I just came back from a fantastic week in NYC devoted to tasting Spanish wines. The semiars were led by the president of The Wine Academy of Spain, Pancho Campo, MW. Having just passed the Masters of Wine exam this past Sept., Pancho was pretty enthusiastic about his new title and shared lots of information on Spain as well as the Masters program. And rightfully so, he is the first and only MW in all of Spain! Did I mention that he was a tennis pro before becoming interested in wine? Type A or what. On the last day of the training, Pancho led a tasting of “iconic” wines from Spain. The list included lots of fantastic wines but I gotta tell you about my top three: First, a 1998 vintage Cava called Gramona Cava Battle. Very rare and limited, the wine was bursting with yeasty brioche aromas alongside bright green apple and citrus aromas. Having spent 7 years on the lees, the wine – made from 70% Xarello and 30% Macabeo – was showing very well and was one of my favorites of the night. Next up, 2006 Clos Mogador from Priorat. Dark purple in color with loads of candied red fruit, mocha and licorice aromas the wine is a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Syrah. Low yields and the llicorello soils of the vineyards provide concentration of fruit in the glass. This wine had a slight volatile acidity (VA) just like some American Zinfandels do. I am pretty sensitive to this aroma (think crayola crayons) and find it interesting that a dash of VA adds savory notes but too much (shoe polish) makes the wine faulty. My favorite wine, from the south of Spain in the Sherry region, was a 1979 Palo Cortado from Gonzalez Byass. Tawny color with mouthwatering aromas of yeast, almond, butterscotch and carmelized sugar that ended bitter on the palate – sort of like eating burnt carmel popcorn. Yum. This type of Sherry lands somewhere in between an dry Amontillado and an Oloroso. It was great and will certainly be at the top of my must-remember wines. If you have not tried Sherry lately, fall is a great time to try a bottle or two. Start by sipping a good quality dry Oloroso and some nuts or cheese at the end of your meal. For those who prefer sweets, try a PX wine all by itself the spicy, figgy notes will not let you down. Cheers.
About the Author: Marianne Frantz
A Certified Wine Educator, Marianne holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) of London, and has also earned the Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. After successfully participating in an educational competition sponsored by the Wines of Australia in the spring of 2008, Marianne became an educational Ambassador for Wine Australia USA. She is also a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.