Today’s post is from our guest wine contributor Emilio Guerra, who is the Regional Manager for Dreyfus Ashby & Co., purveyors of fine wines. Click here to read Emilio’s previous articles on South Florida Food and Wine.
We have learned about the great red wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, about Galicia’s outstanding whites and visited Jerez de la Frontera for dry and sweet Sherry as well as its smooth and flavorful Brandies. Yet there is one major wine region in Spain we have not visited which many forget to consider when buying wine.
Penedes is a large wine growing area located in the Northeast corner of Spain influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and the mountain passes that create its varied and unique microclimates. This region is famous for Cava production (Spain’s sparkling wine) and the sub-regions of Priorat and Conca de Barbera.
When visiting, there is no better place to stay than the city of Barcelona. If you have been there you know what I mean, if not, put it on your list of cities to visit. Barcelona is magical and you feel it just by walking around; is full of history, architecture, art, cathedrals, shops, great food, and fun loving people Barcelona is a city that never sleeps.
Schedule a day-trip to nearby St. Sadurni d’Anoia and visit the great Cava houses like Codorniu, Freixenet and Marques de Monistrol. Here is where you discover why Cava is so delicious and such a great value. Made in the traditional method (like Champagne) Cava is tart, clean, refreshing and makes a great aperitif.
Your second day-trip should be to Vilafranca del Penedes to visit the Miguel Torres winery for an unforgettable experience. Miguel Torres, Sr., along with his friend Jean Leon, were the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Spain back in the late 60’s. Torres was also the first to work with grapes like Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling and to this day he continues to make some of the best whites and roses in Spain. Try a bottle of Torres Vina Esmeralda (off-dry) with Sushi and the Sangre de Toro Rose with Tapas.
For the food pairing with the Sangre de Toro Rose I could not think of anyone more fitting than the Tapas Queen herself, Foodalogue.com, a.k.a. Joan Nova. Joan and her recipes have appeared many times on this site. As a lover of all things Spanish culture, you are able to taste all that inspires Joan in most of her recipes. Today I chose five of her Tapas that are easy, fabulously flavorful and perfectly paired with this Rosé. Tortilla de Patatas (Potato Omelet), Potaje de Garbanzos y Chorizo (Stewed Chickpeas and Spanish Sausage), Shrimps a la Plancha with Piquillo Sauce, Mushrooms al Ajillo, Egg + Anchovy Tapas. Click here for the recipes.
On the red side, enjoy a Gran Sangre de Toro with a tender churrasco steak or splurge and buy his famous Mas La Plana Black Label, the only Spanish wine to have beaten France’s first growths in a blind tasting. Enjoy it with succulent rabbit, braised short ribs or mushroom risotto.
Finally, spend your last day in Priorat where wine has been made since the 12th century but only recently recognized as one of Spain’s best wine growing areas. Some of the most unique and awe inspiring vineyards in the world are there, literally carved out of the mountainside. Hot days and cool nights along with the slate based soil create big, bold wines made from Grenache and Carignan with some Cabernet and Syrah thrown in. These are monster wines, made in limited quantities that merit their higher cost. My favorites are: Clos Mogador, Clos Martinet, L’Ermita and the value priced Salmos. These wines are perfect with the “cheese course” at the end of the meal or with grilled lamb or steak. Good recent vintages: 2007, 2008, 2009
Originally published in part Taste duVin © 2012