Posts Tagged ‘Lopez de Heredia’

Polaner Selections’ 2009 annual portfolio tasting

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Wow, could this year’s Polaner tasting really have been my 3rd?  It is a large and diverse tasting and a portfolio with some real winner wines.

In previous years I recall tasting lots of big tooth staining wines.  This year’s tasting comes at a busy time as I have been occupied with Passover wine stuff  so I was only able to stop in for about an hour.  I wish I had all week!  So many wines to taste, analyze & ponder.  Alas, it was one of the better hours spent in a long while.

I began by tasting through a bunch of whites and I then moved on to some reds.  Choosing to focus more on old world wines this year I spent a great deal of time tasting Italian wines, though I did start with some real nice French whites, and finished with some well known and very unique Spanish wines.

There were a few standout wines I’d like to write about tonight.  Beginning with the Foradori Myrto IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco 2007 (pic is of 2006).

The wine, made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Incrocio Manzoni (yes, that is apparently a grape varietal) started off a bit unusual as I thought its color was a bit deep for such a young wine.  Rather than the light straw color I saw a lot of this wine seemed to have hints of gold.  The nose was floral, but once again, not a floral I was accustomed to smelling.  I could not quite put a finger on the specific, but the floral notes, combined with a spicy, white pepper & herb thing led to a crisp wine with a medium finish.

Next was another white, made from 100% Prie’ Blanc (“pree” is the hebrew word for fruit) by the Cave de Morgex et de la Salle winery in Valle d’Aoste, Italy.

The 2008 Vini Estremi was so light in color it was almost clear.  Made with indigenous yeasts, it had a sweet, floral and bubble gum nose that was scrumptious.  There was a bit of fizziness to the wine that was crisp and finished nice and long for a wine its style.

From Sicily, Italy I tried some of the wines of Calabretta.

I tried their white Carricante Sicilia 2005 which was oily, floral and nice.  But it was their reds that I found most interesting.  I tried both the 1999 & 2000 Etna Rosso.  Each wine was a light, clear brick color.  Apparently these wines are aged for 6-7 YEARS in large botti (basically traditional Italian barrels).  While the botti do not impart big oak flavors they clearly do something.  The wines had a unique yet admittedly appealing oxidized/medicinal quality to them.  They were almost Sherry like.  Quite unusual but I did enjoy.

My favorites of the day were the wines of Roagna from Piedmont Italy.  I tried 2 Barbarescos and 2 Barolos.  The 1999 Barbaresco Crichet Paje’ had soft red fruit and cola characteristics packaged in a wine so beautifully round, with its acid and tannins that it was the only wine I could not bring myself to spit.

BUT, it was actually the 2004 Barolo Vigna Rionda that blew me away.  Where to begin with this wine.  Still a baby, this wine was clear light ruby-garnet and had the most unusual aromas.  Yes, there were lovely (yet restrained) ripe black cherry aromas.  But the aroma that blew me away was what I can best describe as grilled veggies.  It kind of had a charred-fresh-sweet-herbaceous thing going on.  WOW!  On the palate was smoke & black fruit brought together beautifully by soft ripe tannins, classic Italian acidity and a very long finish.  My birthday is just over 4 months away.  Start saving up FRIENDS… 😉

My last major stop was at the Lopez de Heredia table.  This Rioja, Spain producer perplexes me in many ways.  I’ve tried (and written about) their wines a few times before.   I tried a white, the 1989 Tondonia Blanco Reserva that was interesting – crisp yet oxidized (intentionally).  A rose, the 1998 Tondoni Rosado Gran Reserva that was a pink-orange color & showed a touch of oxidation.  And I tried 5 reds, the youngest a pre-release of the 2003 Cubillo Crianza and the oldest the 1985 Tondonia Gran Reserva.

Of the 5 I actually only found one to show that traditional Heredia oxidation…and it was NOT the ’85.  It was the ’91 Tondonia Gran Reserva.  Interestingly enough, my favorite was the ’85 (picture above).  It was brick in color with browning edges.  NO OXIDIZED aromas (or maybe I was simply palate fatigued).  I got tar, leather and burnt tobacco.  But what impressed me most and the reason I really enjoyed this wine was its remarkable liveliness.  It was light, yet bright & crisp.  NOT what i was expecting.  GREAT!

All that and I was only there for about an hour.  OK, maybe it was an hour and a half.  What a treat.  The tasting was just over 48 hours ago and already I can not wait until next year!

Happy POLANER WINES wine tasting!


Rioja Tasting with the wine group

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The wine group I have previously mentioned that I get together with 2-3 times a month (on a good month) to taste wines with met last night. We tasted Rioja’s, and were treated to some older vintage wines last night. Our esteemed host was able to pick up 3 Rioja’s from the famed “Lopez de Heredia” winery and 4 others.

Of the 3 Heredia’s we had a ’99, an ’81 and a ’73 – what a fabulous year! We were all truly amazed that these older wines were still alive – which they were. How alive however became somewhat of a debate. More on that later. Before tasting the wines we were forewarned by one of the members that aged Rioja’s are soft & elegant and not the rich, big, concentrated wines we might expect from Spain. He was absolutely right as the ’99 Heredia was so soft & smooth I almost found it to be too much so. I wrote down that it was elegant, but that was partly because I wanted to write something nice (and seem sophisticated) so as not to write that I found it to be a bit boring – which I think would have been more accurate.

The ’81 however was a treat. Very complex. The others thought I was nuts as a few of them had finished their taste of this wine before I even tried mine. But I found so much going on in the nose that I was simply not ready to move on to tasting the wine. It started off with dried/jammy fruit. Moved on to tart berries. And then evolved onto what at first seemed like milk chocolate then became more bittersweet chocolate & finally struck me as rumball like. On the palate this wine was again very soft & elegant (there is that word again). the only disappointment was a finish that I thought could have been longer, but the finish on some of these wines was better the second time around.

The ’73 Heredia was very clear orange almost brown in color, with an almost clear rim – really showing its age. The nose started out with some off smells of rubber or corkiness but blew off somewhat to reveal a tarry earthiness, some subtle berries and even a little jammyness. On the palate this wine was very much alive as it was soft and silky with a slightly acidic and tart berry flavor.

Aside from the 3 Heredia’s we had a Crianza, 2 Reserva’s & 1 Gran Reserva. We did not conduct this tasting blind but I was not really paying much attention to name/label/status etc. That said, it was the Gran Reserva, a 1998 Muga Prado Enea that I enjoyed the most of the 4. This ruby/purple colored wine had A LOT going on in the nose. And it evolved in a short time in my glass. It began with hints of fruit and earth, and then showed some of the Piny-ness I have been detecting a lot lately. From there I sensed some oak, but there was more – and it was driving me a little nuts as I had a hard time figuring out what it was. And then it hit me. COLA – it was part flat cheap Cola, part Cherry cola. Real interesting & complex. On the palate it showed cherries (Bing cherries even), some mocha and was both mouth coating & silky smooth. Again, I was somewhat disappointed by what I thought was only a medium length finish. BUT, on the 2nd tasting of this wine about an hour or so later all the fruity, floral & cola aroma’s were still there while the finish this time was NICE AND LONGGGGG……

Back to an issue I eluded to earlier. The issue of how “alive” these older wines were. I suppose that their life was less of a debate then how to treat these senior citizens. I have always learned that older wines that once possessed a strong backbone – good acidity & strong tannins – are age worthy but as they age they soften, both in structure and mouth feel.  The soft smooth mouth feel is one of the things that makes these ageable wines so desirable. But their age also has left them with little protection from the environment. Yes they can be decanted, but I learned that this was to remove any sediment buildup – not to be done vigorously to aerate (as is done with younger wines) as the aeration will hasten their imminent deterioration.

This deterioration is what I found with the ’73 & VERY SADLY with the ’81 Heredia. Now mind you, this is not a knock on the wines. These wines were both very much alive when we first had them. Just that extended decanting and then enough exposure to oxygen (to me) allowed these wines to lose whatever aroma’s they had left. On the palate they were both still OK, but I was disappointed that they really seemed to die.

It was a debate as our host and some others felt that this was simply how these older wines were, and that it did not suit my taste. Something which is a distinct possibility. Either way, overall the night was a treat as I had a chance to try the oldest wines I have ever tried. And becoming more familiar with aged wines is something I hope to be fortunate enough to continue to do.

Have a wonderful wine-weekend & Happy Spanish Rioja wine tasting!