Martín Códax Burgáns 2004 – A pretty note of spice to an otherwise floral nose, with orange and apples of all type: very tart apple, red apple, granny smith, and ripe pear hints, it ends soft and crisp with white pepper and some melon. Very well balanced and capable of a few years in the bottle.
And the slightly more expensive Codax bottling of Martin Codax Albariño 2004 was just as impressive, with lots of pretty layers of apple, melon, orange, barely floral, some generous notes that almost show mango or papaya. The wine was friendly, soft, and creamy, with apple, orange, melon and a hint of white pepper; it has lovely balance and some few years ahead of it, if you don’t get thirsty first.
A pair of Valdemor wines: Valdemor Albariño 2004 with a bright orange, mango, and apricot nose with hints of wet cinnamon and wet nutmeg, as well as baked green tart apples; this is full and fun, with apricot, mango, and red apple, and showing some length.
And Valdemor Albariño Barrica 2002, which showed plenty of barrel fermentation smells, but they tended only to enhance the apricot, mango, and apple notes with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. The flavors were lemony, with red apple, mango and orange notes growing under black pepper, cinnamon and clove hints. Since it had some barrel time, it had good length, and was friendly and fun, with crisp fruit at the end. But at the end of the day, I remain a bit ambivalent. I think it ought to be treated as a complex aromatic white wine, like a Riesling, and not like the Chardonnay most would assume it resembles.
Albariño di Fefinanes 2004 from Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes was a strange animal. The wine looked mature, even old, but had fresh fruit smells of apricot and peach slices with notes of lemon and green apple. There were pretty notes of honey and wet nutmeg, and the mouth was round, clean, and pleasant with baked apple, honey, and lemon. Still, I can’t imagine it has a lot of time ahead of it, and I’m sure it wants simple foods.
A slew of Albariños to report as well, starting with Terras Gauda’s Abadia di San Campio 2004 – A nose of lime and apricot, and an almost orange fizzies zing to it, this shows a note of sweetness in its round, red apple and pear mouth. The pretty fruit character doesn’t mean it can’t handle virtually any fish or shellfish; it can and did with some grilled grouper.
Freixenet has a number of interesting brands coming out of Spain that are not Cava from the home base in Penedes. One is Creu de Lavit 2003, made from the Pansa Blanca’ grape (it’s called Xarel-lo in Cava country) and the grape strikes me as the most interesting grape in Cava. On its own in this bottle, it’s pretty cool as well.
The 2003 has a fresh and full nose with light florals (lavender), lime leaf, lime zest, orange zest, lots of green apple, and lemon zest. While fairly short, the wine is round and friendly, with sweet Meyer lemon, a touch of allspice, orange meat, and decent length with a little touch of dried herb at the end. I’m sure it needs to be consumed fresh, but it has real texture from the brief time in oak, but never sacrifices fresh fruit character for the oak texture.
What may be bewildering to people reading this is how the bottle of Tio Pepe they tasted five years ago was so different from my description. Let me help you with that problem. My bottle was FRESH. Freeeeessssh. It makes all the difference. If your bottle was open for a few weeks and sitting on a back bar at a restaurant, you haven’t really tasted Tio Pepe.
If you’re a restaurateur reading this, and you own that bottle half full sitting on the back bar for the last two months, do everyone a favor. Throw it away. Or cook with it.
Fresh Tio Pepe is bracing. And it’s an icon. The salt and the tang are all tied up together in the lemons, limes, oranges, green apples and almonds. It finishes with dried apple skins.
My fresh bottle of La Ina had intense and slightly heady flor smells, with almond meat, lemon, apple, lime leaf, and some orange. The mouth was crisp, clean, nutty, focused, and had a nutty/lemon pith end, with a touch of orange, lemon curd, red apple, even some fig. Sound complex? It was. And it showed delicacy, even at 17% alcohol.
Having a bottle of Domecq Manzanilla at the dinner table brought out a curious synergy. It had the usual salty, nutty nose with red apple and crisp citrus aromas. The mouth was classic Manzanilla: the light, tangy, and juicy notes of grapefruit, orange, lemon, almond meat and red apple. Good length.
But the interesting part was how it didn’t, as is so often presupposed, enjoy salty foods as much as it did oily foods. Almonds, olives and the like went limp. But with calamari, with oily sardines, oivay como va!
Joan Sarda Cava Brut – This is distinctly toasty and dramatic cava that wants simple foods to strut its stuff. Layers of fruits such as orange, peach, cherry and red apple, with many of the same notes at the mild and pleasing end.