gold in colour, bright and clear, it had a slightly weighty (lanolin) look. So far, so excellent.
The aroma was the sherry smell of slightly oxidised orange peel, and as we both said, ‘quite unique’. Or very unique. Or too unique. Whatever it was, it was good.
With the colour and the age one is not prepared for the fresh, balanced acidity of the palate, as if it had just been drawn from the barrel; reminiscent, to me, of the sherry bars in Jerez. As Richard said, this could be served with ‘nibbles’ as an aperitif, the dryness slightly edged with sweetness. It’s medium in length. For their quality (and age) these wines are very good value – if you like your Riojas traditional. And we certainly do.
[Richard: our first joint tasting for ages with work and holidays getting in the way. We went to Rhodes where the wines were ordinary – nowhere near as good as Kefalonia, last year, although our village had little in the way of decent shops. A not-bad assrytiko in a restaurant was as good as it got. Incidentally the waitress was astounded that decent Greek wine could be bought in the UK.
So – onto the wine. This is a taste we know well and have blogged on before. Absolutely unmistakable and a seductive drink with loads of flavour. Something every wine lover should try.]
Another wine from Vin Cognito, this time a white Priorat (north-east Spain, inland from Tarragona). I thought Priorat was an entirely red wine region [see below] but Blei, Clos Martina 2012 is made from the white Garnacha grape (86%) with some Xarel-lo and Pedro Ximenez. 14% ABV means a powerful wine but this wears its strength very lightly, there were hardly any tell-tale windows above a very deep lemon colour. The wine was exceptionally bright and beautifully clear.
On the nose, there was a strong presence of lemon overlaying a richness and very slight honey quality. Priorat is a hot area (accounting for the richness) but also mountainous, so I guess that the grapes are grown at altitude to maintain their acidity levels. The palate was a delight; dry, yes, but also very soft with a long finish. This was a very well-integrated wine where fullness and acidity were in balance. Six months in oak have probably helped smooth out the edges but there was not much of the tell-tale vanilla; the tropical fruit flavours were still in evidence. Richard and I really liked this and thought it ‘a find’.
[Richard: not cheap at £18 but still excellent value. As it happens we have tasted a white Priorat before – another classy wine.]
“This must surely be in the running for the title of Spain’s most interesting white grape ….” says Oz Clarke. I found this comment after tasting the wine on Sunday evening – if I had read it beforehand the disappointment would have been all the greater. Waitrose’s Valdesil Godello from the Valderossa region in north-west Spain appeared a bargain when reduced from £16 to £12.50 but we both thought it had found its right price level.
The slight green tinge to its pale yellow colour hinted at an acidity that was evident in the citrus aromas, in addition to some mineral qualities. We anticipated a fresh wine and weren’t disappointed. It had a thickish mouth feel and a persisting acidity which was an interesting combination. It reminded us, to some degree, of our much-loved Greek Assyrtiko but without the intensity. Unfortunately, that’s where our interest stalled. It was short and, well, just a bit ordinary. Certainly not the grape that Oz Clarke described – perhaps he had a better one.
(I must declare an aversion to the Sauvignon-esque style of whites. Unless they are well-made, slightly aged and subtle – rather than underripe nettles on a stick – I’m not convinced. Perhaps I will be one day.)
[Richard: acidic rather than ‘possessing acidity’ and thus rather disappointing. On reflection the reduced price is perhaps a bit steep.]