Thursday night found us in NY at a Spanish wine and tapas tasting put on by Vibrant Rioja, an arm of the DOC devoted to promoting the wines of the region. And although the food was good if not plentiful enough, the wines were outstanding. We started with a couple of roses. one from Cune which is a 100% Tempranillo cuvee, and one from Bodegas Carlos Serres called "Serres", a 50-50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. The Cune was my favorite of the two, with bright, light red berry aromas of strawberry and raspberry along with complicating floral notes. I'm a huge rose fan, especially as we move into the warmer months and this is one bottling I'll be looking for. The Serres had a beautiful ruby color and was also tasty though not nearly as aromatic as the Cune. Both were from the 2011 vintage. The Cune should cost around $12.99 and the Serres around $9.99.
We also tasted a fantastic Rioja Crianza from a producer I was not familiar with. The 2008 from Dinastia Vivanco featured beautiful smoky cherry aromas with distinct earth notes, great medium bodied dark berry and plum flavors and excellent balance and length. This Crianza is fermented in French oak and aged for 16 months in French and American oak followed by another 6 months in bottle before being released. You should be able to find this bottling for around $12.99.
We also got to taste two of Mugas top bottlings, the Torre Muga and the Prado Enea. Muga is one of the oldest and best Rioja producers. I got the end of the last bottle of Prado Enea which sells for around $45 and didn't really get enough of it. The 2005 Torre Muga though was other wordly. This is a $65 dollar bottling comprised of 75% Tempranillo, with the rest of the blend made up of Mazuela and Graciano. Aged for 18 months in new French oak followed by a year in bottle prior to release, this wine has all you expect from a top bottling. Really complex aromas of plum and cassis, coffee, smoke, earth and brown spices. It's got very large scaled, full bodied flavors and a really long finish.
As I mentioned, the food was really lacking in quantity. There were supposed to be tapas like "Cappuccino of scallops, cauliflower and squid ash" and "Pears and red wine foam" but we didn't see any of these. We basically snacked on Spanish salamis, olives and almonds. We did spy a sever with a tray of the beef sliders toward the end of the tasting and we practically attacked her for her wares. Still, at $25 each for the cost of the tasting, this was a good value. At tastings like these, you have to taste the expensive wines first because everybody wants them and they run out early. Cheers.