SPAIN

Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.

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  1. ALVARO PALACIOS 2017 LES TERRASSES

    Item #: i_378696
    Bottle Size: 750ML
    James Suckling: 92
    Decanter: 92 Points
    55% Garnacha & 45% Carinena

    DECANTER 92 POINTS - "Luxurious aromas of plums, violets and cedar with delicious red fruit quality. Palate is fresh, with nice concentration and soft tannins."

    JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Enveloping black-cherry and blueberry aromas, but also notes of licorice and smoke. A bold and powerful Priorat with discreet oak and plenty of freshness. The tannins are supple and beautifully integrated, the finish generous and polished."

    While originally conceived of as a value wine, Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes" has slowly evolved into the essence of what makes Priorat special. Drawing on 15+ years of study, Terrasses is sourced from many of the region's steepest and oldest vineyards-many of them north-facing to avoid the intense afternoon sun. With the 2007 vintage, Alvaro acknowledged Les Terrasses' "graduation" by adding the "Velles Vignes" designation to the label.

    The son of the owners of Rioja's Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios spent his early 20s working and studying winemaking outside of Spain. His experience abroad - particularly in Bordeaux - instilled in him a deep passion for great wines and led him to return to Spain. With the ambition to make wines that could be world-class. To achieve this dream, Palacios was drawn to the historic hillsides of slate soil and its traditional grape varieties of Garnacha and Carinena. Now widely considered to be among the more important new Spanish wineries in a generation, Alvaro Palacios embodies the spirit of "The New Spain."
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  2. BODEGAS Y VINEDOS MERAYO 2016 LAS TRES FILAS MENCIA, BIERZO

    Item #: i_383584
    Bottle Size: 750ml
    James Suckling: 95
    JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Impressive fresh, peppery and spicy aromas with dark berries and graphite. The palate has glossy, ripe tannins and an attractive, long, shimmery finish. Full of interest and detail. Saturated with flavor. Drink or hold."
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  3. BODEGAS Y VINEDOS RAUL PEREZ 2017 BIERZO TINTO ULTREIA SAINT JACQUES

    Item #: i_383458
    Bottle Size: 750ml
    Wine Advocate: 93
    Decanter: 93 Points
    PRACTICING ORGANIC

    We love the wines of Raul Perez, not only because they walk the appetizing line between fruity and savory, but because they are like impressionist landscapes of their home. Over the last 15 years Raul Perez has gained a strong following because of his prolific 'vinography', including wines that explore the growing areas near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the region of Bierzo. Bierzo is a departure from the inland valleys and Mediterranean coast as it's distinctly cooler and wetter due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, though well protected from storms, nestled in a mountainous amphitheater. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines, whose style roams the spaces between Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Northern Rhone Syrah depending on the character of the vintage and site.

    Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is very classical, involving harvesting from old, mixed variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely as the whole grape clusters slowly break down; he then leaves the juice in contact with skins for long periods (a total of 1-3 months!) to gently extract the right amount of flavor and texture for the desired style. Aging takes place in older, used barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors with oak. Raul also avoids adding sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement.

    This is a great introduction to the wines of Bierzo and Raul Perez and is priced to buy a case of while it lasts! Decanter gave this wine 93 points and describes it as having "bright, fresh blueberry and cranberry fruit with a rasp of tannin and a savory, saline sign-off" and the Wine Advocate summarizes it as "clean, floral...produced in a fresh and very drinkable way. This is one of the best values from Bierzo and Spain." A perfect wine to serve cool as the weather warms!

    WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The clean, floral and 2017 Ultreia Saint Jacques comes mostly from old vineyards from different soils in Valtuille and Villadecanes fermented in stainless steel and oak vats with part of full clusters and matured in used barriques for one year. It's produced in a fresh and very drinkable way. This is one of the best values from Bierzo and Spain, and a great introduction to Bierzo. It's a more serious wine than what the wine was when it was first produced, fresh and elegant. It's very reliable and a great value."

    DECANTER 93 POINTS - "A field blend of Mencia, Alicante Bouschet, Pan y Carne and some white varieties, fermented with natural yeast in old oak tanks using 100% stems and no temperature control. It undergoes malo in tank and then spends one year in old barrels. There's no remontage or pigeage, and he works without sulphites. This has bright, fresh blueberry and cranberry fruit with a rasp of tannin and a savoury, saline sign-off."
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  4. DESCENDIENTES DE JOSE PALACIOS 2016 CORULLON

    Item #: i_376881
    Bottle Size: 750ml
    Wine Advocate: 95
    PRACTICING BIODYNAMIC & ORGANICALLY FARMED

    WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS -"The village wine 2016 Corullón (which might carry the new category "Vino de Villa" for the 2017 vintage if it's approved by the EU soon enough) was hitting on all cylinders when I tasted it. It had a very clean nose, elegant, insinuating, ethereal, perfumed and subtle, without a trace of excess in any direction. It took time to unfurl its notes of violets, wild herbs and spices. The palate had terrific balance, very refined tannins and subtle, integrated acidity with subdued minerality and a long, dry and almost salty finish. This has to be among the best years for Corullón. There are 20,355 bottles and some larger (and smaller) formats. It was bottled in June 2018."

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  5. DESCENDIENTES DE JOSE PALACIOS 2017 PETALOS

    Item #: i_380113
    Bottle Size: 750ML
    PRACTICING BIODYNAMIC & ORGANICALLY FARMED

    We are so excited that another dynamite vintage of Petalos has just arrived. Think burgundy with a hint of Northern Rhone syrah.

    During the late 1980's, Alvaro Palacios traveled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain's greatest wines. Alvaro wanted-incredibly steep hillside vineyards, distinctive terroirs and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of Mencia—a unique red grape believed to be brought by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, his nephew Ricardo Perez had finished enological studies in Bordeaux and was traveling across France-absorbing everything he could about great wines. He worked the harvest at Chateau Margaux, and did internships at other Bordelais firms like Moueix (Petrus, Trotanoy, etc.). He also visited Alvaro frequently and came to share a belief in Bierzo's potential. In 1998, the two decided on a joint venture and set out in search of the region's finest old vineyards. Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo's western border named Corullon. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor-composed mostly of schist-but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy's Cote d'Or, or Piedmont's Langhe hills. In Corullon, Alvaro and Ricardo believe they have found a unique combination of soils, old vines, and a distinctive variety that will yield their own grands crus.

    This beautiful wine is delicate with highly suggestive floral aromas displaying violets and dried roses along with hints of black fruit and roasted coffee. With it's Pinot Noir-like quality, it's medium body and velvety texture evokes notions of ripe black fruit on the palate and mineral undertones. Tannins are soft and well integrated, good acidity and a kiss of smokiness on the finish.
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  6. RAUL PEREZ 2016 LA VIZCAINA LA VITORIANA LOMAS DE VALTIULLE

    Item #: i_383758
    Bottle Size: 750ml
    Wine Advocate: 96
    PRACTICING ORGANIC

    We love the wines of Raul Perez, not only because they walk the appetizing line between fruity and savory, but because they are like impressionist landscapes of their home. Over the last 15 years Raul Perez has gained a strong following because of his prolific 'vinography', including wines that explore the growing areas near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the region of Bierzo. Bierzo is a departure from the inland valleys and Mediterranean coast as it's distinctly cooler and wetter due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, though well protected from storms, nestled in a mountainous amphitheater. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines, whose style roams the spaces between Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Northern Rhone Syrah depending on the character of the vintage and site.

    Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is very classical, involving harvesting from old, mixed variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely as the whole grape clusters slowly break down; he then leaves the juice in contact with skins for long periods (a total of 1-3 months!) to gently extract the right amount of flavor and texture for the desired style. Aging takes place in older, used barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors with oak. Raul also avoids adding sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement.

    La Vizcaína is a newer line of wines based on old family vineyards, and the small 'La Vitoriana' vineyard is the oldest of those at 130 years! A step up in richness and complexity, with more mineral, spice and roasted notes from barrel aging. The Wine Advocate says that "it's subtle and elegant with a velvety texture, with lots of energy and inner strength" and that Perez "feels 2016 is the year that best represents the character of the place. I'd add it's probably the best vintage so far." This is the wine to drink over the coming years with your protein-rich meals!

    WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The vines at La Vitoriana are from a north-facing part of the vineyard and are extremely old, and the grapes show their best between 13% and 13.5% alcohol. The maceration of the 2016 La Vizcaína La Vitoriana is the longest of all wines from La Vizcaína wines, and it always has very strong balsamic notes. It's subtle and elegant with a velvety texture, with lots of energy and inner strength. Pérez selects about half of the vineyard, and he feels 2016 is the year that best represents the character of the place. I'd add it's probably the best vintage so far. 3,000 bottles produced."
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  7. RAUL PEREZ 2016 ULTREIA DE VALTIULLE MENCIA

    Item #: i_381138
    Bottle Size: 750ML
    Wine Advocate: 96+
    PRACTICING ORGANIC

    We love the wines of Raul Perez, not only because they walk the appetizing line between fruity and savory, but because they are like impressionist landscapes of their home. Over the last 15 years Raul Perez has gained a strong following because of his prolific 'vinography', including wines that explore the growing areas near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the region of Bierzo. Bierzo is a departure from the inland valleys and Mediterranean coast as it's distinctly cooler and wetter due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, though well protected from storms, nestled in a mountainous amphitheater. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines, whose style roams the spaces between Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Northern Rhone Syrah depending on the character of the vintage and site.

    Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is very classical, involving harvesting from old, mixed variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely as the whole grape clusters slowly break down; he then leaves the juice in contact with skins for long periods (a total of 1-3 months!) to gently extract the right amount of flavor and texture for the desired style. Aging takes place in older, used barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors with oak. Raul also avoids adding sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement.

    This flagship wine is made from a single vineyard, 'Las Villegas', planted at the end of the 1800s. This is the darkest and richest of the wines, with black fruits and tobacco, showing oak influence through its woody & cocoa aromas, and herbal-balsam notes that he describes as reminiscent of an apothecary. With the 2016 vintage the Wine Advocate points out that "the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure," but that the wine still “has great freshness and perfume...It's really outstanding." This is the wine to age if you're so inclined!"

    WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "There are only 1,000 bottles of the 2016 Ultreia Valtuille (the new name, as all labels have been simplified and cleaned up, and some of the names have even been shortened). The crop was greatly reduced because of mildew, and the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure, and they had to do a much longer élevage, up to 24 months in barrique. Despite its concentration and power, it has great freshness and perfume. You don't find excess tannin, and it seems like the time in barrel has really polished the edges. It's really outstanding."

    Ultreia de Valtuilleis a red wine of very limited production, its first vintage held great international acclaim. "Ultreia" was the greeting that formerly used by pilgrims who were on the road to Santiago. It is a Latin word which today would translate as "forward" or "continue". Ultreia de Valtuille is a single variety of Mencia old variety made with grapes from a single farm, "The Villegas" located in the small town of Valtuille. It is an estate of just over 1 hectare of old vines, planted in 1908, on a calcareous clay soil with lots of sand on the surface. It is located at 530 metres above sea level and has an Atlantic-continental climate, which is cold yet with a relatively moderate climate as it is an area located halfway between the land and the coast. The wine production is done without much intervention. Fermentation takes place in vats. After the fermentation, there is a long maceration and extraction. Ultreia de Valtuille spends 14-15 months aging in French oak barrels used for wine. Once matured, it is bottled without filtering or clarification. Raúl Pérez is a connoisseur of the Mencia variety, with Ultreia de Valtuille one of his masterpieces.
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