On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Torres Anthologia Tasting

19 Mar 2021

(November 11, 2020) … A five-wine tasting, from 187ml bottles (cool), to look at the newest vintages of the Anthologia portfolio from Torres ... The “Anthologia” wines are described as the “creme de la crème” of the Torres portfolio of wines, these are limited in production and all made from company owned vineyards.

2017 Milmanda
History: “Milmanda was part of a root of medieval castles that gave shelter to Christians during the time of the reconquest period in the XIIth century peace came to these lands and vinegrowing began anew. Today, it is at the foot of [these] castle walls that the Torres family grows the Chardonnay that produces Milmanda."

The vines were planted in the 1980s and the wine is made using 300L barrels, 50% new wood (all French) and partial (50%) malolactic fermentation ... It remains in wood for around 4 to 6 months to retain its freshness.

The Wine Note ... 100% Chardonnay from Spain that actually tastes like Chardonnay – fresh with good acidity, lots of apple and lemon, hints of vanilla and butter, all mingle together but without being overpowered by the wood. Quite possibly the best Chardonnay from Spain I've had, and definitely the best I've had from Torres - this is quite impressive.  Rating: ****

oak fermenters

2016 Mas La Plana
History: “The first vintage of Mas La Plana was in the year 1970 with the name “Gran Coronas Etiqueta Negra”. The wine soon gained international recognition, winning in 1979 the wine Olympics in Paris, organized by the Gault-Millau magazine. The best French wines participated in this competition. In its beginnings, the wine Incorporated small amounts of Tempranillo, but the main variety was always Cabernet Sauvignon. Since 1978, the wine is made exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mas La Plana is a 29-hectare planting of Cabernet Sauvignon started back in the 1960s, at 300 m of elevation. The two soils within the vineyard create two very different outcomes with the grapes and while they are the same variety “it is like using two different grapes – so the wine is a “blend” of these grapes." interesting to note that during the making of this wine smaller grapes see wood fermenters while larger grapes go into steel. As for the old vine material – there is less of it every year, back in the 90’s 20% of the vines were replanted and 12 to 15% get renewed annually.

The Wine Note ... Lots of dark fruit like black cherry, kicks the wine off and continues to be at the heart of each sip – hits of mocha and spice also make an appearance with notes of violet on the finish. There's a nice purity and freshness to the wine with good acidity, while the cedar and tannins fight it out on the finish where a dichotomy of silky and gritty battle for supremacy.  Rating: ****

2016 Real Reserva
History: “Reserva Real was first produced in 1995 following up the visit of Juan Carlos I King of Spain to our winery. Reserva Real is one of our “Anthologia” wines with a very limited production. It comes from a very strict sorting of the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes from one of our parcels of Les Arnes (4 hectares only).”

The vineyard is 4 hectares in the middle of a forest that is full of slate and rocky soils (odd for Penedes) – the wine name actually translates to “Reserve of the King" – this vintage is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon / 15% Cabernet Franc and 12% Merlot aged 18 months in French barrels (90 plus percent new).

The Wine Note ... Floral and red fruit on the nose with good acid and spice leading the charge on the palate – plenty of dark fruit with a gentle smokiness and even some baked-cherry on the finish.  Rating: *** ½+

Garro Grapes2016 Grans Muralles
History: “The wine owes its name to the walls that protected the Poblet Monastery from mercenaries and wars. The unique identity of Grans Muralles rests on the stony slate grounds (Licorella and Granite) of the region and the great varieties grown there. A century after the phylloxera plague, the Torres family managed to recover native varieties believed to be extinct such as Garro or Querol using modern viticultural techniques. These great varieties together with Carinena, Garnacha and Monastrell, preserve the spirit of this unique wine.”

This 5 grape blend is unusual because it has “found" grape varieties – quite literally – in its make up - Garro and Querol were found in the backyards of fellow countrymen during a project where the Torres family invited people who had unknown varieties growing in their yard to come forth and Torres would DNA test them. The five grapes here are Grenache 42% (adding intensity of fruit), Carignan 40% (gives the tannin structure), Monastrell 5% (fruity) while the Garro and Querol, 3% and 10% respectively, (add seasoning to the blend). When asked about finding new vineyards to plant our host replied that it is a slow process: “when we explore a grape variety like Grenache in certain areas and regions we only have one chance per year to learn." Querol

The Wine Note ... Lovely, silky and smooth with subtle tannins and lots of fruit, both dark and red cherry with hints of vanilla and red licorice – soft, supple and sippable a nice balance of acidity, does a nice job of hiding that 14.5% alcohol.  Rating: ****+

2017 Mas de la Rosa
History: “Mas de la Rosa is one of the most hidden and beautiful valleys in the Priorat, place that historically was one of the first inhabited “masias” (Catalan word for farmhouse) in the area of Porrera. The whole Vineyard field blend of Garnacha and Carinena is about 80 years old, planted in “bush vines”. The vineyard only gets the morning sunshine, due to its orientation, and this, together with an altitude of about 500m above sea level and its aeration, provide a wine with naturally fresh characteristics.

The wine is a field blend of mainly Carignan and Grenache planted back in 1945, it's a two hectare piece of land located at the top of the hill with a 30% slope ... where only hand-harvesting is possible – the vines are also planted as ‘bush vines’. This is only the second vintage of this wine.

The Wine Note ... Simply put this wine is silky and juicy with lots of red berry notes (strawberry and cherry) with good acidity holding it all together ... It's fresh and lively with delicate floral notes and amazing freshness – the 14% alcohol is imperceptible and is just a beautiful wine to sip and contemplate the beauty of the world and the wisdom of keeping older vines in production.  Rating: ****+



The Monte Zovo Tasting on Zoom

09 Feb 2021

(November 4, 2020) ... You may have seen the Monte Zovo name on bottles of Italian wine while perusing the shelves of our liquor monopoly here in Ontario – or maybe (when we could), while wandering wine shops in Italy or around the world. Today, some principles from the winery joined us via Zoom to discuss the wines they make and the vineyards they come from.

Owned by the Contini family Monte Zovo is a four-generation wine family that can date its roots in agriculture back to 1925.

Monte Zovo owns 140 hectares over three estates:

Caprino Estate - their Lake Garda vineyard, at about 450 m above sea level ... and their most northerly vineyard.

Tregnago Estate – the estate where grape drying occurs for Ripasso and Amarone wines; located in eastern Valpolicella at 300 to 600 m above sea level and is dubbed there "valpolicella vineyard".

Le Civaie Estate – their most “southerly” vineyard, aka the Lugana Vineyard, at much lower elevation (130 m above sea level).

They also have access to an additional 240 hectares which are not owned by the family, but “supervised” by them. Through the years they have learned that high elevation is very important to the making of their wines because it provides better diurnal temperature plus sun exposure and ventilation to the grapes.

They have two lines of wines that come out of their winery – the main line Monte Zovo and their secondary wine Villa Annaberta ... the difference between the two labels are:

Monte Zovo ... Classic line “real expression of terrior”, more refined, elegant and ageable – grapes come from high altitude vineyards that are 100% family-owned.

Villa Annaberta ... This easy going, more consumer friendly line described by the family as "juicy and velvety" – 30% of the grapes are from family-owned vineyards, 70% from suppliers, and most from the eastern area at medium to high altitude.

Two of the wines tasted are Ripasso wines from the 2017 vintage, described as "very hot”, but because of the planting being at such high altitude was a help with temperature regulation. Low-lying vineyards did get some frost, but higher vineyards did not suffer the same fate.Monte Zovo Wines


The Wines ...

Monte Zovo 2017 Sa’Solin Valpolicella Ripasso
$19.95 - Italy - #650713
The name of the wine refers to the soil the grapes are grown in, “Sa Solini” - little stones. It's 70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone and 10% Rondinella, grown at 350 to 450 m above sea level ... Re-fermented with Amarone skins then aged 18 months in French barrique and tonneau (large barrels). Baked and fresh fruit with spiced-cherry, cassis, and cocoa with a lovely easy finish – the acidity balances the tannins – this one is easily ageable 5 to 7 years.  (*** ½+)

Villa Annaberta 2017 Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore
$18.35 – Italy – #378091
This incredibly palate friendly Ripasso is made from 60% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 10% Molinaro and Oseleta that was re-fermented with Reciotto pumice (instead of the usual Amarone) – aged 24 months in big barrels and conical shaped tanks. Lots of cherry and white pepper provide the basis for this supple and easy drinking cherry-fruit-forward wine.  (*** ½)

Villa Annaberta 2015 Amarone della Valpolicella
$38.95 – Italy - #433961
The makeup of this wine is 70% Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella – the rest is a winery secret – only hand-harvested and dried in the “Frutaio” (ventilated room) for 3 to 4 months, then aged 24 months in a mix of barrique and tonneau. As described in the opening, and description of Annaberta, this wine is another fruit forward number with plenty of spiced-cherry and other red fruits. On the finish: red currants, vanilla and mocha all make an appearance.  (****)


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