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Two Women on Wine: Explore Spanish wines

Exciting wines from Spain represent real value

Posted: April 23, 2009 3:20 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Two Women on Wine

 

Of all the wines that are available, Spanish wines are some of our favorites. Every sip is a new discovery. Spanish wines offer the wine lover the best of both Old and New World style - plush and silky but not too jammy.

Spain has a long history of wine production, albeit rather colorful. Winemaking is important to the Spanish soul and deeply rooted in Spanish culture.

Archeologists believe the roots of Spain's wine production date back somewhere between 4000 to 3000 BC. By the 9th century BC under Roman Rule, evidence indicates that Spanish wines were widely exported and traded throughout the Roman Empire, although the quality varied.

The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 created new export markets for Spain. By that time, exports to England had waned as relations with that country deteriorated from the political fallout of Henry VIII's divorce from his Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon. The Spanish Inquisition gave further cause for English merchants to look to the America's for refuge and new opportunities.

Today, nearly three million acres of this country are planted, making it the most widely planted wine producing nation. Yet Spain follows Italy and France as the third largest producer of wine in the world and ninth in consumption.

Though Spain's yield per acre is relatively low, over 600 varieties are present. Even with such an abundance of varieties, 80 percent of Spain's wine production comes from only 20 grapes, including Tempranillo, Albarino, Garnacha, Palomino, Airen, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Cariñena and Monastrell. In this land of plenty, red wine production surpasses white by four to one.

Winemaking has predominately been steeped in tradition, including the prudent use of oak. Aging wine in oak barrels for long periods is a Spanish tradition. In the past, some wines were aged two decades in the barrel, creating distinct flavors that were internationally recognized as wines from regions such as the prestigious Rioja. The tradition of long barrel and bottle age meant that most Spanish wines were ready to drink once they hit the market.

Today the wines from Spain have undergone a metamorphosis with the introduction of new technologies. The advent of temperature control stainless steel fermentation tanks radically changed the wine industry in warm climate regions. A new generation of winemakers has started to produce more young wines that are released with very little aging. This new appreciation has led to the production of some of the finest wines in the world.

At the forefront of this new age of Spanish winemaking is a gentleman named Jorge Ordonez, importer and merchant. Ordonez is dedicated to bringing the best of Spanish wines to the U. S. market. Wine critic Robert Parker named Ordonez "Wine Personality of the Year."

Unlike some of their French and Italian counterparts, Spanish wines are still reasonably priced. The exciting wines from Spain represent real value for the money.

A few wonderful, well priced wines you might want to consider: 2006 Juan Gill Monastrell from Jumilla; 2006 Onix Classic, a blend of garnacha and carinena from Priorat; 2006 Paso a Paso Tempranillo from LaMancha. All of these wines pair beautifully with grilled meats, steak tacos and, of course, tapas.

We invite you to join us for a special evening of Spanish wines and tapas on Wednesday, April 29, from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Sample the delights of Spain's varietals while enjoying tapas, a Spanish favorite. Call or visit the store to reserve your seat. Salud!

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier are owners of Vino 100 in Valencia, a unique specialty wine store offering boutique, handcrafted wines from small, artisan vineyards, as well as a large selection of gifts and accessories. Daily tastings, weekly specials and monthly events. Vino 100 is at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road in the HighRidge Crossing Center at the corner of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. (661) 294-6886; www.vino100valencia.com.

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