Our lunch group enjoyed another fabulous time at our amazing venue, the Library Room in the Santa Barbara Club. Our wine theme was Spanish wines since Monica Nogues, a Spanish wine importer operating out of Santa Barbara under the business name of Think Global Wines, is back in town for a brief stay from her homeland.
Monica represents many fine Spanish producers including R. Lopez de Heredia and other big houses and has a first hand knowledge of the wine industry in the country. It is extra special to have someone of her expertise in our presence and for me, it served to further my education in a wine region I`m embracing so much more as a result of increased exposure in the past few years.
Our menu was expertly arranged by Chef Humberto and paired beautifully with the wines:
Dungeness crab Napoleon with yellow gazpacho and avocado lemon mousse
Romesco rack of lamb
Spiced duck breast with potato croquet
Iberico, bacon cheddar, surchoix, manchego
2014 TXOMIN ETXANIZ GETARIA GETARIAKO TXAKOLINA- on a hot summer day, this rose hit the spot with chilled and refreshing entry notes of clove, spice, rose petals and red cherry which dried out a bit by mid palate, but it was the crisp and cool beverage that made this a good start; made from Hondarrabi Beltza.
First flight of 4 reds:
2001 BODEGAS RIOJANAS VINA ALBINA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- the colour was a faded red, somewhat browning, but there was no evidence of any extreme ageing in the nose or taste; it had lovely cinnamon spiced dried red cherry and plum fruit with a hit of leather coming in late; it was medium bodied, had good mouthfeel and a long finish; enjoyable.
2005 MARQUES de MURRIETA CASTILLO YGAY GRAN RESERVA ESPECIAL RIOJA- made only in the best vintages; it had a very youthful vibrant deep purple colour and gave up a blast of super ripe fruit notes including plum, cranberry, and cherry which was enhanced by a sprinkling of ginger, earth and spice; decanting is a must at this stage; made from 90% Temopranillo, 10% Mazuelo [Carinena].
A mini vertical of 04` and 05` LdH Tondonia Reserva followed.
2004 R. LOPEZ de HEREDIA VINA TONDONIA RESERVA RIOJA- this was an outstanding bottle giving up wonderful vanilla, spicy dried red fruit along with a medium to full body and a soft, tantalising texture which was silky smooth and so easy on the palate; this gave it an element of elegance, yet the wine possessed some thrust with firm tannins; as history would suggest, this will evolve toward maturity for many years to come; nicely balanced, it is a blend of Tempranillo, Grenacha, Graciano and Mazuela.
2005 R. LOPEZ de HEREDIA VINA TONDONIA RESERVA RIOJA- thanks to Monica, this is the first bottle I`ve had as it was just recently released; it was pretty tight and if it had to be opened, it could have stood to be decanted for some time; as a couple of us remarked, it seemed older than the 04`; the dried fruit seemed more dried and it was accompanied by leather, talc, sandalwood and earth with an underlying tannic structure that kept reappearing throughout; with time, it opened up and gave more pleasure, but with so many wines forthcoming, I moved on; I know this will be really good and the next bottle will be better than this one.
Second flight of 1 white:
2014 TELMO RODRIGUEZ EL TRANSISTER VERDEJO REUDA - blended with verdejo grapes, under the umbrella of D.O. Rueda; this was a major deviation from the reds above, but a welcomed break nonetheless; the aromatics had some straw, mint and grassy notes with a taste profile of minty lemon lime; the texture was an oily viscous which served to provide an enjoyably extended finish.
Third flight of 4 reds:
1994 R. LOPEZ de HEREDIA VINA TONDONIA GRAN RESERVA RIOJA- I got turned on to this a year or 2 ago, bought a case and thankfully I did as this shined ever so brightly; in perfect balance, it had pleasant aromas of spicy, vanilla laden plum and red fruit which turned out to be cranberry and red cherry in the taste profile; it was concentrated and unfolding in layers; the mouthfeel was so silky fine and it added to an overall elegance to the wine; although it`s seen a good deal of oak, it was beautifully integrated in this bottle; made from 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo; my #2 WOTD.
1998 VINA VILLABUENA VINA IZADI TINTO CRIANZA RIOJA- the winery name is Vina Villabuena and the name of the wine is Vina Izadi; I believe this is 100% Tempranillo and it is aged in Virgina oak; the nose was very inviting with a large puff of spicy cranberry and cherry; all continued on along with vanilla, talc and a late addition of plum and blueberry; it had pretty stiff tannins which were more apparent past mid palate and led to a more abrupt, somewhat dry finish.
2004 LA RIOJA ALTA GRAN RESERVA 904 RIOJA- having had this beauty previously, I was happy to see what the next adventure would hold and it was wroth the wait and ensured it will not be that long before the next visit; this was loaded with flavours including sweet vanilla, spice, dried cranberry and red cherry delivered in a medium body with good length; the bright tannins were barely evident and should be supportive for longevity; made from Tempranillo and Graciano.
1964 BODEGAS FRANCO ESPANOLAS EXCELSO RIOJA- from one of the largest wineries in Rioja and yet, I`ve had very few bottles; I did not find whether this was a Reserva or Gran Reserva as it did not appear on the front label; regardless, it was a pretty wine with a tertiary fruit profile that was so pleasing; it had distinct fresh and serious cranberry and cherry with black cherry more prominent than the red cherry; this was a really good aged wine that would please most any palate on any occasion.
1989 MARQUES de MURRIETA CASTILLO YGAY GRAN RESERVA ESPECIAL RIOJA- I guess because of the age disparity this was not paired with the 05` and it was probably a good call; mature dried plum and black cherry were most prominent; it was really grapey, mindful of Welch`s grape juice at communion in childhood days with a bit less sweetness; there was hints of tobacco, spice, leather and smoke, but the fruit profile dominated; I`m thinking this was a bottle variation.
Fourth flight of 3 reds:
2003 DESCENDIENTES de L. PALACIOS PETALOS de BIERZO- 100% Mencia; this was syrupy and concentrated with wild, dried black and blue fruit; it seemed strange and perhaps an off bottle, but I`ve not had the fruit or this winery`s wines previously so I have nothing to base it on.
1989 VEGA SICILIA UNICO GRAN RESERVA RIBERA del DUERO- released in 2003; 80% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; a perfect bottle; perfect balance, bright and righteous fruit profile, great silky texture, depth and complexity with layers upon layers unfolding and a long, welcomed finish; some of the flavours I got included spicy, earthy, tobacco, sandalwood accented red cherry fruit; my WOTD.
1994 VEGA SICILIA UNICO GRAN RESERVA RIVERA del DUERO- what`s better than a great Unico? answer= 2; just a bit less stellar, this bottle`s hallmark was the fabulously expressive fruit profile; there was a plethora of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry and black raspberry accented with cedar and chocolate; it was full bodied, had great mouthfeel with a creamy rich texture and was super complex; had this been served alone, it would have been WOTD; as it was, I ranked it 3rd in favour of the 94` LdH Tondonia; made from 80% Tempranillo, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot (2% unlisted varietals).
Fifth flight of 3 reds:
2010 BODEGAS HERMANOS PEREZ PASCUAS VINA PEDROSA GRAN RESERVA RIBERA del DUERO- pronouncing this is a good example of describing this long and drawn out wine; it`s a baby in a bottle with so much energy just waiting to explode from its pre-pubescent stage; there`s leather and earth notes complimenting the fruit forward blackberry, plum and blueberry fruit; time and a long decant is recommended when opening another bottle; 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2012 BODEGAS HERMANOS PEREZ PASCUAS VINA PEDROSA RESERVA RIBERA del DUERO- a younger sibling of the 2010, this also was fruit forward with an abundance of black and blue fruit with leather, cedar, spice and sandalwood; it was full bodied, complex and massive; some heat came in toward the end; 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2010 BODEGAS HERMANOS PEREZ PASCUAS "PEREZ PASCUAS" GRAN SELECCION RIBERA del DUERO- from the estate old vines vineyard, this is the limited bottling for the family wine made of 100% Tempranillo; still in its youth, it exuded power and substance with a structural backbone to support longevity; there`s expressive eucalyptus and mint chocolate laced blackberry, black raspberry and plum fruit; it`s full bodied, very rich and yet has an underlying hint of elegance which I presume will be more evident with time.
Sixth flight of 4 reds:
2003 ALVARO PALACIOS LES TERRASSES CATALUNYA PRIORAT-made from Carignan [Mazuelo and Cariñena] which outside of Catalunya is mostly used as a blending grape to add colour and weight; this was really fruity with bright and expressive flavours of plum, blackberry and red and black cherry; it was very tasty and had enough acidity to carry it for the long run.
2003 BODEGAS NUMAMTHIA-TERMES "NUMANTHIA" TORO- from 70-100 years old vines positioned at a high elevation, this was a huge statement with super ripe, big and bold black fruit which had some sweetness and a lot of oak toast; coffee and cedar accented black currant fruit was most prominent and it was delivered in a mouth filling texture with a resulting climax past mid palate that simply exploded on the palate; this is a massive, concentrated wine.
2006 TRIO INFERNAL [COMBIER, FISCHER AND GERIN] NO. 2/3 PRIORAT- unconfirmed garnacha blend; massive wine with so much going on; at first its delicious and acceptable, then it persists and gets almost too much for my palate; this is loaded with tobacco, liquorice flavoured black currant, blackberry, cranberry and cherry; bracing tannins almost overwhelm and after an immense amount of wine prior to this, my vote would be to start with this next time and pour it in 1/2 once shot glasses.
1997 SANGENIS I VAQUE CLOS MONLLEO PRIORAT- 50% Carinena and Garnacha; this was really good with major depth and complexity and a bounty of flavours including liquorice laced dried plum and blueberry notes; it was full bodied and had a long welcomed finish; it has the stuffing to go for a long ride.
NV ALVEAR PEDRO JIMENEZ SOLERA 1927 - dark brown amber colour; a scent of concentrated caramel, molasses, mocha and butterscotch pervade the aromas as well as the taste; it`s thick and almost chewy with a rich and creamy texture and a long. long ever lasting finish; liquid dessert kefir in a glass.
During our luncheon, Monica occasionally discussed many wines, producers regions and terroir features that served to embellish our wonderful experience.
A wonderful day to behold with great people, food, wines, dedicated service and ambience. I remain extremely grateful.
Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects