Berrys’ Inaugural Spanish Tasting
Author: Martyn Rolph
Our inaugural Spanish tasting took place on Tuesday 30th October, a fantastic evening and our first opportunity to show our broadened Spanish range. This first Spanish release has been months in the making and demonstrates our desire to find and introduce our customers to the very finest wines of Spain. A large proportion of the wines on show were quite rightly from the much lauded regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero; we are fortunate to have strong working relationships with producers such as Vega Sicilia, Lopez de Heredia, Muga, La Rioja Alta, Pesquera and Artadi. However, Spain is brimming with exciting new wine regions and established regions in which more emphasis is being focussed upon finer quality. With the creation of our first Spanish release came the opportunity to further broaden our offering to introduce fabulous wines from these lesser known regions of Spain. From Rias Baixas and Bierzo in the North West, to the underappreciated Navarra and Toro to name but a few.
There was such a broad array of wines, some newly discovered and old favourites from many different vintages including some of the very best in recent memory, namely 1994, 1995, 2001, 2004 and 2005. The evening was very well attended, a sell-out, and in almost every instance the wines were shown by a representative from the winery, generally the winemakers. Very good of them to take the time and effort to come across, their attendance provides an added dimension to our events. Not only is their knowledge available for all but also their pride and passion, something I never tire of taking in. The wines were complimented by Manchego and two wonderful Iberian hams, served in a masterly fashion by Mario who operates likes a surgeon with a 10 inch blade. Wonderful flavours and the sense of theatre was appreciated by all. All wines were showing extraordinarily well, I thought but I will highlight my favourites. 2001 Imperial, Gran Reserva, C.V.N.E. was tasting particularly well and was universally well received particularly in relation to its modest price. From the finest vintage of the last decade it is drinking very well now and for the next 5 years. Plenty of depth and concentration but also classic Rioja Spice; vanilla, cinnamon, clove and dried fruits. The most traditional of Rioja houses is Lopez de Heredia, their Vina Tondonia wines are amongst my all-time favourites, epitomised by 1994 Vina Tondonia Tinto, Gran Reserva. From another remarkable vintage, there is incredible ageing potential here, I recently enjoyed a 1964 Tondonia, Gran Reserva… they are simply wonderful wines that are worth acquainting yourself with! From Ribera del Duero, a new discovery for me and a new winery to Berry Bros. & Rudd, Pago de los Capellanes. Rich, concentrated dark fruit is the theme of their wines but there isn’t even a hint of over extraction. The fruit is fresh and cool, full of energy. Well managed oak and tannins provide a sublime silkiness and flow. The 2008 Tino Reserva, Pagos de los Capellanes is wonderful! For those who demand the best, 2005 El Picon, from the same winery, is amongst the finest wines produced anywhere in Spain. Sangenis I Vaque is also worthy of a mention. A new discovery from Priorat in Catalonia, very fairly priced wines (these can be a challenge to find in Priorat) that impressed me hugely. Dark, intense, smoky wines but made in a more accessible style than many, the highlight is 2001 Clos Monlleó, Gran Reserva A wonderful introduction to our Spanish proposition, the tasting was a huge success, demonstrating the quality and value that can be found when we venture away from the Classic French regions. Viva Espania!