Raimat Abadia

The Codorniu tasting was a long one. First the sparkling and then the still wines. I have to admit that after all those sparklings, I was beginning to get a bit tipsy, especially since this was an informal tasting session after work. But I soldiered on and sampled the wines of Raimat which is the still wine arm of Codorniu. A bit of background on Raimat. They are one of Spain’s most progressive winemakers today. Two years ago they brought in a whole new winemaking team and are using the latest technological advances to produce top quality wines. They even go so far as to do satellite mapping of their vineyards to analyze the soil. Raimat Abadia has been repackaged for 2008 to reflect all the new advances being made at Raimat. The vineyards are based in NE Spain, DO Costers del Segre in Catalunya. Their tagline is “Spanish wines beyond Rioja” and I think that they’ve proved that Spain has a lot more to offer then tempranillo. First up was the Raimat Abadia Crianza 2005. A blend of Cab. Sauv., Merlot and Tempranillo, aged 10 months in American oak and then a further 6 months in French. On the nose, aromas of plum and stewed fruits, a bit of spice and toast. A lovely medium bodied wine with more of those plummy fruits and hints of sweet spice and chocolate once I’d swished it around my mouth. I liked this wine, easy on it’s own or with a meal. The next two wines were whites. The Raimat Abadia Blanc de blanc 07, a blend of chardonnay and albarino. Albarino is unusual for this part of Spain as most of it is grown in the northwest, around Galicia. On pouring, aromas of tropical fruit and what I can only describe as pineapple pie hit me on my nose. This medium bodied wine had loads of pineapple flavours and hints of grapefruit on the finish. Very refreshing and I could imagine drinking it with a...

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Codorniu Cava

Working for a big wine merchant does have it’s advantages. Tuesday night the company invited the winemakers from Grupo Codorniu to come down and have a chat and informal tasting with us. There were about 25 of us from various London based shops. Grupo Codorniu is a Spanish owned and operated winery group based in northeast Spain, although they do have holdings in Argentina and Napa Valley as well. Codorniu  is one of the big boys in cava production. Cava (Catalan for “cellar”)is produced the same way as champagne but can’t be called champagne because you know how those Champenois are, they’d start howling bloody murder about copyright infringement and the lawsuits would be flying thick and fast. Codorniu have been in the wine biz since the 1500’s but have “only” been making cava since  the 1870’s. They were one of the pioneers in the commercialization of Spanish sparkling wine and have recently brought in a whole new winemaking team to improve their products.  One of the changes they’ve made is an overhaul of their bottle design. Very sexy now. There’s something almost primal about the design of the bottle that compels you to pick it up, the slender neck, the way it flares out at the bottom and the sleek feel beneath your fingers. I’m not the only one who’s had this reaction to the bottle design. I’ve heard quite a few comments in the shop regarding that. Kudos to the bottle designer on that one. Back to what’s INSIDE the bottle. In Spain, the main varieties used are indigenous – xarello, macabo and parellada. Recently, they’ve started using chardonnay and pinot noir although they are again prevented by EU law from putting pinot noir on the label except for pinot rose. The Tasting: Condesa Blanca Cava is their entry level sparkling. Light and fruity, big bubbles that disappeared fairly quickly, lots of green apple and pears with a hint of nuts and toast on the finish. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was,...

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Wine in a (peli)can

Last week was the London International Wine Fair and what a fair! I love going to this event. Checking out all the new products, finding new wines, revisting old favorites, talking to producers  or just admiring the sleek bottles, artfully arranged, sparkling under the Excel Center lights. Walking into that place, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Remember that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when the kids are let loose in the candy garden? I know exactly how those kids felt.  I didn’t know where to turn or which stand to go to first. It really can be a bit heart-stopping. First stop was a Friui tasting seminar that I’d signed up for earlier in the week. Lately I’ve been really interested in  Italian wines so I thought this would be an interesting seminar. It would have been if the speaker didn’t insist on speaking in a heavily accented dry monotone. The Friulis, from Northern Italy were mostly light and fruity with a striking tone of  minerality that I really enjoyed running thru all the samples we tasted. The most interesting thing that I came across from the show was the new brand Wild Pelican, wine in a can. According to their website, …”Our aim was to differentiate from the wine in cans already on the market…by taking a consumer perspective…creating a brand that allows (them) to explore some of the best wines…” in the world. So far, so good. What’s differentiates this brand from others, is that the wines are still, not sparkling. Caroline, the rep, gave me a couple of cans to take home and try. I have to admit, it’s a bit unsettling to pop open a can of wine but once it’s poured into the glass, you’d never know the difference. These are very well made wines. The first was a chenin blanc from S. Africa. Now, you know I’m not a big fan of S. African wines but this one was clean and...

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