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Spain's Latest Vintage: A Report From the 2004 Wine & Tapas Great Match Tasting

On Tuesday of this week I attended a rather glitzy event called "The Great Match: Wine and Tapas 2004," put on by the Trade Commission of Spain which was an unadulterated marketing ploy for Spanish wine and associated food products (cheeses, olive oils, etc.). It was quite the affair with tickets running $50 a pop and catering tables by some of the top chefs and restaurants in the city including Gerald Hirogoyen of Piperade, Michael Mina, Martin Castillo of Limon, Jack Yoss at Postrio, Khai Duong from Ana-Mandara, Robert Riescher from Tablespoon, Stephen Barber from Mecca, and David Bazirgan from Baraka.

I attended the press tasting prior to the main event, so sadly I was unable to sample the delectables these folks had on offer, but I keep telling myself that I was just there for the wine.

Unfortunately, the wines on offer were mostly disappointing when taken as a whole group. Spain is billed as this huge rising star, but if one were to use this tasting as a representative sample, much of the winemaking is still clunky with over-oaking being the primary flaw. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that Tempranillo is not one of my favorite varietals, but I have had some good ones, and there were unfortunately few that made it past the mark of "good" in my book. The whites, primarily Albariños showed better.

It was still a worthwhile event, as it gave me some more exposure to the various regions of Spain (as well as being a good prep for WBW2 next week). Additionally I was able to meet Enoch Choi, a regular commenter here at Vinography and fellow blogger (sometimes about wine), in person -- something that's always a pleasure.

Here are the wines that that I found to be notable from the event:

2003 Valminor Albariño, Adegas Valmiñor, Rias Baixas. Light, fresh, incredibly floral with heavy melon and stone fruit on the nose, crisp and dry through the finish. Score: 9. Cost: $15

2001 Fra Guerau, Vinas del Montsant, Monsant (Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet, Monastrell). A very unusual medley of varietals yielding dark fruits with moderate tannins. Not the best tasting wine of the day, but certainly the best value. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $12

1998 Miguel Torres "Mas La Plana," Catalunya (single vineyard Cabernet). Score: 9. Cost: $46.2000 Absis, Pares Balta, Penedes. Good, but could have had half the tannins it did. Score: 9 Cost: $55.
2000 Torre Muga, Rioja (80% old vine tempranillo, 15% Cabernet, 5% ??) Score: 9 Cost: $65
2001 Les Sorts "Old Vines" (Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet). A method carbonica wine. Score: 8.5 Cost: ??
2000 Ardevol, Priorat (Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Cabernet). Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $50
2000 Scala Dei Cartoixa, Priorat (Grenache and Cabernet). Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $26.99
1998 Finca Valpiedra Riserva, Rioja (90% Tempranillo, 10% ??). Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $32
2000 Sierra Cantabria Crianza, Rioja. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $18
2001 Fra Guerau, Vinas del Montsant, Monsant (Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet, Monastrell). Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $12
2001 Mas Igneus FA 206, Priorat. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $20
2001 Clos Manyetes, Clos Mogador, Priorat (95% Carignan, 5% Grenache). Score: 8.5. Cost: $90

2003 Pazo Pondal Albariño, Rias Baixas. Score: 9. Cost: $18
2003 Valminor Albariño, Adegas Valmiñor, Rias Baixas. Score: 9. Cost: $15
2003 Aura Verdejo (Verdelho), Rueda. (9% Sauvignon Blanc). Score: 8.5. Cost: $18.

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