Compania de Vinos del Atlantico Gordo 2014 ($14.99)
From the producer:
"Gordo is Patrick Mata's affectionate way of calling his father, Jose Mata. For almost four generations, Patrick's family produced wine in Malaga, Montilla, Sanlucar, Rioja and other Spanish regions. These wines were sold in many countries, including the US, before and after prohibition. During the 60s, the demand of Malaga wines suffered greatly, which ultimately resulted in the Mata winery closing its doors in 1972. The wine Gordo pays tribute to the Mata winemaking heritage and, specifically, to Patrick's father. The Gordo label is a replica of one of the family labels from the late 1800s. Today, after a few decades, Patrick and Alberto through Vinos Atlantico are resurrecting their family heritage and producing wines in many regions throughout the Iberian Peninsula, including this rich yet elegant blend of Monastrell and Cabernet from the southeast of Spain.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?: A personal wine that pays tribute to Patrick's father. Produced from dry farmed vineyards. Vines are tended in chalk soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation. This type of soil and the elevation result in wines that exhibit greater freshness with lifted flavors.
GRAPE: 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines planted since 1970. Tended in chalk and limestone soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Try Gordo with blue cheese, stews, spicy chili and similar hearty dishes. This wine has the heft on the palate and spice to pair well with BBQ with serious heat, pulled pork sliders and “five alarm” BBQ chicken wings.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Harvest takes place in the cool, early morning hours. The best bunches are selected and undergo a gentle crush. Whole clusters with stems undergo maceration at a cool temperature (59 F). Each grape variety is fermented separately. After fermentation, the skins and stems are kept together in a post-fermentation extended maceration for seven days. Malolactic fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks. After ageing for three months in oak barrels that are two years old, the Monastrell and Cabernet are blended. The wine is bottled after one month in the tanks."
This is the new vintage, which I have not yet tried. That said, Gordo is one of the first Spanish wines I ever tried, and I fell in love with it. Monastrell is a grape typical to the southeast and often vinified as a varietal wine. Here it is blended with a little Cabernet, and the balance is just right. I think that the two varietals are vinified and aged separately before blending gives the wine a more complex character. This is a great cross-over wine for people who tend to drink California Cabs.
A Portela Mencia 2014 ($17.99)
From the producer:
"A unique wine produced with the rare Mencía grape (pronounced Men-THEE-ah). Mencía only grows in northwest Spain. In this case, A Portela comes from Valdeorras, which is one of the most inland wine regions of Galicia. During Roman times Valdeorras was known for its gold, hence its name, the valley of Gold. The vines are tended in granite and slate soil. The high elevation of this precious small part of Galicia produces Mencía grapes that are different from other Galician wine regions, flavors tend to be more uplifted, more floral, brighter, and very pretty! A Portela is all unoaked to emphasize the purity and delicate flavors and aromas of this grape. It is produced from estate-owned grapes that are organically grown. A Portela signifies the doorstep to heaven. It is also the name of the high elevation hill of 5 hectares (12 acres) located in the town of Larouco (province of Ourense), where the Mencía vines that make this profound mineral wine come from. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is a superb value made from estate owned organically grown grapes. All the grapes come from the specific high elevation site of A Portela. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA. The Sharon family possesses the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation. A Portela is made with the best 20% of the vineyard land of the Sharon family. The mineral character of A Portela gives the wine a special identity.
GRAPE: 100% Mencia. Vines planted from 1976 - 1990. Tended in clay, granite and slate soil from 500 - 700 m (1,640 - 2,625 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Herb-roasted chicken, pork loin or even salmon would be divine. And some sautéed mushrooms...
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After harvest, the skins mix with the unfermented juice for five days at 45F. This pre-fermentation “cold soak” enhances the wines aromas, color and flavor. Once fermentation has taken place, the skins spend another 10 days in tanks to extract all beneficial colors and tannins. The wine is aged 7 months in stainless steel to emphasize the pure, young flavor of the Mencía grape.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district and within Ourense province. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco, at 500 meters (1,640 ft) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter and the vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 pounds) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 pounds) per vine in Valdeorras. The surface of the granite and slate soil is warmed by sunlight during the day and provides heat to the roots, which encourages the grapes to continue ripening during the cool nights. Lower yields result in more concentrated grapes providing more intense aromas and flavors in the wines. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 64.4F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 32 inches of yearly rainfall. Being one of the lowest levels of precipitation in the region helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in bright wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: A pure Mencia that exhibits aromas reminiscent of dried flowers and sliced strawberries. The palate is loaded with upfront fruit, plenty of fine tannins, a good backbone of acidity and a clean finish."
My mom recently returned from a walking trip in this area of Spain, and she found Mencia everywhere she went, though in the States it's a fairly esoteric varietal. This wine is a lovely example of the style, has earned high ratings, and is perfect as we transition from summer to fall. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, it features bright red fruit and a mild acidity. This is definitely a wine that I prefer to pair with food.