Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Iberian Introduction

I’ve always been a bit of a safe-better when it comes to the wines of Spain and Portugal.  It’s the conservative upbringing in the wine education that occurs in this country, as far away as possible on this planet.  Rioja, Sherry, Port are the mainstays.  Heck, Ribera del Duero is the new kid on the block for me!  But seriously, the new and exciting wines are of real interest and I’ve been dipping my toes in the water more surely over the years.  There’s a huge divergence available.  There’s a host of cheap and cheerful newbies that are modern and unchallenging, but thoroughly slurpablr.  Then there’s the super-expensive ‘first-growth claret price’ modern super-premium wonders that seem ‘one-hit’ and difficult to decide to put some money into.  It’s tough to choose…

Thank goodness there’s plenty of middle ground appearing and I had a little Iberian introduction with two reds.  The 2008 Filipa Pato ‘Lokal’ ‘Silex’ Bairrada is a good way to showcase Touriga Nacional out of the port bottle and a little away from the Port region, good to see in a table wine format.  It’s still not too far from port in style, with its ripeness, though well-dry.  Black as, and densely packed, it was a firm beast and with plenty of bitter chocolate and animal stuff going on underneath.  One of the A-Prentices loved it, the other hated it.  I took my time to decide.  Magnificent and impressive.  Real Touriga Nacional, though there’s 15% Alfrocheiro Preto.  Supple for its size.  But that brett just grew and grew.  In the end, it was a 'no thanks'.  The 2006 Dominio de Tare ‘Cepas Viejas’ Bierzo was a stunning rendition of the exciting Mencia grape.  Sitting between Burgundy and Rhone stylistically, but richer and with great red perfumes and sweet succulence to die for.  Acidity kept this in the land of the finely structured, and the tannins in perfect proportion too.  Immensely drinkable, I’ll be seeking more Mencia, which makes north-west Spain so interesting….       

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