So the real reason that I was in Sevilla was not to stuff my gullet full of tapas (although I did endeavor to do my best in that department), but rather to attend Topwinespain, a tasting involving a number of highly-regarded winemakers from all over the country. Held at the beautiful Hacienda Benazuza, in nearby Sanlúcar la Mayor, it was an all-day extravaganza of gluttony and inebriation.
Some random thoughts that came to mind while I was tasting (plus some photos courtesy of Patricio Tapia):
- Alejandro Fernandez is utterly cool, his wines are great, and his cheese (made from his own sheep) is really, really superb. He kept handing more to me and I couldn’t stop eating it.
- I usually find Toro a bit too heavy and alcoholic, but Vetus is surprisingly elegant and deliciously lively.
- The 1995 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 smells like the best pipe tobacco ever. (But I stopped smoking 12 years ago.)
- Pago de los Capellanes continues to impress me, vintage after vintage. Both the 2004 Reserva and the 2004 El Nogal are so pure and vivid.
- Contino seems to be undergoing a shift: winemaker Jésus Madrazo Real de Asúa says that he’s increasing the percentage of garnacha and viura in the wines in order to gain more structure and longevity, and the 2005 Vino del Olivo feels much more delicate and balanced than the last few vintages (to me anyway).
- René Barbier is a hoot — once we figured out what language to speak (French, since my Spanish is pathetic), I had a wonderful time with him, and the Clos Mogador 2005 is brilliant as usual.
- I’d rather buy two bottles (or maybe even three, depending on where you’re buying them) of Cune Imperial Reserva 2001 than Real de Asúa 2001.
- The terroir signature between Cune wines (iron and clay in Rioja Alta) and Viña Real wines (calcareous clay in Rioja Alavesa) is strikingly different when you compare the two side by side.
- Some Spanish girls are really hot.