La Nariz D’Or


La Nariz D’Or Valencia
 
And so into Valencia last night for the City´s Semi-Final Of the Golden Nose, a competition for Somelliers in Spain. I have always thought this a job of two halves as it were. The first half is to spend your life tasting great wine, eating superb food and learning to match the two together. The second half of course is hovering in the shadows of your chosen employers restaurant waiting ( no pun intended ) for someone to ask for your words of wisdom with no guarantee they will take any notice!
 
Yesterdays event was thrown open to the public by invitation and gave ordinary wine-lovers an opportunity to see what the professionals have to cope with. There was a good selection of wines from Spain,( though not from Valencia ) premium quality jamon de bellota, cheese , other cured meats, canned fish products and bocadillos all courtesy of the various sponsors.
 
As always we were on the trail of some new wines to add to the tasting experience and we started with three from the Ribera del Jucar, a relatively new D.O. who introduced Valencia to their wines in a tasting last year which I had attended through Verema, the online wine lovers organisation which provides detailed advice and notes on many wines, restaurants, forums and events and tastings. www.verema.com  
 
First wine was from Bodegas y Viñedos, Casa De Illana, a family property since 1626. Wines are made by Javier Prosper, who arrived at the Finca Buenavista straight from wine school in 2003, the winery was built and the new style of wines began to be produced. Carmen 2007 is a sauvignon blanc with a touch of moscatel which was not shown in Valencia last year. Barrel fermented and at 13.5%ABV  this is pale gold with green reflections, clean and bright with long legs. On the nose the wine is full of tropical fruit, lychees, apricots and fresh and floral. On the palate it is tart with nice fruit, leading to a full creamy long finish.( www.bodegasillana.com ) . Second was a pure syrah from Casa Gualda. The 2008 was awarded 87 points in the Parker scale and at 13% ABV this at first glance is lighter than its Valencian cousins, reflecting its position further inland and the local microclimate which produces fresher, less alcoholic wines despite its proximity to Utiel-Requena.Cherry red, not particularly deep in colour but with long legs. On the nose it is very smoky, very fruity and very very Syrah. On the palate it is fresh, balanced complex, spicy with a huge fruity long finish. This is another wine that could make an entry to my bodega and at about 8€ a bottle is good value as well as a textbook example of Syrahs characteristics.(  www.casagualda.com ). Finally ( for the Ribera ) I tasted the Almudes 2009 Tempranillo. This is 13.5% ABV and from the Bodega Co-op St Gines. Light cherry red with long legs it is clearly a young wine depositing colour on the glass. Very fruity with characteristics of boiled cherry and banana sweets normally associated with maceration carbonic, despite its having had a traditional fermentation! Fresh, fruity and well balanced it has a long dry finish. Interestingly the representative from the D.O. felt this would retain these elements and if it has anything of the previous wine about it I can see why he is so optimistic.
 
Next we moved to Cariñena, the Aragon D.O. Corona de Aragon ( www.lacoronadearagon.es ) had a full range of wines available for tasting. The wines are made by a Chilean, Marcelo Morales from vines of at least 45 years age and from light well areated soils at about 500m above sea level. First wine was a Macabeo/Chardonnay of 13%ABV. Pale Yellow, clean and bright the wine appeared fresh, confirmed on the nose with its lemon-sherbert, banana and grapefruit flavours. On the palate the fruit was repeated as was the freshness and overall it is light and beautifully dry, balanced with a long finish with pineapples. Second from this bodega was 100% Garnacha joven varietal from 2009. At 13% ABV again this was a light cherry red with medium legs,lots of fruit and boiled sweets again. On the palate it was confirmed as a nice light fruity wine for everyday drinking. Next was the Crianza 2007, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Cariñena of 14.5%. This was deep garnet with medium legs, a highly complex spicy fruity nose had a medicinal afternote and this was the first wine of the night where I felt the fruit may have been over-ripe. In the mouth the wine was intensely fruity, with spicy notes. This was an elegant, balanced and long-finished wine. Finally I tasted the Syrah 100% Varietal from the 2007 vintage and 14.5%ABV. Deep red with an almost purple edge and long legs this also had the typical smoky nose with liquorice but similar over-ripe fruit medicinal tones. In the palate this fault was lost and the big round full fruit appeared perfect with a smokey liquorice long full finish.
 
Fortunately at this point plates of Jamon de Bellota provided from El Corte Ingles gourmet dept arrived. As this is beyond my usual means I tucked in gratefully as well as trying the cheese and other cured meats on offer. I think it as well that there isn´t a branch here in Vilamarxant!
 
And following this treat where better to go than Gonzales Byass to try a couple of wines from their range. First was a Beronia Graciano 2007 Rioja at 14%ABV. Garnet, with a deep centre, long legs and young appearance, this wine was clearly unfiltered. On the nose it was initially light and fruity, then spicy,  and with rich red fruits. On the palate it was fruity, full with hints of rich chocolate and a long dry finish. Second was from their Sherry range, and what a range it is. The wine on offer was Del Duque, Amontillado Muy Viejo with wines aged in the system for over 30 years. This had a pale centre, nut brown edge with short but very slow legs. On the nose it is rich, fruity, spicy, nutty and with hints of cinnamon. In the mouth an explosion of flavours leads to a harmony of senses, a slow melting caramel long finish. Absolutely stunning and a real treat.
 
I have always loved traditional style Rioja so where better to try than a long established Haro bodega, Carlos Serres and their Onomástica range. Founded by French emigrés in 1896 this is tradition in spades. The 2006 Reserva Blanco Onomástica is 13.5%  and sells for about 14-15€ a bottle. It is up there with Tondonia and Gravonia wines I remember drinking with great pleasure in London in the early 1980´s. Gold,  even to the rim, clear and bright. On the nose all the old memories of fruit, acidity, freshness and spice came flooding back. On the palate, wonderful tropical fruits , searingly dry , long full, balanced finish, spicy and creamy with vanilla. The Onomástica Reserva Tinto 2004 is even, garnet with long legs. This is initially vegetal, with red fruits and wood, on the palate, round, good body, fruity and rich nicely balanced with vanilla aftertones and none of the spirity finish some reservas have. I loved this 14% ABV wine.
 
Last but not least was a range of wines also from Rioja , this time from Dinastía Vivanco Bodegas. This family business operates from Logroño and is led by Pedro Vivanco González, alumni of the Requena school of viticulture and oenology.
 
Here wines are made in a more modern style with grapes being chilled on arrival to control fermentation and extract maximum flavours and expression of the different parcels of vines.
 
The Vivanco Blanco 2008 at 12.5% ABV is 80% Viura and 20% Malvasia. Pale lemon with a clear rim, clear and bright with long slow legs. This has a tropical fruit nose and , on the palate is clean fresh nicely balanced with a full long finish with tropical fruit aftertones. This was accompanied by a baby bocadillo of sardine from the La Brujala range which went rather well together! Second was the Coleción Vivanca Garnacha parcels, 2006 Crianza, a production of just 3,123 bottles. 18 months in new French and American oak gives this varietal a garnet even appearance with long slow legs. At first the nose is hugely medicinal with ripe ( probably over-ripe ) fruit. Indeed at first I thought it was slightly corked. However on the palate it is full, fruity and  round and very smooth which would marry well with barbeques, stews, grills and roasts. 15%ABV.
 
Next was the Coleción Graciano 2006 similarly 15% and from the 2006 vintage. This is a really deep almost purple wine, which enjoys a garnet edge. Intense blackcurrant fruit with a nicely balanced aroma of the wood and flowers. In the mouth it shows huge fruit, smooth tannins and long, full finish. Recommended for smoked sausage and red meats. Finally  I tasted the Mazuelo from the same range and from a smaller production of 2,473 bottles. This is also deep red with a garnet edge . Intense blackcurrant nose, with a farmyardy nose, then herbs and minerals. On the palate it was bursting with fruit, smooth tannins a freshness and long persistent finish full of complexity.
 
Sadly after that the palate was exhausted ! This insight into the difficult life of the somellier was well worth trying out by the amateur. Bring it on again next year!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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