A review of the 18th Annual Great Match Featuring Spain’s Vivacious Varietals and Cuisine
- By miditto.com wine clique
The 18th Annual Great Match event held on October 6, 2011 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City was the perfect boutique showcase format for Spain’s wine and cuisine. Over the years, the popularity of Spanish cuisine and wine has flourished in New York City, with tapas-style approach and wine bar experiences pervading the social and restaurant scenes. Spanish culture, like the people and the wine, can be perceived as proud, robust, temperamental, spicy, distinct, and exotic, and it has the old meets modern convergence of cuisine and design, which is also evident in the winemaking art.
Spanish wines are priced to consume regularly, with many known for best value for price (quite a few quality wines are available for under $25). However, we do find Spanish wines to be a bit one-note in that they rarely offer an exceptional variety as compared to French wines. Here are a few of our favorites, some of which we think are pretty awesome and some that are worth a try. Needless to say, there are always a few that are better reserved for sangria and other cocktails to make up for the lack of umph.
Elvi Wines Herenza Rioja Crianza, Kosher, 2008, $25
This is a great red wine that should lead your choice in cuisine. It’s a full-bodied, flavorful, well-balanced red with a subtle cinnamon hint that has a long finish. The balance of tannins and fruit makes this a winner of a red, as does this price. But we do stress that this wine needs to shine on its own and food pairings should not overwhelm its delicate spice or sweetness.
Celler Besllum Besllum (Montsant, red blend), 2008, $30
Interestingly, our wine critic thinks the Elvi Rioja outperformed this one. Besllum is a Montsant blend consisting of Grenache, Carinena and Syrah. Similar in characteristics of our other wine favorites, this blend is a well-balanced red that the wine guru Parker rates as a 93.
Marqués de Griñón – Emeritus, 2005, $100
Hurray, we found a Spanish powerhouse of a wine! This beauty has a few years to go, but it’s a powerful, well-structured red wine blend, perfectly priced. Not to demean it, but it does pleasantly remind us of a fine Bordeaux before it is fully mature. We suggest that you consider this for a special dinner or a gift to a fellow food and wine lover. Valenciso, Rioja Reserva, 2005, $26-$40 This is a definite for dinner date wine if you like the company you keep. The credentials of this acclaimed wine read like a university degree with its reputation ranked as one of the ten best in all of Spain. It’s a relatively young bodega, which prides itself on making this single wine made of 100% Tempranillo grapes aged in new French oak. Using an artisanal wine-making approach, the makers harvest grapes from very old vines, producing a very limited quantity, producing only 10,000-12,000 cases a year as a result. Parker gives this wine a rating of 91. We love the orange bouquet notes and the long finish. Bodegas del Abad Bierzo Abad dom Bueno Mencia Roble, 2008, $26 We’re on the fence on this one, but according to Wine and Spirits Magazine, it is one of the finest in the region with a rating of 92. The 2007 vintage sells for about $18, with the Wine and Spirits Magazine regarding it as a best buy with a rating of 90.
Artadi Rioja Joven, 2007, $15
It’s a Rioja and nothing more, nothing less. Spend your money elsewhere.
Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva, 2003, $19
Similar to the Reserva, but with a stronger chocolate and coffee aroma.
Bodega Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva, 2004, $25
Bodegas Julian Chivite Navarra Gran Feudo Rosado, 2010, $11
Navarra is known for its rosé wines and the house of Chivite has been making wine since the middle of the 17th century. Interesting, but hardly worth recommending.
Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Rioja Crianza, 2007, $13-$15
Average at best.
Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, 2006, $13
A perfect choice if you can grab a bottle on your way home. Wine Spectator rates the wine as an 89. It possesses a hint of cinnamon and a soft finish. Bodegas La Cana Albarino Rias Baixas (white), 2010, $19 Fruity, crisp and easy on the wallet. Bodegas Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Crianza (red blend), 2006, $16 This may be a bit too dry for most, but worth a try if you want a lighter but dry wine. This is a light red with a bit of Grenache, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Celler de Jose M. Fuentes Coraje Priorat (red blend), 2008, $20
A safe wine, but not exactly spectacular. Nice medium-bodied blend of a red wine that has been infused with Merlot, giving it a softer tone and finish.
Muga Rioja Reserva (red), 2006 and 2007, $26-$28
A full-bodied well balanced wine, but not “faboo” (fabulous for me or you). According to Wine and Spirits Magazine, the Muga brand is the most popular of all Spanish wines served in American restaurants. As a large producer, the range of its wines varies in variety style and price, but rarely in the quality. The two Reservas from 2006 and 2007 are a case in point, as Wine Spectator gives both of them a rating of 89.