The goal of this summer's wine program at Matsuhisa Vail is to feature wines from different areas of the world that are rather unknown and maybe a little mysterious. Mostly though, the idea is to have fun and enjoy a good glass of wine in our beautiful valley.
When thinking of Spanish wine, most likely you'll hear the words, Rioja, Priorat or Ribera del Duero thrown around. Big bold reds or overly oaked wines cross my mind. Guess what? There is more than just that. There are lots of unknown gems to be found in Spain and finding them can be very rewarding.
Spanish wine history dates back as far as 4000 BC but really didn't build any reputation until 1975 when Spain transitioned to being a democratic country following the death of Francisco Franco. Finally, Spanish vintners were allowed to modernize their facilities as laws became more liberal. Since then, Spain has arguably evolved into producing Europe's most modern wines. And they do it in style, if you ask me!
Wines with rusty dill flavors are a thing of the past and more modern, approachable wines set the standard for Spanish wines today. These next two weeks we'll drink what I believe to be the new, old wines of Spain.
We'll start our journey in the northwest of the Spanish Peninsula, where we find my personal two favorite wines of our Spanish journey. Northwest Spain offers different climatic conditions than most of Spain. Rainfall is higher and the climate has a strong maritime influence, which makes it a lot colder and therefore delivers wines with lighter body and greater acidity. Acidity is very important in a wine. It keeps if fresh and zippy, especially for wines that have seen some oak aging
The barrel-aged Godello from the area of Valdeorra is a white wine that delivers a great creamy texture with hints of vanilla from the oak and fresh acidity to keep it balanced. This particular wine is harvested from 70 to 85 year-old vines (that's right, those vines are older than almost all California wineries). Finding a lighter red wine from Spain isn't all that easy but it's worth the search. The Mencia grape from Bierzo in the northwest delivers complex light flavors with hints of earthiness and is a welcome change to Spanish wines that have become very big and bold across the board.
Continuing our travels through Spain we come across a rose wine from Muga made from Tempranillo, or a big bold Garnacha from Campo de Borja. California Cabernet drinkers, you'll love this wine.
To end the journey, we'll find ourselves in Malaga, the very south of Spain. The Moscatel Secco (also called Muscatel de Alexandria), is a grape that probably derived from North Africa a long, long time ago. In this case, the grape is fermented into a dry white wine rather than a sweet version, which is its common use all over the world. The wine offers a wonderful floral nose with little hints of sweetness on the nose and palate, a welcome change for our Sauvignon Blanc drinker.
It will be a unique experience to enjoy Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's world-class cuisine paired with unique Spanish wines while relaxing on our beautiful deck overlooking Vail Mountain. The Spanish selections are available beginning today through July 13, so come in and try some.
Andreas Harl s the beverage director at Matsuhisa in Vail. Email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.