Spanish Wines Shine at Spring Salon

One of Vancouver’s best free tasting events is the New Products Salon at the Marquis wine shop, held at least twice a year in the back of the Davie Street store. The Salon usually features fifteen to twenty five wines from around the world that are new to the store. Saturday’s tasting served as a fundraiser for one of the store employees whose houseboat was severely damaged during the snow storms in December.

The “We Are Sunk (Literally)” Fundraiser featured wines from Spain, France, Argentina and Chile, but with ten out of eighteen bottles being Spanish, it might have been called Hola España. Spanish wine can be confusing, as the varietal names seem to change with the regions, and one vigneron’s Tempranillo is another one’s Cencibel.

We started with the Armantes 2007 Macabeo from Calatayud. For $14.90, it offers tart, dry citric flavors in a light bodied style, perfect for summer sipping. Compare that with the Lorenzo Cachazo 2007 Rueda for $18.90. Blending Macabeo with Verdelho, it has a light, breezy style and a similarly dry citric profile, but with fuller, vegetal notes.

Bring on the Abel Mendoza 2007 Viura from Rioja for $27.90, and realize how much of what you’re paying goes into the oak. Wood jumps from its nose, as flavors of apples, citrus and vanilla dominate the full-bodied palate, resulting in a long, nutty finish, All three are made with Macabeo, which is called Viura if you make wine in Rioja.

Two Rias Baixas Albarinos showed well. The $25.90 Vizconde de Barrantes 2007 Albarino had an herbal citrus nose, and crisp mouthfeel, but a short finish, while for $29.90, the Bodegas del Palacio’s 2007 Albarino D. Fefinanes offered a rich, fleshy nose with a creamy peach mouthfeel.

And if you have been waiting for Godello, the Rafael Palacios 2007 Louro do Bolo has the best this Galician variety offers. Floral nose, apples and pineapples with nutty hints and long, rich finish. For $37.90, though.

For an oaken style of Chardonnay, the Missiones de Rengo 2007 Cuvee from Casablanca Valley Chile, offers a lot for $20. Rich nutty oak, tropical fruit and a long, curvaceous finish, it’s a deal in my book.

Turning to the reds, the Santa Carolina 2007 Syrah Reserva from Central Valley Chile has a chocolate/toffee nose, deep black fruit, a luxurious mouthfeel and long satisfying finish. At $16.90 it has big bang per buck.

From Argentina, the $14.90 Finca el Retrio 2006 Barrica Bonarda stood out like a purple tongue. The nose has meaty fruit and on the palate the black fruit is earthy and chocolate tinted. Bonarda is Argentina’s other red, and is slowly moving from the bulk department to being a stand-alone variety. A varietal to watch.

Back to Spain for more linguistic re-education, we tried the Dominio de Tares 2006 Baltos Tinto from Bierzo, made with 100% Mencia. If you are in the mind of Mencia, you’ll know the grape is native to the Bierzo region, but is not related to Cabernet Franc, as once thought. The Baltos is rich and well balanced with forward black fruit and a dry finish. It was good but I’m not sure it deserved its $23.90 price tag.

Not as much as the Dominio Dostares 2005 Estay Castilla y Léon for $22.90. Translated as “Bunched and Peaked” for the shape of the grape clusters, the Prieto Picudo grape is indigeonous to Léon and has been compared to Tempranillo, but juicier. The Estay is a quaffable wine with appealingly forward cherry and blackberry flavors and long, smooth finish.

The best deal of the Spanish reds was the Gémina 2007 Monastrell (Morvedre to the French) from Jumilla. I loved it and was surprised to learn what the Wine Advocate said about it: “Dark ruby-colored with a bouquet of cedar, mineral, plum, and blueberry. Forward and sweet on the palate, the wine has some structure.” 90 points and only $20!

Watch for the next New Products Salon later in the year, listed on

Since the event took place on Saturday, this post came out later than usual. But stay tuned this week for at least a couple of posts covering the Vancouver Wine Festival, which kicks off today at an event at Earls downtown.

See you at the wine fest!

Mari Kane

Mari is a writer, blogger and WordPress consultant, living in Vancouver, BC, the most wine-soaked town north of the 49th Parallel. She also blogs about WordPress web design at Blogsite Follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.