Wine Picks, December 2010

Posted on December 7, 2010 – 1:15 AM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

Bodegas Primitivo Quiles, “Raspay”
Alicante 2004
58 Degrees and Holding Co. $25.00

The classic packaging of Bodegas Primitivo Quiles’s Alicante is a good indicator of what the wine inside will taste like. This wine is not only old-fashioned and distinguished, but it actually tastes more aged than it is. At six years it has developed a complexity usually found in much older wines. Charmingly, “Tinto Brut” is stamped on the label; it usually goes without saying that a red wine is dry, but this bodega is famous for a sweet red dessert wine called Fondillon (reviewed in last month’s gift guide).  The “Raspay” is a dry wine, aged in old American oak barrels — unlike the rest of the wine making world who uses French oak, Spain has been using American oak for over a hundred years — and then matured in bottle for several years before release. Monastrell is the main Spanish name for Mourvèdre, the grape used in the Provençal wine Bandol. A comparison could be made between the two wines and like Bandol, Alicante is perched on the Mediterranean coast. The Alicante from this bodega is special– it’s not typically a region I admire because the hot climate results in low acid wines. But this uber-traditional style is immensely appealing. The nose is sweet and spicy, with a hint of marvelous oxidation. The rich character of the wine is balanced by tart berry fruit, and this wine is more refreshing than its 14% alcohol content would suggest. The Raspay paired very well with a roast chicken and dandelion greens, but darker meat like duck or lamb might really sing with this wine.

Bodega Tajinaste
Valle de la Orotava
58 Degrees and Holding Co. $23.00

The latest trend in wine geekdom is wine from the Canary Islands, a small archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa.  Wine grapes have been cultivated there since the Spanish conquest of the fifteenth century, but since then plantings have been in competition with the potentially more profitable banana. What little wine is made is slurped up by the thriving tourism trade. Perhaps the new found American interest in Canary Island wine will bolster the industry there. Between 27 and 30 degrees north of the equator, the Canaries fall just outside the usual latitudinal scope of wine regions, and the near tropical climate isn’t a great match for wine production. But by planting on the top of steep volcanic slopes, fresh, elegant wine is made successfully. This winery, Bodega Tajinaste, is named after a plant called Tower of Jewels in English; the plant is native to Tenerife, the island where the winery is located, but I’ve seen some examples around Sacramento. Tenerife has a few vineyard regions; this was made in the Valle de la Orotava from the Listan Negro grape. Beautifully, the grape vines are trained in an espalier-like way against the semi-vertical ground. The incredible diversity of indigenous grapes found in the Canaries is one of the reasons wine geeks are so excited about this newly discovered region. Marmajuelo, Negramoll, Burrablanca, Breval, and Gual are all grapes I look forward to getting to know.  Tajinaste’s Listan Negro is full of character: it smells like Sichuan peppercorn on the nose. It’s refreshing and berry like on the palate, with a medium body and a bit of tannin. The extremely peppery nose briefly reminded  me of Syrah from the northern Rhone, but it is a truly unique wine unlike anything I’ve ever had.

Tags: , , , , ,

Post a Comment