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Archive for May, 2010

Angel Lopez and his family founded this winery in 2002 after spending years in the nursery business in Valdeorras. D.O.Valdeorras (Apellation of Origin or Designation of Origin), the second oldest in Galicia and recognized since 1945. Native to the region, the Lopez family supplied a majority of the wineries with their vines and have been on the forefront of Valdeorras’ reborn interest in the Godello varietal. Godello was one of the original varietals grown in the region by the Romans over two thousand years ago, since then the grape has slowly drifted toward obscurity until newer winemakers in the area decided to resurrect this unique varietal that is native to Valdeorras.

The family farms a total of 10 hectares comprised of several different vineyard sites all located in the area around the winery at A Rua. The parcels have varying exposures and elevations but share slate soils and the Godello grape as a unifying element. As the most in-land part of Galicia, Valdeorras enjoys warmer days than most of the region but still benefits from the cool air traveling along the river Sil. A Coroa’s vineyard plots are up on the hillsides (mostly around 500m elevation) rather than near the valley floor where it can get very hot in the summer, with temperatures at times exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. Vines average some 15 years of age.

All the vineyards are hand harvested. Viticulture is sustainable with a minimal amount of herbicides and pesticides used (the winery is transitioning to being fully organic). All the parcels are fermented using indigenous yeast and at low temperatures to extract maximum aromas and flavors. The wines are then aged on the lees for 6 months and a blend is made from the best lots to create A Coroa.

Golden straw in color. Stone and orchard fruit, citrus, white flower and mineral aromatics. On the palate, zesty and zippy citrus with honeydew and green apple — with a hint of thyme and a solid mineral core. Great acidity and grip with a long finish. 13.5% alcohol. Imported by De Maison Selections. I have seen this as low as $16 and as high as $21 a bottle. It takes a little bit of work to locate but it’s worth the effort.

I recently wrote about another Godello, Adega O Casal Novo Godello 2007 — which I really enjoyed and I thought this was as good if not even better. Strongly recommended.

Related post:
Adega O Casal Novo Godello 2007

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June 10 DC Night of Rhone

There are a couple of great events on June 10 in the DC area.

Randall Grahm on Why Terroir Matters & Guided Wine-Tasting
Thursday, June 10 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Participants have the opportunity to share the fruits of this vinous journey as he leads a guided tasting of Bonny Doon wines, including flagship red Rhone-style blend Le Cigare Volant; the white Le Cigare Blanc; the dry rose Vin Gris de Cigare; estate/single vineyard representations of Albarino and Syrah Le Pousseur; and Vinferno, a vin de paille-style dessert wine made from a single vineyard blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. Tickets are $75 ($65 for members).

>> Tickets

Rhone Rangers Trade Tasting
Thursday, June 10th, 3:00pm to 6:00pm

See list below of participating Rhone Rangers wineries for a trade tasting at Zola Wine & Kitchen, 505 9th St NW, Washington DC. Taste over 60 Rhone Rangers wines. Due to the small size of the venue, we are limiting attendance to 50 trade each hour; qualified trade and media interested in a complimentary trade pass can fill out and send back this request form. A limited number of VIP tickets will also be available for wine enthusiasts to experience this intimate setting with the winemakers from 4:30 – 6 PM (Tickets are just $50). To purchase a ticket please call 800.467.0163.

Participating wineries include:
Bonny Doon
Cline Cellars
Clos Saron
D H Gustafson Family Vineyards
Fess Parker
Folin Cellars
Guy Riedel Wines LLC
Katin
Rocca Family
Sawtooth
Stage Left Cellars
Stark Wine
Tablas Creek
Tarara Winery
Tercero
Terry Hoage Vineyards
Vina Robles

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Marie and Marcel run Domaine Richaud, with Marcel as winemaker and Marie as manager. Marcel makes some wonderful wines, mostly of the little known village appellation Cairanne. Many consider him one of the top 2 or 3 producers in the appellation. His estate is made up of plots inherited from his parents as well as rented parcels, so some grapes are sold to the local co-op or to négociants. The wines are made in the vineyard by pruning short, never using synthetic fertilizers, keeping the average age of the vines over 25 years old and keeping yields low. His wines are made in large capacity cement vats, each varietal is vinified separately and blended some 8 months later. The wines are not frequently racked and are not fined or filtered.

Richaud’s wines are said to be very popular in France, selling out almost immediately after release. I have read that sales at the estate’s tasting room account for the majority of all sales (though I find that difficult to believe).  On a trip to Paris last September, we went to dinner at Le Gorille Blanc on our first night. They had Richaud’s ’07 Galets by the glass. I took that as a sign that it would be a great meal — and it was (a wine list can actually tell you a great deal about a restaurant). In the United States, it takes a little bit of work to find his wines. Chambers Street Wines in New York is one of the best bets, but I have also been pleasantly surprised to find some of his wine at Arrowine in Northern Virginia.

The 2006 Cairanne is a blend of 36% Grenache, 38% Mourvèdre, 18% Syrah and 8% Carignan. 70% is aged in cement tanks, the rest in barriques, some of them new. Deep purple in color. Aromatics of black cherry, violet and bubble gum with some garrigue, herb and spice.  Lots of ripe fruit on the palate — black cherry, black raspberry with a little  asphalt and cassis. Soft, smooth and velvety in the mouth. 14.5% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Another example of why Richaud produces some of my favorite wines in the $25 and under category from the Rhône valley, along with Domaine Gramenon and Les Aphillanthes. Recommended.

Other wines from Domaine Richaud:
Domaine Richaud l’Ebrescade 2005
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône Terres de Galets

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Adega O Casal was founded in 2000 by five partners sharing the ideal of capturing the true varietal and optimum expression of the indigenous Godello and Mencía grapes. Starting with inherited family plots at high elevation near the village of Rubía, vineyard area has gradually expanded to the current six hectares. Viticulture is meticulous, seeking low yields. For a number of years, winemaking (though technically advanced) was conducted in a garage in Rubia. A new winery was expected to be ready for the 2008 harvest.

Godello is a white variety of wine grape found in northwestern Spain, in particular Galicia. The Gouveio found in northern Portugal is thought to be the same grape variety. Godello produces some of the best white wines in Spain and yields the best results in Valdeorras. Valdeorras is a beautiful region in Galicia with some 43 wineries and about 1,400 hectares under vine. Valdeorras is 100 miles inland — the terrain is mountainous, the roots of the vines burrow deep into the rock-hard ground, clinging to the steep slopes and leaching minerals from the slate-based soil. The stresses created by this harsh landscape give Godello from Valdeorras its distinctive character.

Spain has been getting a lot of press and attention as a provider of value white wine and Godello is one of my favorites at the moment. There are some that are a little thin — and would encourage selecting from those that don’t see any oak. The Casal Novo is a great example of quality Godello that can be found at $19 a bottle. It shows pronounced floral and fruit on the nose, with notes of orange blossom and wildflowers, stone fruits, melon and minerals. Peach, pear and citrus on the palette with a touch of honey. Great purity of fruit. Lots of minerality with zippy acidity and lengthy, bracing finish. 12.5% alcohol. Imported by Classical Wines. Recommended.

Related post:
A Coroa Godello 2008

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One of the most stunning landscapes in Spain is located in the heart of Galiciain in an area known as the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Banks). Ever since the Romans inhabited the area, people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces lining the two rivers that form the denomination. Working these lands is extremely difficult as the terraces in some areas are so steep that all the grapes have to be brought in on a dumb-waiter. Galicia is the least prosperous region of Spain, but Ribeira Sacra might have some of the best vineyards in the world. Though it has been long overlooked, it seems as though that is starting to change — and this wine is only one example why people are taking notice.

D. Ventura is a new project by Ramón Losada and his family utilizing old family holdings in the region. Their holding are small — about three hectares and family-owned. There are currently three vineyard sites. Caneiro is in an area known as Amandi. This area has been famous throughout time as being one of the best sites for making wines. Caneiro in particular is unique with steep terraces lining the river. The video below provides a visual of the landscape.

The Losada family recognized the potential here and called on an old winemaker friend to help them craft the wine that they knew Ribeira Sacra could produce.  Viña Caneiro is sourced from the over 80-year-old vines of the Amandi vineyard and is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. It was fermented in stainless steel and saw no oak. All farming is done by hand and Ramón, with the help of Gerardo Mendez (Do Ferreiro). In addition to taking an organic approach to farming, winemaking has also changed. They only use indigenous yeast and none of their wines are filtered or cold stabilized. Made from 100% Mencia, which usually produces a fruit and mineral driven medium-bodied wine. The older it gets, it becomes more elegant and complex.

The ’07 D. Ventura “Viña Caneiro” has beautiful aromatics of strawberry, raspberry, fruit rollup and dried flowers. Medium bodied, with lively acidity but soft, light tannins. Strawberry, sour cherry and currant on the palate — a little floral with some green vegetable and spice. The nose really leads, but the flavors follow and don’t disappoint. I was really taken with the aromatics and the brightness of fruit. 13% alcohol and very food friendly. Imported by De Maison Selections. Recommended.

I tasted this along with the Ribeira Sacra Do Burat, which was not nearly as bright — it actually tasted a bit muddy and a little tired compared to the Viña Caneiro.

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