Posts Tagged ‘Spain

STBNY Favorites from Natural Wine Week

Happy NYC Natural Wine Week! Brought to you by natural wine importers/specialists Jenny & Francois, this event is now in its 7th year. NWW showcases wines made with minimal intervention at various wine retailers and restaurants across New York City. While I have some quibbles with the natural wine movement — particularly the fuzzy definition of what natural wine actually is — it’s undeniable that there are some terrific, thought-provoking natural wines out there. (There are also some natural wines out there that smell like my husband’s softball uniform after an extra-inning mid-August playoff game in Central Park, but I digress.)

Here are two of my favorite producers showcased this week:

La Grange Tiphaine

Adorable couple Coralie & Damien Delecheneau make still and sparkling wines in Touraine and Montlouis,  in the heart of the Loire Valley. I liked all of their wines, but my favorites were the sparkling white and rosé, both of which had me dreaming of summer. Not just the weather, mind you, but my post-pregnancy life when I will actually be able to drink immodest quantities of insanely refreshing wines such as these. The white, Le Nouveau Nez, is made from Chenin Blanc. It’s softly fizzy, with some subtle citrus notes, and would be great to drink all on its own. (As in, without food — not by oneself.  This is a highly sociable wine.)

If you have a keen eye and a little French, you’ll also note the cute play on words here:

“Nouveau Nez” means “new nose” but is also a homonym for “Nouveau Né” — that is, “newborn.” And that purple splotch on the label’s upper right hand corner is actually the profile of Coralie & Damien’s first baby. Coralie and I had a nice little chat about babies. (Note: being very visibly pregnant is a great conversation starter at a wine tasting.)

I also enjoyed their sparkling rosé, Rosa Rosé Rosam. One’s interest in this wine, I’d argue, would be directly proportional to one’s love of strawberries, as this is the vinuous equivalent of that fruit. Not in a sickly sweet, fruit wine way — just that this wine has the same appealing sweet/tart balance and subtle, slightly flowery scent as a great strawberry. Astor Wines has some of last year’s offering in stock, but as this wine is all about freshness, I’d recommend waiting for the next version, set to arrive soon. A little patience required — the wine has yet to be disgorged (that is, taken off its lees), hence the cloudiness:

I also loved the wines from Els Jelipins, a microscopically small producer working in the hills of Catalonia. Gloria Garriga (below — again, adorable) and her husband Oriol Illa may be running a tiny operation, but they have big ambitions.

Their reds are made from the ultra-obscure (and entirely new to me) Sumoll grape, have brilliant purity of fruit, and are somehow intense and subtle at the same time. The 2005 had sold out the day of the tasting, but look for the 2006 to hit the U.S. sometime in the next few months. For all those wine peeps who like to deride American taste in wine, take note: when I asked her if they sold a lot of their wines locally, she shook her head vigorously. Spainiards, she said, preferred to stick to the tried and true varieties and regions. “You Americans,” she said, “are much more open.” Cheers to that.

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One Great Buy: Evodia 2008 Garnacha

Programming note: I’m introducing a semi-regular new feature, One Great Buy, on standout wines under $15. While there are plenty of drinkable bottles out there at this price point, I’m looking for wines that offer not only value, but also personality, distinctiveness, and food-friendliness.

I picked up this wine a few weeks ago at a hit-or-miss liquor store in my neighborhood. I’ve bought some real gems, as well as a few losers, at this shop. Fortunately, the Evodia falls into the former category. The wine hails from the Calatayud region in northeasternish Spain. Summers here are hot and dry–no fun for people, but potentially very good for grapes, especially Garnacha. (Which you may know by its French name, Grenache.) Garnacha, as they call it en España, loves the heat. So do I, which is one of the many reasons I feel a special affinity for this variety. I also have a soft spot for Garnacha/Grenache because it plays a central role in some of my favorite wines: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the  intense, concentrated wines of Priorat, in Catalonia, and the rich sweet reds of Banyuls, in France’s Roussillon region, which marry perfectly with chocolate. This grape is not a wallflower. If you want the delicacy of a cool climate Pinot Noir, look elsewhere. Wines made from Garnacha/Grenache tend to be high in alcohol, full-bodied, and full of ripe fruit.

Evodia is no exception. Made from 100% old vines Garnacha, and without any oak aging, this guy is all about the fruit. Blackberries, raspberries, cherries (even a hint of cherry cola) — they’re all in here. An undercurrent of earthiness happily keeps things from going off the fruity deep end. This is a terrific buy for $10.99 — probably the best wine bargain I’ve picked up in the past 6 months. The wine is imported by Eric Solomon, who specializes in Spain, and for the life of me I have no idea how he’s able to price it so reasonably.

It would go wonderfully with barbecued chicken or spicy grilled sausages — a great excuse to bust out the merguez. One word of advice: this bottle, and a lot of Garnacha-based wines, taste best when they’re a little bit cool. The lower temperature keeps the alcohol and fruitiness in check. If, like me, you live in an apartment that lacks central AC, ten minutes or so in the fridge should be just fine.

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Saturday Night Wine: Valdemar Garnacha Rosé 2008

All summer I was in search of the perfect rosé. I really enjoyed the Castell-Reynoard, although at $20, price-wise it was a bit steep for everyday consumption. I tried a bunch of other rosés over the past few months, none of which merit special mention. In general, I like rosés with some oomph and personality, rather than more delicate versions, and for that reason I tend to gravitate toward Spain. These pink wines are usually made from the Garnacha grape (known as Grenache in France and the U.S.), which produces high-alcohol, fuller bodied wines. At $12.99, this Valdemar Rosé from Rioja region seemed like a good call.
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