Did you know that in Spain, children don’t traditionally receive gifts on Xmas Eve but on the day of the Epiphany, i.e. the 5th of January? Did you also know that it isn’t Santa Claus but the Three Kings (Los Reyes Magos) who bring these gifts? Given that there were three of these oriental kings, who originally brought gifts for baby Jesus, it is a smart division of labour that not only makes it seem more plausible to cover the kids of the world in one night but also explains why Santa looks a lot older than he actually perhaps is. And finally, did you also know that it is cheaper to fly to Europe before New Year’s Eve than after? In light of such momentarily useful trivia, the avid spermologer in me chose to herald in the New Year in Madrid, where my version of Reyes Magos brought me a little-something to taste. Here then, is why I have been not resolving anything too heavy to sustain for the New Year:
- Semi Sweet Verdejo-based low-alcohol wineMoralia Sensación, La Mancha: A multi-vintage low-alcohol (6% v/v) 100% Rueda-based semi-sweet wine. A faint nose, (floral touches, once the sulphur-dose, administered during bottling perhaps, has faded) and a soft attack, marked by a crisp and lightly sweet palate, with almost a hint of a prickle. Pleasing and easy, with a short finish, nothing complex but modestly balanced. Can accompany food readily but perhaps more given to aperitif-style consumption. Don’t age. Do chill.
- Menade Sauvignon 2010, Rueda: A fairly clean label, Rueda apparently allows the use of the word without Blanc. A hinted-golden, clean-nosed Sauvignon Blanc (yes consider me Old School); somewhat herby-minty andSauvignon by Menade, Ruedaother typical Sauvignon Blanc notes (gooseberries, the grass, et al) , moderately crisp and the palate is more rounded than the nose suggested. The wine seems to show a slightly warm climate or one where phenolic ripeness has been achieved with a certain drop in acidity.
- Marqués de Alella Pansa Blanca 2010, Alella: The only region growing this autochthon grape (and also using it for their Cava), it allows one no precendence of tactile evaluation. A clean robe, an appley nose, an off-dry palate, with a mix of acidity and minerality on the mid-palate, making it an appealing wine overall. Medium-intensity finish, nothing complex and mostly balanced. Best enjoyed well-cooled.
- Lovely Albarinos from Rias BaixasMaior de Mendoza, Albariño 2010 sobre lías, Rias Baixas: A dull-gold robe, a hint-spicy floral nose, almost Riesling-meets-Grüner in a way, spicy palate too, very unctuous and deep, shows lovely depth and complexity. The finish is balanced and long. A truly lovely wine! (**)
- Davila, O Rosal, Albariño, Rias Baixas: Doesn’t seem to wish to declare the vintage proudly and, after much searching, one finds it tucked away in miniscule font on the back-label, a 2010. It is a D.O. wine nonetheless. Deep gold, the kind you buy in Dubai, an intense nose, complex and layered, and for the moment, one can tell it remains a tad reserved. Spice on the palate, followed by a very rich and creamy mid-palate, with plenty of layers: from orange peel to light peppery spice, and a boundless finish that unravels with every passing second. A mind-blowing wine! (**+)
- Parxet Cuvée 21 Cava: This is a special house as it is not in the general Cava zone, it is in Alella, which allows the use of the Pansa Blanca grape. The Cuvée 21 is more classic in its blend however think Parellada and Xarello) but the vintage and brut are more Pansa Blanca based. And yes, they are recognised DC Cava.The lovely Cava Cuvee 21Back to the wine at glass, good persistent effervescence (it was persistently present a good 25 minutes after being poured), a clean yet mildly appley-yeasty nose, a clean attack, soft, light, nothing too long or complex, yet refreshingly balanced. There is a certain richness on the palate and it makes the wine a bit more imaginative than otherwise, but it also seems to distract from the crispness a bit. Nevertheless a great Cava – fresh, fruity, clean – one that appears to respect style and tradition and with an imbued sense of quality, at an affordable price. (*)
All in all, a great start to the New Year. And this leaves you now to resolve your own goals, and calculate just when and how you wish to fall short of them. Adios!