Monday, March 30, 2015

GRANDES PAGOS de España ~ Spain's Single Estates

It might seem obvious that, in general, the smaller the parcel of land from which a wine is sourced, the higher the quality. Wines labeled with a large region tend to be entry-level, and then the more telescopic you go—from large region to mid-size region to small region to sub-region to single vineyards—the quality expands exponentially.

In Spain, for many years, large conglomerate companies oversaw wine production, sourcing grapes from areas all over the country. It wasn't until 2000 when a small group of producers stood up for their single vineyard/single estates (called "pagos") and founded what has become the Grandes Pagos de España. This is not a commercial group—they have different importers, for example—but they do share technical expertise, winemaking knowledge, and they've banded together to promote premium, quality wine from all over Spain.

During a recent tasting sponsored by the group, I got to sample some old favorites and meet some new ones. The wide range of styles, sub-regions, and grapes was a little muddying perhaps, but the fact remains that most of these wines were fantastic examples of craft and terroir.

2007 Cava Gramona III Lustros: medium-minus gold color. Warm, toasty almond. Lemon zest. Very bright, lots of minerality. Reflects its gravelly/sandy soils. Zippy acidity on the light yet long finish, gets creamier. ~$45.

2012 Chivite Colleción Blanco: bright medium gold color. Great nose—taffy, oak, baking spices, baked yellow apple. Viscous, good balancing acidity, long finish. Not terribly complex, but overall nice structure and flavors. Bit of tropical fruits come in at finish. 100% Chardonnay, 11 mo. in French oak. ~$50.

2013 La Miranda de Secastilla Blanca: green melon, lemon, celery, interesting. Very tart, green and clean, bit of ripeness at the finish. I like. ~$20.

2013 Cérvoles Blanc: funky nose, overripe honeydew melon. Nice tang, quaffable, balanced, VERY spicy on the finish! ~$30.

2012 Belondrade y Lurton Bianco: love the nose. Taffy. Viscous, lots of flavor, long length, minerals on the finish. 100% Verdejo. ~$40.

2007 Gran Calzadilla: blend of Tempranillo and Cab. Sauv. Nearly opaque ruby color. Floral aromas, rose petals, bit of smoke and cigar box, blue fruits. Bright acidity, ripe blue fruits, subtle tannins. Bit velvety, solid, and pleasant. ~$75.

2011 Enrique Mendoza Santa Rosa: medium-plus ruby. Cedar, rosemary, cassis, violets on the very aromatic nose. Tangy red fruits, brick dust, cherry. Bit tart, but warmth of cherry rounds out the end, accompanied by some savory notes. ~$35.

2008 Finca Valpiedra Reserva: opaque ruby. Great, rich nose. Lavender, graphite, blackberry. Seems a bit tight. Really dense! Blueberry/blackberry, gravel soil, seems high acid. ~$35.

2008 Cérvoles: medium-plus garnet. Cassis, overripe red fruits, dried herbs, woodsy. Smooth, rich and integrated, cedar, dark fruits, yet bright. Very solid, though perhaps not terribly memorable. ~$40.

2012 AALTO: 100% Tempranillo from very old vines. Medium-plus ruby. Purple floral aromatics, licorice, cola, some coconut (from the American oak.) Very young. Cola, tight purpleness, big and bruise. Violets. Intense, dense, shows lots of potential. Yowzers! ~$43.

2011 AALTO PS: Super aromatic, blue and purple fruits, lavender and violet. Wow, that's sexy. S&M sexy, though—too young still, knocks you around a bit. ~$105.

2011 Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada: opaque purpley/ruby. Very tight nose, elusive, some red fruits and a grape juice element. Tight. Dusty, purple fruit, bit of meatiness. Subtle tannins. "Packed & Purple." Would love to see it open up more. ~$100.

2010 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial: Super earthy, tobacco, cedar, green pepper. Highly structured and intense. Cassis comes in at finish, young but pedigreed. ~$25.

2011 Palacio Quemado Los Acilates: cured meats, rose potpourri, absolutely intriguing! Tobacco, well-structured, long-lived. Yes. ~$15.

2013 Palacio Quemado La Zarcita: funky Tempranillo blend with Trincadeira, super crunchy red fruit, smoke. Spicy in mouth, zingy, fresh, tasty. ~$20.

2010 Doix (Mas Doix): medium ruby color. Dusty bouquet, berry salad, bright and minerally, really nice. Powerful but good acidity. Tasty. ~$35.

2010 Numanthia: dusty, cocoa, black fruits. Dark, intense, well-textured, aging well but tannins still pretty big. ~$55.

2011 Termanthia (Numanthia): cherry pie, baked bread, brick dust, really tight and dense, lots of structure, BIG but elegant. ~$180.

(While I was researching prices, I realized that not many of these wines have wide distribution in the States. As the Grandes Pagos movement grows, I expect that will change. For now, the Mas Doix, Numanthia and Termanthia, Abadia Retuertas, and AALTOs have a bit more widespread availability.)

Definitely keep the concept of Spain's Single Estates on your radar—the wines are diverse, delicious, and truly reflect the range of terroir and grapes in Spain. Maravilloso vino!


1 comment:

  1. Seems a bit tight. Really dense! Blueberry/blackberry, gravel soil, seems hig wine cooler reviews