On Monday, November 10th, I took the opportunity to brush up on my Spanish wine knowledge at the 21st Annual Spain's Great Match at the SLS Bazaar in Beverly Hills. The noon seminar began with the ever-entertaining Steven Olson, wine geek and educator, whom presented us with his traveled tales of Spain's mountainous terroir and 8 white and red pours of wine for our palate's exploration. During his back and forth visits to the various D.O.s in Northern Spain, he was able to try spectacular varietals from local winemakers, predominantly white in one area and red in the other. As much as he enjoyed the separate experiences, sometimes, he joked, he just wanted a little bit of both.
The two D.O.s he referred to were the D.O. Ribera del Duero and the D.O. Rueda. First founded in 1980, the D.O. Rueda produces a vast amount of Verdejo wines. While the widespread trend of adding Savignon Blanc to the blending process with Verdejo was more prevalent in the past, its popularity has subsided recently. Due to the calcareous soil, higher mountain side elevation and cool breezes of this Northern Spain area, more attention has been given to winemakers producing a naturally more acidic grape product, with more minerality and leanness; making the addition of the Savignon Blanc less necessary.
Olson selected four different Verdejos for seminar guests that ranged from $20-$35 at a suggested retail price. I was able to taste the Martinsancho Verdejo 2013, the Robert Vedel Cepas Viejas Verdejo 2012, Cuvee Especial 2012 and the Naiades Verdejo 2011. I especially enjoyed the Naiades Verdejo, which displayed subtle notes of oak and vanilla. This particular Verdejo was head pruned form 80-100 year-old vines and stood out amongst the other, more bright and acidic pours.
Spain has a high production of wine, but a low yield, Olson explained. Much of the wine they produce, they drink just as quickly. Wine is almost always paired with the meals served in Spain...and who could blame them? That's how I roll! Wouldn't it be great to have the sure availability of both the red and white wines from these producing neighbors? Hence, this year's Great Match gathering at The SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills was to announce the reunion of the D.O. Ribera del Duero and the D.O. Rueda, aka the new "power couple" in Spanish wine. Northern Spain's Castilla y Leon's new partnership of both D.O.s will make an enticing DUO for curious international wine drinkers and Spanish locals as well.
Attendees were able to taste over 200 Spanish wines while noshing on rustic bread with a tomato jam, marinated olives an cured Serrano ham. Some special Jamón ibérico even made appearance at one of the wine tables. Amidst the typical Verdejos and Tempranillos varietals available at the event, I was also able to discover some lovely scattered Rosés, Sherries, Cavas and blends. I was definitely spoiled with my number 8 tasting of the Aalto 2011 (D.O. Ribera del Duero), which retails at about $50 per bottle. Luckily, some of these well-matched white and red Spanish finds will now be available in the Los Angeles area. To learn more about Rueda Whites and Ribera Reds and where to find them, visit winesfromspainusa.com.