Notes from Last Night’s Tasting: Agosto en España

Notes from Last Night’s Tasting: Agosto en España

Posted on Aug, 06. 2010 by

Categories: Events, Wine

What a sweet summer lineup we had last night…plenty of you dropped by, and even though our 2 air conditioners weren’t quite able to keep up with all that body heat, the chilled-down Txakolini surely was. Our “theme” was August in Spain; what I personally took home from it was an energetic mix of new and old world styling, steeped in tradition yet not afraid of innovation. That, to me, is Spain in a nutshell, and the contrast between the Muga and the Triton illustrated it exquisitely. My favorites:

2009 Ulacia Txakolina (Getariako Txakolina, Basque Coast)
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $16.14 • Premier Cru: $16.87 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $22.00
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I’m not afraid to admit that this was my first time with Txakolini (cha-ko-li-ni); I’ll also admit that I was very pleasantly surprised. Apparently, this slightly-effervescent white wine is traditionally poured from a glass pitcher with a long spout called a perron, directly into one’s mouth (or, for the less adventurous, into your glass). We didn’t have a perron handy, but the wine stands up on its own, regardless of the serving method. This is a bit like Vinho Verde on steroids…so much brilliant citrus, so much bright acidity, but everything is turned up to 11 without being overly ostentatious. Everyone who tasted this, including me, fell in love with this stuff. With at least a month and a half left of sweltering VA summer, this could not have come at a better time!

2006 Muga Reserva (Rioja)
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $19.79 • Premier Cru: $20.69 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $26.99
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Think this stuff lived up to the hype? At first, nah…but after decanting, it sure did. This is one of my very favorite Riojas…it’s approachable without being too opulent, rustic without tasting like a dirty barnyard. The tannic structure is assertive yet pleasant, and I just love (LOVE!) the depth of character. If you were a fly on the wall last night, you’d see me pacing around the Guild with a splash of the Muga, my nose shoved down into the glass, not wanting to take a sip and potentially ruin the spine-tingling beauty and clarity of the nose. Perhaps the dustiest Rioja I’ve come across, it punches you again and again with licorice, berries, pencil shavings, baking clay, etc., etc., etc. And did I mention that this stuff will last for 10 years or more!? A perfect cellar base, but one that’s showing beautifully now (after a bit of decanting, of course).

2008 Triton (Tierra del Vino)
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $13.94 • Premier Cru: $14.57 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $19.00
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This is the wild juxtaposition of old and new that I was talking about: going from the restrained, classic farmhouse style of the Muga, to an upstart new world cornucopia of oak, fruit and extraction. But as much as opulence in wine can be a huge turnoff for me, I found the Triton strangely compelling, and kept going back to it. Perhaps it was precisely the fact that it came right after the Muga in the lineup, or maybe it’s just that it’s a well-made wine for those who love big Aussie shiraz, without being cloying or fat. It still has a lively mouthfeel, never falling flat or tasting like new port like so many flunky Parkermania wanna-be’s do. But there’s just a ton of big aromas and flavors here anyway…the first thing everyone says when they smell it is “CHOCOLATE!” Not to mention, vanilla, raspberries and coffee… Really, honestly, a steal for under $15 if you like zin and shiraz.

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by. Cheers, and have a great weekend

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