Spanish Wine of the Week

From the Valdepeñas region of Spain: Viña Albali ~ Félix Solís Avantis is one of the top 10 wine companies in the world, and the largest producer of still wines in Spain.  More than 5,2834,410 gallons of their wines are sold, in more than 90 countries. They produce high quality wine from the most important areas in Spain: Pagos del Rey (Rioja, Rueda, Toro, and Ribera del Duero) and Félix Solís (Valdepeñas, La Mancha, Vino de la Tierra). Pagos del Rey and Félix Solís are the two main wineries under the group. The wine below is from Félix Solís (Valdepeñas).

2014 Viña Albali Tempranillo Valdepeñas, Denominación de Origen

This wine is 100 percent Tempranillo, which makes it a classic example of the true flavors of a Spanish Tempranillo.

The color of the wine is quite vibrant, with tinges of purple around the edges.

The aromas are reminiscent of Strawberry Fields Forever… It reminded me of being in my grandparents’ victory garden. (My grandparents learned to garden during the Great Depression. Even though they became well situated in life, gardening never left their consciousness, habits, or culture.)

The flavors reminded me of my summer “raspberry picking and eating on Sabattus Lake, in Wales, Maine” days. The only break I would take away from the water was when the raspberries came into season and were so juicy and delicious… This Viña Albali  Tempranillo took me right back to Maine and my favorite raspberry patch.

Two months in American oak gives it a bit of a toast, yet keeps away from building up too many tannins. Drink it now. It’s so ready.

I adore this very easy-to-enjoy Tempranillo, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a great value with a unique, daring experience…

Get out your Paella pan. Go with a pork dish, reminiscent of the black Iberian pigs for me. Right after weaning, the piglets are fattened on barley and maize for several weeks. Then, they’re allowed to roam (free range) in pastures and oak groves. They feed  on grass, herbs, acorns, and roots. Europeans still have more sustainable and humane methods for raising their food crops. In the US, look for organic meats, and you’ll learn to appreciate what Europeans still have everyday.


French Wine of the Week

From the Rhône region in France: Domaine de Bila-Haut ~ The Roussillon history is fascinatingly complex, and has sometimes even been violent. The winery’s vineyard is comprised of black and brown schist stony soil, also with limestone and chalk. The Roussillon region caught Michel Chapoutier’s attention, and he decided to locate his domain at Latour de France.

According to the winery: Three varieties of grapes grow on the land covered by Domaine de BILA-HAUT. Syrah, with its savage aromas of scrub and spice. Grenache, so full of surprises. And Carignan, for mineral wines with crispy tannic notes. The “Vignes de BILA-HAUT” and the “Domaine de BILA-HAUT Occultum Lapidem” are the main expressions of this terroir. However, Michel Chapoutier wanted to obtain more via this site, to seize the quintessence. It took him six years of standing back, observing and analysing to give life to this precious and exceptional wine called “V.I.T.” which stands for “Visitare Interiore Terrae”. Precious by its blending. Grenache grapes from 70 year old vines, grown on a magnificent plot in the heart of the ‘Garrigue’ scrubland.

I’ve been a long-time fan. When a sample arrives, I begin to drool. (Sorry for that visual, but it’s such a visceral wine at this point for me.)

A Rhône variety blend, this is a very easy to enjoy wine. Another wine where you would think wild game or… much more fun, when you bring out the grill for ribs. This is a dish we enjoy through winter months, by simply baking in the oven and basting with a barbecue-type sauce. I say “type,” because I grab what’s in the fridge and begin to concoct. I’ve cooked long enough to understand balance in sauces – sweet and sour – and I don’t need any recipes. Just the rack of pork ribs and my own blending.

This blend of varieties (Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan) was a perfect complement to my own sauce-de-jour.

The wine… Silky smooth, blueberries and plums, from Southern France’s wine region, it took me back to my grandfather’s secret blueberry patch, high on a hill in Sabattus, Maine. (yeah, he had one of those, too.) Michel Chapoutier must have had a similar summer experience, because he calls it “the smell of summer rain on stone.” The school driveway where we would park the car, before we began picking in the high blueberry bushes, gave us that aroma. This Rhône blend is one of the easiest wines to enjoy, in my humble opinion.

Both wines are so enjoyable and affordable, that I had to go for two European wines this week. Either one belongs on your shopping and/or easy enjoying list(s).

Cheers to your health!