Telmo Rodriguez LZ 2006

Telmo Rodriguez LZ 2006I don't think I'll ever get tired of the fresh, juicy tempranillo joven wines.  Perfect for casual drinking with earthy food at this time of year.  The three joven wines put out by Telmo Rodriguez are a good chance to look at different expressions of Tempranillo from the premier regions of northern Spain.   Same winemaker, similar production methods but different clones, climates and soil types.  Drinking all three in one sitting is a very educational experience, if a touch too boozy for a school night.

LZ is the joven wine from Rioja.  Its a wine that lives by a "straight edge" philosophy: no oak, no fancy wine making tricks just the raw flavours of tempranillo from Rioja.  Yes, I have been watching too many music documentaries…

Classic bright red cherry flavours with sarsaparilla, earth and cinnamon on the nose.   A bit of musk stick floats in and out as the wine builds with air. The tannins are soft and abundant and there is plenty of acid to clean up the mouth.  The palate fairly much mirrors the nose, the fruit is juicy and fresh with good concentration.  Very much on up to its usual standard and surprisingly a bit better than the 05.  89 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $22 Closure: Conventional Cork

Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do Xil 2006

Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do Xil 2005Godello is a grape that I have come to really like.  It's perfect for situations where you want something a little bit different, not too serious.  Personally, I'd much rather drink this than most viognier or pinot gris based wines.  Where these other two seem to be either unsure of themselves or outrageous, Godello is quietly confident and solid.  Dependable.  I'm not sure how well it would do in Australia, perhaps we should just leave it to the Spanish….

Quite pale in colour, with a good nose of pineapple, white peach, a hint of jasmine and fennel.  As with a lot of these whites from north west Spain, there is a really enjoyable silky/oily texture that matches well with the acid . In the mouth it shows more pineapple, apricot, and highlight of cantaloupe.  Medium length finish.  This just confirms my high opinion of this grape and style. 89 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $23 Closure: Conventional Cork

Bodegas Roda I Reserva 2003

Roda I Reserva 2003Right then, on to Roda I.  Before I tasted either of the 2003 Rodas, I was a bit worried that the fruit might be a bit roasted, the wine a bit hot and short.  But there is nothing of the sort, its balanced, great black fruit that seems to be perfectly ripe.   The masses of silky smooth tannins aren't too shabby either.   Its a great follow on from the last couple of vintages and I can't wait to see what they've produced in 04.  As usual I find myself drawn toward Roda I at release, I find Roda Reserva needs a couple of years to really show its stuff.  This one is drinking really well with a couple of hours of sitting in a decanter.

Fairly dark in the glass, with a bright cherry edge.  The nose shows great blackcurrant fruit with toasty oak, freshly ground coffee, smoke and cinnamon.  A note of strong anise mellows out to liquorice/sarsaparilla with a bit of time. Gorgeous, concentrated blackcurrant and mulberry fruit on the palate with mocha and some minerally notes.  Really primary at this stage, the potential is clear: great balance, a good wack of acid and oak in all the right places.  Tannin obsessives will be happy, as usual, the tannins are outstanding and add great texture.  Stick this somewhere dark and cool for at least two years, and you'll be very happy with yourself for the next 15. 94 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition RRP: $95 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.roda.es

Bodegas Roda Reserva 2003

Roda Reserva 2003The wines of Roda should need no introduction to wine geeks, they have been one of the leaders of top Rioja in Australia for a couple of years now.  This year Roda Reserva is available in just about every bottle size known to man, from 375ml to 6L.  Excellent.  The 03 reminds me of the 2000 in style, great red fruit with concentration and depth.  I think the oak treatment is spot on, the best I have seen on a young Roda so far.  As usual with young wines, a serious decant is required if you want to have a look at one of these now.

A quick run down on the wine: 85% Tempranillo, 11% Graciano and 4% Garnarcha aged in 50% new french oak for 16 months.  The percentage of Graciano is quite high for this vintage, in theory this should give the wine a bigger acid kick and increased aging capabilities.  There has always been a wiff of burgundy in a bottle of Roda, this year it’s more pronounced.  Not sure if this is the Graciano or not.

The nose opens  up with coffee, earth, strawberries and red cherries and old cut flowers. A spicy aspect builds as the wine fills out with more air, cinnamon, clove and pepper.  The balance and structure are up to Roda’s usual high standards, luxury tannins provide a velvet like texture .  Oak has been a criticism of Roda in the past, they must be listening.  The oak is just perfect, a supporting influence that doesn’t distract from the gorgeous fruit.  Mainly cherry, but a bit of mulberry, anise, pepper and spice with minerals on the persistent finish.  This is Roda in full swing.   Keep you hands off for until 2010 and drink for 10 years.  93 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition RRP: $70 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.roda.es

Dominio de Tares Baltos 2005

Dominio de Tares Baltos 2005This is probably one of the strangest wine labels I've seen.  It's even textured.  I kind of like it, I'm sure it would be much more enjoyable after a couple of bottles.  I'm thinking that Hoddles Creek should do something similar for their reserve label, but with frogs instead of people.  Very classy.

The Baltos is a entry level wine from Dominio de Tares.  Its 100% mencia and sees 6 months in french oak.   Apparently this wine was developed for the American market…

Ruby red in the glass, a bit lighter in colour than I expected.  The nose show toasty oak, earth, cloves, pepper, coco and cherry liqueur with raspberry and mulberry fruit.  Silky in the mouth, the acid is poking out a little bit at the moment but the fruit tannins are fine and plateful.  For the most part the palate is a bit simple with raspberry and mulberry, but adds some minerals to the finish.    A wine with a great nose that is let down by a simple palate.  87 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars RRP: $30 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.dominiodetares.com

Alvear’s Fino NV

Alvear's Fino NVSo here is the second fino from Alvear.  The photo is of the back label, its far more interesting than the front, and it has a nice little map.  This wine has a lot in common with the Fino en Rama, but more aged characters like almonds and dry wood with this bottling.

The usual pale straw colour in the glass, the nose starts of strong with sweet honey, almonds and apple with a twist of orange, old wood notes and a little salt.  The palate is very dry, a complete 180 turn from the off-dry nose and shows tangy, zingy apple cider with roasted almonds.  Light and refreshing.    88 Pts

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $25 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.grupoalvear.com

Alvear C.B. Fino NV

Alvear C.B. Fino NVI've got a couple of finos to have a look at, both from Alvear in Montilla-Moriles.  This one is slightly cheaper, but they are both good value.  Once upon a time, sherry was the king of drinks (it might still be!) and people were trying to make the stuff all over the place.  These days it is really only Jerez and sournds and Montilla-Moriles.

Pale straw in colour with an odd, estery nose to start with.  This cleaned up nicely in a minute or so to show almond, honey banana, oatmeal, and smoke.  Classic fino palate in the mouth with tangy acid and a bit of mineral and white pepper.  A good budget fino.  86 Pts.

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $20 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.grupoalvear.com

Chorizo

ChorizoChorizo seems to be the darling of magazine chefs at the moment, you can even buy something called chorizo in Coles.  But its not chorizo, not even close, its more like a frankfurter with extra Hungarian paprika.  So what is the difference you ask?  Generally, the texture is the give away.  If you can see chunks of meat and fat and it smells smoky, you have the real deal.  If the meat is overly processed and a consistent white colour, its a dud.

Firstly, there are a whole range of cured and fresh sausages called chorizo, I'm talking about the Spanish ones, but just about any country that has a Spanish or Portuguese influence makes this style of sausage. Chunky cut pork meat and fat mixed with paprika is the main idea, but there is usually garlic, black pepper an some chili in there as well.  Then come all the other options: hot (piquante) or mild and cured or fresh. 

You use the fresh stuff as you would any other fresh sausage, but the cured one needs a bit of care.  Don't store it in the fridge for too long as it will dry out, a week or so is OK, any longer and it needs to hang up somewhere dry.  Generally, you remove the skin before using it but you can eat it if you like.  Don't be afraid of the mouldy looking ones, these are often the best and spiciest.

There are loads of things you can do with chorizo, simple stuff like fried eggs with chorizo (the breakfast of champions!), add it to paella, with pasta, on bread with a bit of melted cheese.  Then there are some fairly special dishes that really show it off.  I can't remember where I found the dish bellow, but it really shows that Moorish connection to southern Spanish cooking.

Chorizo with spinach and persan feta

What you'll need:

  • 1 x hot, cured Chorizo, sliced into small slices
  • about 150 grams of spinach (baby works best)
  • about 30g currents
  • about 50g of Persan feta (Yarra Valley dairy works well)
  • a palmful of roasted almond
  • Olive oil 

Start off by blanching the spinach, it needs to be a bit wilted and mostly dry.  Heat some olive oil in a pan and then lightly cook the chorizo.  What you are doing is influsing the flavour of the chorizo in the oil.  While that is frying away, give the almonds a light bash in the morter and pessel, not too much just so they break into a couple of pieces.  Once that's done add the spinach to the pan and toss it around to coat the leaves. Just before you take it off the heat, add the almond pieces for about 10 seconds then take everything out of the pan onto a serving plate.  Let it sit for about 30 seconds and cool off, then throw the currents and feta top. Mix it in a little bit.  Serve.

Baltasar Tempranillo Vinas Viejas 2004

Baltasar Tempranillo Vinas Viejas 2004Just a quick note on this one, no time for chit chat today.  A rustic Tempranillo from Calatayud.

Really quite dark, not black but a very dark purple.  The nose is full of plum fruit jubes, dark cherries, hints of roses, light pepper and liquorice.  Full throttle in the mouth, I'm not sure how they got all this fruit in here.  But its savory fruit and overall the wine shows great balance.  The palate mirrors the nose of for the most part, the finish is long with subtle tannins.  A really enjoyable winter drink.  88 Pts.

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $25 Closure: Conventional Cork 

Pesquera Reserva 2003

Pesquera Reserva 2003The Pesquera reserva is usually the sweet spot between quality and price.  It's built for aging and generally has a great fruit profile supported by a good wack of oak.  I'm not so sure with the 2003, it is a bit elemental at the moment, but the fruit is right up in the black area with the heat of the 03 vintage.

It started off a bit stinky as poured it into the decanter, a bit of cow pat in the earthy undergrowth.  It cleaned up to show blackberry and black currents with violets, soy sauce, a bit of leather and dusty earth.  Loads of acid here, its balanced by juicy, savory plum and black current fruit.  Dusty tannins on the finish.  This needed a lot of coaxing to come out of its shell, I think I'll put one away to see how it goes in 10 years.  91+ pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars RRP: $75 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.pesqueraafernandez.com