Iberia’s Intriguing Wines

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This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter Spain and Portugal 2020 at the Landmark Hotel in London. Wow…what an intriguing assortment of wines and vineyards! I have to say that an event like this can be a bit overwhelming for me, as there are so many representatives and so many different wines. However, as I do with most things, I jumped right in, armed with my empty Riedel glass in hand! Thankfully, Decanter had prepared an extensive book listing all the representatives, the various wines they were pouring, maps of the different Spanish and Portuguese wine regions and a layout of the event. All of this was extremely helpful and well organized! As there were so many wines to taste and representatives to chat with, I will share some of my most memorable ones below.

My first stop was the Remírez de Ganuza table representing the Spanish Rioja region. Five wine drenched bottles from awaited me! You can tell this table was a hit!!

I was initially offered the Remírez de Ganuza, Blanco Rioja 2018 (14% abv), which is a white wine made with 80% Viura grapes and a 20% blend of Malvasia, white Granacha and other Spanish varieties. The wine was aged on the lees for 9 months in new French oak. I had never heard of Viura of Malvasia grapes before. This wine was a medium yellow color with aromas of tropical fruit and citrus. On the palate it was medium bodied with a long creamy finish. I was pleasantly surprised with this white Rioja!

Another memorable stop was at the Grupo Vinos de Arganza from the Bierzo region in Castilla y León located just northwest of Madrid in Spain.

I tried two wines from this region; a red and a white. The 2016 Alvarez de Toledo Roble from Bierzo (13% abv) made from 100% red Mencía grapes was excellent! Apparently it won a Decanter Bronze award at the 2019 Asian Wine Awards. Once again, my palate was introduced to a new grape variety. Finally, the 2019 Seculo Godello from Bierzo (12.5% abv) made from 100% Godello grapes presented a very light, easy drinking and refreshing white wine with subtle pear and apple notes. This would be a great one to enjoy on a hot summer afternoon!

Throughout this event I was on the lookout for a wine made entirely with organic grapes. I have to say that I thought there would be more and it’s possible that I might have overlooked some, but the only one I came across was the 2019 Valdelagua Monastrell and Syrah blend from Castilla la Mancha (13.5% abv) made from a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Monastrell organic grapes. It was a lovely wine filled with red berry and spice flavors that were accompanied by a long smooth finish. Once again, I was introduced to another Spanish grape variety, Monastrell. I’m determined to get to know these native varieties!

Speaking of varieties, I tasted MacRobert and Canals, 2018 Laventura Malvasia (12.5% abv) from the Rioja region. Once again, I was introduced to another variety, Malvasia and an orange wine! This is one was definitely in a league of it’s own as orange wines are difficult to find.

My final stop ended in Portugal with tastings from two exceptional vineyards sharing a table, Campolargo from the Bairrada region and Quevedo from the Duoro region. Both presented unique flavors. The representative, Olga, poured me a taste of the Bairrada 2017 (12% abv) explaining that it usually generated varied opinions. Initially skeptical, I sampled this intriguing wine made from 100% Cericial grapes, another unfamiliar variety. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. A vibrant, mouthwatering acidity on the palate with subtle bitter lemon peel aromas followed by citrus, salinity and anise seed notes on the palate with a strong finish. She recommended enjoying it with seafood…I completely agreed! My final tasting consisted of Claudia’s 2018 and Oscar’s 2017 red Duoro blends. Both were excellent, but I preferred Claudia’s which presented a more expressive red wine, rich with black fruit aromas and spice on the palate.

Overall, the day was a great introduction to some of the amazing wines that Iberia has to offer. I finished the event by attending a master class on Galicia’s amazing Rias Baixas wines led by Sarah Jane Evans MW, which I thoroughly loved. This post has definitely sparked a desire to investigate some of these unfamiliar grape varieties grown throughout Spain and Portugal. I’m always on the lookout for new wines! Cheers!!