Category Archives: Mencia

Raul Perez Wine Offering

Raúl Pérez is “One of a handful of the best winemakers in the world.”
  Winemaker Raúl Pérez is a genius at coaxing the maximum expression from each vineyard’s fruit.  Thoughtful, mercurial and experimental, he produces over 200 wines using mainly the red Mencia or white Albariño grape.  Most of his wines are made in minute quantities of just one or two barrels each.  A natural winemaker, his grapes are grown organically and his work is informed by respect for the environment.  He uses gentle extraction to preserve acidity and enhance ageability.
  In 2014 he turned to completely non interventionist wine making.  Of paramount importance to Raúl is understanding the place, and letting the wines transmit the expression of its soil and climate.  His wines are known for their purity, complexity and balance.   I’ve been fortunate to taste through a range of his wines from different vineyards, and it’s akin to comparing a Burgundian Gevry-Chambertin to a Pommard, versus a Vosne-Romanée.
Raúl Pérez has three of his own wineries in Bierzo, located in Spain’s northwestern province of Galicia,  His family founded the Castro de Ventosa estate in 1752 which now owns 75 hectares of vineyards in Bierzo’s Valtuille de Abajo.   Raúl runs this winery in addition to his other projects, and is in the process of classifying Valtuille’s hillside plots from which he cultivates the grapes. . He also collaborates with many top oenologists all over the world, in Portugal, France, Chile and South Africa. He has been described as restless, a superstar, uncompromising, humble, generous, and one of a handful of the best winemakers in the world.
 The wines of Raúl Pérez are of limited availability due to the infintesimal production and we scoop them up whenever the opportunity arises.  A lover of Burgundy wines would especially appreciate the nuanced character of these wines. 

They make very special gifts, and Father’s Day is just around the corner.

Raúl Pérez wines in stock.   REPLY TO THIS EMAIL OR CALL OUR SHOP TO ORDER – 206.682.2827.

2012 Muti Albariño, Rias Baixas ($46.00)  7 bottles available  “The 2012 Muti is pure Albariño, a mixture of different plots from the Salnés valley, 50% fermented and aged in oak and the other half in stainless steel. It has a sharp palate, with good freshness and a slightly bitter finish. The nose talks more about the soil, think about wet granite stones, white flowers with some faint smoky hints like roasted sunflower seeds, turning more and more mineral with time in the glass. This is superb, a real surprise. 1,500 bottles were made.”    93 points Wine Advocate
2013 Leirana Albariño, Rias Baixas ($38.00)   1 bottle available “Even the regular, early-released 2013 Leirana Albariño has a part that has been fermented in oak. It’s produced from vines from different villages in the Salnés valley, mostly with influence from the sea. You can feel the proximity to the sea in the nose but more in the palate where it’s almost saline, quite powerful and offering very good acidity and freshness. The nose mixes white flowers, apples and pears with a sea breeze sensation. This is much more than a young, fresh Albariño. 20,000 bottles produced.”  92 points Wine Advocate
2014 Leirana Finca Genoveva Albariño ($49.00)   4 bottles available “The Albariño 2014 Leirana Finca Genoveva comes from an old pergola vineyard (80% of the vines are thought to be over 180-years-old!). The grapes fermented with indigenous yeasts and without temperature control in oak foudres, and were kept in contact with the lees without racking (or bâttonage) for one year. It’s surprisingly more open than the regular Leirana, mixing the sea and soil sensations with lemon zest, white pepper and grapefruit, and even some aromatic herbs (mint?). The palate is sharp as a razor, ultra-focused and defined, vertical, precise like cut with a laser. A dry Mosel meets Puligny with granite electricity? Super! 4,000 bottles produced.”  95 points Wine Advocate
2012 Ultreia La Claudina, Bierzo ($61.00)  6 bottles available  “Love it or hate it, the 2012 Ultreia La Claudina is 100% Godello sourced next to La Cova on sandy soils produced in an oxidative/biological way in oak foudre where there was a veil of yeasts for a while, never refilled and with a slow fermentation. It has a deep golden color and a nose of cereals, nuts, pollen and yellow flowers. The straight palate is austere with a good acid frame, incipient complexity and a good length. The nose is round and the palate is much sharper – you can feel the different texture compared with the one coming from clay soils -, which is a surprising contrast. This should age very well, increasing its complexity and elegance with time in bottle. A white of strong personality, with a little bit of a Jura tang.”   93 points Wine Advocate

2011 Vico  Mencia, Bierzo ($39.99)  2 bottles available   “(made from mencia vines that were planted in 1924; aged for 11 months in French oak): Deep ruby. Powerful, deeply pitched aromas of black and blue fruits, dark chocolate and licorice, with a spicy topnote. Densely packed and chewy in texture, offering smoky cassis and boysenberry flavors that coat the palate. Closes smooth and long, with lingering smokiness and slow-building tannins. I’d bet on this wine rewarding patience.”   91 points Josh Raynolds, Vinous

2011 La Vizcaina El Rapolao Tinto, Bierzo
($52.00) 6 bottles available “The 2011 La Vizcaina El Rapolao comes from the fresher of the red vineyards in the new La Vizcaina project. Like all the wines in Raul’s projects, these old vineyards have a field blend with a majority of Mencia, but they all have some Alicante Bouschet, Estaladina (the local name for Merenzao/Bastardo/Trousseau) and Souson. El Rapolao is a north-facing vineyard which is harvested 25-30 days after the warmer vineyards, and its soils are rich in clay and iron. The elegant nose shows some wild herbs, red rather than black fruit, and a strong sense of wet soil. The palate is balanced, with a light touch of the stems. Drink 2013-2020.”  93 points Wine Advocate
2011 La Vizcaina La Vitoriana Mencia, Bierzo ($52.00) 5 bottles available  “(made from mencia vines that were planted in 1892; all whole clusters and fermented in a large oak cask followed by ten months of aging in small French oak): Opaque purple. Mineral-accented black raspberry and cherry-cola aromas are complemented by notes of rose, minerals and spicecake. Sweet dark berry flavors show impressive depth and clarity, picking up a floral pastille nuance with air. The lasting finish leaves gently smoky floral and blueberry notes behind.”  92 points Josh Raynolds/Vinous, 93 points Wine Advocate
2012 Ultreia Saint Jacques Mencia, Bierzo ($33.00) 5 bottles available   “The 2012 Ultreia St Jacques is a Mencía cuvée from different plots across Bierzo, part fermented in stainless steel, part in barrique and part in oak vats all with 100% full clusters. It shows some notes of coffee and a herbal side with echoes of raspberry leaf and wild berries. The medium-bodied palate offers refined tannins and good freshness. It’s a great, approachable, very drinkable wine.” 92+ points, Wine Advocate

2010 Castro Ventosa El Castro de Valtuille, Bierzo
($25.99) 3 bottles available “The 2010 El Castro de Valtuille is the most fragrant of the 2010s from the winery. It displays a Burgundian nose of flowers and even peaches, balsamic (rosemary and other herbs) and a silky palate with good acidity and balance, showing ripe fruit and some minerality. A wine of pleasure. Drink 2014-2020.”  92 points Wine Advocate
2010 Castro Ventosa Cepas Centenarias, Bierzo ($68.00) 1 bottle available    “The 2010 Valtuille Cepas Centenarias perfectly combines elegance and power, displaying the concentrated balance that centenary vines are capable of. For this wine they play with different vineyards depending on the character of the vintage. In 2010 they selected the warmer vineyards, because it’s a cooler vintage, and in 2009 they selected cooler vineyards (for example Rapolao) as it was a very warm year. The ripe fruit is perfectly framed by the wood, making it a compact wine, with plenty of fruit and freshness: raspberries and dried roses. It needs a couple of years to completely integrate the wood, develop some more complexity and then it should drink well for the next decade. 2015-2020.”   94 points Wine Advocate
2011 Ultreia de Valtuille Mencia, Bierzo ($115.00) 2 bottles available 
(made from mencia vines that were planted on sandy soil in 1908; aged for a year in French oak): Brilliant violet color. High-pitched black and blue fruit aromas are complicated by suggestions of white pepper, Asian spices, lavender and smoky minerals. Lively, sharply focused blueberry and floral pastille flavors are framed by silky tannins and gain richness with aeration. Leaves suave notes of blueberry and black raspberry behind on the spicy, impressively persistent finish, which shows just a hint of tannins.   93 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous
2011 Ultreia de Valtuille Petra, Bierzo ($114.00) 2 bottles available    “a Mencía-based blend from a plot on slate soils in the Ponferrada zone (Valdecañadas) at high altitude, produced for the first time in this vintage. The wine stayed in contact with the skins for seven months and then aged for one year in barrique. This is a very aromatic, flowery wine with notes of wild herbs that is very different from the rest as it shows aromas of graphite and black olives; it’s a wilder wine. The palate is medium-bodied, has a really silky palate of very good structure to support powerful, concentrated fruit that is not over-extracted. This is closer to a red from the Douro or a Northern Rhône Syrah. Unusual but great.”   95 points Wine Advocate
Photos courtesy of Friederike Paetzold

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Filed under Albariño, Mencia, Red Wine, Spain, Wine

Spanish Pantry Essentials

Not a fan of slogging through pounding rain to the grocery store?   Or don’t have time?   By keeping a few essential Spanish ingredients on hand, it’s easy to pull together a nutritious, tasty meal in a flash and save a run to the store.
Conservas are a must.  In Spain, vegetables are picked at their peak of flavor, roasted or simmered and then packed in jars or cans.   Equally delicious are a wide range of fish and shellfish, many packed in olive oil.  The oil can and should be used in recipes.
Rice is a versatile staple to have in the pantry.    Rice simmered with chorizo and jarred, roasted red peppers is delicious and quick to prepare.   If there is chicken in the frig, make a fast and toothsome rice soup with Aneto chicken broth, Spanish garbanzo beans and a sprinkling of dried lime.   Or, make a complete paella in 30 minutes with an Aneto Paella broth.   Choose from Seafood, Squid Ink or Valencian Paella; comes in easy to store tetra paks with a one year shelf life.     
In Spain, pasta called fideo is used to make a dish called fideau.   Fideo, simmered with broth in a paella pan, can be prepared in minutes by adding jarred ingredients.   For example, toss olive-oil packed Spanish tuna with strips of piquillo pepper, the oil from tuna, capers, water and pasta.
Or use Aneto Squid Ink Paella with fideo and revel in this different take on a traditional Spanish dish.   If Mac n’ Cheese is a favorite, upscale it.  Combine chicken stock with pasta and saffron; simmer until the pasta is done, then drain and stir in Manchego cheese to melt.
Gluten intolerant?    A jar of lentils, cooked with spicy chorizo makes a hearty and simple meal.   Canned mackerel or anchovies are fantastic tossed with lentils or white beans.
Got a freezer?  Store packages of Bilbao Chorizo, Chistorra or Morcilla for the right moment.  Scramble choistorra with eggs.  Grill chorizo and serve with de la Estancia organic polenta from Argentina which cooks in 3 minutes.  Just add grated Mahon cheese.
NEW!  Hernán products from Mexico, made by artisan producers.    Just arrived are Mole Poblano andMole Pipián sauces.   Mole Poblano is a blend of chiles and spices, tempered by an infusion of nuts, chocolate and other ingredients. Typically served on chicken or pork.   Mole Pipián contains roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and peanuts with spicy chiles and epazote and is excellent on fish.
  Hernán Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon is now available, in powder and squares.
Brush up on Spanish with Spanish Circle on Wednesday evenings.  Held at the Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1.  Jan 13-March 16 at 6 p.m.   Free!   For more information call 206.684.0849.

2013 Narupa Alala Albarino, Rias Baixas   ($26.99)   First vintage!  Sustainably produced from a 30 year old, family-owned vineyard planted by the winemaker’s Grandfather.  The grapes are pressed by foot and fermented with native yeast.  Raised in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation, it has extended aging of one year to develop complexity.   Fresh aromatics with a hint of tropical fruit have notes of citrus and dust.   Mineral-laden with great mouthfeel and a pleasurable weight, this is a terrific expression of Albariño.   Limited availability – only 3 cases came to the state of Washinton, and we have 6 bottles.

2012 Carramimbre Roble, Ribera del Duero   

SALE!  Regular price $14.99, now $10.99  

We rediscovered this tasty gem last weekend, accompanied by a tapas assortment.  Versatile and nuanced, and it’s now 25% off!   (6 cases available).  90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged four months in oak.  Offers up aromas of ripe blackberry, hints of earth and road tar, reminiscent of an old-school California Zinfandel.  Very smooth and full-bodied, it displays lifted notes of white pepper, tobacco leaf and mushroom.  Black fruit and mineral notes on the lengthy finish.   Decant for 20 minutes to fully release aromas and depth of flavors.

2012 Lagar de Robla Premium, Castilla y Leon ($10.99) 100% Mencia, aged about 18 months in oak.    Plush, with soft tannins and a hint of earth.   Round and smooth, Lagar de Robla is mineral-laden, with well-integrated notes of oak.   This is really good!   “This firm red is reserved, but shows depth and integration, with mulled plum, licorice, mineral and smoke flavors that mingle over well-integrated tannins, giving way to the juicy finish.”  91 points Wine Spectator

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Filed under Albariño, Catalan, Cheese, Chile, Fish, Food, Meat, Mencia, Paella, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, Tempranillo, Uncategorized