My experience with wine in the USA was not a total loss, however, as I had the chance to taste some really interesting wines at the 7th Street Wine Bar in Fort Lauderdale, in south Florida, where about 100 of my friends gathered for the annual Friends of Pamplona party.
7th Street has a great selection of wines from all over the world where customers can either order wine by the glass from the bar, purchase a card for $25 that allows one to taste wines from dispensers, or buy a bottle. The dispenser idea is interesting because it allows you to try a small amount of wine without the risk of buying a bottle. If you like the sample, buy the bottle. I haven’t seen a wine shop like this anywhere in Spain. Maybe it’s because here, we think we already know everything about wine and unhesitatingly buy whole bottles. That’s what my generation of Spaniards thinks, anyway. In any case, the idea is a good one and I’m waiting for a young, entrepreneurial Spaniard to open a shop. I’ll be the first person in line.
Back in Logroño, one of the first bottles we opened was the Colección Vivanco Parcelas de garnacha 2007. It was a real treat.
As I’ve already explained, the garnacha grape is enjoying a resurgence after thousands of hectares were grubbed up in the 1980s and 90s when sales of Rioja began to grow and the high-yielding, easy to cultivate tempranillo replaced it. Today, garnacha is still regarded by most growers and wineries as a grape that oxidizes easily and consequently is best for rosés and young reds, not for reds meant to age. However, when not overfarmed, garnacha produces stunningly complex wines, as Rioja producers are beginning to rediscover.
Colección Vivanco 2007 garnacha has been made from vineyards owned by the Vivanco family in Tudelilla (one of the villages in Rioja Baja with the highest concentration of garnacha) and Villamediana, near Logroño.
It has a deep ruby color, with aromas of ripe red fruit (strawberries), spices and well-integrated oak. On the palate, it shows high acidity, is unctuous and has a long finish.
As I’ve said before on these pages, I applaud the fact that Rioja is paying attention to garnacha, both in blends and by itself. There seems to be a tendency here to dial back intensity in favor of balance and elegance, and pay more attention to blends as opposed to single varietals. I’m going to look out for these blends in the future. Stay tuned. You have a ringside seat!