Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wine Word Wednesday: Treixadura

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Different Expressions of Albarino

We've been talking this month all about Albarino from the Rias Baixas region of Spain. The grape has many different expressions and that comes from a variety of influences; weather, terrior, winemaking style and if it's 100% Albarino or blended with other grapes. 

A  good example of the influences on a grape is the 2014 Castro Martin Albarino.  This Albarino is from the Salnes Valley region of Rias Baixas and it receives influence from the Atlantic Ocean. How apparent is that in the wine?  When I first smelled the wine, I thought I got an aroma of skunk. But when the plate of what you might smell and taste in the wine appeared (picture above) I realized after smelling the seaweed, that it was apparent that was the aroma I was getting. That is the Atlantic influence.  There was also aromas of lemon peel with lemon pith on the palate.  This is more of a food driven wine as when it was paired with aspargus it not only took out a lot of the seaweed, but brought out the saltiness of the ocean to the wine.  SRP $15

The 2015 Altos De ToronaAlbarino is actually a blend of 85% Albarino, 5% Loureiro, and 10% Caino Blanco.  This wine is from the O Rosal region of Rias Baixas and Caino Blanco is an indigenous grape to that region and blended into the wine.  This particular winery is located halfway up the mountain so the mist and the humidity of the valley doesn't affect the wine and it receives a lot of sunshine. This wine has a lot of complexity to it. Lot's of layers in both the aromas and on the palate. A bit of grass on the bouquet followed by citrus and tropical fruits. Bright acidity dances on your palate with nice minerality with apricot, peaches and a finsih of green apple. Once again when paired with asparagus it made it much softer on the mouth and less acidic. SRP $16

The affects of the weather and location show in both of these wines.  Where you have the ocean influence in one and the location of being halfway up a mountain on the other. Two wines, same grape although one was blended, two distinct different profiles.

Friday, April 22, 2016

To Sip or to Pair Albarino

This week in the land of Galicia, Spain we tasted two Albarino's that that were pretty different.  One I will call the sipper the other the pairing wine.

As I am learning, Albarino is quite the diverse wine and has many personalities.  For this pairing I happen to be in New York City the day before and stopped in at Murray's Cheese and picked up some cheese from Galicia and other parts of Spain along with Prosciutto. If you are in NYC, Murray's is in the Grand Central Market at Grand Central Station and on Bleeker Street. A must for the cheese lover.

I am going to first discuss the wines, then the food and the pairings.  Since Rias Baixas is known for it's seafood, I chose to make a scallop dish to pair with the two wines.  One wine actually paired much better than the other.

2014 Rectoral do Umia Vinabade - 100% Albarino grapes from the Salnes Valley where the soil is composed of  50% granite, 25% clay and 25% sandy and the birthplace of Albarino. The name Vinabade is reference to the monks that brought Albarino to the region. Golden in color with aromoas of pear and peach with a hint of green apple. The palate was full of lemon, pear, lime, hints of minerality and lemon pith on the finish. This wine was a bit mellow and not as acidic to the feel as others. Wine retails for $15

Senorio de Rubios Robalino - 100% Albarino grapes from the Condado area of Rias Baixas.  This area is named after the Tea River, is located in a mountainous area inland and is known for cottage cheese and honey.  The soils are granite and slate which attributes to the wet stone I got in the bouquet of the wine. The aromas from this wine were complex as wet stone, peach, grapefruit and hay filled the glass.  The palate was crisp and acidic with flavors of pear, citrus, lime. This wine retails for $18

I served three cheeses from Spain that we tasted each cheese with the wine.

Arzua Ulloa - Made on the banks of the Ulluo River in Galicia with milk from Rubia Gallega, Frisian and Alpine Brown cows. The cheese is aged for two weeks. It's a mild cheese.

Mahon Meloussa - Made in Minorca in the Balearic Islands. It contains 5% sheep milk and 95% cow's milk.It's a harder cheese, but soft, and has a sharpness to it.

Malvarosa - Produced from Guirra sheep, this cheese is rich and sweet and has a hint of butterscotch on the finish.

Since Galicia is known for it's seafood, I went and picked up some Cape May scallops and prepared them in a lemon marinade with basil and Proscuitto. Served them with couscous and aspargus with lemon and garlic.

What we found in the pairings is the Arzua Ulloa took away some of the acidity from the Robalino and made it softer, thus blending very well and the aspargus complimented the Robalino.
The Malvarosa cheese with the Vinabade was a marriage made in heaven. As my friend Jen said "best wine and cheese pairing I can remember". The Vinabade paired great with the scallops and the asparagus. Everyone was playing nice in your mouth. Nobody was bolder than the other and trying to take over.

Overall I think the Vinabade was the more food friendly wine of the two, while the Robalino is a great summer sipper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Falling in Love with Furmint

It was my first time and I was excited. I was going to the Hungarian Embassy in New York City to taste Furmint wines.

Some of you may know that my family is from Hungary and had own vineyards in the town of Tapolca so this tasting was very close to my heart. The majority of Furmint is grown in Tokaj region and has been doing so since the late 16th century. Then there is the Csopak region on the northern shore of Lake Balaton and it also grows the grape.

The Tokaj region has two growing areas, Tokaj Hill and Mad Basin.  The wines that come from each of the regions are similar but one has more aging potential.

The Tokaj Hill area wines are light, have fresh acidity and fruity aromas. These wines develop and age faster than the more mineral driven wines from the Mad Basin. The soil here is contains Loess which is a sedimentary deposit that is mostly quartz particles and has varied mineral content.

The wines from Mad Basin come from rich volcanic subsoil.  They are very mineral and acidity driven.  They also require a bit longer aging.

Furmint from the  Csopak region tends to be a bit more elegant, have more body and slightly higher in alcohol and acidity.

Here are some of the tasting notes from the wines I really enjoyed. Overall, the wines are dry and very enjoyable!

Beres Winery 2014 Estate Furmint - Very fresh and crisp and a very floral nose with a hint of jasmine, Hints of citrus on the palate and express the minerality of the volcanic soils. Aged in stainless steel tanks with an alcohol content of 13% from the , this wine will pair well with fish, chicken. This wine retails for $19

Kvaszinger Winery 2012 Hatalos Furmint - This wine comes from a single vineyard. A bit higher in alcohol at 14%.  This wine had a very nice nose of white flowers and citrus.  On the palate I experienced orange, lemon and hint of apple.  This wine was aged in used oak barrels for 10 months. This wine retails for $27

St. Donat Estate 2014 Estate Furmint - This wine is nice and crisp and comes from the Csopak region of Hungary where it reflects the terrior of the mineral clays, chalk and volcanic soil. Notes of lemon, lime, green apple and a hint of pear. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in half used oak barres and half stainless steel for six months.  The alcohol clocked in at only 11% and the wine retails for $20

Friday, April 15, 2016

Terrior and Albarino of Val do Salnes

You probably hear the word Terrior thrown around when discussing wine but what does it really mean?

Terrior is the environmental factors that will effect a wine. Each region will has different soil and even within a vineyard there can be different soils and micro climates. In the Rias Baixas region there are 9,000 acres of vines with more than 6,500 growers and 20,000 individual vineyard plots.

I am going to talk a little about the Terrior of the Val do Salnes region of Rias Baixas, Spain and what it brings to the wine.

The Val do Salnes is the birthplace of the Albarino grape and the oldest, coolest and wettest sub-region of Rias Baixas. The soil has a lot of granite in it and is rocky with alluvial top soil. Alluvial is loose soil or sediments which have been eroded by water and relocated in a non marine area.  The soils are also enriched in the traditional manner by digging in shells of local mollusk. Molluscs that you will be familiar with are snails, clams, mussels, squid and octopods. This gives the wine the minerality that you will taste in various degrees.

What I find interesting is their canopy management.  That is the way the vines grow and the grapes are exposed to the sun. What you are most custom to look at is vertical shoot positioning, where the vines kind of grow towards the sky and the grape clusters hang down.  Here they use the "emparrado" method which looking at it you would think it was a pergola.They are up to 7 feet high.

I have now set the scene for the wine.  The two wines I am going to talk about are in the sub-region of Val do Salnes around the town of Camdados.

2015 Gran Vinum Nessa Albarino  Located on the hillside overlooking the river Umia and the Ria de Arosa near Cambados, one sip and the words elegant and sexy came to mind.  Elegant like their 25 year old vines the wine had aromas full of minerals, and lime.  It was very fresh!  The palate was light and bright full of pear, wet rocks (minerality), nice acidity and a touch of orange on the finish. This is a great summer drinking wine and it retails for $17.  The suggested serving temperature is 54 degrees.

2014 Martin Codax Albarino - This winery is a co-op of 300+ growers/families who supply the grapes for the wine. The grapes come from very small plots that are under strict quality control. This Albarino was a bit different from the above. A little more mature. The first aroma to escape my glass were white flowers, then hints of straw and a mix of flint and citrus.  Flavors of tangerine on the palate followed by lime and a hint of pear with a slight bitterness on the finish.  This wine retails for $16.99

Don't think I didn't pair this with anything.  These two wines I paired with take-out mussels in a Red Thai Curry Sauce from 5 West Pub.  I probably should have gotten the oil and garlic but wanted to see how the Albarino would pair with the spice.  The Codax paired better with the mussels.  It had a bit more fruitiness to it so it mixed with the spice of the sauce better.

All in all two very good Albarinos I would look for in your liquor store or wine shop. Great for summer!