Texas vs. Spain: Spanish-origin Grape Varieties
A special wine pairing event is scheduled at Texas Wine Collective on Sunday, 3-October, to provide a fun opportunity to appreciate the similarities and differences between Albarino, Mourvèdre (or Monastrell/Mataro), and Tempranillo grown and produced in Texas versus key regions in Spain. There will be two sessions, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm. For more information and to make a reservation, check out the www.texaswinecollective.com website.
This Carl’s Corner post focuses on the 6 wines to be tasted at this Texas vs. Spain pairing event. Albariño, a wonderful white grape variety, will be served first. Albariño is commonly grown in the northwestern Spanish regions of Galicia and Rias Baixas, and just a bit further south in northern Portugal where it is called Alvarinho. The nearby Atlantic Ocean provides these regions a bit cooler climate than other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, so it makes sense that much of the Albariño in Texas is grown on the High Plains with cooler nights and greater diurnal temperature variation.
McPherson Cellars Albariño 2019 Texas High Plains is sourced from Castaño Prado Vineyards, Brownfield, TX, Terry County. The grapes were mechanically harvested, fermented cool for 25 days; aged in SS tank; and bottled at 12.5% ABV, 0.4% RS (essentially DRY). This delightful version of Albariño offers aromas and flavors of peach, melon, apple, and hints of citrus-lime pith; and a smooth texture leading to a pleasant, slightly crisp finish. This wine pairs beautifully with grilled seafood or chicken, spicy Thai or Asian dishes, and Spanish paella.
Alma Terra Albariño Ponte Vineyard 2020 Rias Baixas DO is sourced from Ponte Vineyard in the hilly region of Rias Baixas, Spain. The wine is dry with aromas of green apple and tropical fruit, and flavors of peach and a soft citrusy note of lime. With a medium body and 12.5% ABV, this Albariño has good balance between acidity and fruit with an easy, slightly racy finish. It pairs so well with seafood, paella, and mild cheeses.
Mourvèdre, most often called Monastrell or Mataro in Spain, is the most commonly grown variety in the hot, Mediterranean-influenced southeastern Spanish region of Valencia and the important sub-regions of Jumilla, Alicante, and Yecla. It is thought that the French adaptation of the name to Mourvèdre came from Murviedro, an area located in southern Valencia where the grape is grown extensively. Because of the climate in these areas of origin, Mourvèdre tends to grow quite well in hot areas of Texas, like the Texas Hill Country, central West Texas, and the western Permian Basin region.
Lost Oak Winery Mourvèdre 2019 Texas High Plains is sourced from Diamante Doble Vineyards located near Tokio, TX, Terry County. Fruit was mechanically harvested, fermented in SS tank; aged 15 mo in French and American oak barrels; and bottled at a mellow 12.3% ABV, 0.0% RS (DRY). Typical of Mataro or Monastrell, this wine offers deep ruby color; aromas of black tea leaf and wild raspberry; flavors of wild berry fruit with hints of caramel and vanilla; and a finish that shows balanced tannins with delicate flavors of chocolate-covered cherries and gingerbread. Pair this wine with strong cheeses, braised lamb shank, chicken shawarma, garlic parmesan baked eggplant, or snickerdoodle cookies.
Juan Gil Monastrell Silver Label 2019 Jumilla DO was sourced from low-yielding old vine vineyards planted on rocky, limestone rich soils and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine shows a deep red color, abundant ripe fruit aromas and flavors, and a long spicy, well-balanced finish showing toasty vanilla notes from aging in French oak barrels for 12 months. Earthy, smoky notes on the finish might remind one of a rich Mourvèdre from the Rhône Valley in France.
Next up is Tempranillo, famous for making fine red wines in the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain, and as one of the key grapes (called Tinta Roriz) in Port wines. The climate in these regions is hot & dry with a desert-like diurnal temperature shift of 25-40oF between the nighttime low and daytime high. The vineyards in these Iberian regions typically sit at relatively high elevations (1,500-2,500 ft above sea level) and in many places look a lot like Texas wine-growing areas.
Tempranillo is derived from the word “temprano”, meaning early, and this early nature of the variety can cause issues here in Texas with early buds damaged by spring frosts and early ripening that brings red grapes to the winery while still processing white varieties. However, because Tempranillo produces such delicious wines, Texas winemakers just seem to endure these “early” inconveniences.
Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo 2017 Texas is Tempranillo 87%, a mix of Newburg Vineyard in Comanche County and (Ossowski’s) Nubbin Ridge Vineyard near Cross Plains, TX, in Callahan Cty; plus Syrah 13%, sourced from Lahey Vineyards near Brownfield, TX in Terry County. Fruit was machine harvested; fermented cool in SS tanks with about 4 weeks maceration; aged 18 months in a mix of American & French oak barrels; blended and bottled at 14.7% ABV, 0.0% RS (DRY). This rich, fuller-bodied wine shows the expected quality from an excellent 2017 vintage, offering a deep amber-ruby color; fruit forward aromas of cherries & bramble berries; medium body with flavors of tart blackberries, dark cherries, and notes of soil, leather & pipe tobacco; with good balance and lush, ripe tannins on the finish. Pair with heavier meat dishes like beef tenderloin, short ribs, and pot roast.
Burgo Viejo Crianza 2016 Rioja DOCa is a blend of Tempranillo 90% and Graciano 10%, a grape variety commonly grown alongside and blended with Tempranillo. Fruit was sourced from vines planted in rocky, limestone-rich soils on hillsides of the Ebro River Valley located northeast of Madrid and west of Barcelona. The grapes were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, aged 12 months in American oak barrels, and bottled at 13.5% ABV. This wine offers deep red color, ripe black cherry fruit aromas and flavors, and a spicy well-balanced finish showing dusty tannins and notes of toasted vanilla, leather, and pipe tobacco.
To make this event even more special, Chef Amber, TWC assistant manager (tasting room and events), will prepare several delicious small bites (tapas) to accompany the wines. Reserve your seat and join us for this fun tasting and learning experience.