Today’s Cellar Note takes us on a tasting tour of four Spanish wine regions: Rías Baixas, Rueda, Rioja and Jerez. All four wines are imported by Gonzáles Byass USA and all are priced under $20 per bottle. We received all four wines as tasting samples.
After five generations in the wine business, Gonzáles Byass remains family-owned. What began in 1835 with Sherry and Brandy production now includes wine brands produced throughout Spain. Premium spirits have also been added to the portfolio. González Byass USA also represents a number of international wineries in the US market.
We paired this diverse collection of Spanish wines with Cochinita Pibil tacos. All paired well with our meal, but I must admit the Sherry was my least favorite pairing. Disclaimer: I’m still learning about Sherry.
I have made Cochinita Pibil many times and base my preparation on a recipe by Rick Bayless. The slow-cooked pork is spiced with achiote, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, oregano and citrus. It is a dynamite recipe. Add pickled onions and you’re all set.
2016 Pazo de Lusco Albariño, Rías Baixas — medium yellow in the glass with concentrated white flower and citrus aromas. Floral, citrus, cedar and intense mineral flavors combine for a concentrated, complex flavor profile. Herbaceous notes sneak into the background as well. The wine finishes with juicy acidity and has just a bit of weight in the mouth. 13% abv. SRP $19.99
This 100% Albariño is one of the more complex examples of the variety we have tasted. It has nice body and concentrated flavors. It is a brilliant wine to sip on its own, but it also paired beautifully with our meal, which was a bit spicy and complex itself.
Based on the technical sheet for this wine the 2016 growing season in Rías Baixas sounds like it was a challenge: less than normal rainfall in fall and winter, excessive rainfall during budding, mildew in May and June, and a delayed harvest due to rain early in the growing season.
The Albariño was fermented with indigenous yeasts in a temperature-controlled setting. The wine rested on the lees for 6 months to add body.
2017 Beronia Verdejo, Rueda — light yellow-green in the glass with generous aromas of honeysuckle and dry oat hay. Bright flavors of citrus, dried herbs, dusty minerals finish with citrus pith and adequate acidity. 13% abv. SRP $12.99
This wine has lovely aromatics and at $12.99 it is a steal. Verdejo is a variety we don’t often taste, but when we do, we always appreciate doing so. This taste a good reminder that Verdejo is perfect for summer sipping.
2017 was one of the most challenging recent vintages in Rueda DO (Denominación de Origen). Spring frosts decreased vineyard yields in some areas, June and July brought high temperatures and veraison commenced three weeks early at the end of July.
This Verdejo is the result of two harvests and two fermentations in the wine cellar. The early harvest was fermented at warmer temperatures to develop the aromatics of the wine. The later harvest was fermented at cooler temperatures to add concentration and complexity to the flavor profile. The result is a delicious, food-friendly white wine. Well-done!
2017 Beronia Rosé, Rioja — pale rose color in the glass with restrained berry aromas. Flavors of sour cherries, ripe blackberries and dusty earth finish with a bit of citrus. The result is a pleasant, refreshing glass of wine. 13% abv. $12.99
Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura comprise the blend of this friendly, dry rosé. It will please a wide variety of dry rosé drinkers and the wine actually gained complexity when paired with our meal. Sometimes a wine can get lost when paired with food, but this wine went the other direction. And, once again, at $12.99 you can’t go wrong. I also appreciate the relatively low alcohol level in all three of these wines.
My ability to describe Sherry is very limited and I find writing tasting notes for them very frustrating. What I can say about this Fino is that this is a lighter, lower alcohol style of Sherry that is delicious to sip chilled. I hope that is helpful.
Sherry is a distinctive wine made only in the Jerez region of southern Spain. Palomino grapes are used to produce this Fino Sherry and only the mosto yema (the free run and first-press must) is used for this Sherry. Fermentation is completed at between 11% and 12% alcohol, then fortified to 15.5% alcohol.
Aging takes place under a layer of yeast called flor. The wine ages under the flor for a minimum of four years in the Solera system characteristic of Sherry. It’s a labor of love.
Thanks to Donna White Communications for inspiring this delicious wine and food pairing. Here’s hoping there are many delicious wine and food pairings in your future.