Wine region / Country
Castro Candaz Finca El Curvado 2014 (2 bottles)
Xot dels Aspres 2015 (2 bottles)
El Quintà Bàrbara Forés 2015 (2 bottles)
Normal retail price: £74.86
Club Discount Price: £65.51
You save: £9.35 (12.48%)
On occasions, it's simply a matter of geography: the mere fact of having poorer lines of communication has for years made it difficult to distribute these wines beyond the local district. In other instances, perhaps not enough has been done to promote the name and image of these areas to the outside world; whatever the case, it's patently obvious that certain regions on Spain's map have accumulated more than enough tradition and knowledge for producing wines that will amaze and captivate those who try them. Today, regions like the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia or the Empordà and Terra Alta in Cataluña, not only successfully export their wines, but in many cases too they sell out of lines well ahead of expectations.
The Ribeira Sacra, together with neighbouring Bierzo, is leading the resurgence of north-western Spanish reds. In some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world, Mencia grapes are grown, a red variety capable of delivering freshness and velvety tannins, and enchanting due to its accessibility and fruitiness. One of the best examples of all these excellent merits is the Castro Candaz Finca El Curvado 2014, an elegant and mineral red produced by two of the region's finest winemakers: Raúl Pérez and Rodrigo Méndez.
From the Empordà, in the other far corner of the northern Iberian peninsula, we come across a red that's in strong contrast to the Galician ones: the Xot dels Aspres 2015. It epitomises the robustness of the Tramontana (the strong north wind that gusts through the region) and the firmness of its granite and slate soils, along with the wisdom accumulated by the Vinyes dels Aspres wine producers over centuries.
We'll conclude our voyage of discovery without leaving Cataluña, turning south and travelling a few kilometres down to Terra Alta. In these lovely yet forgotten lands of Tarragona a strong link has been forged between the Garnacha Blanca grape and the poor, calcareous soils so as to offer some of Spain's best white wines. A fine example being the El Quintà de Bárbara Forés 2015, a benchmark wine in the region which fuses elegance and complexity amidst delicate notes of quince, flowers and fresh herbs.
Reds or whites, delicate or intense, in this Vinissimus selection you'll find the great diversity of Spanish wine clearly reflected and savour with every sip the resurgence of regions formerly regarded with disdain.
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Red Crianza. Castro Candaz Raúl Pérez - Rodrigo Méndez Ribeira Sacra, Spain Mencia
Bottle: £11.98 club members / £13.69 non-members
Castro Candaz, originally the name of a medieval fortress located in Chantada, is the new project Raúl and Rodrigo have embarked upon in Lugo's granite and slate soils. The Chantada is a cool area where they intend to create wines with a Burgundy profile that prove sensational due to their subtlety. Production runs are very limited (around 4,000 bottles) for the time being, but the quality of the wines has surprised even the creators themselves.
Finca el Curvado, a red made primarily from grapes of the Mencía variety, whose whole clusters ferment in large oak tanks, is the result of a short and gentle wine-making process that's not looking for extraction but balance and elegance. With low density, it has an aromatic and ethereal nose, dominated by clear-cut aromas of Morello cherries, flowers and smoke. The palate is light, refreshing and subtle, with vibrant acidity that takes the wine right the way through; the oak is only just discernible, without daring to hinder the flow of fresh fruit. Its delicate tannins caress the palate, whilst via the retronasal passage there appear balsamic aromas of scrub and hints of fungi and charcoal. Its finish is fresh and lively, knowingly special.
Grilled tuna / stuffed aubergines / rabbit lamb with fine herbs
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Young red Crianza. Vinyes dels Aspres Empordà, Spain Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
Bottle: £9.48 club members / £10.83 non-members
As might well be expected, Vinyes dels Aspres seeks to preserve its heritage with all due respect shown to the environment, without using any synthetic products. As a result of beneficial practices to the countryside, the biodiversity of these lands is very rich, and animals such as the Xot (little owl), a small migratory bird which gives the wine its name, nests among its trees.
After the hand harvesting of solely estate-grown grapes and a post-fermentative repose of 8 months in Allier oak barrels, Xot reaches our glasses with all the strength of its landscape. A dark seductive Picota cherry colour with aromas of undergrowth and cool spices (cloves). Enveloping, fresh, vibrant and mineral, enhanced with the appealing scents of well-ripened blackcurrants, mandarin peel and eucalyptus. The palate features a perfect acidity and a smooth mouthfeel, almost lactic. It continues to exude many more aromas after a good airing in the glass: roasted nuances, cocoa, even dates. Full-blown and intense from nose to aftertaste.
Meat rice dishes / Peppercorn steak / lamb with fine herbs
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Barrel Aged white. Celler Bàrbara Forés Terra Alta, Spain White Grenache
Bottle: £11.29 club members / £12.91 non-members
The word its name derives from, quintà, is used in Catalan to denote a small group of lands cultivated by one single owner, as happens with the La Cometa and the El Coll de Batea vineyards, from which the grapes of vines over 60 years old are used to produce this wine. After a 24-hour maceration with skin contact and fermentation in large-capacity French barrels, El Quintà rounds off in the same oak with periodic pumping over for six months before being bottled.
In the glass, its straw colour is hypnotic and the golden glints invite immediate drinking. You get a whiff of El Quintà's aromas without even approaching the glass; the hints of white flowers, green melon and quince come out to meet you. A second swirl of the glass and yellow petals, peaches and fresh herbs are revealed. On the palate it's pure balance, offering breadth and depth in equal measures. The oily mouthfeel usually experienced in the best Garnacha Blancas reinforced by good work with the lees, joins a fresh verticality to constitute an intense, mineral and extremely elegant passage. It drifts away on an aniseed mist and a subtle herbaceous and spicy background.
Grilled swordfish / honey baked cod / rice with wild mushrooms
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