March 13, 2011

9 Spanish Wines with New Wine Club, Part 1

Friday marked the inaugural meeting of my new tasting group here in Portland. I was really excited to see everybody who showed up and share a great set of Spanish wine that I put together over the past month. The attendees, as a whole, were no strangers to wine, but we did go over a bit about tasting, what to look for in wine and how to differentiate between elements, as well as an overview of Spain. Overall, I was really impressed with the group for their comments on the wine as well as the interesting questions they had about Spain and wine in general.

In addition to the line up of wines, I put together a few typical Spanish snacks: Tortilla Española, Manchego and Patacabra cheeses with Membrillo and olives from Whole Foods, and Chorizo from Olympia Provisions, and some homemade bread.

Below are my tasting notes from the first two wines we tasted; two Cavas. Perhaps it wasn't fair of me to start with sparkling wines, since I find them hard to analyze in part due to their bubbles. Still, everybody loves sparkling wines, and cava is one of the best thing that Spain has going for it. I picked each wine for different reasons. The first wine is ubiquitous here in Portland; I've seen it in Whole Foods, New Seasons, and Vino, and I'm sure a few other places are carrying it. It represents a straightforward, inexpensive cava. The other, bought at Liner & Elsen, was designed to show that cava is also a serious sparkling wine, with the ability to challenge Champagne. Well, hat didn't happen - although it was different and good, I wont be running out to buy it again. In fact, most people preferred the first wine in our side by side tasting. I had to admit, when I revealed the prices, that I was a bit let down by the second wine.
I'll be posting more notes from the rest of the tasting in the coming days, but here's the first set.

(+) Torre Oria, Brut Cava $9
Niether cava tasted got me really excited, but I will say that this one showed extremely well for a $9 sparkling wine. Given sparkling wine's image of a celebratory drink, you could be celebrating for a long time and with a large crowd by stocking a few cases of this. What I did like about this, aside from its hit you-in-the-face value, is that it's a very clean expression of creamy citrus and yeasty. Its 100% Macabeo, and thought its crisp, it is also balanced in body. Available at Whole Foods, New Seasons, Vino; imported by Casa Bruno

(-) J. Esteve Nadal Avinyo, Reserva Brut Cava $16
I give this Cava a pass. Its a very nice wine, with a soft round character, more fruit expression than yeast and bread. In fact, I preferred it to the other, but I was let down a little, thinking that a Reserva Cava would deliver a little more punch. This blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada seemed a little flat. Peril of tasting side by side and not stand alone? Perhaps. Or maybe its just that I've been tasting lots of sparkling wine at this price point recently that are more memorable. Available at Liner & Elsen, Imported by De Maison Selections.


  1. Excellent idea! Spanish wines are some of my favorites outside of the northwest. I'm teaching a Sherry class in April, you should join us!

  2. Ryan, a class on Sherry sounds like a lot of fun. I could not get enough of it while I was in the south of Spain.

  3. Thanks for a great night! We learned a lot!