Superb Wines Transport Us to Spain
by Susan Montgomery
Our Wine Review Council recently experienced six superb Spanish wines, mostly from the Catalonia region of Spain, located in the Northeastern corner of the country bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea. The setting for our tasting was in a beautifully landscaped yard on a sunny Southern California day, which helped transport us to the lush vineyards and mild Mediterranean climate of the Catalan countryside.
Our wine reviewers each brought a dish to pair with the wines we tasted. We ended up with quite a feast and some beautiful pairings.
Appropriately, we began our tasting with Cava Tres Naus, a lovely sparkling wine that was produced in the Catalonia region by Cellars Domenys using traditional methods. We learned that it was first fermented in stainless steel and later a second fermentation took place in the bottles. This refreshing brut was characterized by fine bubbles, a pale yellow color, an enticing floral aroma, and light tastes of grapefruit, rosemary, and lavender. This delectable brut enhanced the flavors of an appetizer of smoked salmon, capers, red onion, and cream cheese on rye bread.
Our next Spanish wine was the delightful Licia Albarino 2020 from the Rias Baixas region, located on the Northwestern coast of Spain. It had delicious tastes of green apple, citrus, and herbs with strong mineral overtones. For comparison purposes, we also tasted my favorite Albarino from the Hart Winery located where I live in the Temecula Valley of Southern California. This refreshing wine was somewhat different from the Spanish Albarino and was characterized by a pleasant acidity and stone fruit flavors. We paired these Albarinos with savory Diver scallops that had been lightly browned in butter. When a sip of Albarino is followed by a bite of scallops, you are in heaven since the wine brings out the delicate flavors of the scallops.
We next enjoyed the Critelles Siurana Negre 2018, a blend of Grenache and Carignan wine, produced by Cellar Gritelles located northeast of the elevated Montsant wine region. This full-bodied wine was a deep purplish red color with strong tart red fruit aromas and flavors. It enriched the scrumptious eggplant parmesan with creamy cheeses and marinara sauce.
The next red was a luscious Lo Piot 2015 from the Priorat region in the Montsant river basin. This vibrant wine is a blend of Grenache, Merlot, Carignan and Syrah that had been aged in oak barrels for 12 months, producing a spicy, fruity wine with lots of minerality. We paired this flavorful wine with tasty packets of grilled steak and potatoes topped by blue cheese and rosemary. The boldness of the wine was a nice match for the rich, flavorful steak.
The Terra Remota Camino 2016, a blend of Granacha Negra, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon was equally delicious. Produced in the Emporda appellation, this wine was nicely intense with strong berry tastes and touches of vanilla and cinnamon. These wonderful tastes continued with delicious bites of the rich red wine risotto.
We also especially enjoyed the Anima Nua Cor Viu 2019 from Cellers Domenys. This rich deep red Tempranillo from the Barbera Basin was bursting with fruit and cherry tastes but also elegant and soft on the palate. We paired it with a classic Spanish dish, Pan con Tomate with Gueso de Cabra (bread with tomato and goat cheese). The match was perfect with the tomato bread enchancing the wine and vice versa.
As you can tell, our group of wine reviewers was enamoured with all these splendid Spanish wines. They were each outstanding in their own way. These wines are generally reasonably priced and most of them can be purchased through wine distributors in the United States.
Photos by Todd Montgomery