A Spanish Rain Delay

There was a rain out on Friday, preventing the Yankees from clinching the series against the Angels, but as of today, we know the delay could not prevent the obvious outcome.  This did not deter the wine drinking family of Tempranillo, Inc., the Jorge Ordonez company that have placed more 90+ point wines on Parker and Wine Spectator’s radar than any other Spanish wine importer.

This was the annual staff party, winemakers invited and included, selected clients chosen, for an evening of wining and dining, Tempranillo style. My good friend Ramon del Monte invited me, and despite a busy evening at Pata Negra, I could not resist a driveby. The event was hosted at Solera, and with the seasoned chef Danilo Paulino putting out arroz negro and sliced aged beef, there was plenty of Spanish grape juice to match.

A lot of suits and Spanish testosterone for the bi-level restaurant, and only the gracious maitre d’hotel and wine savant Ron Miller can handle so many egos with such ease and care. There were lovely ladies present as well, wielding an intoxicating combination of beauty and wine savvy, such as the darlings from Tinto Fino, and my accompaniment for the evening, one of my managers, Chris, the fashionable Brooklynite whose thirst for knowledge about wine reminds me of my youthful discovery days.  If only I could have been exposed to such extravaganzas in my early twenties.

Everyone was in great spirits, buoyed by the glistening selection of oysters and clams not three feet from the entrance.  This paired gloriously with a cava from the house of Muga, Conde de Haro.  The jovial Juan Muga was present, ambassador for his family winery which need no introduction.  The Prado Enea 2000 was singing that night, having had the benefit of air, and mixed in with a line-up of heavier hitters than the middle of the Yankee batting order.  Aro, Malleolus, El Bosque, El Nido, and the list goes on and on, a battery of wines that have paved the way for New World style soon to be classics that can be laid down for the next generation.

A quick chat with Jorge Ordonez himself, wearing a detective hat indoors, perhaps shielding himself from the hordes of fans and clients, who took time out to tell me he knew nothing of my beloved Yanks, our conversation feeling like two old men playing dominoes on a street corner with Mahou beers, enjoying the pleasantry of differences and a shared love for life, as impressive a first meeting as any for me, a real character.

I was informed that the Moro brothers were missed, not only for their guitar and singing acumen, but also for their boisterous spirit.  The air about the evening was a bit subdued.  This did not suit Juan Muga, and so off we were to the Dream Hotel nearby (we might as well have been in Cleveland), for dancing and mischief.  In this respect New York should be like Madrid or Barcelona, with select bars and clubs open until mid-day.  Four in the morning just doesn’t give anyone enough time to get your groove on, especially if you work in the industry.

This made for a tough 7:30 am wake up, but I just look at it as pre-celebratory Yankees toast, as well as kudos for a bright future of Spanish wine at every table.

Great Match Wine & Tapas

Once again this fall, Wines from Spain organized the Great Match in an effort to create greater awareness of Spanish wine in the U.S. marketplace.  Although this fall’s turnout was not as large in the paste, there were still plenty of wines to taste and vintages to track.

The event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, and was more fun for me this time around, hauling my friend Chris, a Williamsburg native, who works for me at Pata Negra four nights per week, eager to soak up some Spanish wine knowledge.

My primary goals were to ascertain how vintages are drinking, and also to find some gems that may be hidden in the deep rough.  We tasted over 100 wines, slowed down by some friendly industry conversation.  There was no real time to eat; the lines were long.

The wines of Ribera del Duero were drinking well, as well as the verdejos, crisp whites from the Rueda.  I finally found a winery from Toro which I actually liked, from Bodega Palacio de los Frontaura y Victoria, who was pouring a 2005 Frontaura and Dominio de Valdelcasa.  Both wines were plush and bloody, what I expect from tinto de Toro.

Of the Riberas tasted, Torremilanos crianza 2005, Astrales 2006,  Federico Roble 2007, Arrocal 2004, Valduero Reserva 2004, and Figuero Roble 2006 were all drinking well.  It proved that the 2005 and 2006 vintage can be trusted.  Usually wines from the Ribera need time in the bottle, and most of these could benefit from that time.

Of the verdejos sampled, I enjoyed the Villa Narcisa 2008 from Javier Sanz most, followed by Blanco Nieva and the bestselling Naia.

Priorat made a small splash, represented by Vall Llach’s Embruix 2005, Solanes 2005, and Nita 2007.  The wines were plush and rich, deeply berried and round.

I have to shout out the sherries, but then again these are always the wines of these tastings.  The value from La Gitana and Solear cannot be overstated.

The wine of the tasting for me came out of left field, a cava named Rimarts done in the style of brut nature.  It was delicious, refreshing, and organic, full of minerality and bubbles, a serious effort from a small producer.

Perhaps the hidden producer of the tasting award goes to some ecological wines from Navarra.  The most curious of the line-up being a boxed tempranillo/bobal blend named Charla from Valencia.  This 2003 three litre quaffer hopes add to the boxed wine comeback, and I am listening.  Earth 3.0 Tempranillo  2008 and Casita Mami garnacha/graciano from 2004 were drinking very well.  These wines were aromatic and funky in the right barnyard sort of style.

It was a bit disappointing that some of the wines showcased exhibited similar flavor profiles, a sure sign that winemakers are listening to critics like Parker and Penin.  If the wines taste similarly, leading to higher scores and inflated prices, the same epidemic could occur in Spain as to Australia, and to certain extent California, where consumers lose faith in the market value of homogenous tasting wines, and refuse to pay the exorbitant prices.  Winemakers need to stick their guns, and consumers need to start really assessing what critics are saying.

I am still pleased with the increased awareness in Spanish wines and foods, and am encouraged in a more educated consumer market here in the U.S.  Enjoy Spain!