The ICC group met on Thursday 3rd March for a Tasting of Wines from the  – rather vaguely defined – area of North West Spain.

In fact we sampled: an Albariño from Rias Baixas; a Godello from Valdorras; two Mencia – one blended from Ribeiro and a varietal from Bierzo; and two wines from Ribera del Duero.

Here are my notes:

DO FERREIRO ALBARIÑO, RIAS BAIXAS 2014     12½ %     Wine Society – £14
This had a pear fruit note with citrus beneath, hints of apple and floral appear too. The palate is quite rich with a very mineral, almost salty, centre and a warm nervous finish. The fruit has lemon flavour with lighter acidity and persists well.
Ratings: Quality: 14/20     Value: 14/20

GABA DO XIL GODELLO, VALDEORRAS 2014     13 %      Wine Society – £10
Nose has lemons and pears again, but with a heavier impression – a rather woody (though not oak) hint and quite a brooding, dense, nose. Plate is warm and richly textured with a slightly spicy, even tannic, grain. Peach and quince fruit with lemon and mineral structure. Quite unusual.
Ratings: Quality: 13.5/20     Value: 14.5/20

CASAL DE PAULA TINTO, RIBEIRO 2012      12½ %      Fareham Wine Cellar  – £12
This is an equal blend of four local grapes including Mencia. The wine has an immediate sweet vanilla nose, receding to reveal a leather note and red plums. Palate has a grainy sourness, loganberry fruit and a dusty, earthy element recalling some Portuguese styles. Refreshing, food friendly acidity but quite simple.
Ratings: Quality: 13/20     Value: 14/20

MANIUM, BIERZO 2010      14 %      Stone Vine and Sun – £13
This 100% Mencia has garrique style herbs, leafy black fruit then leather on the nose. A good dash of red fruit acid – raspberry and cherry (?), but the palate is simpler than the nose. Opens later to give warmer and darker fruit with a chocolate finish. Improves in the glass and may need a couple of years to earn an extra point.
Ratings: Quality: 14.5/20     Value: 15/20

EL LAGAR DE ISILLA RIBERA DEL DUERO CRIANZA 2010      15 %      Stone Vine and Sun – £16
Mulberry fruit, vanilla, pepper on the nose and then a leather hint. Palate is supple and warm (spice and alcohol warm) with a creamy texture clothing strong tannins. Lots of power and grip in a (well gloved) supple package.
Ratings: Quality: 15/20     Value: 15/20

VIÑA PEDROSA RESERVA RIBERA DEL DUERO 2010      14 %        Wine Society – £25
Herby fruit with oak expressed as a bready note, blackberry fruit and a slightly gamey hint. The palate is very intense but integrated with a dark fruit acid line and slightly earthy, framing tannin. Long and expansive, very warm fruit and beautiful balance.
Ratings: Quality: 16.5/20     Value: 15/20

A tasting that showed the unusual character of the Galician wines, but reminded one of the quality of Tempranillo.

There were small quantities left of the wines. So I cooked with the first three (poached pears with the whites and sauce with the Ribeiro) and vacuumed the last three to taste with roast lamb. To this I added a 1991 (!) Pata Negra Gran Reserva from Valdepeñas, which was wonderfully smooth and creamy with long integrated fruit, tannins, wood and chocolate . The Pata Negra was lovely to drink alone but the other reds seemed improved by 24 hours and food. The Pedrosa Reserva was staggeringly good in this context – framing and augmenting the sweet depth of the lamb… and, IMO, worth its price. However you can get the Gran Reserva 2006 for about half that price… and wait 15 years? It might be worth it…

Until next time…