Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Old World Meets New World

Spanish wines have been one of my favorites since I got serious about vino a few years ago. While Spain is definitely part of the Old World wine club, it is interesting to note that many of its bodegas use a lot of new American oak and seem to be aiming to please the New World palate. Spain's wines don't seem to be as rustic as many Italian bottles I've drank and many trend toward the very ripe & juicy.

Jorge Ordoñez, a Spanish importer who now lives in the U.S., is credited for reviving interest in Spanish wines after they had fallen of the world's radar due to a long period of vineyard neglect during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing Ordoñez's name on the back of a bottle of Spanish wine has become a mark of quality for me, so I was stoked to attend the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant's recent tasting of wines he represents, many of which have a New World taste but come from ancient vines.

Ordoñez was there to chat with tasters and provided some of the wines himself, allowing the wine shop to offer the following flight for just $20: 2007 Botani Moscatel Seco, Malaga (Ordoñez's own wine); 2004 Remirez de Ganuza, Rioja; 2006 Finca Sandoval, Manchuela, Castilla Leon; 2006 Bodegas Alto Moncayo 'Alto Moncayo,' Campo de Borja (also produced by Ordoñez); 2006 Bodegas El Nido 'Clio,' Jumilla (another Ordoñez gem); and 2005 Merum 'Osmin,' Priorat.

The standouts for me were the Moscatel, the only white of the lineup that reminded me a bit of an Albariño with its crisp minerality, floral notes, and a twinge of effervescence; the Finca Sandova, an earthy blend of Syrah, Monastrell and Bobal; and Clio, with such lucious and rich blackberry and vanilla flavors that we had to order a glass.

Continuing on the Spanish tip, last weekened I opened up a bottle of the Ordoñez-imported 2004 Mas de Can Blau to go with a dinner of kalamata-olive chimichurri steaks. The wine - a blend of nearly equal parts of Cariñena (also known as Mazuelo), Garnacha, and Syrah from the Can Blau estate's oldest vines - was a delightful match, its smoky fruit and herbal compementing the distinct taste of the olives and the slight heat of the chimichurri spices. I have been hearing that Monastrell, my favorite Spanish varietal, can pair well with spicy dishes, but was dubious. However, after tasting the Mas de Can Blau, with grapes that have similar qualities (especially in Spain) to the big M, I think I may have to give that pairing a "whirl."

As I'm alluding to the inimitable Gary Vaynerchuck, host of Wine Library TV, I should mention that you can watch Jorge talk in action on Gary's show here.

¡Brinda a tu salud!


vanguy said...

Thought Jorge looked familiar!

mloagogo said...

Were you at the Ferry Building tasting, vanguy?

vanguy said...

No, I wasn't. I was referring to your closing note about seeing him on Gary's show.